August 6, 2015 by Reader's Connection
Marina Keegan, the author of The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays and Stories, was killed in an auto accident when she was 22 years old. Her early death is mentioned several times in the paperback blurbs, and I wondered, as I opened the book, whether I’d be overly kind about her writing.
I needn’t have worried. Keegan would have grown into a world-class author, but she was wonderful in her youth; and her youth is part of the fun when you read her. Anne Fadiman, one of Keegan’s teachers at Yale, writes in the introduction:
Many of my students sound forty years old. They are articulate but derivative, their own voices muffled by their desire to skip over their current age and experience, which they fear trivial, and land on some version of polished adulthood without passing Go. Marina was twenty-one and sounded twenty-one; a brainy twenty-one, a twenty-one who knew her way around the English language, a twenty-one who understood that there are few better subjects than being young and uncertain and starry-eyed and frustrated and hopeful.
Keegan’s youth shines in the wonderfully entitled essay “Putting the ‘Fun’ Back in Eschatology,” wherein she expresses the hope that humans can rove out into other solar systems before our sun fizzles out.
Humans alone could be winning the race against our giant gas time bomb and running with the universal Olympic torch. What an honor. What a responsibility. What a gift we have been given to be born in an atmosphere with oxygen and carbon dioxide and millions of years and phenotypes cheering us on with recycles of energy.
The thing is, I think we can make it. I think we can shove ourselves into spaceships before things get too cold.
I only hope we don’t ____ things up before that. Because millions of years is a long time and I don’t want to let the universe down.
Her early death doesn’t haunt the book for me. It just jumps out at me now and then. She suffered from celiac disease before so many foodstuffs on supermarket shelves were labelled non-gluten, and her essay about the disease–and her mother’s extraordinary care of her–is called “Against the Grain.” It starts like this:
On my deathbed, I will instruct the nurse to bring me the following: a box of Oreos, a bag of Goldfish, a McDonald’s hamburger, an assortment of Dunkin’ Donuts, a chicken pot pie, a Hot Pocket, a large pepperoni pizza, a French crepe, and an ice-cold beer. In my final moments, I will consume this food slowly and and delicately as I fade into oblivion. I’ll start with the donuts, lemon-glazed and Boston Kreme, biting at each collapsible calorie as my relatives sigh and sign condolence cards. Next, I’ll sample the pizza and beer, happily slurping both as the doctors sew me up and take sad notes. “Oh,” they’ll say in deep baritones, “I think it’s too late. I think it’s the end.”
I laughed out loud when I read that, and then I remembered and thought, Oh, Christ.
As for the fiction: I can honestly say, with almost no grading curve employed, that I enjoyed every story. Some are stories of college life, of being home from college, but then they roam. One is made up of e-mails from the Green Zone in Iraq, and another is set on a doomed submarine. The one-two punch at the end of “The Ingenue” is so bizarre. (He did that? But she still did that?) And the next time someone puts together an anthology of Christmas fiction written by unbelievers but nonetheless inspiring, “Hail, Full of Grace” will be included.
I wish Marina Keegan were here to help me write an uncorny finish for this review. I keep wanting to repeat that earlier bit: She would have gotten better, but she was already splendid. When teacher Anne Fadiman asked her students to compose a list of things to work on as writers, Keegan’s list included “THERE CAN ALWAYS BE A BETTER THING!” No kidding.
August 3, 2015 by Reader's Connection
Val Brelinski, according to an author note, was raised in Idaho by “devout evangelical Christians.” Her first novel, due for publication on August 4th, tells the story of Jory Quanbeck, who has been raised in Idaho by devout Christians. Jory’s older sister Grace enjoys “witnessing” to anyone at hand, and is sent to Mexico as part of a young missionary team. She is pregnant when she returns.
This is embarrassing enough for her parents, but to make things worse, Grace won’t say who the father is. Worse yet, she says of herself, Behold, the handmaid of the Lord; may it be done unto me according to thy word, which is what the Virgin Mary said when told of her divine pregnancy.
