September 8, 2014 by Reader's Connection
The Rufus and Louise Reiberg Reading Series at IUPUI begins it fall session on October 9th. All readings are free and open to the public.
Thursday, October 9, 2014, 7:30 p.m.
University Library Lilly Auditorium
755 West Michigan Street
Dense with echo and vibrant with syncopation, Wicker’s debut deploys a festive panoply of characters from African-American culture and music to make serious claims about memory, sadness, race, self-consciousness, and desire. “Love Letter to RuPaul” appraises “the hourglass-shaping choke hold/ you can put on a mic”; “The Break Beat Break” considers “the body’s// never-ending addiction to movement… spun/ backward on a turntable.” Wicker gets introspective too, self-conscious and self-mocking: “I’m only telling you this because/ you’re reading a poem,” he says in a deceptively serious “I’m a Sad, Sad Man. So Sad.” Prose blocks, couplets, short stuttered lines and long ones that repeat his own name (as in a ghazal) give the collection exciting variety, while its memories–sexy, pathetic, guilty or all three, as in pages about Wicker’s Michigan teenage years–give the work a cumulative gravity. — Publishers Weekly
Thursday, October 30, 2014, 7:30 p.m.
Emerson Hall Anatomy Lecture Hall
545 Barnhill Drive
Born out of a gross anatomy course, the title poem of Boruch’s eighth collection is a 30-part sequence in the voice of the 99-year-old woman whose body was dissected in the class: “The body–before they opened me–the darkest dark// must live in there. Where color is wasted./ Because I hear them look:/ bright green of gallbladder, shocked yellow fat.” Boruch’s broad attention, intelligence, and imagination manage questions of death, physicality, and the transactions of knowledge both within the lab and across history. Every moment is charged with multiple meanings–narrative, scientific, epistemological, ontological–as the deceased speaker references her own life and death, comments on dissection techniques, explores anatomical formalities, and ponders the clinical and social negotiations of the medical students (“The way one of them,// I’m sorry to me/ when her knife flashes wrong.”). Equally concerned with mortality and meaning, the collection’s other poems are contained lyric meditations anchored in the real and specific. – Publishers Weekly
Monday, November 17, 2013, 7:00 p.m.
Herron School of Art & Design
Eskanazi Hall Basile Auditorium
735 West New York Street
Jarrar’s sparkling debut about an audacious Muslim girl growing up in Kuwait, Egypt and Texas is intimate, perceptive and very, very funny. Nidali Ammar is born in Boston to a Greek-Egyptian mother and a Palestinian father, and moves to Kuwait at a very young age, staying there until she’s 13, when Iraq invades. A younger brother is born in Kuwait, rounding out a family of complex citizenships. During the occupation, the family flees to Alexandria in a wacky caravan, bribing soldiers along the way with whiskey and silk ties. But they don’t stay long in Egypt, and after the war, Nidali’s father finds work in Texas. At first, Nidali is disappointed to learn that feeling rootless doesn’t make her an outsider in the States, and soon it turns out the precocious and endearing Arab chick isn’t very different from other American girls, a reality that only her father may find difficult to accept. Jarrar explores familiar adolescent ground–stifling parental expectations, precarious friendships, sensuality and first love–but her exhilarating voice and flawless timing make this a standout. — Publishers Weekly
Visitor parking is available in the North Street Garage, 819 W. North St. and the Vermont Street Garage, 1004 W. Vermont Street.
For more information about the series, contact Terry Kirts at firstname.lastname@example.org or (317) 274-8929.
September 4, 2014 by Reader's Connection
David Hoppe’s new collection Personal Indianapolis: Thirteen Years of Observing, Exhorting, and Satirizing the Hoosier Capital was released this summer.
Click on the picture to hear Hoppe talk about his new book (he doesn’t really like books that are collections of columns), his friendship with Kurt Vonnegut, and how he thinks Indianapolis is doing.
September 1, 2014 by Reader's Connection
That cover art, if you’re wondering, is the Cone Nebula. Smith’s father worked on the Hubble Space Telescope, and pictures of the nebula and other astonishments are available for your desktop at HubbleSite.
A beautiful extended poem about the death of her father was too long to reprint. (Extinct tiger species are brought in as she deals with what it means for him to be gone.) But she mightn’t have written a soundtrack for the universe if she hadn’t had that dad; so his influence is felt here.
I think another poem here is an homage to a therapist. I’m not sure how many of those I’ve read.
I couldn’t resist the third poem, directed as it is toward my favorite rock band’s drummer. I love the way Levon is driving in donuts through the back woods of her mind while she struggles with a poem, and how a song has to climb out of him like a man from a mine. (Levon played Loretta Lynn’s father in Coal Miner’s Daughter.)
