Friday, January 29, 2010
The Catcher in the Rye was one of the first books I was ever assigned to read that I actually enjoyed. I read it when I was 14 or so and, like many, I identified with the angsty, unhappy Holden Caulfield. Within the biographical info I found on Salinger, one website called Catcher "an authoritative depiction of teenage angst." Caulfield thinks most people are "phonies" and has disdain for the majority he encounters. A New Yorker article pinpoints Holden's attitudes as Weltschmerz, meaning "the unhappiness of eternal disappointment in life as it is", or, as quite nicely put in this Wikipedia article, "the kind of feeling experienced by someone who understands that physical reality can never satisfy the demands of the mind." It is interesting to me that we still get kids to read this book considering Caulfield's seemingly dismal outlook, but perhaps that's the point. While I wouldn't necessarily use the words "eternal disappointment" to describe my life attitude at age 14, I was certainly jaded and becoming fairly distrustful of the authority figures around me - not unlike many at this age. Maybe as adults we know teens should read this so they feel less alone in their angst-ridden adolescence? Perhaps it is just the literary merits of the book and/or Holden's precociousness that make it required reading? What do you think?
The library can provide you with everything you need to come to your own conclusions, or simply to learn a little bit more about this legendary author:
At Home in the World: A Memoir
The Catcher in the Rye
Dream Catcher: A Memoir
Franny and Zooey
In Search of J.D. Salinger
Letters to J.D. Salinger
Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters; and, Seymour: An Introduction
Salinger, A Biography
With Love and Squalor: 14 Writers Respond to the Work of J.D. Salinger
WEBSITES and ARTICLES
Biography Resource Center
The Resource Center is an excellent, authoritative source of biographical information that often include extensive bibliographies. You will need your APL card, if you'd like to access it from home.
Bunch of Phonies Mourn J.D. Salinger
From The Onion. A good sense of humor is key to enjoying this particular article.
"A search for the elusive writer." A few guys go on a road trip in search of Salinger. They video documented the journey on this blog.
"A site dedicated to the life and work of J.D. Salinger"
Holden at Fifty: 'The Catcher in the Rye' and What it Spawned
J.D. Salinger Biography (with great bibliography!)
J.D. Salinger, Literary Recluse, Dies at 91
Salinger Biography, Jewish Virtual Library
Wes Anderson on J.D. Salinger
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
The National Book Critics Circle announced the finalists for its 2009 awards. I especially like these awards. While some of the finalists come from major publishers, the NBCC scours regional and university presses to highlight the truly great books of each year. Beyond discovering great new books, I like to use the finalists list as a barometer for how well the Austin Public Library is doing in providing a robust collection. We’re doing well this year. All but one nominee is already in the collection or on order. Me, on the other hand? I have only read one of the finalists: Eula Biss’ Notes from No Man’s Land: American Essays. It is incredible. Bess examines the world in a manner that I admire and writes with a deftness that leaves me jealous.
Diana Athill’s Somewhere Towards the End
Debra Gwartney’s Live Through This: A Mother’s Memoir of Runaway Daughters and Reclaimed Love
Mary Karr’s Lit
Kati Marton’s Enemies of the People: My Family’s Journey to America (on order)
Edmund White’s City Boy
Blake Bailey’s Cheever: a Life
Brad Gooch’s Flannery: a Life of Flannery O’Connor
Benjamin Moser’s Why This World: a Biography of Clarice Lispector
Stanislao G. Pugliese’s Bitter Spring: a Life of Ignazio Silone
Martha A. Sandweiss’ Passing Strange: a Gilded Age Tale of Love and Deception Across the Color Line
Eula Biss’ Notes from No Man’s Land: American Essays
Stephen Burt’s Close Calls with Nonsense: Reading New Poetry
Morris Dickstein’s Dancing in the Dark: a Cultural History of the Great Depression (on order)
David Hajdu’s Heroes and Villains: Essays on Music, Movies, Comics, and Culture (on order)
Greg Milner’s Perfecting Sound Forever: an Aural History of Recorded Music
Bonnie Jo Campbell’s American Salvage
Marlon James’s The Book of Night Women
Michelle Huneven’s Blame
Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall
Jayne Anne Phillips’ Lark and Termite
Wendy Doniger’s The Hindus: an Alternative History
Greg Grandin’s Fordlandia: the Rise and Fall of Henry Ford’s Forgotten Jungle City
Richard Holmes’ The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science
Tracy Kidder’s Strength in What Remains
William T. Vollman’s Imperial
Rae Armantrout’s Versed
Louise Gluck’s A Village Life (on order)
D.A. Powell’s Chronic
Eleanor Ross Taylor’s Captive Voices: New and Selected Poems, 1960-2008
Rachel Zucker’s Museum of Accidents
Monday, January 25, 2010
Why Good People Do Bad Things: Understanding Our Darker Selves
Evil: Inside Human Cruelty and Violence
Friday, January 22, 2010
Always Look Twice.