The year is 1970. Grace and Jory are taken by their father to an abandoned house on the edge of town, where 13-year-old Jory, to her disgust, has to attend a different high school while Grace lives through her pregnancy. Things do not go well.
The Girl Who Slept With God has a host of interesting characters, including the old woman who lives next door to Jory and Grace’s “hidden” home, and the ice cream man with a mysterious past, about whom another character says,
“He’s hiding out here. We all are. It’s the boonies and nobody knows us, okay?” He spread his arms out wide. “It’s Idaho, man.”
At the center of all the action, all the characters, is Jory’s attempt to navigate her confusing world: a new school, a changing body, a split-up family, a crush on the ice cream man, and some drugs out there that she’s never heard of.
It’s Idaho, man, and it’s a really good novel.
The Girl Who Slept with God is also available as a downloadable e-book.
July 30, 2015 by Reader's Connection
For the first time in LibraryReads history, a non-contiguous state is represented. A librarian from the island of Oahu has written one of the reviews.
Indiana contributed one, too, but I thought we should tip our hats to our friends in Hawaii.
Best Boy by Eli Gottlieb
What happens when someone on the autism spectrum grows up, and they aren’t a cute little boy anymore? Gottlieb’s novel follows the story of Todd Aaron, a man in his fifties who has spent most of his life a resident of the Payton Living Center. Todd begins to wonder what lies beyond the gates of his institution. A funny and deeply affecting work. — Elizabeth Olesh, Baldwin Public Library, Baldwin, NY
The Nature of the Beast: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel by Louise Penny
Louise Penny set the bar high with her last two books, but she had no trouble clearing it with this one. All our old friends are back in Three Pines where a young boy with a compulsion to tell tall tales tells one true story with disastrous results. But which story is the truth and why is it so threatening? Exquisitely suspenseful, emotionally wrenching and thoroughly satisfying. — Beth Mills, New Rochelle Public Library, New Rochelle, NY
A Window Opens by Elisabeth Egan
Alice Pearce has a pretty great life. She has a loving family and works part-time as an editor for a magazine. When her family’s financial situation takes a drastic turn, Alice finds that she needs to step up to the plate and contribute more, and she finds this comes at a cost. I think many women will see themselves in Alice’s character. I recommend this book to moms who need a little time to themselves; they might realize that maybe things aren’t so bad for them after all. — Rosanna Johnson, Chandler Public Library, Chandler, AZ
The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman
Exquisite…Alice Hoffman’s finest work to date. The Marriage of Opposites is a beautiful love story of a man and woman and a mother and child intricately woven together to capture the author’s true message: Love more, not less. — Marianne Colton, Lockport Public Library, Lockport, NY
Everybody Rise by Stephanie Clifford
Stephanie Clifford’s debut novel takes us into the world of NYC high society in 2006. Evelyn Beegan, who’s always been on the fringes of the smart set, meets It girl Camilla Rutherford, and her ambition and desire to belong get the best of her. Evelyn’s deceptive effort to keep pace with Camilla wreaks all kinds of havoc with her finances, her family, and her sense of self. With a sympathetic main character and a fascinating look into how the other half lives, this astute tale is irresistible. — Anbolyn Potter, Chandler Public Library, Chandler, AZ
The Fall of Princes by Robert Goolrick
I loved this novel about the rise and fall of a man in NYC during the 80s, when money was easy to make and easy to spend. What happens when you can get anything you want, and what does it really end up costing you? The story of the people working in the financial industry during that time is interwoven with the reality of AIDS, cocaine and the changes going on in society. So many sentences were so well-written that I found myself stopping to take them in and relish them. — Jennifer Cook, Cheshire Public Library, Cheshire, CT
