Monday, June 30, 2008

This Week in Reading June 29 - July 5

We get a holiday this week because it's the Fourth of July and the freedom to read and write what we want to is an essential American civil right. That said, it's a week that gives us both the Declaration of Independence and the birth of Spam(tm), both the bikini and the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty, both Wal Mart(tm) and the Sherman Anti-Trust Act , as well as Walden Pond and cloned animals. So responsibility and perspective is also in order. Read whatever you want but don't set off any wayward fireworks.

Among the notable names this week are some actually born on the Fourth of July, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Neil Simon, Stephen Foster, Rube Goldberg, and the twin sisters with advice columns, Abigail Van Buren and Ann Landers.

Other literary names of note in the week are three Nobel prizewinners, Herman Hesse with no less than two Polish poets Wislawa Szymborska and Czelaw Milosz, as well as Franz Kafka, Jean Cocteau, George Sand, M.F.K. Fisher, and Tom Stoppard.

This Week's Question: An author born this week wrote of the lack of depth and complexity in contemporary novels and that is why this author wrote "romances" instead. Today, however, the term 'romance novel' would suggest the opposite. Said the author: "It will be very long, I trust, before romance writers may find congenial and easily handled themes, either in the annals of our stalwart republic, or in any characteristic and probable events of our individual lives. Romance and poetry, ivy, lichens and wallflowers need ruin to make them grow." Who is it?

Answer to Last Week's Question: The other Nobel prizewinner last week was Italian playwright and novelist, Luigi Pirandello, who won the prize in 1934. His novellas are rarely read today, but his plays continue to be performed, some of which led to the beginnings of postmodernism by breaking conventions.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Brand Associates Purchase Award Collection

The Associates of Brand Library are pleased to present a special exhibition at Brand Library Art Galleries!

Brand Associates Purchase Award Collection: Retrospective Exhibition

On view: June 28 through July 25, 2008

Please join us and several of the artists at the Brand Library Art Galleries for a Closing Reception on Friday, July 25th, 5-8 pm.

Brand Associates Purchase Award Collection: Retrospective Exhibition is a selection of art works purchased by the Associates of Brand Library from their annual national juried exhibitions. The annual exhibitions have been organized and sponsored by the Associates since 1971. This special retrospective exhibition will showcase the art works by artists who have been recipients of the Purchase Award at the annual juried exhibitions.

The Purchase Award, given by the Associates of Brand Library, is bestowed to one or more works at the annual juried exhibition that is felt to be outstanding in artistry and technique. The Associates award the recipient, by purchasing the piece for their art collection and as a legacy to each annual exhibition.

The Associates' Purchase Award Collection now contains over 100 pieces of artwork. A selection of approximately 60 pieces acquired by the Associates from the 1970s through 2007 will be exhibited with an emphasis on artworks by Californian artists. There will be several works by artists from Glendale and neighboring cities.

The Associates of Brand Library is non-profit volunteer organization whose purpose is to aid and promote the Brand Library and its Art Center through sponsorship of programs and donations, and to foster art and music education in the community.

Admission is FREE. There is ample free parking.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

This Week in Reading June 22 - 28

Officially Summer now, this week's list of authors begins and ends with adventure and suspense as it probably should. H. Rider Haggard's novels and stories of colonialist adventurers have been made into countless movies. Eric Ambler was one of the most widely read suspense writers of his era, and the success of his amateur-who-gets-caught-up-with-spys novels brought him to live in Los Angeles as a successful screenwriter.

Two more highly successful suspense novelists were born this week. Lawrence Block has written dozens of mystery novels in at least five series. Dan Brown's Angels and Demons is currently about to be filmed as a follow up to his blockbuster DaVinci Code.

Pearl S. Buck wrote family sagas based on her Chinese missionary childhood that were so good she became the first American woman to win the Nobel Prize in literature. And let us not forget, (though we did at first), that this week gives us George Orwell, as well.

This Week's Question: What other author born this week won the Nobel Prize in literature?

Answer to Last Week's Question: Jean Paul Sartre won the Nobel prize in Literature but turned it down. His questions in existential philosophy underlie his most famous novel Nausea. That "sweet sickness" happens to his protagonist who grows to despise his (and every one else's) physical existence but learns that he must live with it, including the Self Taught Man who was reading every book in the library in alphabetical order. Often related to the problem encountering Hamlet, both this book and Oblamov, written many years earlier in Russia by Ivan Goncharov, find their characters faced with "to be or not to be." Oblamov eventually answered no, but Sartre's Antoine, has to say yes.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Summertime at 1601 W. Mountain Street in the 1910s!

