Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Tom's Two Cents: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

This year's Pulitzer Prize was awarded to a novel that takes place in France and Germany during World War II.  The principal characters are a young, blind French girl and a young German male orphan, whose expertise with radio transmitters plunges him into the midst of the War when he, too, is still a child.  The respective stories of these two are told in short, parallel snippets of clean, beautiful prose, until they finally converge in the Brittany village of Saint Malo during the Normandy invasion.  Interwoven with their stories is the mystery of "The Sea of Flames," a large, brilliant cut diamond with a historical curse on it, at first located in the Museum of Natural History in Paris, then disappearing into the miasma that follows the German invasion of France.

I must confess that I had trouble with this novel until I finally concluded that it is structured like a film script, albeit a very literary one. Doerr is an accomplished writer, but he defers to popular, modern taste with his "writing bytes" that satisfy what Scott Cantrell calls in opera the "attention deficit set", those readers who wish to focus on a given character and/or situation for a very short period of time.  Listening to the book may be more rewarding than reading it, at least for old fashioned grammarians like me, who still like to see complete, complex sentences and abhor one-word fragments.  The chronology of the book is also a bit confusing, moving back and forth from early to middle to late periods of the War, and not in any particular order.

All that being said, the book has much to admire in the integrity and courage of many who survived (and didn't) the unspeakable horrors of the War.   It may be time now to move past the political turmoil of Vietnam to tell more of its human stories.  It is sad but true that the "worst of times" brings out both the best and worst of humankind.  I recommend this work with reservations--it's not story driven and there is much descriptive detail, but with a great sense of authenticity--Doerr knows his material inside out.

As to its recognition by the Pulitzer, all I can say is we've come a long way since Edith Wharton won the Pulitzer in 1920 for "Age of Innocence", even a longer way from Larry McMurtry's "Lonesome Dove" in 1985.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Poet's Perch : Solitude by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Laugh, and the world laughs with you;
Weep, and you weep alone,
For the sad old earth must borrow its mirth,
But has trouble enough of its own.
Sing, and the hills will answer;
Sigh, it is lost on the air,
The echoes bound to a joyful sound,
But shrink from voicing care.
Rejoice, and men will seek you;
Grieve, and they turn and go.
They want full measure of all your pleasure,
But they do not need your woe.
Be glad, and your friends are many;
Be sad, and you lose them all,-
There are none to decline your nectared wine,
But alone you must drink life's gall.
Feast, and your halls are crowded;
Fast, and the world goes by.
Succeed and give, and it helps you live,
But no man can help you die.
There is room in the halls of pleasure
For a long and lordly train,
But one by one we must all file on
Through the narrow aisles of pain.
Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Busy days at the library!

Here on the blog, things have been pretty quiet lately, but they sure haven't in the library!

We have just finished up a series of computer classes.  We taught seven classes on Tuesday nights beginning March 24th.  I always enjoy the computer classes.  Every group that comes through is different and this one was no exception.  This group was lively and a lot of fun!  Look for a new series in the fall.

We are also finishing up Marvelous Monday! for the time being.  Yesterday's experiment was the Mentos and Diet Coke explosion.  I didn't get any pictures, because I was too busy trying to dodge the spewing coke.  We have one more week left, and then we will begin again in September. 

Last week, I was pleased to visit the 5th grade and give an overview of everything the library offers and tell them about our summer programs.  They had a lot of very good questions about our library and some suggestions for new books that we will be looking into.  These are just a few of the kids I talked to.

Today's project will be putting these new books in the system.  Look for them on the shelves in the next couple of days!

Next week on Tuesday at 2:00 we will be showing the movie Still Alice.  Based on the book by Lisa Genova, Still Alice is about a woman who is dealing with the devastating diagnosis of Early Onset Alzheimer's Disease.  The movie never came to the theaters anywhere around here, and many of us wanted to see it, so we chose it as the first movie we are showing in what we hope will become an ongoing event.  To see the movie, please contact us at the library to reserve your ticket.  Space is limited, so tickets are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. 

And finally, we are welcoming Christian this year as our summer help.  You may recognize her from her work at the Cultural Art Center, which she is continuing. 

We are looking forward to a busy summer and hope you'll join us for some of our activities!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

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Thursday, April 30, 2015

Did you know? : Biographies

Did you know that we have a shelf devoted entirely to biographies?

Both sides are full of biographies of both recent public figures and historical ones.  There are truly some fascinating reads in the mix.
Come on in and browse the selection!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Rainy Day Blues

Are you tired of the rain?  I sure am. Judging by the definition Lisa put up on the Library Facebook page today, she is too.  

Our yards are a mess and neither of us has been able to do much in our gardens this spring.  The overcast, cloudy weather is just dreary.  We constantly feel like we need a nap!  And although we tell ourselves we shouldn't complain, that we will wish for the rain in July and August, we're just plain tired of it!  We're ready for some sunshine!