In a Dark, Dark Wood
by Ruth Ware
Leonora Shaw is a crime writer who lives a solitary life in London until she receives an invitation to a hen party for a friend she hasn’t seen in nearly ten years. The party takes place in a remote location with spotty phone service. Are you nervous yet? We know from the opening pages that something horrible happens, but just what, and to whom, how, and why will keep readers guessing — and flipping the pages. Recommended for fans of The Girl on the Train. — Vicki Nesting, St. Charles Parish Library, Destrehan, LA
Black Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin
In 1995, Tessie went out for a run, and she went missing. She was found eventually, a surviving victim of the Black-Eyed Susan serial killer. The supposed killer is in prison, yet Tessie is still being plagued by mysterious Black Eyed Susan flowers blooming where they shouldn’t. The viewpoint shifts between Tessie in the present day and teenage Tessie in 1995, and was quite clever. I think this novel will appeal to fans of Gone Girl. — Shannon Fukumoto, Kapolei Public Library, Kapolei, HI
Lord of the Wings: A Meg Langslow Mystery by Donna Andrews
It’s Halloween in Caerphilly and the town has come up with another festival to bring in the tourists. Meg Langslow is heading up the “Goblin Patrol”, there’s trouble at the Haunted House, and body parts are being found at the zoo. Meg is once again called in to save the day and solve the crime. If you enjoy your mysteries packed with humor and fun, don’t miss this return to Caerphilly with Meg and her zany family and friends. — Karen Emery, Johnson County Public Library, Franklin, IN
Browsings: A Year of Reading, Collecting, and Living with Books by Michael Dirda
This collection of Dirda’s musings on writers, book collecting and the literary landscape is a must read for all bibliophiles. Michael Dirda won a Pulitzer for his work at The Washington Post and has been called “the best-read person in America”. I always learn something new when I read his work and this book is no exception. Great fun for all book nerds! — Robin Nesbitt, Columbus Metropolitan Library, Hilliard, OH
July 26, 2015 by Reader's Connection
Five (5) book discussions are scheduled for the first Monday in August. I think that’s some sort of record. Included on that day are cookbooks, a murder mystery, and something that Jane Austen might have read.
The What Would Jane Austen Read? Book Club will meet at the College Avenue Library on Monday, August 3rd at 1:30 p.m.
This is a group that reads selections of 18th century literature that Jane Austen might have read. Well-known novels of Burney, Edgeworth, Fielding, Defoe, Sterne and others formed our earliest reading. If you enjoy Jane Austen, you may like some of the writers who influenced her. We now are reading lesser-known works which were popular in her day . . . As these are sometimes obscure works, the library often doesn’t have copies, so our members have to use on-line sources, purchase second hand copies (under $5) or use interlibrary loan to obtain the books. — Group facilitator Elizabeth K. Jarvis
At 6:00 p.m. on Monday the 3rd, “Food Around the World” will be the August theme at the Glendale Library‘s Cooking Chats. Two cookbooks are featured:
Carla’s Comfort Foods: Favorite Dishes from Around the World by Carla Hall with Genevieve Ko
In Her Kitchen : Stories and Recipes from Grandmas Around the World by Gabriele Galimberti
Check one of these out and try some recipes.
The summer of ’28 was a vintage season for a growing boy. A summer of green apple trees, mowed lawns, and new sneakers. Of half-burnt firecrackers, of gathering dandelions, of Grandma’s belly-busting dinner. It was a summer of sorrows and marvels and gold-fuzzed bees. A magical, timeless summer in the life of a twelve-year-old boy named Douglas Spaulding–remembered forever by the incomparable Ray Bradbury. — Publisher’s note.