Women playing tennis at the lodge: A group of 5 unidentified women standing on the tennis courts that were on the grounds of Leslie C. Brand’s lodge. The lodge was a recreational home situated behind the Brands' main residence, El Miradero.

Women at the pool: A group of women at the pool on the westside of Leslie C. Brand's property, near his home El Miradero. The pool was enclosed in an outdoor structure.

These images come from a collection of online photographs that depict Leslie C. Brand and his family while he was still living in El Miradero. The collection includes images of the rooms within the mansion, and scenic views of the property and are available online as part of The Online Archive of California (OAC). The collection includes photographs and documentation related to Mr. and Mrs. Brand's funeral, the Brand family cemetery, the Brand Lodge, Brand's 1921 fly-in party, his airfield and airplanes, his automobiles, and his camp in Mono Lake. The collection also includes photographs of the Brand Library and Park that was created from his home and property deeded to the City of Glendale.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

This Week in Reading June 15 - 21

Summer comes in officially at the end of this week. While you might expect mystery, suspense, and light fiction for such weather, they are mostly missing from the authors born this week. (Except for Erich Segal, whose Love Story was a big 1970s beach read, and Rosamond Smith, who is the pseudonym of one of the more serious literary authors born this week.)

What we're left with, however, are some very complex, thoughtful, and highly literary authors of the likes of Joyce Carol Oates, Salman Rushdie, John Hersey, Laura Z. Hobson, Charles Chesnutt, Vikram Seth, Mary McCathy, Lillian Hellman, and Ian McEwan. Every one of them writes about love, several about music and love, and all about difficult human relations between individuals and groups. There's many a beach read here, but they're not light.

This Week's Question: "If literature isn't everything, it's not worth a single hour of someone's trouble," was said by an author born this week. One of his characters, whose companion was in the process of reading all the books in the library in alphabetic order, also said, "All that I know about my life, it seems, I learned in books." Who was the author, and what, by the way, is that book that has a very specific relationship to the major novel of another author born this week?

Answer to Last Week's Question: Next to the engraving of Shakespeare in the First Folio of his plays in 1623, playwright Ben Jonson appended this poem:

To the Reader
This Figure, that thou here seest put,
It was for gentle Shakespeare cut,
Wherein the Graver had a strife
with Nature, to out-doo the life:
O, could he but have drawne his wit
As well in brasse, as he hath hit
His face ; the Print would then surpasse
All, that was ever writ in brasse.
But, since he cannot, Reader, looke
Not on his Picture, but his Booke.

Though Jonson's other poem in the folio praises Shakespeare's skill over rivals, specifically Marlowe, these short lines, especially the last one, give some non-Stratfordians cause to suggest that the picture of the man is not a picture of the author of the plays in the books. We'll never know, of course.

More for the Jane Austen Addict!

Book Club Girl, a blog dedicated to sharing great books news and tips is featuring one of our recent speakers, Laurie Viera Rigler author of Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict.

Laurie visited the Glendale Public Library on May 28 and was a hit with a full house!

If you're a Jane Austen Addict you'll want to listen to Laurie Viera Rigler on Blog Talk Radio. Blog Talk Radio is a call-in show for book clubs and individual readers and open to anyone who wants to call in and talk to Laurie about Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008
7 PM EST / 4 PM Pacific
Live call-in show on Blog Talk Radio.
Hosted by Book Club Girl (a must-read blog for book clubbers everywhere):

The call-in number for June 25 at 7 pm EST is:
(347) 945-6149.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Glendale History: Verdugo Swim Stadium

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

With the official start of summer just days away (and the summer heat already here), thoughts turn to finding outdoor activities and ways to keep cool.

From the 1938 until the mid-1980s, the Verdugo Swim Stadium provided both for residents throughout Glendale. This picture, taken by a Glendale News Press photographer, suggests that the pool was quite a hit with the kids and teens of Glendale in the 1940s.

The Verdugo Swim Stadium, which was located next to the
Civic Auditorium on Verdugo Road, was finally demolished in 1988. This photograph is one of the thousands available to library patrons and researchers at the Special Collections Room in the Glendale Central Library.

