August 25, 2015 by Reader's Connection
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
Terry Langdon of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra will be a special guest.
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.
A poem is always read. Refreshments are always eaten.
In addition to this weekly shared reading, there will be a monthly book discussion at Spades Park on September 23rd. See below.
While the larger boys in the village school of Greenbank were having a game of “three old cat” before school-time, there appeared on the playground a strange boy, carrying two books, a slate, and an atlas under his arm . . . He was evidently from the country, for he wore a suit of brown jeans, or woollen homespun, made up in the natural color of the “black” sheep, as we call it. He shyly sidled up to the school-house door, and looked doubtfully at the boys who were playing, watching the familiar game as though he had never seen it before . . .
The What Would Jane Austen Read? Book Club will meet at the College Avenue Library on Monday, September 14th, 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
Benjamin Mee’s memoir We Bought a Zoo: The Amazing True Story of a Young Family, a Broken Down Zoo, and the 200 Wild Animals That Changed Their Lives Forever will be discussed at the Franklin Road Library on Monday, September 14th at 6:30 p.m.
Following the death of his father, Mee took on the challenge of helping his 76-year-old mother find a new home. This relatively simple task resulted in life-altering, unexpected outcomes, not the least of which was taking on the responsibility of owning and renovating a dilapidated zoo in rural England. Mee has a strong interest in animal behavior and was trained as a science journalist, which influenced his decision to move his family to a run down 30-acre zoo complete with animals. Readers will delight in his anecdotes, most notably about escapees Sovereign the jaguar and Parker the wolf, who attracted a fair share of media attention and antizoo feeling from the public. While the Mee family dream was coming to fruition, Mee’s wife, Katherine, suffered from the return of a brain tumor and died before the zoo was restored and reopened. The author’s touching description of this tragedy stands in contrast to his otherwise conversational tone and the humorous events depicted in the book. The Dartmoor Zoological Park now attracts thousands of visitors annually. — Library Journal
Mister Owita’s Guide to Gardening: How I Learned the Unexpected Joy of a Green Thumb and an Open Heart, a book by Carol Wall, will be discussed at the Wayne Library on Monday, September 14th at 6:30 p.m.
In this moving memoir chronicling the many lasting rewards garnered from an unexpected friendship, writer Wall enlists a neighbor’s gardener, a man from Kenya, to help her maintain her garden. What begins as a purely professional relationship, with Wall hoping to learn more about gardening, blossoms into an intimate friendship. Wall, a breast cancer patient, admits that, before she met Giles Owita, her outlook on life was less than sunny. Always an introvert and prone to social gaffes, Wall was dealing at the time with her parent’s decline. Slowly, over three years, Owita, a quiet and unassuming man, transforms Wall’s unkempt lawn into a living masterpiece, showing Wall the beauty inherent in everyday life . . . This tender narrative gently probes the complicated terrain of American race relations, dealing with serious illness and facing the death of loved ones. — Publishers Weekly
The White House is based on true events, reimagining the dark chronicles of a notorious drug kingpin’s death, and the unfortunate events that followed. The young heroine Draya lives paycheck to paycheck, laboring as a maid in a luxurious white house. One day, in the course of performing her duties, she is presented with an irresistible opportunity for a quick–and risky–payday. What unfolds in the white house changes the course of her life. Kidnapping, murder, and mayhem lead her–and the reader–through a harrowing and twisting plot to an explosive ending that no one sees coming. Look through the eyes of this young woman and glimpse how a life can forever be altered due to an unfortunate series of events–all touched off in a legendary white house — Publisher’s note.
October 14 looked like any other day in the leafy New England enclave of Mapleton–until it didn’t. Eighty-seven townspeople and millions more around the world simply disappeared. Cars careened with no one behind the wheel, school kids were without teachers, food went uneaten on dinner tables, and lovers found themselves abandoned. The Rapture? No one knows. What we do know is that the psychological trauma for those left behind is overwhelming, and who better than Perrotta, known for his ability to zero in on the vicissitudes of middle-class America to grapple with the impact? Three years after “The Sudden Departure,” Kevin Garvey’s wife has joined a cult, son Tom has ditched college to follow guru Holy Wayne, and lovely daughter Jill has shaved her head and taken up with stoners. Nora Durst’s life is in a holding pattern as she awaits the return of her husband and child, while Reverend Jamison, enraged at being passed over, publishes a newsletter exposing the failings of the missing. Perrotta has taken a subject that could easily slip into slapstick and imbued it with gravitas. Like Richard Russo, he softens the sting of satire with deep compassion for his characters in all their confusion, guilt, grief, and humanity. — Library Journal
As a part of this year’s Teen Read Week, three branches will host discussions of John Green’s Paper Towns in September.