A family trip to Ireland goes from bad to worse. The last time romance writer Danielle “Danny” Furey and her brother Kerry went to Ireland, they were searching for their ancestral home. As far as Danny is concerned, that was the trip from hell, and she’s hustled into going again only because Kerry has been diagnosed with leukemia. Danny is especially unhappy to discover that her ex-husband is joining them. Fortunately, she soon meets Frank O’Shea, an Irish barman she finds a lot more appealing. Frank gets fired for letting Kerry substitute some poteen—Irish white lightning—for the pub’s usual fare. Since he’s also trying to escape his bookmaker, Kerry hires him to drive them around in their search for Letterfenny, the now-deserted village their grandfather called home. Along the way, tour guide Donal Conneely overhears them discussing their favorite film, The Quiet Man, and gains their interest, and a job, by relating a story about Bridey Finnerman, a young girl who was murdered while working on the film. Danny and Kerry, who have endlessly discussed the film and even talked about writing a book about it, are eager to turn to sleuthing when they hear the tale. As the group wanders the beautiful Conemarra countryside picking up clues and meeting the people who knew Bridey best, they realize that nothing is really as it seems. This [novel] has it all: great characters, a credible mystery, a touch of romance, a loving portrayal of Ireland and even a ghost. — Kirkus Reviews
Another discussion at 6:30 p.m. on Monday the 3rd will be at the Irvington Library.
Richard Florida’s book The Rise of the Creative Class, Revisited will be discussed in connection with an upcoming event, as noted in an earlier blog post. Click on the book cover for info about these events.
See below for Irvington’s regular book discussion on August 13th.
In his smashing debut, Towles details the intriguing life of Katherine Kontent and how her world is upended by the fateful events of 1938. Kate and her roommate, Evelyn Ross, have moved to Manhattan for its culture and the chance to class up their lives with glamour–be it with jazz musicians, trust fund lotharios, or any man with a hint of charm who will pay for dinner and drinks. Both Kate and Evelyn are enamored of sophisticated Tinker Grey, who they meet in a jazz club; he appears to be another handsome, moneyed gent, but as the women vie for his affection, a tragic event may seal a burgeoning romance’s fate. New York’s wealthy class is thick with snobbery, unexpected largesse, pettiness, jealousies, and an unmistakable sense of who belongs and who does not, but it’s the undercurrent of unease–as with Towles’s depiction of how the upper class can use its money and influence to manipulate others’ lives in profoundly unsavory ways–that gives his vision depth and complexity. His first effort is remarkable for its strong narrative, original characters and a voice influenced by Fitzgerald and Capote, but clearly true to itself. — Publishers Weekly
Tony Hillerman’s 18 mysteries followed the investigations of Navajo cops Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee. Fans mourned when Hillerman died in 2008. Now the late author’s beloved characters return in this series relaunch by his daughter, Anne. The book opens with an act of unexpected violence against a dear friend, witnessed by police officer Bernadette Manualito. She and her husband, Jim Chee, begin to piece together clues and determine who would commit this crime, even questioning the motives of the unaccounted-for Louisa Bourbonnette, Leaphorn’s friend and housemate. Interspersed throughout the tale, yet important to character development and emphasizing the role of Navajo culture and beliefs (a highlight of the previous series), are vignettes of Bernadette’s troubled sister and Jim’s past studies to become a Navajo healer and descriptions of Navajo creation stories. Characters from 1988’s A Thief of Time play a dominant role in the unfolding of the plot. Pot hunters, archaeologists, controversy over the museum display of tribal objects, and insurance fraud culminate in a heart-stopping, action-packed conclusion as Bernadette and Jim risk their lives to bring a would-be assassin to justice. Fans of Southwestern mysteries will cheer this return of Leaphorn and Chee. — Library Journal
They take breaks to discuss what they’ve read, and they eat refreshments, though they don’t really take breaks for that.
In addition to this weekly shared reading, there will be a monthly book discussion at Spades Park on August 26th. See below.
The music-themed Adult Summer Reading Program continues in August, with each discussion being led by a facilitator from the Indiana Writers Center.