The Special Collections Room also 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., Saturdays from 1:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., and by appointment. Please call (818) 548-2037 for additional information.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Summer Reading: Fatherland by Robert Harris

Fatherland, a 1992 best-selling hard boiled detective mystery with a twist. It’s 1964, twenty years after Nazi Germany’s victory in WWII. Berlin Detective Xavier March finds his investigation of a corpse anything but routine. In the process he uncovers a conspiracy to cover up the crimes of the Nazi regime in order to safeguard an upcoming meeting of Hitler and U.S. President Joseph P. Kennedy.

Robert Harris’ thriller will appeal to fans of tough detectives. The unique alternative history setting adds another layer of interest to this well-written first novel. Harris has gone on to write historical fiction, including a trilogy about the Roman empire. His newest book is The Ghost, about a ghostwriter working on the memoirs of a former British Prime Minister.

Book jacket from my beat up paperback. The Library owns hard copy, large type and audiobook (cassette) versions.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Opera Concert at Brand Library 6/14

Community Concert at Brand Library
Saturday June 14, 2008 2:00 PM
Free Admission

with Los Angeles Opera artists:
Karen Vuong - Soprano
Craig Colclough - Bass-baritone

Paul Floyd - Piano

Performing some of opera's most famous arias and highlights from the 08-09 season.
A reception for the artists will follow the concert.

More informaiton about the LA Opera Community Concerts can be found on their website.

This Week in Reading June 8 -14

On a week that sees the birthday of arguably the inspiration for the Nobel prize, this week gives us two earlier Nobel prize winners, Irish poet and playwright Williiam Butler Yeats and Japanese novelist Yasunari Kawabata, as well as a recent one from America, Saul Bellow. For strict literary tastes we get Willam Stryon, Athol Fugard, and Jerzy Kosinski also in the week along with a few popular genre and children's writers.

Fitting specialized levels of honor among fans and followers in two of those categories are Maurice Sendak, illustrator extraordinaire of children's books, and Dorothy L. Sayers, whose Peter Whimsey mysteries have always transcended the genre label and have never been matched as a series that satirizes general society as well as fulfilling cracking mystery expectations.

This Week's Question: Which author born this week wrote a famous dedication sentence that might well hold true for readers of, and the authors symbolized in, This Week in Reading? "Reader, look / Not at his picture, but his book."

Answer to Last Week's Question: In the week that ex-presidential Press Secretary Scott McClellan's book came out, there was also the birthday of Bill Moyers, who served as a speech writer in the Kennedy administration and was President Lyndon Baines Johnson's Press Secretary from 1965-1967. His predecessor in both administrations, by the way, was born this week. He is Pierre Salinger. Public issues brought up weekly on PBS's Bill Moyers Journal are discussed monthly (except this month) at an open meeting of Moyers Talkers in our computer lab at the Central Library. The next one is Thursday, July 17 at 7PM. All points of view are welcome and will be challenged politely.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

This Week in Reading June 1 -7

There's lots of literature from all over the place this week but there's no one special form that seems to override other forms for a theme. We have the very literary: Thomas Hardy, Thomas Mann, Federico Garcia Lorca, and Margaret Drabble. And we have the very popular: Colleen McCullough, Larry McMurtry, Marion Zimmer Bradley and V. C. Andrews. There are plenty of other authors new and old that fall in between.

This Week's Question: Appropriately, as this is the week that Scott McClellan's, What Happened, comes out, which other author born this week was also a presidential press secretary?

Answer to Last Week's Question: "You could compile the worst book in the world entirely out of selected passages from the best writers in the world," was spoken by none other than the great humorist G.K. Chesterton who left heaps and heaps of quotable lines behind in his progressive, optimistic writings. Such as this librarian's mantra: "There is no such thing on earth as an uninteresting subject; the only thing that can exist is an uninterested person." But to keep our feet on the ground we must remember he also said: "When learned men begin to use their reason, then I generally discover that they haven't got any."

And, unable to resist it, one more: "Every one of the great revolutionists, from Isaiah to Shelley have been optimists. They have been indignant, not about the badness of existence, but about the slowness of men in realizing its goodness." Read any Chesterton book and compile your own best passages of wide ranging ideas and satisfying ideals.

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