Wednesday, December 31, 2008

This Week in Reading Dec. 28, 2008 - Jan 3, 2009

This week is the last Monday-to-Friday week of the year. As you’ve noticed, we now have arranged the lists to which we link you from This Week in Reading as if there were only four weeks in a month. As we have now completed the year of authors whose books are in our library, next year the blog post referring to the list may show up only four times a month as well. We will work on correcting and adding any other authors who have been left off or who newly receive some level of prominence.

That said, the main event to read about this week, of course, is the coming of the New Year. It starts off colorfully enough with the always dependable Rose Parade and the Rose Bowl wherein we expect a dependable ninth straight Pac 10 victory. And, like many of us, London’s Samuel Pepys, who ought to be the patron saint of bloggers, began his famous diary on the first day of the year, in his case 1660, but unlike most of us he kept it going for ten years thus creating a wonderful historical resource for later readers. If you start a diary this year, why not make it into a daily record of your reactions not just to what you see and hear but also to what you read? Who knows what you may end up with, material for a book of your own, of for a blog, or comments to share with others?

It's another week big on initials for big authors, some of whom we’ll revisit next week (because they're in January), include 1907 Nobelist Rudyard Kipling, E. M. Forster, J R. R. Tolkien, Mortimer Adler, Isaac Asimov, and J. D. Salinger with novelists Robert Ruark, William Gaddis, and Nicholas Sparks.

This Week’s Question: J.D. Salinger, notoriously shy of publicity, will turn ninety this year and many will try to get him to say something publicly about his work which hasn’t been seen in years. Some are even suggesting he may have written novels he does not intend to publish in his lifetime. If that were true, last week’s posthumous Pulitzer may not be the only one. In addition to his ground breaking book, the adolescent anthem A Catcher in the Rye, he has written a series of novels and stories about a particularly quirky family which includes a prodigy which may or may not be reflective of his own peculiarities. What is the name of that family?

Answer to Last Week’s Question: The stylist who did not believe in style was controversial novelist, Big Sur denizen Henry Miller.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Harold Pinter 1930 - 2008

Nobel prizewinning playwright and screenwriter, considered by many to be the most important British playwright in the last century, Harold Pinter died on Christmas Eve. He was 78. His plays have had a remarkable impact on generations of audiences and actors. On the edges of absurdism, often dealing with atrocities committed by mean people, his dark "comedies of menace" have skewered the hypocrisies of authoritarian powerholders. He was outspoken in his criticism of real political figures; his controversial speech to accept the Nobel prize in 2005 lambasted those who met terrorism with harsh tactics that cause more.

The list of his important plays include The Birthday Party, The Homecoming, The Caretaker, The Dumbwaiter, Old Times, and Betrayal. He also wrote novels, poems, and articles and books about writing and about politics, and has had many books and articles written about him and his influence on modern theatre.

[Pinter image from Gale Biography Resource Center accessible through
Glendale Public Library Online Resources page.]

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

This Week in Reading December 21 - 27

This week is Christmas week and we're in the middle of Hanukkah and Kwanza as well so few of us have time to read as we celebrate with families and friends. So the Glendale Public Library extends to all the greetings of season.

There are many authors born this week but few who saw success as early in their career as Stephenie Meyer whose Twilight seriies has captured the love and interest of millions of young readers. Another phenomenally successful author born this week is mystery and novel writer Mary Higgins Clark. Both were born on Christmas Eve. Also this week, Germany's Heinrich Boll won the Nobel prize for literature in 1972.

This Week's Question: What author born this week and known largely for writing style, said, "The best technique is none at all"?

Answer to Last Week's Questions: Playwright Maxwell Anderson:was a teacher before becoming famous. He was fired from his job for supporting a pacifist student in World War One. Saki, (H. H. Munro) was killed on the battlefield in that war. Also a pacifist years earlier going into the Civil War was poet John Greenleaf Whittier who was a Quaker but who is best known for a patriotic poem about battle.. In World War Two playwright Noel Coward, as unikely a combatant as Saki, worked as a spy for England, but did not like to talk about it later.

