Wednesday, May 28, 2008

This Week in Reading May 25 - 31

"It was a dark and stormy night:"

Those seven words were only the beginning of the first line of Edward Bulwer-Lytton's 1830 novel, Paul Clifford; -- fifty-one words followed those seven, with parentheticals and dashes -- and, (though cartoonist Charles Schulz's Snoopy popularized those words,) they have led to the annual Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, in which contestants write overlong, bad opening sentences like this one:

"It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents, -- except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness."

Though that annual worst fiction contest is oddly not on Bulwer-Lytton's birthday, other writers born this week include some real masters of the craft. One of them, the oft quoted essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson, was born on the very same day. Story writers abound with Raymond Carver, John Cheever and Jamaica Kincaid. Mystery and suspense is strong this week, too, with Dashiell Hammett, Tony Hillerman, Robert Ludlum and Ian Fleming. Also frequently recited are poets Walt Whitman and Theodore Roethke.

This Week's Question: Another author born this week is responsible for a quote that is apropos to Bulwer-Lytton as well to everyone else: "You could compile the worst book in the world entirely out of selected passages from the best writers in the world." Who is it?

Answer to Last Week's Questions: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle studied medicine and joined another doctor after he graduated, then later set up a general practice on his own. However, his was not a successful practice so he spent his unoccupied hours writing stories. For a time he tried to be an opthamologist but had no patients and so wrote more and became, obviously, very successful at that instead of medicine.

(The other question was misleading only in the sense that John Barth ended up on two days of our list somehow. Actually born only on May 27th, he was this librarian's freshman English professor at the State Unversity of New York, Buffalo. The survey course he taught covered English literature chronologically, and you had to know who wrote what and when to keep up with the postmodernist, literarily reflective metafiction that Barth wrote in his off campus hours. Maybe it led eventually to this desire to keep track of writers, but did not finish school then, -- restarted and completed it and then some years later -- and never finished reading one of his books, anyway. In The Sot Weed Factor Barth is pretending to be an actual seventeenth century author but he's really satirizing that style of early picaresque fiction from today's viewpoint but ... Wait a minute, now knowing literature a bit better maybe can go back to keep up with it and finish it. Oh, all the books in a library waiting to be read! Can we get to them all?)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

This Week in Reading May 18 -24

The entertainment focus continues this week but there are a few more literary names added with five -- count 'em, five! -- Nobel prizewinners to boot. We have playwrights Lorraine Hansberry, Arthur Wing Pinero, Arnold Wesker, and Marian the Librarian creator Meredith Willson, and we also have film makers Frank Capra and Richard Brooks. This week's broadcast performer who has also written novels is newsman Jim Lehrer.

Literarily we travel from Omar Khayyam to Joseph Brodsky, with Honore de Balzac, John Barth, and Robert Creeley on the way. Besides Brodsky, Mikhail Sholokov, Bertrand Russell, Sigrid Undset, and Par Lagerkvist all won the Nobel prize for Literature. Important philosopher John Stuart Mill is also in this week's list.

This Week's Question: Also born this week was the creator of the great Sherlock Holmes mystery series, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who was also a physician. What kind of physician was he, and how did his success at it affect his literary career?

(Special bonus question which you're not expected to know the answer to: Which author born this week was this author's freshman English professor and did he have any influence on this librarian's love of literature?)

Answer to Last Week's Question: The author of the gothic thriller Trilby in the late 1800s was George Du Maurier, the grandfather of Dame Daphne Du Maurier, the author of Rebecca and other thrillers in the 1900s.

California Wireless Telephone Automobile Safety Act To Take Effect July 1st!

Beginning July 1st, two laws restricting the use of mobile phones and other wireless devices while driving will go into effect in California. For drivers 18 years and older, talking on a mobile phone will be prohibited without the use of a hands-free device, such as a Bluetooth (or other) headset or a speaker phone.

Drivers under the age of 18 may not use a mobile phone or other communication device (laptop, pager, etc.), with or without a hands-free device, except in the case of an emergency. Please see the California Highway Patrol’s
Frequently Asked Questions page for additional information regarding fines and any exceptions (of which there are few).

According to the CHP, there will be no grace period once the law takes effect, so take the necessary steps to equip yourself with the right equipment before the July deadline. Information on
hands-free phones and headsets can be found at

The two vehicle codes (23123 for those 18 and older, 23124 for minors) can be read in their entirety by visiting the
Glendale Public Library's Online Resources page (either in the library or from any computer with Internet access). Select the Business, Statistics & Law tab to search the California Law database, then search the Vehicle Code (be sure to check the Vehicle Code box) using the code numbers above.

