Information, Answers & Reviews

Promising New Fall Fiction

TelegraphAvenueWorking in a library, I try to read a wide variety of books -- romance books, graphic novels, memoirs, young adult fiction, fantasy and popular non-fiction titles.  But my one true love is contemporary literary fiction.  A coworker once remarked to me that I didn't like reading novels by authors who weren't alive.  Yep.  Give me Jhumpa Lahiri over Jane Austen any day. 

But I assume like a lot of readers I get stuck in a rut and go long periods of time without being excited about the fiction I am reading.  This fall might be the answer to all my book desires.  Four of my top ten favorite authors have new books coming out!

Michael Chabon wrote one of my all-time favorites and former One Book One Bloomington title, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay.  His newest, Telegraph Avenue is out this week.  It tells the tale of a used record shop and the two friends who are co-owners.  Spouses and children complicate the story as well as a mega-store moving in down the street.  Set in Northern California in 2004, Chabon explores parenthood, family, music, and the American Dream.  

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Proper care and feeding of your DVDs, CDs and BluRays.

Not this wayWhen compact discs first came out they were proclaimed to be almost indestructible.  I still remember watching the Today Show and being amazed as the new media storage for music was demonstrated.  Part of the demonstration was taking a small hammer and hitting the CD disc with it.  A wonder of wonders; the disc still played.  Looking back on this event today I wonder if the disc would have played all the way through.   The Idea that digital disc storage was indestructible has been more than a little overblown.  Digital discs need the same care and sometimes greater care than the old vinyl recordings.   I would like to share with you some guidelines for caring for your digital discs. " Read more »

Family History Month is coming!

The Indiana Room is gearing up early for National Family History Month in October.

Be sure to mark your calendars now for these programs:

Dating Old Family Photos

From the Smithville News Digital Collection

Wednesday, October 3, 2012 | 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm

Joan Hostetler from Heritage Photo Research will give clues on dating and identifying the person pictures or era of old photos. Participants are encouraged to bring mystery photos. You may email photos and questions in advance to Joan at heritagephotoservices [at] gmail [dot] com. Registration Required

Beginning Genealogy: Just the Basics

Wednesday, October 24, 2012 | 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm

This class is designed for people interested in beginning research on their own family history. The basic resources will be reviewed including census records, marriage, birth and death records and obituaries. The class will also include a very brief review of Ancestry Library Edition and Family Search.org Registration Required

Carry the One

ISBN: 
9781451636888

Violence changes everything that happens after. This interesting novel covers family and friends in Chicago after a tragic event occurred at the end of a Wisconsin wedding. In 1983, a carload of friends and siblings leaves a wedding party in the middle of the night. Their car crashes into a ten-year old girl, killing her.  Most of the 20-somethings were high that night from either drugs or alcohol. The driver, Olivia, gets a jail term; the rest suffer through a lifetime of guilt.

In Carry the One Anshaw presented herself with a hard task: introducing five or six characters and following them over the course of 25 plus years: their relationships, their passions, their fears, their daily occupations. Luckily, she has mastered creating authentic and interesting characters. First there are the three siblings: Carmen, Alice and Nick. It's Carmen's wedding that they are celebrating that fateful day. Carmen is the political one: she runs a Read more »

Helen Keller in Love

ISBN: 
9780670023493

Just after college I worked as a social worker at an agency for the blind in New Orleans. I remember one client particularly well. He was totally blind and deaf--an older fellow who spoke in a modified sign language and by spelling letters lightning-fast into your palm. Pat, who had worked there for years, was his favorite person to communicate with, but when she was gone, he'd come to me. Occasionally, while biking home from work, I'd see him from a distance crossing four lanes of traffic on St. Charles Ave.--usually against the light--his white cane held like a sword before him. He was always too far away for me to help, but my stomach would clench, and I'd hope that he'd make it across safely another time.

Reading Helen Keller in Love gave me a fresh awareness of what blind people endure especially the deaf and blind. When I was young, The Miracle Worker played in movie theaters (with Patty Duke and Anne Bancroft) and this movie painted Helen in saint-like tones. How refreshing and humanizing is this biographical novel. In her first novel, Rose Read more »

Dreams of Significant Girls - Not Building Romans

ImageEvery reader knows that once in a while, you come across a strange word, often from another language. This word may take hold of your imagination because it looks or sounds so weird, or you might be exposed to it over years and years in the most disconnected contexts, until you just have to look it up. Such is the word Bildungsroman. Read more »

Raccoon Nation

ISBN: 
9781608836291

Raccoons are smart. If you've ever had to deal with them then you'll probably agree that they are some of the smartest creatures on Earth. In 2011, PBS did a one-hour documentary on raccoons and their nocturnal behavior. The raccoons were tagged with GPS collars and studied for three months. The information gleaned from the researchers begged the question, "Are humans making raccoons smarter?" It seem as though every attempt to keep them out of our trash bins present them with a new and interesting puzzle to solve which in turn creates smarter raccoons that survive and pass on their genes. It sounds like a ridiculous theory but take look at the documentary before you make any judgments. The library owns one copy at the main branch.

Flash of Genius

Flash of Genius DVD CoverI lie back on my bed while listening to Janis Joplin's album Pearl. It contains one of many versions of the song "Me and Bobby Magee" that I've heard over the years. Janis is my favorite. I love how her grating bluesy voice sounds on this song, more than any other song she has recorded. As she sings the lines, "Windshield wipers slapping time, I's holding Bobby's hand in mine and we sang every song that driver knew," Read more »

Civil War "Rock Star" Ed Bearss Speaks on the 27th Indiana and the Battle of Antietam

 
Image
AP Photo/The Billings Gazette, David Grubbs
 
Civil War expert and popular battlefield tour guide Ed Bearss will talk about the Hoosier Soldiers who fought in the Battle of Antietam, the bloodiest single-day battle in American history. Bearss provided commentary for Ken Burns' PBS series, The Civil War, and has served as Chief Historian for the National Park Service. Presented in partnership with the Monroe County Civil War Roundtable; part of the David Wiley Lecture Series.

According to Adam Goodheart of the Smithsonian Magazine, Bearss is "nothing short of a rock star" in Civil War circles.

Don't miss this wonderful opportunity! Event is Tuesday, September 11th at 7pm in the Main Library's auditorium. Drop in.

 

The Sisters Brothers: A Most (Un)usual Western?

SistersBrothersI've worked in libraries for years including a few in Texas, so it is a wonder that I've never read a western.  Part of the problem then with reading your first book in a genre is that you lack the language to properly describe it or make comparisons.  Now I wonder if I shall ever read another for the fear that the next one won't hold up to The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt.

It is the gold rush years and the infamous Charlie and Eli Sisters are riding from Oregon City to San Francisco on orders from the Commodore to kill Hermann Kermit Warm.  There is trouble with horses, whores, a red bear pelt, excessive brandy drinking, a man named Mayfield, a witch and a mysterious magical formula. Large sums of money come and go. The characters are unique, but without a lot of overall development.  Is this usual for a western? Is the level of violence similar to other westerns?  Is this a parody of the genre, a homage or both?

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