Later on, John Kennedy Toole was unable to find publishers for his novels. After he killed himself in despair his mother gathered his work, and submitted them to a local college writing professor, also known for his fiction, Walker Percy. Toole's Vietnam War era novel, Confederacy of Dunces, set in New Orleans, won him a posthmous Pulitzer Prize for 1981.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Tempting Titles - Christmas Mysteries 2008

Every year people give Christmas mystery novels as gifts. If you didn’t get one this year come to the library and check out one of the previous mysteries by an author who annually presents one. Here are the brand new holiday mysteries for 2008, including one set in a New York Armenian community by a new author.

Six Geese A-Slaying by Donna Andrews

"In the 10th entry in Andrews's fine-feathered cozy series (Cockatiels at Seven, etc.), Meg Langslow is having a tough enough time trying to organize the Christmas parade, with its Twelve Days of Christmas theme, in Caerphilly, Va. Then someone drives a stake through the heart of Santa, played by grouchy Ralph Doleson, who hates children and animals (and no, he's not a vampire). Finding the killer who could totally spoil Christmas becomes number one priority for perky amateur sleuth Meg. Suspects include protesting members of SPOOR (Stop Poisoning Our Owls and Raptors), six of whose members are playing geese in the parade, a local woman whom Doleson may have been blackmailing and a nosy Washington Tribune reporter." (Publisher Weekly)

Santa Clawed by Rita Mae Brown

“The 16th entry in the Mrs. Murphy mystery series (Puss 'n Cahoots) is the first holiday offering from Brown. Regulars "Harry" Haristeen and her sleuthing cats, Mrs. Murphy and Pewter, seek out a murderer when a dead body appears under the Christmas tree.” For all mystery collections and essential for series fans.” (Library Journal)

Indigo Christmas: a Hilda Johansson mystery by Jeanne M. Dams

“Hilda Johansson Cavanaugh finds herself caught between the world of her past as a housemaid and her new role as a wealthy wife in Agatha-winner Dams's delightful sixth mystery set in early 20th-century South Bend, Ind. (after 2005's Crimson Snow). When Hilda's only friend's husband is accused of stealing, arson and murder, Hilda determines to prove him innocent. Meanwhile, as part of her efforts to belong to society, Hilda joins a group of well-to-do members of the community in creating a Christmas party for street boys, some of whom she hires to help in her investigation.” (Publisher Weekly)

Ringing in Murder by Kate Kingsbury

"At the start of Kingsbury's engaging fourth holiday Pennyfoot Hotel mystery set during the Edwardian era (after 2007's Shrouds of Holly), amateur sleuth Cecily Sinclair Baxter is hoping for a festive winter season at her hotel on England's windy southeast coast, but the Christmas curse strikes again. The speaker of the House of Lords, Sir Walter Hetherton, and his wife, Lady Clara, are killed by an explosive Yuletide cracker at the Pennyfoot Country Club, which Cecily now manages. … A scary, vanishing snowman heightens the suspense. While the murderer's motive might strike some as a bit unconvincing, cozy fans will be pleased to ring in the new year with this cheerful Kingsbury trifle.” (Publisher Weekly)

A Christmas Grace: a novel by Anne Perry

“Bestseller Perry's sixth Christmas novel (after 2007's A Christmas Beginning), one of the stronger entries in the series, explores further mysteries of the soul. A few weeks before Christmas, 1895, Emily Radley, the sister of Charlotte Pitt (last seen with husband, Thomas Pitt, in Buckingham Palace Gardens), answers a summons from Father Tyndale, spiritual leader of a small Western Ireland community. … Perry effortlessly evokes the region's insularity and isolation while imbuing religious themes into a whodunit without being preachy.” (Publisher Weekly)