Mark and Annabelle are on the verge of divorce until someone goes after their former military unit.
Nalini Singh introduces readers to a world of beauty and bloodlust, where angels hold sway over vampires.
E Lynn Harris
Blackmail, intrigue and double-crosses heat up a love triangle involving an NBA player.
Bending the Rules
Sexy, feel-good contemporary romance starring down-to-earth Seattle artist Poppy Calloway and handsome but rigid police detective Jason de Sanges.
Lydia will do anything for her great-aunts, but does she really have to marry the town’s gross, greedy banker?
A Duke of Her Own (Avon Historical Romance)
Leopold Dautry, the notorious Duke of Villiers, must wed quickly and nobly.
Delightful romantic comedy, sous-chef Jill is beset with troubles, from her husband’s desire to be a woman to family chaos, but her loyal friends help her navigate the twisting, turning road to love.
Immortal Outlaw (Immortal Brotherhood Novels)
Only her kiss can save this cursed Viking warrior.
Kiss Of A Demon King (Immortals After Dark, Book 7)
Spellbinding story of a demon king trapped by an enchantress.
Laced with Magic
Chloe, owner of a popular knitting shop and mayor of the supernatural village of Sugar Maple, Vermont, continues to battle evil forces in Bretton’s poignant and magical story of love and sacrifice.
Practice Makes Perfect
Two rivalrous attorneys at a prestigious Chicago law firm find romance in James’ sophisticated legal romance, rich in suspense and charmingly arrogant and ambitious characters.
Victorian-era tale of a scandal-plagued widow, a young woman with strange powers, and a suspect lord in this sexy and bewitching battle of wits and wiles.
Straight from the Hip
Blinded in an explosion, Izzy is taken to Nick’s ranch to recuperate.
What Happens in London
When Olivia Bevelstoke is told that her new neighbor may have killed his fiancee, she doesn't believe it for a second, but, still, how can she help spying on him, just to be sure?
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Despite the headaches computer viruses can cause, there are some recent bugs that will make you chuckle and forget for a little while the problems they are creating in your system; here are some examples:
- “Harry Potter” virus or Samal A: even though this virus doesn’t have any relation with Harry Potter in any way, once your computer is infected there is a pop up window that says “You haven’t said the magic word” after multiple attempts typing different words, another window will open saying something like “Samael has come, this is the end”
- Ramsom K: who created this virus was a novice in the area of computer viruses but his idea was pretty interesting. This virus will block important files on your computer and it will ask you to pay $100 to unblock them. The problem for its creator is that this virus is very easy to clean. So it doesn’t represent a real threat.
- Whizz.A: this virus pretty much transforms your computer into a discotheque. It decorates the background of your desktop with different colors while windows with advertising start popping up and some music from different radio stations plays in the background. Call that an entertainment center!
- OSX.Loosemaque: this virus appears to be a simple computer game. Your goal is to kill some aliens in space. The problem: every alien is linked to a random folder on your computer, every time you kill an alien, that folder will be deleted. What is scary is that people play this “game” even when they know their risk of damaging their computer system. Yikes!!!
- Newton virus for Macs: the company Troyka released a while ago a virus for Macs that will break the menu bar in half and all the icons in the desktop fall to the bottom of the screen as if they are affected by gravity. If you move your infected laptop and put it upside down, the pieces of menu bar and all the icons will fall to the bottom of the screen depending how are you holding your computer. It actually looks pretty neat! Some people on electronic forums wondered how to get the virus to see it in action.
Some titles about this topic that might interest you are:
Bug-free computing : stop viruses, squash worms, and smash Trojan horses
The art of computer virus research and defense
PC magazine fighting spyware, viruses, and malware
Buffer overflow attacks [electronic resource]: detect, exploit, prevent (To access it remotely, please have your library card number handy)
Finally, just a word of advice: keep your antivirus software up to date and go to your antivirus provider’s website to look for more information about virus threats periodically.