THE UNIVERSE: ORIGINAL MOTION PICTURE SOUNDTRACK
The first track still almost swings. High hat and snare, even
A few bars of sax the stratosphere will singe-out soon enough.
Synthesized strings. Then something like cellophane
Breaking in as if snagged to a shoe. Crinkle and drag. White noise,
Black noise. What must be voices bob up, then drop, like metal shavings
In molasses. So much for us. So much for the flags we bored
Into planets dry as chalk, for the tin cans we filled with fire
And rode like cowboys into all we tried to tame. Listen:
The dark we’ve only ever imagined now audible, thrumming,
Marbled with static like grisly meat. A chorus of engines churns.
Silence taunts: a dare. Everything that disappears
Disappears as if returning somewhere.
I spent two years not looking
Into the mirror in his office.
Talking, instead, into my hands
Or a pillow in my lap. Glancing up
Occasionally to let out a laugh.
Gradually it felt like a date with a friend,
Which meant it was time to end.
Two years later, I saw him walking
Up Jay Street into the sun. No jacket,
His face a little chapped from wind.
He looked like an ordinary man carrying
Shirts home from the laundry, smiling
About something his daughter had said
Earlier that morning. Back before
You existed to me, you were a theory.
Now I know everything: the words you hate.
Where you itch at night. In our hallway,
There are five photos of your dead wife.
This is what we mean by sharing a life. Still,
From time to time, I think of him watching me
From over the top of his glasses, or eating candy
From a jar. I remember thanking him each time
The session was done. But mostly what I see
Is a human hand reaching down to lift
A pebble from my tongue.
aaaaaaaaaaafor Levon Helm
I’ve been beating my head all day long on the same six lines,
Snapped off and whittled to nothing like the nub of a pencil
Chewed up and smoothed over, yellow paint flecking my teeth.
And this whole time a hot wind’s been swatting at my door,
Spat from his mouth and landing smack against my ear.
All day pounding the devil out of six lines and coming up dry,
While he drives donuts through my mind’s back woods with that
Dirt-road voice of his, kicking up gravel like a runaway Buick.
He asks Should I come in with that back beat, and whatever those
Six lines were bothered by skitters off like water in hot grease.
Come in, Levon, with your lips stretched tight and that pig-eyed grin,
Bass mallet socking it to the drum. Lay it down like you know
You know how, shoulders hiked nice and high, chin tipped back
So the song has to climb its way out like a man from a mine.
Category Author Visit, Event, Poem | Tags: Alternate Take, Butler University, Life on Mars, Savior Machine, The Universe: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, Tracy K. Smith, Vivian S. Delbrook Visiting Writers Series
August 28, 2014 by Reader's Connection
Summer is winding down–or has totally vamoosed, if we’re talking school years–but I just finished reading George Howe Colt’s book The Big House: A Century in the Life of an American Summer Home, and I was so wrapped up in it that that I was moved by the Acknowledgments, for heaven’s sake, in which the author thanks, among others, members of his family.
His gratitude is appropriate. This story of a sprawling Cape Cod house is also a Bostonian family’s story.
I am only one of the many people who have thought of the Big House as home. It has been a gathering place for my family for five generations. The house has watched over five weddings, four divorces, three deaths, several nervous breakdowns, an untold number of conceptions, and countless birthdays, anniversaries and love affairs. My aunts, uncles and cousins have crisscrossed the country, moving from job to job and winter home to winter home, but they have always come back.
There are sailing stories, tennis stories, love-crush stories, stories of the aforementioned breakdowns, and the history not only of this particular house but of Cape Cod in general. I was delighted to learn that the future of Cape Cod as a resort was first predicted by Henry David Thoreau.
In 1849, the notion of voluntarily traveling to Cape Cod to see the ocean–without planning to fish, build a ship, go whaling, or scavenge a wreck–would not have occurred to anyone except, perhaps, a man who had spent two years gazing into a small, dark pond.
But the beloved Big House is endangered. The scattered family can no longer afford to keep it.
We were, as the caption for a recent William Hamilton cartoon put it, “Old Money without the money.” . . . In fact, it is not wealth so much as former wealth that defines Old Money families, and is most central to people’s perception of social class, according to Nelson Aldrich, himself a Rockefeller heir. “Once the wealth has been there, for perception, it needn’t go on being there,” he writes. “Indeed, it must not go on being there; it must retire discreetly behind the veil of time and disappear like the Cheshire cat, leaving a smile.”