Thursday, September 17th at 4:00 p.m.
Friday, September 18th at 4:00 p.m.
Tuesday, September 22nd at 4:00 p.m.
Quentin–or “Q.” as everyone calls him–has known his neighbor, the fabulous Margo Roth Spiegelman, since they were two. Or has he? Q. can’t help but wonder, when, a month before high-school graduation, she vanishes. At first he worries that she might have committed suicide, but then he begins discovering clues that seem to have been left for him, which might reveal Margo’s whereabouts. Yet the more he and his pals learn, the more Q. realizes he doesn’t know and the more he comes to understand that the real mystery is not Margo’s fate but Margo herself–enigmatic, mysterious, and so very alluring. Yes, there are echoes of Green’s award-winning Looking for Alaska: a lovely, eccentric girl; a mystery that begs to be solved by clever, quirky teens; and telling quotations (from Leaves of Grass, this time) beautifully integrated into the plot. Yet, if anything, the thematic stakes are higher here, as Green ponders the interconnectedness of imagination and perception, of mirrors and windows, of illusion and reality. That he brings it off is testimony to the fact that he is not only clever and wonderfully witty but also deeply thoughtful and insightful. In addition, he’s a superb stylist, with a voice perfectly matched to his amusing, illuminating material. — Booklist
Teen Read Week lasts longer than a normal human week, and the Paper Towns discussions extend into October.
While I’m at it, I should link to Teen Read Week programs that run through the next three months.
3Doodler Art Sessions
Back to September book discussions.
On Monday, September 21st at 6:00 p.m., the theme for Nora Library‘s Cookbook Discussion program will be “Cookbooks about Slow Cookers and Quick Meals.”
1. Find a cookbook that fits this month’s theme. The book pictured here, Slow-Cooker Quick Fixes, is just one possible title.
2. Read the cookbook and sample a few recipes.
3. Pick up a review form at Nora, fill it out, and bring it with you to the meeting.
4. Optional: make a recipe from the cookbook and bring samples to the meeting.
5. Join us for an enjoyable discussion of the cookbooks and some delicious taste testing.
The special guest will be Brad Nehrt, Culinary Arts Instructor at the J. Everett Light Career Center.
In his run-down store in a gentrifying neighborhood of Washington, D.C., Ethiopian immigrant Stepha Stephanos regularly meets with fellow African immigrants Ken the Kenyan and Joe from the Congo. Their favorite game is matching African nations to coups and dictators, as they consider how their new immigrant expectations measure up to the reality of life in America after 17 years. From his store and nearby apartment, Stephanos makes keen observations of American race and class tensions, seeing similarities–physical and social–to his hometown of Addis Ababa, where his father was killed in the throes of revolution. When Judith, a white woman, and Naomi, her mixed-race daughter, move into the neighborhood, Stephanos finds tentative prospects for friendship beyond his African compatriots. Mengestu, himself an Ethiopian immigrant, engages the reader in a deftly drawn portrait of dreams in the face of harsh realities from the perspective of immigrants.
Alan Clay is a 50-something American salesperson for an information technology company angling for a contract to wire King Abdullah Economic City, a Saudi commerce hub. Alan and his team are initially anxious to deliver their presentation to the king–which features a remote speaker appearing via hologram–but they soon learn the country moves at a snail-like pace. So Alan drifts: He wanders the moonscape of the sparely constructed city, obsesses over a cyst on his back, bonds with his troubled driver, pursues fumbling relationships with two women, ponders his debts and recalls his shortcomings as a salesman, husband and father. This book is in part a commentary on America’s eroding economic might (there are numerous asides about offshoring and cheap labor), but it’s mostly a potent, well-drawn portrait of one man’s discovery of where his personal and professional selves split and connect. Eggers has matured greatly as a novelist . . . He masters the hurry-up-and-wait rhythm of Alan’s visit, accelerating the prose when the King’s arrival seems imminent, then slackening it again . . . This book is firm proof that that social concerns can make for resonant storytelling. — Kirkus Reviews
A Hologram for the King is also available as a downloadable e-book.