Murder at the Altar: a historical novel by Terry Phillips

“On Christmas Eve morning in 1933, the head of the Armenian Church in America, Archbishop Ghevont Tourian, is stabbed to death with a double-edged butcher knife as he begins Sunday services. His infamous murder in a little New York City church is witnessed by hundreds of parishioners -- among them, a newspaper reporter named Tom Peterson. The next day, this story is splashed on the front page of every major daily in Manhattan. And no wonder. Not since the assassination of Thomas à Becket has such a high religious leader been slain in a house of worship. This gruesome homicide shatters the Armenian community and confounds the cops. Was it a terrorist attack to silence a political adversary, a KGB plot to discredit anti-communists in America, or simply a tragic turn in an ancient, bitter dispute?” (Publisher description) [No image available]

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

This Week in Reading December 14 - 20

We have an alphabet of well known events and people to read about this week. We’ve got Antarctica, George Bailey, basketball, Beethoven, the Bill of Rights, the Boston Tea Party, and Charles Dickens' “A Christmas Carol.” And that’s only the a-b-c’s. There’s also flight, football, Franklin's "Poor Richard," Marian the Librarian, Nostradamus, and poets laureate.

Authors fall into the a-b-c’s as well, with some extra alliteration going on in their names. We begin with
Edwin Abbott Abbott (Really. He wrote “Flatland.” What else, with a name like that?) Then there’s Maxwell Anderson, Jane Austen, Abe Burrows, Erksine Caldwell, Hortense Calisher, Sandra Cisneros, Arthur C. Clarke, Noel Coward, Philip K. Dick, (and you see where this is going,) on to Ford Madox Ford, Margaret Mead, Michael Moorcock, H. H. Munro, (known as “Saki,”) Steven Spielberg, and all the way to poet John Greenleaf Whittier, with no Nobel prizewinner among them, for once. But, of course, there are many other fine authors, as always.

This Week’s Question: There are some unspoken themes this week. Among them, several of the authors born this week had war and antiwar connections. One was fired from teaching for supporting a student conscientious objector, another was a Quaker. And while a few also served in the military, one was actually a spy and one was killed on the battlefield. Who are they?

Also, while several authors this week won Pulitzer prizes, one author won one for a book he didn’t even get published. Who’s that?

Answer to Last Week’s Question:Every fine story must leave in the mind of the sensitive reader an intangible residuum of pleasure, a cadence, a quality of voice that is exclusively the writer’s own, individual, unique.” –
Willa Cather

You don’t know what it is to stay the whole day with your head in your hands trying to squeeze your unfortunate brain so as to find a word … Ah! I certainly know the agonies of style.” -- Gustave Flaubert

Thursday, December 11, 2008

California Wireless Telephone Automobile Safety Act Part II: "No-text Law" Begins January 1st, 2009

An update to the California Wireless Telephone Automobile Safety Act will begin on January 1st. The new law prohibits sending and reading text messages from any electronic wireless communications device while driving. Texting was not covered in the initial hands-free cell phone laws that began in July of this year.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles website has a summary of the law and the corresponding fines, while the full text of the Senate Bill 28 may be viewed on the California State Senate's official website.

See articles about text messaging accidents and laws in other states at Infotrac (Reference Center Gold), one of several useful databases accessible through our Online Resources page with a Glendale Public Library library card number. Enter subject "text messaging" and choose subdivision "laws, regulations, and rules."

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

This Week in Reading December 7 - 13

Today presents a paradox for many librarians. It is the birthday of Melvil Dewey, who was both loved and hated for his Dewey Decimal System because it is both inclusive and exclusive. While there’s supposed to be room for everything, and that makes it findable on the shelf using the number system, anything not Anglocentric gets shoved into the nines at the end. Digital access will eventually change this when text is delivered online but as long as books stand on shelves to be found by library users the Dewey classification system will stay in use as the address of the book on the shelf. (Image from Wikipedia.)

This week also gives us some other American classics. There is novelist Willa Cather, humorists Joel Chandler Harris and James Thurber, poet Emily Dickinson, and classic mystery writer Ross McDonald. From Europe there’s Roman poet Horace, French novelist Gustave Flaubert, and from England, poet John Milton and playwright John Osborne. There are three Nobel prizewinners this week, German poet Nelly Sachs, (1966), Egyptian novelist Naguib Mahfouz, (1988), and Russian novelist Alexandr Solzhenitysn, (1970). And that’s only scratching the surface. Check out more on the weekly list.