Much of this book is spent on what the author believes will be his last visit, with his wife and their kids, to the Big House; and as I readied myself to say farewell to summer, this was the perfect read.
The Big House is also available in large print.
August 25, 2014 by Reader's Connection
One of our own librarians reviewed a September title, but it would be unprofessional for me to get excited, so I’m not going to name the librarian or her branch.
Here’s my usual LibraryReads map, highlighting states that contributed this month’s reviews. Oh, wait . . . wait . . . what is happening here? . . .
I shouldn’t have tried to repress my excitement. An image has burst forth from my Deep Wayne-Unconscious and taken over the map.
Cathy Scheib at the Wayne Library wrote one of the reviews. Congrats to Cathy. (Click on the map for views of the dear departed Wayne fence mural, which still stands in my psyche.)
Here are this month’s reviews.
Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty
Part memoir, part exposé of the death industry, and part instruction manual for aspiring morticians. First-time author Doughty has written an attention-grabbing book that is sure to start some provocative discussions. Fans of Mary Roach’s Stiff and anyone who enjoys an honest, well-written autobiography will appreciate this quirky story. — Patty Falconer, Hampstead Public Library, Hampstead, NH
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
An actor playing King Lear dies onstage just before a cataclysmic event changes the future of everyone on Earth. What will be valued and what will be discarded? Will art have a place in a world that has lost so much? What will make life worth living? These are just some of the issues explored in this beautifully written dystopian novel. Recommended for fans of David Mitchell, John Scalzi and Kate Atkinson. — Janet Lockhart, Wake County Public Libraries, Cary, NC
The Secret Place by Tana French
French has broken my heart yet again with her fifth novel, which examines the ways in which teenagers and adults can be wily, calculating, and backstabbing, even with their friends. The tension-filled flashback narratives, relating to a murder investigation in suburban Dublin, will keep you turning pages late into the night. — Alison McCarty, Nassau County Public Library System, Callahan, FL
The Distance by Helen Giltrow
Imagine a modern-day Robin Hood who deals not in money, but identity. Karla, the protagonist of The Distance, is a tech guru with a conscience, and the security of several nations dependent on her. This nuanced book kept me on the edge of my seat. I cannot wait until the next one comes out. — Cathy Scheib, Indianapolis Public Library, Indianapolis, IN
Rooms by Lauren Oliver
A family comes to terms with their estranged father’s death in Oliver’s first novel for adults. Told from the perspective of two ghosts living in the old house, this unique story weaves characters and explores their various past connections. Great book! — Rachel Fewell, Denver Public Library, Denver, CO
The Children Act by Ian McEwan
Judge Fiona Maye is at a difficult point in her marriage. Taking refuge in addressing other people’s problems in family court, Fiona extends herself more than usual, meeting a boy whose future is in her hands. McEwan is a masterful observer of human distress. With a simple story and flawed, genuine characters, this novel is poignant and insightful. — Jennifer Alexander, St. Louis County Library, St. Louis, MO
The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters
You can almost bet that a situation with long-term guests–paying or not–is not going to turn out well. This novel by Waters, who many know from her earlier books Tipping the Velvet and The Little Stranger, will keep you turning the page to see just how tense things can get, and how far fear and passion can push someone. — Elizabeth Angelastro, Manlius Library, Manlius, NY
The Witch with No Name by Kim Harrison
In this book, Harrison ends her long-running Hollows series, featuring witch Rachel Morgan, vampire Ivy, and pixy Jenks. Rachel’s come a long way; now, she and her friends attempt the impossible and face their toughest battle yet. Harrison skillfully wraps up many plot points, leaving readers sad that the series is over but satisfied by its ending. Fans will surely cheer Rachel on and shed a tear or two. — Ilene Lefkowitz, Denville Public Library, Denville, NJ
Season of Storms by Susanna Kearsley
Once again, Kearsley introduces you to a cast of characters who will quickly hold a special place in your heart. Celia and Alex mirror lovers from decades past, sharing similar secrets and passions. Flashbacks are woven seamlessly into the storyline, and the strong family component is handled beautifully, with surprising twists and turns. — Marianne Colton, Lockport Public Library, Lockport, NY
Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix
You know how some horror movies would work better as novels? Horrorstör is that book, perfectly capturing everything that is terrific about the horror genre. In its catalog-style pages, you’ll find a hefty dose of satire, as a Scandinavian furniture store is transformed overnight into a prison. With characters that you’re rooting for and terror that creeps up on you, Horrorstör will keep you up all night in the best possible way. — Donna Matturri, Pickerington Public Library, Pickerington, OH
Librarians anywhere who want to contribute to LibraryReads can click here to learn more.