Portal, the Indianapolis Science Fiction and Fantasy Discussion Group, will meet at the Glendale Library on Sunday, September 27th at 1:00 p.m. The theme for this program will be “Read the Book, See the Movie,” and will deal with media tie-ins: movies, video/DVD, television series, games.
In January 1946, London is beginning to recover from World War II, and Juliet Ashton is looking for a subject for her next book. She spent the war years writing a column for the Times until her own dear flat became a victim of a German bomb. While sifting through the rubble and reconstructing her life, she receives a letter from a man on Guernsey, the British island occupied by the Germans . . . So begins a correspondence that draws Juliet into the community of Guernsey and the members of the Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Named to protect its members from arrest by the Germans, the society shares their unique love of literature and life with a newfound friend. Seeing this as the subject of her next book, Juliet sails to Guernsey–a voyage that will change her life . . . this is a warm, funny, tender, and thoroughly entertaining celebration of the power of the written word. – Library Journal
August 21, 2015 by Reader's Connection
I must be having a hard time saying bye-bye to summer. Not so our librarians around the country, who forge ahead with reviews of September releases.
The Art of Crash Landing by Melissa DeCarlo
At once tragic and hilarious, this book is a roller coaster of a read. You’ll find yourself rooting for the snarky and impulsive but ultimately lovable Mattie. At the heart of this tale is a beautifully unraveled mystery that has led Mattie to her current circumstances, ultimately bringing her to her first real home. — Patricia Kline-Millard, Bedford Public Library, Bedford, NH
Make Me by Lee Child
Jack Reacher is back. Jack gets off a train at an isolated town. Soon, he is learning much more about the town, and its residents are learning not to mess around with Jack Reacher. Readers new to this series will find this book a good starting point, and fans will be pleased to see Jack again. — Jenna Persick, Chester County Library, Exton, PA
House of Thieves by Charles Belfoure
Belfoure’s intriguing novel is set in Gilded Age New York City. John Cross, head of the family, finds an unexpected talent for planning robberies, while his wife and children also discover their inner criminals. The historical details and setting evoke old New York. I enjoyed every minute of their escapades. — Barbara Clark-Greene, Groton Public Library, Groton, CT
Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff
Fates and Furies is a modern portrait of marriage. Lotto Satterwhite is the center, the hub around which all the characters revolve in the first half of the book. In the second half of the book, the lens turns to Lotto’s wife Mathilde, and her side of the lopsided partnership gives us a totally different view. Groff is a master of language. It’s not a gentle read. But it’s magnificent. — Kelly Currie, Delphi Public Library, Delphi, IN
Did You Ever Have A Family by Bill Clegg
Clegg’s devastatingly beautiful fiction debut is the portrait of a community in the aftermath of a tragedy. June Reid, the broken woman at the epicenter of the novel, is struggling with a loss so profound that she is unable to see beyond her grief, unaware that it has touched many people. Clegg tells their stories with heartbreaking sensitivity and insight. — Mary Coe, Fairfield Woods Branch Library, Fairfield, CT
The Gates of Evangeline by Hester Young
Journalist Charlie Cates goes to gloomy, swampy Louisiana to write a book about the disappearance of a young child. Her research uncovers family secrets, lies, and clandestine affairs. This first book in a new series is incredibly suspenseful, with a vivid setting, a supernatural tinge, and an intricate plot that keeps you guessing until the end. — Anbolyn Potter, Chandler Public Library, Chandler, AZ
Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson
Lawson’s hilarious memoir is a romp between absurdity and despondency. Passages alternate from ridiculously funny stories of her life to episodes of her sometimes debilitating depression. Lawson embraces living life, rather than merely surviving it. Why be just happy when you can be furiously so? Recommended to fans of David Sedaris and Sloane Crosley. — PJ Gardiner, Wake County Public Libraries, Raleigh, NC
This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance! by Jonathan Evison
Harriet Chance receives word that her recently deceased husband, Bernard, has won an Alaskan cruise. Deciding to go on the trip, she is given a letter from her close friend Mildred, with instructions not to open it until she is on the cruise. The contents of this letter shatter Harriet and she begins to reevaluate her life and her relationships. — Arleen Talley, Anne Arundel County Public Library Foundation, Annapolis, MD
Girl Waits With Gun by Amy Stewart
When the Kopp sisters and their buggy are injured by Henry Kaufmann’s car, Constance Kopp at first just wants him to pay the damages. As she pursues justice, she meets another of Kaufmann’s victims, the young woman Lucy. Stewart creates fully developed characters, including the heroine, Constance, who is fiercely independent as she faces down her fears. The time period and setting are important parts of the story as well, providing a glimpse of 1914 New Jersey. — Maggie Holmes, Richards Memorial Library, North Attleboro, MA
The Scribe by Matthew Guinn
A shunned detective is pulled back to Atlanta to solve some brutal murders that seem to be the work of a serial killer. Political intrigue, a fascinating time in this country’s history, and a good old-fashioned murder mystery make this one fascinating read. This book asks the question: when a man has had everything taken away, will he still fight for what is right? — Kimberly McGee, Lake Travis Community Library, Austin, TX
August 19, 2015 by Reader's Connection
Through September and October, the library will host two different programs about writing. There will be several sessions, at different branches, of a program called “Writing Your Life.” And there will be a one-time program at the Nora Branch, about writing in general.
