With the snow and ice and cold it seems that we are truly in the midst of the Hellidays. We have noticed that we are a lot less busy and we are chalking it up to the fact that you all are out there shopping, baking a cookie and decorating your hearts out. The message from the SoNo Loft remains the same: Santa ♥’s U! I am wondering if it is going to stick for the season. I do love the touch of whimsy that it brings to my commute. So if you are out there, I thank you for it! Sweet Ann is too busy getting festive to impart any profound words of wisdom it would seem, but she would like to remind us to smile and enjoy the season. But I think you will see from what we are consuming this week that there is not a whole lot that is Merry and Bright going on. For those of you who are fans of the wonderful 3M Cloud Library please be aware that Simon and Schuster, the last publishing hold out for selling digital content to libraries has become available! Speaking of digital content keep your eyes open for more digital excitement to be announced on Monday. This week we have prison, horror, Mississippi, Alabama, South Carolina, New York, ephemera, the New Deal, and London.
Let us begin!
Amanda is out of her comfort zone this week. “I almost gave up on Incarceron by Catherine Fisher because it was gruesome, slow-paced, and full of horrors – not my usual taste. However, I'm glad that I persisted through. Each step along the way is a surprise with never-ending agonies for the characters to face. Four prisoners are trying to find out a way out of the prison, Incarceron. They’re challenged not only by starvation, blood-thirsty gangs, falling razor-edged leaves, but doubt that there is really a world outside of the prison. The ending is somewhat awful to in what it does to the characters involved. I somewhat don't want to read the sequel to find out how they sort themselves out of this mess. Yet I won’t be able to resist , there has to be salvation and a happy ending, right?”
Abby is watching this week. “In honor of the holiday season I’m excited to share a movie beloved by my family. It’s a Finnish film with English subtitles called Rare Exports –A Christmas Tale. Note: This is not a feel good movie; it is meant for the grownups or teens when the little ones are nestled all snug in their beds. No angels get their wings, a reindeer with a shiny nose does not save the day, and a snowman does not go on an amazing journey. In my house we use the word demented to describe this film and we stand by it. While Rare Exports has some creepiness and a bit of gore, it did not exceed my low tolerance for horror. It’s such a unique film; I’ll let a few critics help me out. Rotten Tomatoes calls it “An unexpectedly delightful crossbreed of deadpan comedy and Christmas horror.” And the late Roger Ebert explained “Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale is a rather brilliant lump of coal for your stocking hung by the fireside with care.’ The Big Payoff comes in the final 2 minutes of the film and the lead child actor is superb. Stick with it and enjoy the ride! “
Babs B. has just finished Sycamore Row by John Grisham. “Twenty five years after A Time to Kill John Grisham is back with his character Jake Brigance, the brash young lawyer from Clanton, Mississippi. Once again the story, which takes place in 1991, centers on a new trial that exposes Clanton's uneasy past with race relations. This sequel is about Jake's fighting for justice in a case that could tear the small town of Clanton apart. This page turner brings back many of the characters from A Time to Kill and is vintage Grisham!”
Sweet Ann is driving around listening to The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion by Fannie Flagg who is also the reader. “I would describe it as a hoot; it has been so enjoyable and heartwarming. Sixty-year-old Sookie Poole of Point Clear, Alabama discovers that she is not who she believes she has been all these years. Her upbringing under her very demanding mother has almost done her in, but, because it is Fannie Flagg, it is done with a smile. Sookie will discover who her real family is and it will take the reader back in time to the early forties. This family will have you cheering, smiling and wiping away a tear. Sookie's search for her identity is one you shouldn't miss and Ms. Flagg as the reader is truly terrific.”
Jeanne is only doing one thing this week. Blame the season. “I love authors who go beyond good storytelling and give us the gift of a narrative filled with rich, repeatable lines. Southerner Sue Monk Kidd (Secret Life of Bees) is a great example of this. In The Invention of Wings, a frustrated 16-year old Sarah Grimké thinks,’My aspiration to become a jurist had been laid to rest in the Graveyard of Failed Hopes, an all-female establishment.’ But don’t think that means she gives up. Living with her family in early 19th century Charleston, Sarah is sickened by the treatment of slaves and befriends her maid Hetty “Handful” Grimké after being forced to accept ownership of her. The story tells of their struggle to find their place in a world that insists on boundaries. A trip to Google will tell you about the real Sarah Moore Grimké, a prominent abolitionist and women’s rights activist at a time when women weren’t even supposed to speak publicly. I am a third of the way through, but I can only imagine the rest is just as rewarding a read. “ Please note that this one is not out until January 2014.