There is one benefit to all this rain, though.  More time to read!  I've been catching up on some old favorites, reading a few new releases, and adding to my classics list.  I recently read The Scarlet Pimpernel for the first time.  It was an enjoyable adventure, with fascinating characters.   I'm surprised that I had never run across it before.  Now, I have started a new release in the Youth section of the library, Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan.  I'm not exactly sure how to describe the book, but I'm finding it to be interesting.  It follows the journey of a harmonica through the lives of several people.  I'm only about a third of the way through, but I've already experienced some of the rise to power of Hitler in Pre-WWII Germany.  I believe the next section will take me to the Great Depression in the U.S. during the 1930's.  I'm not sure how it will all tie together yet, but I'm looking forward to finding out. 

What are you doing to beat the rainy day blues?  Have you discovered any new reads? 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Tom’s Two Cents : Edith Wharton by Hermione Lee

Once in a while I discover a really great biographer, and since biography is one of my favorite genres and literature was one of my majors in college, I'm always gratified to find a true literary biographer.  Hermione Lee is one, for sure.  A professor of English Lit at Oxford, she recently won the Man Booker Prize for Biography (the British equivalent of the Pulitzer) for her bio of British writer Penelope Fitzgerald, and that one is only her latest.  Previous sorties into the lives and works of Willa Cather, Virginia Woolf, Edith Wharton, and Philip Roth have also been received with acclaim.  The one I just finished on Wharton proved to be immensely satisfying and rewarding on a number of levels.

Edith Wharton is not an author whose name runs glibly off the popular tongue.  She is a throwback to another time and another age, the latter being the so-called Gilded Age of old New York society:  her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel "The Age of Innocence," published in 1920 and made into a brilliant film by Martin Scorcese about twenty years ago, is a case in point.  Other of her novels (she was also prolific in the short story form) include "The House of Mirth," "The Custom of the Country," and the grim New England masterwork that shows a very different side of her talent, "Ethan Frome."  But always front and center in her work is the abiding ( and often suffocating) influence of society upon the individuals it produces.  The enduring theme of her work seems to say, "Defy society's conventions and be damned, or at the very least be denied some elementary part of yourself."
Edith Wharton was herself a product of the very society she often condemned.   Born into a wealthy, aristocratic family in upper New York State, she was the only girl of a father who died young and a mother who tried to mould her into a figure she relentlessly refused to fit into.  Married at an early age to an older man she had nothing in common with but wealth and respectability, she spent most of her life seeking intellectual and cultural outlets from other gentlemen, including the now not-so-famous American ex-patriate author, Henry James.  In her own day she was as noted for her extensive travel as her writing--at a time when automobiles were still quite new, she drove all over the Continent, especially France and Italy, with an entourage of men, servants and dogs--and of course a chauffeur!  Finally she settled in France, where during WWI she threw herself into the French war effort,  establishing homes and hospitals for orphaned children and tubercular patients.  After the War she was awarded the French Prix de Guerre for her service to the nation.

It's a long book, but a very worthwhile one, about a woman who seemed to have it all, but most assuredly did not.  Yet she rose above her personal life issues to create an enduring body of literary work, virtually the first American woman outside of Emily Dickinson and Willa Cather to do so.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Poet's Perch : Young and Old by Charles Kingsley

Young and Old
When all the world is young, lad,
And all the trees are green;
And every goose a swan, lad,
And every lass a queen;
Then hey for boot and horse, lad,
And round the world away;
Young blood must have its course, lad,
And every dog his day.
When all the world is old, lad,
And all the trees are brown;
And all the sport is stale, lad,
And all the wheels run down;
Creep home, and take your place there,
The spent and maimed among:
God grant you find one face there,
You loved when all was young.
Charles Kingsley

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Woodwork Display

In your visits to the library you  may have noticed that we have a display case where we show collections and artwork of community members.  Recently we have been displaying a small part of Tommy Allison's toy soldier collection.  It was a great hit with small boys, although they wanted to take the display out and play with it! 

Our newest display is a showcase of the woodworking talent of Chance's step-father, Frankie Broom. 

The pieces are quiet intricate.  He uses plyboard, softboard, and oak of 1/4 inch thick or less. 

Chance says that Mr.  Broom prints out his patterns from the internet and uses a scroll saw to complete the projects.

I am certainly impressed with his skill.  Come on in and see them for yourself!!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015


***Judy Case and Karen Louton are our winners! Congratulations!***

To celebrate spring, we are giving away these two sturdy canvas tote bags.

Each one is stuffed to the brim with books, movies, and audio books.  Each one also contains a Friends of the Library travel mug!

The smaller bag is geared towards young adults, while the larger is for adults.  We will draw two names and the first name drawn will get to choose their prize. 

How do you win?  By commenting on this blog, liking or commenting on the post on Instagram, or liking or commenting on the Facebook post.  There are links to our Instagram and Facebook pages at the top of this blog. 

Winners will be announced on April 17th!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Computer Classes at the Library

Every spring and fall, the Franklin County Library offers computer classes.  The spring classes are basic skills classes and the fall ones move into a little more advanced or specialized skills.