Monday, January 18, 2010
Friday, January 15, 2010
The book has been a top seller since its release and, other than Kingsolver's reputation and the success of The Poisonwood Bible, I think part of the reason for that might be the inclusion of Frida Kahlo. In fact, Kahlo's appearances were my favorite parts of The Lacuna; Kingsolver characterizes and writes dialogue for Kahlo very closely to how I've imagined her. In the novel, Kahlo is strong-willed, defiant, and intelligent, but Kingsolver also manages to write in those more elusive Frida qualities that I've never been able to define or pinpoint. Perhaps it is these qualities that contribute to her being such a huge celebrity today. Her artwork is obviously revered, but, for me, it is her personality, so central to her paintings, that have kept me enamored with her.
Some of the best biographical sources on Frida can be found in books at the library or via our online databases accessible to anyone with a library card. Of course, there are a few good resources courtesy of Google too, vetted by this librarian and recommended for your reading and viewing pleasure.
BOOKS AND DVDs
The Diary of Frida Kahlo: An Intimate Portrait
Frida: A Biography of Frida Kahlo
Frida Kahlo: Song of Herself
The Life and Times of Frida Kahlo (DVD)
*Require an Austin Public Library card, if accessing from home
(With an internet connection and a library card, you can access JSTOR from the comfort of your own home. Use the titles to do a search for the two excellent articles below. Need assistance? Ask a Librarian!)
- "Fashioning National Identity: Frida Kahlo in 'Gringolandia'" - Very interesting article on Frida's indigenous style of dress and national identity
- "What Frida Kahlo Thought of the Suicide of Dorothy Hale, 1939" - Frida's thoughts on Dorothy Hale's suicide and her painting of it
Frida Kahlo Bibliography
"The most complete Frida Kahlo bibliography on the web"
Frida Kahlo Corporation
Frida Kahlo: The Complete Works
All of her paintings on one website
Kahlo Fakes Flood Into Mexico
Over the past few months a number of articles have been written about a rise in Frida forgeries. This article addresses that as well as the new book, Finding Frida Kahlo by Barbara Levine, in which a newly discovered Kahlo archive is on display; however, a number of Frida experts question the authenticity of the archive. Check FindIt in a few weeks for Finding Frida Kahlo - it's on order for the library.
The Real Frida Kahlo
Excellent article from smithsonian.com
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
If we were to write a remembrance to every notable person who has passed on, this blog would quickly become a memorial section. We do not want that. However, for each one of us there are some folks’ passing that hit extra hard. For me, one of those folks passed away Monday. Her name was Miep Gies. She worked tirelessly to hide and provide for Anne Frank and the others sheltered in an Amsterdam canal warehouse. I wrote about Ms. Gies last August. That post can be found here.
Ms. Gies refused to be considered a hero. In recent years she told school children "I don't want to be considered a hero. Imagine young people would grow up with the feeling that you have to be a hero to do your human duty. I am afraid nobody would ever help other people, because who is a hero? I was not. I was just an ordinary housewife and secretary." Her humility coupled with her bravery truly mark her a hero, even if that made her uncomfortable.
I would also like to highlight a World War II memoir I read over the weekend: Hans Erich Nossack’s The End: Hamburg 1943. Mr. Nossack fortuitously was in the countryside surrounding Hamburg during the nights it was destroyed by aerial bombings. The End is the incredible account of his emotions, fears, and thoughts upon entering his devastated city.
Monday, January 11, 2010
The document has now been published as a book: The Mathematician's Lament, 510.71 Lo. He opens the book with a musician waking from a nightmare, where students are taught music beginning with music notation, moving to fixed rules, harmony, scales , then competency tests. Not until college do the students actually hear or play music. Lockhart says this is exactly the way math is taught to students, and the only people who know something is wrong are the students, who are right when they complain that math class is stupid and boring.
Friday, January 08, 2010
Articles I read in the January 4 issue:
Protest Studies - Students and faculty at the University of Caliornia at Berkely are angry at Mark Yudof, the school's president, who once was UT's president.
School of Rock - Vampire Weekend, which played at ACL in 2008, is a group of upper-middle-class boys channelling Third World musical traditions.