The program series on memoir-writing will be presented by the Indiana Writers Center, with the intention of helping writers find the voice for telling their own stories.
|Irvington Library Saturday, September 5th 10:30 am – 12:30 pm|
|Glendale Library Saturday, September 12th 2:00pm – 4:00pm|
|College Avenue Library Wednesday, September 16th 5:30pm – 7:30pm|
|Pike Library Wednesday, September 23rd 6:00pm – 08:00pm|
|Lawrence Library Saturday, September 26th 10:30am – 12:30pm|
|Wayne Library Sunday, September 27th 1:00pm – 3:00pm|
|Central Library Tuesday, September 29th 6:00pm – 8:00pm|
|Fountain Square Library Saturday, October 3rd 2:00pm – 4:00pm|
|Franklin Road Library Tuesday, October 13th 5:30pm – 7:30pm|
|Nora Library Saturday, October 24th 2:00pm – 4:00pm|
And on Saturday, September 26th, from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. at the Nora Library, there will be a writing workshop entitled “Bringing Words to Life.”
The presenters, Ann Kroeker and Charity Singleton Craig, are the authors of On Being a Writer: 12 Simple Habits for a Writing Life that Lasts; and they’ll present key components of building a rewarding and sustainable writing life. Copies of the book will be available for purchase.
If interested in this program, you need to register at the branch or call 275-4470 to register.
On Being a Writer is also available as a downloadable e-book.
Category Announcement, Author Visit, Event | Tags: Ann Kroeker, Bringing Words to Life, Charity Singleton Craig, Indiana Writers Center, On Being a Writer: 12 Simple Habits for a Writing Life that Lasts, Writing Your Life
August 17, 2015 by Reader's Connection
The Book of Sand is a collection of stories by Jorge Luis Borges. It was published in 1975, and is currently available from the library in Collected Fictions (1998), in which Borges’s stories have been translated by Andrew Hurley.
The first story in The Book of Sand is called “The Other.” The narrator, whose name is Jorge Luis Borges, is sitting on a bench by the Charles River in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1969. A young man joins him on the bench, and–lo and behold–he is Jorge Luis Borges when younger. The young man believes he is sitting by the Rhône River in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1918, and won’t believe the older man’s claim that he is who he says he is. The younger Borges surmises (sensibly enough) that he, the young man, is simply dreaming about this older Borges.
At one point, the young man says,
“If you have been me, how can you explain the fact that you’ve forgotten that you once encountered an elderly gentleman who in 1918 told you that he, too, was Borges?”
I hadn’t thought of that difficulty. I answered with conviction.
“Perhaps the incident was so odd that I made an effort to forget it.”
The older Borges offers the reader another explanation, at story’s end, of why he can’t remember this incident from his youth; but much as I love The Book of Sand, we have to leave it behind for a moment.
Flash forward to the year 2012. The film Looper is released. In this film, time travel has become possible, but it’s illegal. A crime syndicate uses it for people whom it wants bumped off. These victims are sent thirty years into the past, where they are murdered by special assassins called “loopers.” (As it happens, all four of the library’s DVD copies of the movie have been sent into the past, to be destroyed by special vandals called “goofers,” but our fearless Selector Jessica Lawrence has said that she’ll order more.)
Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a looper named Joe, and one day his older self, played by Bruce Willis, shows up to be murdered. That sort of thing happens in this line of work.