The cruelties of the Third Reich have been well-documented in countless Holocaust studies. This report contemplates the crimes of the Nazis from a special point of view.Grymes (Musicology/Univ. of North Carolina, Charlotte) traces the histories of seven violins and their Jewish owners throughout the murderous German campaign. At first, talented musicians, barred from playing in Aryan orchestras or for Aryan audiences, were able to find a venue in Nazi-sanctioned Jewish Culture Leagues in several cities in occupied Europe. From those leagues, the renowned Bronislaw Huberman recruited members for his Orchestra of Exiles. The great violinist spent his energies delivering players from sure death to Palestine and the ensemble that became the famous Israel Philharmonic. Toscanini conducted the initial official performance, and a German violin remains from that concert. In Norway under Vidkun Quisling, a riot ensued when a Jewish virtuoso was scheduled to play an instrument once owned by national hero Ole Bull. Another violin accompanied its owner on a nearly six-year escape from Vienna, via Mauritius and prison, to Haifa. An Auschwitz violin survives from one of the several camp orchestras that marched prisoners to their tasks and back again. The violinists played, as well, for those headed to death and for the entertainment of their captors. (Primo Levi, for one, would never forget or forgive those mad voices of the labor camp.) Grymes interweaves the detailed stories of unremitting terror . . . with accounts of the music and descriptions of the violins. — Kirkus Reviews
Violins of Hope is also available as a downloadable e-book.
The Arts Council of Indianpolis (924 N. Pennsylvania St.) will host a discussion of Stephanie Cowell’s novel Marrying Mozart on Tuesday, August 11th from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.
Former opera singer Cowell . . . turns her eye to the women in the life of a young Mozart in her fourth graceful and entertaining historical. Music copyist Fridolin Weber and his socially ambitious wife, Marie Caecilia, have four daughters-bookish and devout Sophie; quiet Constanze; beautiful, silver-voiced Aloysia; and headstrong Josefa-whom they struggle to keep in hats and hose. Though the freethinking girls may wonder about the benefits of marrying well vs. marrying for love, Caecilia, whose family once had money, is terrified of growing old a pauper. Pinning her hopes on her prettiest daughter, 16-year-old Aloysia, Caecilia aims for a Swedish baron as suitor (though she keeps a list of backups in a notebook). Aloysia falls in love with the young Mozart, however, who happily returns her affections, though he, too, wonders about marrying better to support his father and beloved mother. But when the Webers move to Munich from Mannheim, Caecilia’s hopes for good matches begin to dim, as Josefa takes a married lover and a pregnant Aloysia runs away with a painter who, along with Mozart, had been boarding with the family. As Mozart progresses in his career, he has relationships with the other Weber sisters, too, and falls alternately in and out of favor with their bitter old mother. Told through the recollections of an aging Sophie, the tale is as rich and unhurried as 18th-century court life. — Publishers Weekly
Marrying Mozart is also available as a downloadable e-book.
In the wake of his nefarious father’s abandonment, Theo, a smart, 13-year-old Manhattanite, is extremely close to his vivacious mother–until an act of terrorism catapults him into a dizzying world bereft of gravity, certainty, or love. Tartt writes from Theo’s point of view with fierce exactitude and magnetic emotion as, stricken with grief and post-traumatic stress syndrome, he seeks sanctuary with a troubled Park Avenue family and, in Greenwich Village, with a kind and gifted restorer of antique furniture. Fate then delivers Theo to utterly alien Las Vegas, where he meets young outlaw Boris. As Theo becomes a complexly damaged adult, Tartt, in a boa constrictor-like plot, pulls him deeply into the shadow lands of art, lashed to seventeenth-century Dutch artist Carel Fabritius and his exquisite if sinister painting, The Goldfinch. Drenched in sensory detail, infused with Theo’s churning thoughts and feelings, sparked by nimble dialogue, and propelled by escalating cosmic angst and thriller action, Tartt’s trenchant, defiant, engrossing, and rocketing novel conducts a grand inquiry into the mystery and sorrow of survival, beauty and obsession, and the promise of art. — Booklist
Straub’s [novel] is perfect vacation reading, combining a warm-weather locale with complicated family drama. The Post family is leaving Manhattan for their long-planned trip to Mallorca, an intended celebration of both Franny and Jim’s 35th wedding anniversary and daughter Sylvia’s high school graduation. They’ve rented a house where they will be joined by family and friends: their son, Bobby; his girlfriend, Carmen; and Franny’s best friend, Charles, and his husband, Lawrence. If their plans didn’t involve other people, Franny and Jim might have called this vacation off, as family tensions have been growing over the hushed-up reason for Jim’s recent forced retirement. As it is, corralling all these people into one house for a two-week stretch unleashes more emotional upheaval than could have been predicted. The arrival of a handsome local who is supposed to be tutoring Sylvia in Spanish only fuels the fire. Secrets and longings are revealed, and relationships shift into new configurations–with unexpected hopefulness in the story’s conclusion. — Library Journal
Steven Galloway’s The Cellist of Sarajevo will be discussed at Calvin Fletcher’s Coffee Company (647 Virginia Avenue) on Thursday, August 13th from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m.