This spring the demand for the basics class was so high that we have added an additional daytime session.  It begins tomorrow at 1:00 and if you or someone you know needs basic computer skills there is still space in the class.

We would also like to know what classes you would be interested in taking.  Is there a skill you need to learn? Specific software you need to use?  A device you are curious about?  What additional classes can we offer that would help you?

Let us know!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Chance's Corner: Disney Vacation Part 2

Disney's Hollywood Studios

Disney's Hollywood Studios (formerly MGM Studios) is a reflection of a Hollywood that was and never has been. The palm-lined streets, vintage cars, and Art Deco architecture set against the iconic backdrop of the Grauman's Chinese Theater all reflect the Golden Age of Hollywood.

It's the smallest park at the Walt Disney World Resort, but it still packs a serious punch with Aerosmith's Rock 'n' Roller Coaster that shoots off from 0 to 57 mph in 2.8 seconds and The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror which drops you down 13 stories to your certain doom (to Rod Serling's delight)!

Not your thing? Don't worry, there's much lighter fare such as The Great Movie Ride that puts you in the middle of your favorite classic movie scenes and plenty of shows such as a Broadway-caliber production of Beauty and the Beast, a zany 4-D Muppets show, and the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular!
If you eat at just one place at The Walt Disney World Resort, it needs to be the 50's Prime Time Café. The setting takes you all the way back to the days when The Donna Reed Show was a hit... the 50's (obviously)! The best part, though, is that your servers turn out to be your long lost family members. This year we had Cousin John and he was an absolute delight. Hilarious! And be warned, there are a few rules you better follow in Momma's Kitchen. Kids set the table! Don't put your elbows on the table! Eat all your vegetables!  No Sass! If you break those rules, you'll end up getting into some pretty funny trouble.

The 50's Prime Time Café.

For promotional purposes, the carriage from the new Cinderella movie was on display.

Grauman's Chinese Theater

Disney's Animal Kingdom
The Animal Kingdom got off to a bumpy start in 1998. Animal's rights groups were calling foul, animals were dying, and Florida was literally on fire. I actually remember the thick smoke rolling across the highway from the nearby wildfire. But a lot has changed since then, and the Animal Kingdom has shaken off it's "expensive zoo" image (Natazu!) and is still growing and developing into something better.

The Tree of Life has several different animals carved into the side of it.
What's the highlight of the park? Expedition Everest. It's the newest fake mountain range in the Florida swampland and it's a real doozy. You ride a train up into the mountains, ignoring the local legend of an angry yeti, and find yourself facing a track ripped to shreds. What can you do? Oh, just find yourself rollicking at high speeds backwards. Yes, backwards! In the process you find out that the legend of the yeti is more than just some story.

Well, that's just barely scratching the surface of my vacation, and even though it's always sad to leave the place where dreams come true,  I know that Mickey Mouse will always keep his promise.


Friday, March 27, 2015

Tom's Two Cents: A Year of Cinderella

At my advanced age, I've managed to see three versions of the fairy-tale "Cinderella" in the last six months.  First, at the Metropolitan Opera, streamed live to Dallas and Texarkana, Rossini's early 19th century version, "Cenerentola," then Sondheim's musical film "Into the Woods," and now the Disney/Kenneth Branaugh full-length film, starring Lily James, Cate Blanchette, Helena Bonham-Carter, and a host of others in an enchanting, visually glorious re-telling of the famous tale.

This version begins with a kind of prologue to where the tale usually begins.  Rather than confronting Cinderella in rags by the kitchen fireplace, the audience learns the back story of her birth and childhood, a sublime upbringing from infancy in the arms and safety of a doting mother and father.  Of course harsh reality intrudes when Cinderella's mother dies, her father re-marries a greedy, selfish and social climbing widow with two goofy daughters, and subsequently dies abroad, leaving Cinderella at the mercy of her adopted family.

In this version her only true friends are the birds and beasts of the farmyard and the woods, including some adorable mice who live in the house, eat crumbs and cheese and keep Cinderella company.  (Yes these are Disney computerized mice, who just may be the best actors in the show, along with a white duck, who rivals TV's Aflac!).  But when Cinderella saves a stag in the woods and meets a dreamy Prince, her life is changed forever.

Of course you know the rest of the story, which is told in the most lush and extravagantly beautiful terms ever, especially the magical special effects created to transform the pumpkin, etc. into a golden coach and four.  Its disintegration, along with its horses, driver, and footmen, at the stroke of midnight, displays a brilliant sense of comic and visual timing.  And perhaps the most heartwarming theme reiterated throughout is not the traditional message that "they all lived happily ever after," but the advice proclaimed throughout the story: "Be kind and have courage," and hopefully all will turn out all right!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Poet's Perch : Pippa's Song by Robert Browning

Pippa's Song
The year's at the spring,
And day's at the morn;
Morning's at seven;
The hill-side's dew-pearl'd;
The lark's on the wing;
The snail's on the thorn;
God's in His heaven -
All's right with the world!
Robert Browning