This Week’s Question: It’s too easy to quote Thurber again and again so here are two views of literary style from this week’s authors. Who said each?

“Every fine story must leave in the mind of the sensitive reader an intangible residuum of pleasure, a cadence, a quality of voice that is exclusively the writer’s own, individual, unique.”

“You don’t know what it is to stay the whole day with your head in your hands trying to squeeze your unfortunate brain so as to find a word … Ah! I certainly know the agonies of style.”

Answer to Last Week’s Question: Mark Twain said, “Why shouldn’t truth be stranger than fiction? Fiction, after all, has to make sense.”
Jonathan Swift said, “Satire is a sort of glass, wherein beholders do generally discover everybody's face but their own.”

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Historic Glendale Photographs Now Available on flickr!

Many of the great photographs from the Special Collections Room at the Glendale Central Library are now being made available on flickr, a photograph sharing and management website. The images in the Verdugo Views flickr collection have been featured in Katherine Yamada's Verdugo Views column in the Glendale News-Press.

Since 1999, Katherine's articles have covered a variety of events, individuals, and activities in Glendale's unique history, and the Library's Special Collections photographs can often be seen accompanying the column. The online format of flickr also allows for the direct linking of the related News-Press article to the respective photograph. The link is provided in the caption of each image.

A handful of images will be added each week, so be sure to check back regularly!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Photo Displays Feature Glendale's Past

The Glendale Central Library currently has two displays featuring Glendale's past.

On the second level, there is Glendale Rose Floats on Parade, a selection of photographs featuring Glendale's Rose Floats from 1934, 1960, 1972, 1982 and 2008.

On the ground level are photographs from the Rockhaven Sanatorium in the Montrose area. The historic site is under consideration for future use by the city, possibly a library branch.

To find out more about Glendale's past check out these recent books by city employees and others.
Early Glendale by Juliet M. Arroyo
Glendale by Juliet M. Arroyo, Katherine Peters Yamada, and George Ellison
Glendale 1940 - 2000 by Juliet M. Arroyo
Grand Central Air Terminal by John Underwood.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

This Week in Reading November 30 - December 6

Anniversaries abound this week. Charlemagne and Napoleon became rulers of France, the Encyclopedia Britannica and the Los Angeles Times began, the Monroe Doctrine was spelled out, and the westward “Manifest Destiny” of the country was declared. One country attacked another, and a draft began for another war. The prohibition on alcohol ended but a prohibition on speech led to a student movement for freer speech. Charles Dickens began to get paid for his speeches as he became a world traveler to read publicly from his works.

Some extremely well known authors were born this week, several of them having a great deal to do with satire. First there was Jonathan Swift, and later Mark Twain. Then came Woody Allen, Calvin Trillin, T. Coraghessan Boyle, and sometimes David Mamet.

Novelist Joseph Conrad did not write comedy, nor did Joan Didion nor Peter Handke but they, and story writer Cornell Woolrich, along with poets Ranier Maria Rilke and Christina Rossetti all reached powerful levels of anxiety in readers. Other well known names include Winston Churchill, poet Joyce Kilmer and the oft quoted Kahlil Gibran. There is also another early Nobel prizewinner, the lesser known classicist Theodore Mommsen who won in 1902.

This Week’s Question: Quotes from authors this particular week could fill a volume by itself but here are just two. Which authors born this week said these?

Why shouldn’t truth be stranger than fiction? Fiction, after all, has to make sense.

Satire is a sort of glass, wherein beholders do generally discover everybody's face but their own.