A bread line in besieged Sarajevo. A mortar lobbed by Serb soldiers on the hill. Death for 22 people. A cellist sees it all and determines to honor the dead–and perhaps assuage his own pain–by playing Albinoni’s Adagio on the spot for 22 days. And so Galloway opens his first novel, inspired by true events, weaving together four lives to tell the awful story of Sarajevo’s devastation. Aside from the cellist, there’s Kenan, who risks his life every few days to carry plastic canisters to the brewery and retrieve water for his family. Dragan, who got his family out before the bombs started falling, works at the bakery for, literally, his daily bread. Both must cower on street corners and watch those who risk crossing get shot or killed. Arrow, who uses an alias, is a sniper desperate to defend her city and just as desperate not to compromise her humanity by hating the men who rain death down on the city. In the end, each takes a stand, small or large, to assure that the “Sarajevo that [they want] to live is alive again.” — Library Journal
The Irvington bookstore Bookmamas (9 Johnson Avenue) will host a discussion of Night in Shanghai, by Nicole Mones, on Saturday, August 15th at 1:30 p.m.
In the early 1930s, as the world teeters on the brink of war, struggling musician Thomas Greene leaves the South’s racial prejudices behind when he accepts an offer from a Chinese nightclub owner to headline a jazz band in Shanghai. Though the classically trained pianist is uncomfortable with this new style of music, he is ecstatic to be free of the Jim Crow laws that have impeded his success at home. As Greene embraces the relative freedom that life in this cosmopolitan city affords, he becomes increasingly embroiled in both the criminal and Communist underworlds that are threatened by the imminent Japanese invasion. Through his love for party sympathizer Song Yuhua and friendship with protector of Jews Lin Ming, Greene finds himself at the epicenter of world-shattering events. Based on true episodes and peppered with the lives and experiences of actual characters from the worlds of politics, music, the military, and the government, Mones’ engrossing historical novel illuminates the danger, depravity, and drama of this dark period with brave authenticity. — Booklist
Perils of Pearl Bryan: Betrayal and Murder in the Midwest in 1896, by James McDonald and Joan Christen, will be discussed at the Pike Library on Monday, August 17th at 6:30 p.m.
In 1896 the murder of Greencastle resident Pearl Bryan became a national story when her headless body was found near Fort Thomas, Kentucky, on the morning of February 1, 1896. Even today, after more than 110 years, we continue to receive inquires into her story. The youngest of twelve children, Pearl was born and raised in Greencastle, Indiana and graduated from Greencastle High School in 1892. In the spring of 1895, Pearl was introduced to Scott Jackson and later became pregnant out of wedlock by him. Jackson arranged for her to go to Cincinnati, Ohio for what she believed was going to be an abortion arranged by Jackson. Pearl’s family was not aware of her pregnancy and believed she was going to Indianapolis to visit friends. Unfortunately for Pearl, instead of an abortion, Scott Jackson arranged for her murder. — Putnam County Public Library website.