Food Fighter - Story of Whole foods and its founder John Mackey, who does not eat a lot of what Whole Foods sells.
Van Gogh's Ear - Maybe he really didn't cut it off.
To read New Yorker articles using the Library's databases:
-Go to the Austin Public Library homepage.
-Select Research Tools from the menu on the left hand side.
-Select ejournal finder; you will need to enter your Library card number.
-Enter new yorker in the search box, click search
-Select Literary Resources from Gale.
-You will see the articles in chronological order.
-Or search Factiva, which has the full-text of all the articles.
Wednesday, January 06, 2010
Boris Vian was one of those interesting people that had the wonderful capacity to be brilliant in more than one field. He was an engineer, musician, poet, journalist, writer, translator, actor, singer and critic. As a musician, he was a trumpet jazz player and he put together his first jazz band when he was 14 years old. He also played a harp guitar for his compositions (click here for a short video). He is the author of the song “The Déserteur ” or “The Deserter” that has been translated in more than 40 languages and was interpreted by Joan Baez during the Vietnam War. But his musical work wasn’t limited only to jazz, he also wrote and interpreted rock and roll, opera and was the author of many music scores for films.
Monday, January 04, 2010
Eight years have passed since that fateful day and many words have been written, in books, magazines, newspapers and digitally. The event still strikes a chord in each and every one of us. We remember it vividly, as if it happened yesterday.
The library has many books on 9/11, from children's fiction to adult graphic novels. There are also many websites archiving the digital world of what happened on that day. Take the time to remember this historic moment.
The September 11 Digital Archive
National September 11 Memorial & Museum
Library of Congress September 11, 2001 Documentary Project
Books available at the library:
Shine, Coconut Moon by Neesha Meminger
The Test of our Times: America Under Siege - and How we can be Safe Again by Thomas Ridge
Ground Zero: a Repairman Jack Novel by Paul Wilson
14 Cows for America by Carmen Deedy
The Commission: the Uncensored History of the 9/11 Investigation by Philip Shenon
Touching History: the Untold Story of the Drama that Unfolded in the Skies Over America on 9/11 by Lynn Spencer
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Foer
The 9/11 Report: a Graphic Adaptation by Sid Jacobson
Magazines and newspapers:
A variety of articles on September 11, 2001 are available at MasterFile Premier (you'll need your library card number handy)
Friday, January 01, 2010
On a side note, feel free to Suggest a Title via FindIt, the library catalog, if we do not own the music you're looking for. And, if you don't know how to place a hold already, Ask a Librarian how you can get something sent to the branch of your choice and notified by email when it is available.
Around the Well - Iron & Wine
Samuel Beam, the man behind Iron & Wine, resides just outside of Austin, TX and only gets better each album he releases with his folky, lovely tunes. Read reviews and take a listen.
Blood Bank - Bon Iver
This is just a 4-song EP, not a full album, but the song "Woods" made it hard for me not to put on the list. Read reviews and take a listen.
Dark was the Night: A Red Hot Compilation - David Byrne
David Byrne is the man: lead singer of the Talking Heads, author of a new book, and the creator of this excellent compilation including music by artists such as Spoon, Arcade Fire, Blonde Readhead, Stuart Murdoch, and Conor Oberst. Read reviews and take a listen.
Hazards of Love - The Decemberists
The Last Broadcast released in 2002, but this new effort reminds me of why I like them so much and makes me wonder why more people aren't familiar with them. Read reviews and take a listen.
reviews and take a listen.
reviews and take a listen.
reviews and take a listen.
Let's Get Out of this Country (watch a video of one of those tracks here). Read reviews and take a listen.
reviews and take a listen.
Devendra Banhart), if you like Iron & Wine, you'll probably love Vetiver. Read reviews and take a listen.
reviews and take a listen.
The Century of Self - ...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead
If you haven't heard of Trail of Dead by now and you've been living in Austin for 5 years or longer, I'd say you've been living under a rock. Get with the times and check out their new album. Read reviews and take a listen.
Everything You Love Will Be Taken Away - Slaid Cleaves
I initially stumbled upon Slaid Cleaves via the jukebox at the Horeshoe Lounge (the album Broke Down). His 2009 album does not disappoint and Cleaves still proves to be an amazing songwriter. Read reviews and take a listen.
review and take a listen.