You can click on the left for a film clip. It gets a little violent at the end, but I’m including it here because the younger Joe* asks the older Joe much the same question that the younger Borges asks the older Borges in “The Other,” and the older Joe is just as evasive as the older Borges.
I think these moments of evasion are equally funny–in each case, the reader/viewer is being teased–and Looper should have been great; but writer-director Rian Johnson forgot the first rule of time-travel movies:
1. The audience should have to think for one full second–if possible, for two or three seconds–before it realizes that what it’s watching doesn’t make sense. And if the audience wants to push that realization aside, they should be allowed to do it.
While watching that one scene, viewers can smile and push the realization aside, but Johnson condescends to his material. He announces in the DVD commentary that all time-travel movies are “balderdash,” and he rubs the moviegoer’s nose in sequences as gory as they are flagrantly impossible. aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa
I read many of his earlier stories, back when they were the rage, but didn’t read later stories as they came along. For this, I should be sent back through time and dunked in Pogue’s Run, before anyone tried to clean it up.
One story, “There Are More Things,” is dedicated to the memory of H. P. Lovecraft, and for good reason. It’s creepy. If I say that many of Borges’s stories could be called Lovecraftian, I don’t mean that he’s a full-time horror writer. I mean that Lovecraft** made use of “non-Euclidian geometry.” That is, that is, angles and spaces work differently, to frightening effect. And in Borges, characters and possibilities and ways of seeing things are forever coming at me from odd angles.
I had forgotten how much I loved the guy.
And I wish Looper had been done with a lighter touch–with more real assurance and less pumped-up bravado. Maybe if Borges had been brought through time to write the screenplay.
* * *
Borges was over 65 years old when he wrote the stories in The Book of Sand. So the book helps to fulfill one of the requirements for Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge.
My other book by an over-65 author is John Barth’s Every Third Thought. I haven’t blogged about that one, because I didn’t enjoy it much; but the reviews that you can link to from our catalog are pretty favorable, and since I’m singing the praises of Borges, here, and blogged about an Italo Calvino book back in June, let’s close this post with a relevant word from Every Third Thought.
The narrator and his wife visit Sweden while vacationing, and while in Stockholm they give . . .
. . . the figurative finger to its Swedish Academy for never having awarded their Nobel Prize in Literature to such now-late worthies as Vladimir Nabokov, Jorge Luis Borges, and Italo Calvino–each of whom would have done at least as much honor to the prize as it to them–while often bestowing it instead upon writers whom even we lit-lovers may scarcely have heard of, and many of whom, to put it mildly, must lose a lot in translation . . .
*If Joseph Gordon-Levitt doesn’t look like himself in that first film clip, it’s because they lavishly (and I think unsuccessfully) made him up to look like a younger Bruce Willis.
**I haven’t actually read many stories by H. P. Lovecraft. Or any. I’m a chicken. I’ll work on that. [9/30/2015 update: I have read some Lovecraft stories now.]
9 new libraries in Indianapolis, all of them quite unusual. Here’s an interview about them, and an invitation to the grand opening.
August 14, 2015 by Reader's Connection
There’s a new library going up at the Mary Rigg Neighborhood Center. It’s going to look like this.
The one at White River State Park will look like this.
There will be one at Eskenazi Health . . .
. . . two at the Indianapolis Museum of Art . . .
. . . one at the City Market .
. . . one at Horizon House . . .
. . . one at the southeast corner of the Cultural Trail . . .
. . . and one on Monument Circle.
Are you confused? Do these libraries not look like libraries?
Click on that last picture, of the library/artwork called Monument on Monument Circle, to hear an interview with Mindy Taylor Ross (of Art Strategies, LLC) about these 9 works of art that actually function as lending libraries.
The books at these installations aren’t regular Indianapolis Public Library books. The library is donating them, but they’re part of something called The Public Collection. You’ll be able to borrow them on the “good old honor system” as Mindy says; and you can donate books–though if you’d like to make a large donation, you should contact us, the Indy Public Library.
At noon on Thursday, August 27th, the official opening of these Public Collection installations will be be celebrated on Monument Circle. Come see a new artwork, and maybe borrow a book, or donate one.
I had a lot of fun, a few years back, photographing the installation of Tom Torluemke’s mural at Central Library; and I’m delighted to see that he designed one of the Public Collection libraries (Cool Books, Food for Thought at the art museum). But really, I’m intrigued by all of them.