Answer to Last Week’s Question: The term illuminated generally refers to the Medieval practice of decorating manuscript pages with gilded lettering and small illustrations interspersed with the text. Bringing the practice back to the modern world, poet – artist – visionary William Blake invented relief etching, a reverse of the usual process, and added illustrations, which had to be hand colored, to create illuminated books of his poetry. Noted among them are Songs of Innocence and Experience and The Book of Job. Original editions are prized among collectors and special libraries.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

This Week in Reading November 23 - 29

It's Thanksgiving week. Many of us are thankful for the end of hot, dry days and the enjoyment of cool evenings where we can sit indoors in a comfortable sweater with a cup of hot chocolate or hot cider next to us while we read.

This week is also a week to catch up on some of the mistakes we've made as we approach the end of the year. While we will edit out all those old Russian calendar mistakes after the year is done, we must correct a glaring one we made two weeks ago. One of the old literary books we relied upon has shown itself wrong on several occasions and we learned that French-Romanian playwright Eugene Ionesco was born this week instead. Sorry.

With time off from work, in between family to dos, catch a little bit of classic reading with Louisa May Alcott, Laurence Sterne, C. S. Lewis, or Jin Ba. You can go literary modern with James Agee, Nancy Mitford, Arundhati Roy, or Alberto Moravia. Classic fantasists are on the menu with Madeleine L'Engle, Nelson Slade Bond, L. Sprague de Camp, and science fiction's Frederick Pohl and Poul Anderson. Top it off with the poetry and art of William Blake or the philosophy of Baruch Spinoza.

This Week's Question: One the authors born this week created illuminated books. Who was it? And what are illuminated books?

Answer to Last Week's Question: Mary Ann Evans, the woman who wrote as George Eliot, was a woman in Victorian England when women were considered to be "silly" novel writers. She had planned to publish as Marion Evans. Contemporaneous with her, however, was a famous woman who became the wife of the British Prime Minster, himself a novelist, Benjamin Disraeli, and her name was Mary Anne Evans. Somehow the name George Eliot was decided on for the novel Adam Bede which secured its author a reputation as a great writer. Because an imposter, a man, claimed to be the successful novelist, Mary Ann Evans came out as the real George Eliot and Victorian society accepted her as she published several more great novels, albeit under the male name. Besides this, Evans refused Victorian ideas of piety and in fact lived unmarried, though as married, for over twenty years to a man who could not divorce his wife, who had several children by other men in their open marriage. After he died Evans finally did marry, but to an unstable man twenty years her junior. The last years of her life which will make good screen fodder, her changing impact on the literary world for women, are depicted in the recent novel The World Before Her by Deborah Weisgall.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Glendale Public Library's Oral History Collection Now Available!

(click on the photograph to view a larger version in a new window)

The Glendale Public Library is pleased to announce that its Oral History Collection is now available through the Library's website. The collection features both traditional one-on-one interviews (conducted by the Glendale Planning Department in the 1990s) and historical recordings of events sponsored by the Glendale Historical Society in the 1950s.

The recordings, in some cases being made available for the first time, can be listened to through the media player (Windows Media, Real, etc.) on any computer--at home, school, or even in the Glendale Public Library.

The image above is one of many found in the Special Collections Room in the Glendale Central Library. The Special Collections Room contains news clippings, books, maps, and other materials that cover the history of Glendale, neighboring cities, and California in general. The collection is particularly useful for local history and genealogy research projects.

Special Collections also houses the Cat Collection, one of the largest collections of feline-related materials in the world.The Special Collections Room is currently open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m and 1 to 3 p.m., and by appointment. Please call (818) 548-2037 for additional information.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

2008 National Book Awards

The National Book Awards were given out last night at an event in New York City hosted by actor / writer Eric Bogosian, and the winners for 2008 are:


"This multigenerational saga traces mixed-race bloodlines that American history has long refused fully to acknowledge. Blending biography, genealogy, and history, Gordon-Reed ... brings to life the family from which Sally Hemings (1773–1835) came and the family that she and Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826) created. ... This is a masterpiece brimming with decades of dedicated research and dexterous writing." (Library Journal)


"a one-volume compilation of three previously released but revised and condensed novels based on the life of Edgar J. Watson, a 19th century ruthless cane farmer in Florida who was said to be a serial killer" (New York Times)