Portal, the Indianapolis Science Fiction and Fantasy Discussion Group, will meet at the Glendale Library on Sunday, August 23rd at 1:00 p.m. The theme for this program will be “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court: ‘Modern’ People Displaced in Time.”
Ron Carlson’s Return to Oakpine will be discussed at the Sun King Brewery (135 N. College Avenue) on Monday, August 24th at 6:00 p.m.
The small town of Oakpine, WY, is abuzz: Jimmy Brand is coming home. Jimmy made it big in New York as a writer, but he’s out of money and friends, and he has come home to die. Since his father forbids Jimmy to stay in the house, his mother enlists Jimmy’s old friend Craig to turn the garage into a small apartment for Jimmy. Thirty years ago, while they were in high school, Jimmy and Craig had joined with friends Frank and Mason to form a rock and roll band that practiced in this very garage. Eventually, Craig went to Vietnam and returned to work in his father’s hardware store; fixing up the old garage has put the spark back in Craig’s life. Frank also stayed in town, bought real estate, and now owns a brewpub. Mason became a respected Denver attorney but has separated from his wife and is at loose ends. He has come back to Oakpine only to sell his folks’ old place. As the four friends resurrect the band, long-held secrets are revealed and new beginnings forged. — Library Journal
Rhyne adores beagles. Having lost two previous dogs within months of each other, she was not sure she was ready for another dog. But when a shelter called with a beagle ready for adoption, she fell in love again. She was also beginning a new relationship, and when new man, dog, and she settled into a family, all seemed right with the world. But then Seamus’ groomer discovered a lump, which when biopsied turned out to be an aggressive, one-year-to-live cancer. As Rhyne and her boyfriend dealt with Seamus’ surgery, chemotherapy, and behavior issues–he had become a spoiled brat–Rhyne discovered a lump of her own. This breezy, heartfelt, and funny memoir walks the reader through all of the emotional and medical stages of cancer, both canine and human, making an awful situation infinitely readable and hopeful. Give this one to anyone going through cancer treatment–the title alone tells it all. — Booklist
Southport Library will have its book discussion on the last day of the month–Monday, August 31st–at 6:30 p.m. If you plan to attend, you should choose your favorite Mary Jane Clark book or read To Have and to Kill.
Piper Donovan is newly single and struggling to find acting jobs after her soap opera character was killed off. She moves back in with her parents and helps out in her mom’s bakery, which is renowned for its beautifully decorated cakes. When one of Piper’s famous former costars asks if the bakery can make her wedding cake, Piper gets involved in a real-life soap opera replete with murder, romance, family issues, and a varied cast of characters including an FBI agent, a director, a photographer, a costumer, a jeweler, a drama teacher, and more . . . The number of characters with motive for murder keeps you guessing, and the action-packed short chapters keep the story moving. You’ll also learn a little about cake decorating, and there’s a sweet surprise at the end. — Library Journal
July 22, 2015 by Reader's Connection
The first half of the book is in German script, on glossy paper, with lots of pictures. The second half is an English translation.
You can click here to see some selected pages.
I’m not going to read the book, just now. It interests me, and it isn’t terribly long; but I’m afraid I’d be trapped in its labyrinths, and unable to read anything else. I would lose my job.
The author is psychologist Carl Jung, and his book is appropriately entitled The Red Book. An alternative title is Liber Novus, or “New Book”.
Here’s the publisher’s description:
During World War I, C. G. Jung embarked on an extended self-exploration he called his “confrontation with the unconscious.” At the heart of this exploration was The Red Book, a large, illuminated volume he created between 1914 and 1930, containing the nucleus of his later works. It was here that he developed his principle theories of the archetypes, the collective unconscious, and the process of individuation that would transform psychotherapy from a practice concerned with the treatment of the sick into a means for the higher development of the personality.