The full text of each bill can also be retrieved from the California State Senate's
official website. SB 1613, which applies to adults, was passed during the 2005-06 session, while SB 33, which applies to minors, passed during the 2007-08 (current) session.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

This Week in Reading May 11 - 17

This week and next are full of authors whose work found expression in the entertainment sectors of their eras. This week there are playwrights like Mikhail Bulgakov, Arthur Schnitzler, Max Frisch, Paul Zindel, and both Anthony Shaffer and his twin brother Peter Shaffer.

There are film directors and producers like George Lucas, Robert Zemeckis; scriptwriters Alan Ball and Dennis Potter; and songwriters Irving Berlin and Arthur Sullivan. There are even television performers who have written novels both weeks. Late night host and comedian Craig Ferguson is this week's example. There will be another next week.
Story writers and poets this week include Katherine Anne Porter , Armistead Maupin, and Adrienne Rich. Novelists range from Alphonse Daudet to Bruce Chatwin with the Saint's Leslie Charteris for mystery ,and science fiction is represented by Stephen R. Donaldson and Roger Zelazny.

This Week's Question: Which author born this week was the grandchild of the author of one of the books mentioned in the Answer to Last Week's Question below?

Answer to Last Week's Question: There is debate about it, but Gaston Leroux's Phantom of the Opera, which was serialized first in 1909 to 1910 and adapted for stage and screen in many ways, may have been inspired by an English gothic horror novel from 1894 called Trilby in which a mad hypnotist named Svengali made an opera diva of a tone deaf woman in bohemian Paris. Susan Kay's 1991 Phantom retells Leroux's story in a literarily satisfying novel which also alludes to elements of Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical version.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

This Saturday Is Fire Service Day in Glendale

This coming Saturday, May 10th, the Glendale Fire Department is hosting their annual Fire Service Day at Fire Station 21, located at 421 Oak Street (between Columbus and Pacific, behind the Galleria) from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The event actually kicks off with a pancake breakfast from 9 a.m. to 12 noon. The breakfast is free, but donations will be accepted.

The event itself will feature live demonstrations, antique fire engines, emergency preparedness programs, and plenty of activities for kids, including a climbing wall, Sparky the Fire Dog, and Smokey the Bear! See the
event flyer for full details.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

This Week in Reading May 4 - 10

How heavy do you want your reading this week? If Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, Soren Kierkegaard, and (the somewhat more accessible) philosophy of Jose Ortega y Gasset aren't dense enough for you, how about trying to get through a Thomas Pynchon novel?

For your fine literature fix the essays and reviews of Edmund Wilson or the intertextual magical realism of Angela Carter are both challenging and yet satisfying, too.

But the book for true readers to enjoy is Alan Bennett's Uncommon Reader in which Queen Elizabeth simply decides to pick up a book and soon gets carried away into reading about society and people she never knew and this in turn disturbs those around her. Funny, a bit haughty, too.

Sure, there's lighter fare for everyone, like Robin Cook and Barbara Taylor Bradford, and even Michael Palin's delightful travel writings, but it's a week for thiinking about how we live. Several political and history writers show up this week, too.

This Week's Question: Gaston Leroux's Phantom of the Opera has been adapted for stage and screen dozens, if not hundreds, of times but also may have been an adaptation itself of an earlier story by another writer. What is the source it may have come from? And what other recent work rewrote Leroux's story as a new novel with the same characters?

No answer needed to last week's question if you did find something interesting to read at the Glendale Public Library. After all, that's what we're here for. Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

One Glendale One Community Mural

The Glendale Central Library is proud and excited to be hosting the debut of the Unity Mural, which will be on display in the lobby for the entire month of May. The 54-foot-long mural was designed and executed entirely by a group of creative and dedicated students at Allan F. Daily High School in connection with the Glendale Sunrise Rotary Club's One Glendale One Community initiative, whose purpose is to celebrate diversity and promote unity in our fair city. For more information on the mural and its genesis, click here.

Please take the time to visit Central Library in May to see the mural in person. It's really brightening up the place! If you've seen it, please let us know what you think!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Free Comic Book Day

This Saturday, May 3rd, is Free Comic Book Day, an annual, national event celebrating the independent comic book specialty stores that need more support than ever. Our favorite local comic book store, Legacy Comics, has been kind enough to give us some free comics to give out to our patrons, so feel free to stop by Glendale Central Library's Teen Area on Saturday, May 3rd, to get your free comic book (while our supply lasts!)

While you're here, check out the Library's Graphic Novel and Manga collections. There is so much diverse and wonderful literature being published in graphic form -- from Alan Moore's gritty
V for Vendetta, to Marjane Satrapi's memoir Persepolis, to Jeff Smith's children's epic Bone, and so much more -- there's really something for everyone.

Do you have a favorite graphic novel or comic book series? Does our Library
carry it? Let us know!

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