Pat T. has finished The Boy Detective by Roger Rosenblatt. “One wintry evening, Rosenblatt, takes a nostalgic walk through the streets of Gramcery Park where he spent his boyhood. With poetic prose, we travel with him as he reminisces about his nine year old self: a private eye in search of criminals on the streets of the city. While Rosenblatt explores the city of the 1950's he shares some interesting tidbits; the phrase '23 skidoo' originated at the Flat Iron building located on 23rd Street because wind gusts caused by the triangular shape of the building would cause women's skirts to blow up. Loiters would be there to leer, so cops would have to shoo them away with ‘23 skiddoo’! Also, on the land where New York Public Library now stands, there was once a reservoir which supplied drinking water to the city. While reminiscing about his boyhood, the author infers that he had a lonely childhood growing up in a grand apartment with immigrant parents who succeeded professionally, but lacked the skills to express their love for him.”
Miss Amy of the CL has been working through a book that has had libraries and librarians in a tizzy. Read on and discover why! “Over the past few weeks, I have slowly worked my way through the DL's holdings of TV shows and now - gasp! - books by hit TV and Film producer J.J. Abrams. Mine is an unwavering obsession which began in 2006 when the hit TV show LOST sucked me in. Co-creator of the show J.J. Abrams creates magnificently layered and nuanced sci-fi and mystery stories in LOST and in films like Cloverfield and Super 8, and his work on the newly released book S is no exception. Co-written/created with author Doug Dorst, S is unlike any other book I've read. At first glance it's actually a novel titled Ship of Theseus,and each page features marginalia, or handwritten notes in the margins of the book. One might think ‘Oh my! Who defaced this book?,’ but upon closer inspection, it becomes clear that the marginalia actually is part of the story. The handwritten notes detail a love story between a graduate student, Eric, and an undergraduate library shelver, Jen, at a fictional university. They bond by swapping stories and rumors about the mysterious late author of Ship of Thesues, V.M. Straka. The story and plot are further deepened by the addition of an assortment of ephemera stuck within the pages of the book. Ephemera is anything that is considered transitory or impermanent but integral to the story. S features an array of ephemeral pieces including a birthday card, a clipping from the fictional university's newspaper, and even a mock-hand drawn map on a real napkin! I highly recommend S to any J.J. Abrams fanatics, lovers of great stories, and book nerds like me.”
Stephanie is making a declaration! Gather round folks! “This week I am finishing Fear Itself: The New Deal and the Origins of Our Time by Ira Katznelson. What they should have called it was A New History of the New Deal, because that’s what it is, and a good one at that. Katznelson has turned fresh eyes on a piece of American history that many think they know, and it’s a compelling examination of how our modern politics are still shaped by that time. Though many see the New Deal as a well-managed bit of political maneuvering by FDR and his team, this book re-casts it as a set of ideas from FDR that were heavily influenced by world events—especially the impending war—and unthinkable without the approval of the southern Democrats. The New Deal’s reputation as a progressive masterpiece takes a serious hit in this book; Katznelson demonstrates that FDR repeatedly allowed southern legislators to make whatever changes they needed to the New Deal to preserve their way of life while taking federal money for the new programs, in effect federally approving the segregation of Jim Crow. Though the book has some sections of very heavy political science, it is extremely readable. I am declaring it the Number One Dad Book of 2013!”
Stephanie and I are planning a Very Special Meet Us on Main Street (MUOMS) for its return on January 8th. Because of this I am reading Idiopathy by Sam Byers. Katherine, Daniel and Nathan are friends who live in modern day London. Katherine and Daniel were once together and Nathan has just come out of a stint in rehab. Honestly? I am unsure about where this book is going to take me, and I am not sure that I am enjoying it. Byers has had me laugh out loud on the train only to be stunned into silence in the next paragraph by some pretty seriously depressing prose. Factor in that Katherine, Daniel and Nathan are not terribly nice people and I just don’t know that I want to invest more time into this one. I am going to give it a bit more time, but Steph and I have some serious reading to do for this MUOMS so I don’t know if I will finish this one up or not. Join us on the 8th to hear all about it.