While Jung considered The Red Book to be his most important work, only a handful of people have ever seen it. It is possibly the most influential unpublished work in the history of psychology. Now, in a complete facsimile and translation, edited and introduced by Dr. Sonu Shamdasani, it is available to scholars and the general public. It is an astonishing volume of calligraphy and art suggesting influences as diverse as Persia and the Mayan empires—a work of beauty on a par with such illuminated manuscripts as The Book of Kells and those of William Blake. This publication of The Red Book is a watershed that will inaugurate a new era in Jung studies. — W. W. Norton
If you want to read this work, but don’t have a wheelbarrow for carrying it around, there is also a Reader’s Edition. But you need to at least glance at the oversize copy to get the feel of the thing.
In lieu of reading The Red Book, I’ve read Lament of the Dead: Psychology After Jung’s Red Book, which is fifteen conversations between editor Sonu Shamdasani and psychologist James Hillman (1926-2011). Hillman was always an outlier among psychologists, and his reaction to The Red Book didn’t change that.
He didn’t think the book proved that Jung had been a nut, that the Jungian psychological method was built on nothing. (I guess some readers thought so.) But Hillman did wonder what the book meant to the future of psychological practice, and Sonu Shamdasani wondered, too. Their conversations fascinate me. Hillman and Shamdasani discuss Jung’s relationship with the archetypal figures that he encountered during his “confrontation with the unconscious.”
SS: . . . If you read The Red Book, Jung allows the figures to work on him. It’s not he who works on the figures. He lets them instruct him. The relation shifts . . .
JH: A very big point, that he could learn from them. These figures know things that I do not know.
SS: And that is the gambit. To say let me suspend my knowingness. Let me set aside my science. Let me set aside what I take to be my psychology and see if I can learn something directly from these figures.
JH: Doesn’t he also doubt the word “Jung” and the word “I”? At a certain point, he doesn’t agree that the “I” is me, or that I am the figure who’s talking as Jung. He has a peculiar level of understanding that all of us are fictions, in a way, or figures.
A fellow with my identity problems is a sucker for talk like that. And as a librarian and fiction enthusiast, I’m a sucker for Hillman’s view of novel-reading as a therapeutic method:
Before there was psychology around 1900, in a case history sense, we had novels. All through the nineteenth century Jane Austen, Tolstoy, Turgenev, Balzac wrote the most extraordinary descriptions of human lives and their tragedies, their sufferings, their humor, their peculiarities, their hungers, their bestialities, their perversions–everything was in the literature. And an ordinary person read lots and lots of literature, or followed someone such as Dickens around on his lecture tours, just to pick up these narratives and learn about how it is. Now it seems to me the interwovenness between the figures per se, in themselves, is part of the job of learning, the practice of the image, seeing how they work with each other, what they build, how they influence. That’s exactly what literature was doing, has been doing. It’s become more sophisticated in many ways. But the narratives about people’s lives, telling people how this woman so often collapsed when anything went wrong in the family, took to her couch, took to her bed, or fainted, or the story of the man who was always the dramatic lover boy of the neighborhood, well, novels were filled with this descriptive, rich material of the way human lives are filled with hypocrisy, deception, petty cruelties, denials, blindness, everything you can think of. It seems to me that the way back to understanding human nature is through returning to literary studies, not scientific case descriptions, or statistical analyses, or whatever is being taught in the classroom for the therapist. It would be a study of life through good writing.
But that isn’t the main thesis of Lament of the Dead. The book really is a conversation, moving in different directions.
I should say that the library also owns a book by Sandford L. Drob called Reading the Red Book: An Interpretive Guide to C.G. Jung’s Liber Novus.
It seems like a fine companion text, but I’m afraid that it only makes sense to read it if you’re really tackling The Red Book; and again, I have my career to consider.
If you’re doing that, though, if you’re reading the whole thing, you have my best wishes. Go, Big Red!
Category Book Review | Tags: Carl Jung, James Hillman, Lament of the Dead: Psychology after Jung's Red Book, Liber Novus, Reading the Red Book: An Interpretive Gude to C. G. Jung's Liber Novus, Sanford L. Drob, Sonu Shamdasani, The Red Book