"In this long-awaited book, Doty ... combines new poems with the best of his previous volumes. His narrative style is expansive, filled with what has been described as a "lyric glitter" that creates radiance around the ordinary. Like a good storyteller, he sets the scene in spaces that might include cityscapes and country roads with romping dogs. Like Whitman, Doty is often elegiac and brazenly American in his topics. Frequently, his poems explore "a larger dark," the difficulty of being human in a world that doesn't glisten—unless you're willing to look for it." (Library Journal)

Young People's Literature

"In 1947, with her jovial stepfather Joe back from the war and family life returning to normal, teenage Evie, smitten by the handsome young ex-GI who seems to have a secret hold on Joe, finds herself caught in a complicated web of lies whose devastating outcome change her life and that of her family forever." (Book Summary)

The 2008 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters

Maxine Hong Kingston for her various works including Woman Warrior and The Fifth Book of Peace.

" with her Buddhist-inflected wisdom and at times humorous self-doubts, weaving their stories together with her own struggle to reorient herself after the fire, Maxine Hong Kingston is at times a kind of sprite, an almost weightless spirit, who guides others toward a better place, and at times a challenging teacher, who will not let us turn from the spectacle of a world so often at war. " (Book Summary of the Fifth Book of Peace.)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

This Week in Reading November 16 - 22

One would imagine that this week gives us authors whose names any student of literature has heard of but whose works, except for a couple, one may not have gotten around to reading.

There are four Nobel prizewinners, France's Andre Gide (1947), Portugal's Jose Saramago (1998), South Africa's Nadine Gordimer (1991) and Sweden's Selma Lagerof (1909) who was the first woman to win it for literature. Nigerian Chinua Achebe and Canadian Margaret Atwood may yet win it, and though there was no such prize in his day, Voltaire certainly achieved that status. Other current writers with strong reputations include novelist Don deLillo and historian Shelby Foote.

Also on the list are several authors who will appeal to young adults and lovers of comics and graphic novels. There are some well known politicians, some poets, and quite a few names from television and entertainnment, as well.

Apart from the distanced works of the above literary names, two authors named George, on the other hand, have been encountered by many a high schooler. Algonquin Round Table member George S. Kauffman was the cowriter of the quintessential American comedies of the 1940s that have played on nearly every high school and amateur stage in the country and George Eliot wrote the novel, Silas Marner, which nearly every teen student has had to read for class.

This Week's Question: Once out of school, however, anyone with a taste for literature will find that the rest of the novels George Eliot wrote, Middlemarch, Adam Bede, The Mill on the Floss, are some of the finest novels ever written. Though everyone should know that George Eliot was the pen name for a woman who wanted her books to be taken seriously in the Victorian Era in which she lived, not everyone knows a) what that real name was, b) what other famous British personality had the same name nearly at the same time, and c) that the author's highly controversial real life would have made a great novel by itself but would have needed a more enlightened era in which a movie, or at least a cable or PBS miniseries about it would find a more receptive audience.

Answer to Last Week's Question: Literary critic Roland Barthes enigmatically described literature as "the question minus the answer." Out of context, that obviously tells us nothing, but in the context of his anti-tradition structuralism, it makes some sense. That is, if you believe in another of his quotes, "the death of the author is the birth of the reader." Leading others, such as Jacques Derrida, to the theories of deconstruction, Barthes felt that there was no neutral writing and that a text is not completed until the reader "recreates" it for himself. He differentiated between writerly text which causes the reader to actively give it new and presumably personal and immediate meaning, and readerly text which allows readers to accept whatever has been stored or displayed in the text in common sense ways. While libraries are depositories and deliverers of that commonly agreed upon literature, today's new electronic media actually allow textual interactivity in ways that will show how seemingly paradoxical and nonsensical critical theories such as Barthes' will make new sense. New works by new Shakespeares will come out of new media in new ways. We can all be Shakespeares for ourselves if we play with text enough by both reading and writing.

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