Friday, June 29, 2007

The Blue Cheer by Ed Lynskey

New on the mystery shelf at BHPL: The Blue Cheer (Point Blank Press, 2007) is the second in Ed Lynskey's well-received P.I. Frank Johnson series. The Blue Cheer received a starred review from Booklist reviewer David Pitt. Pitt writes,

"This is the second novel to feature Frank Johnson (following The Dirt-Brown Derby, 2006), and it definitely lives up to the buzz the author has been generating among genre enthusiasts."

The genre he refers to is the hard-boiled detective novel popularized by Dashiell Hammet and Raymond Chandler in the 1920's and 1930's and carried on these days by Sue Grafton, James Ellroy and many others. Take a look at this article for a list of similar mystery authors.

The Booklist review goes on,
"Lynskey has a sure hand, and he tackles the PI genre like a veteran, packing the book with great lines like “Awaking the next morning on the cusp of the DTs, I quit drinking cold turkey, a knack the Black Irish carry in their genes.” Top-of-the-line hard-boiled fare from a novelist and a small press we hope to hear more from in the future."

Lines like that were a hallmark of Chandler's detective Philip Marlowe; I used to highlight them in my copies of Chandler's books, The Big Sleep and The Long Goodbye It's kind of hard for a librarian to work them into a conversation at the Reference Desk though. That would be Ruth the Librarian meets Guy Noir in the world of Garrison Keillor... maybe not a good idea.

Anyway, I was happy that Lynskey popped up in BHPL's blog email the other day and when I asked him to tell how he "became interested in the hard-boiled style of mystery or your thoughts about your detective,” Lynskey kindly answered,

"I've had a lifelong reading affection for mysteries. My earliest novels were by writers like Ross Macdonald and John D. MacDonald. I don't just write and read hardboiled/noir mysteries, though I do enjoy them. My interest derives, I suppose, from the vivid writing, sharp characters, and plot build-up. I enjoyed reading John Lescroart, Ed Gorman, Linda Fairstein, Ken Bruen, and Bill Crider. New noir writers I like include Al Guthrie and Megan Abbott. "

Right now BHPL's copy of The Blue Cheer is checked out and I have to wait my turn to get my hands on it to read and review. Meanwhile, mystery fans who like character-driven suspense and more great lines in the tough-guy style, should get on the reserve list for this author who is getting consistently great reviews.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Shakespeare at the Library

Summer Shakespeare
Tuesdays, June 26, July 3, July 10, 2– 3pm.

A workshop led by Alice Yellin, for grades 6 – 9, will cover reading , understanding and acting scenes from Twelfth Night.

Shakespeare in the (Not Quite) Park presented by the Next Stage Ensemble of the NJ Shakespeare Theatre will perform -

July 20 at 7:00 pm - Twelfth Night

August 4 at 7:00 pm - Henry IV, part I

Bring lawn chairs, ages 10 and up, presented in the BHPL (not quite the park) parking lot.

Monday: Family Fun Nights

Family Fun Nights for the whole family will be offered Mondays, 6:30 -7:30 pm.

July 2 - Brian Richards, “One funny Magician”
July 9- Meet Detective Mark Stallone
July 23 – Music To Move By - Ann Wild- music activity for newborns to 6 yrs with adults
July 30 - Uncle John’s Traveling Musical Puppet Show
August 6 – To be announced!
August 13 – Spook Handy’s “Travels with Uncle Butch and Cousin Skippy” is a fun-packed audience participation live folk music concert for the whole family.

Genealogy Program: using AncestryPlus

Genealogy Program: Tuesday, July 24 at 7:00 pm.

Learn how to use BHPL’s Ancestry database in your genealogy research. Search the U.S. and U. K. Census, family genealogies, military records, maps, charts, birth, marriage and death records, the Social Security Death Index and much more in this huge online repository of information. Ancestry is available for free from Berkeley Heights Public Library’s internet terminals.
The Ancestry Library Edition collection has approximately 4,000 databases including key collections such as U.S. Federal Census images and indexes from 1790 to 1930; the Map Center containing more than 1,000 historical maps; American Genealogical Biographical Index (over 200 volumes); Daughters of the American Revolution Lineage (over 150 volumes); The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England, 1620-1630; Social Security Death Index (updated monthly); WWI Draft Registration Cards; Federal Slave Narratives; and a strong Civil War collection. In the coming year, still more indexes and original images will be added to the new Immigration collection.”

Summer Foreign Film Festival at BHPL

Third Thursday Movie Night at the Berkeley Heights Public Library will offer a Summer Foreign Film Festival.

Join us for six weeks of films at BHPL this summer. Free admission, but seating is limited. Films start promptly at 7:00 pm, so please come early. Some films may be suitable for viewers seventeen years and older.

Heading South ­­­______ July 12
Tsotsi _____________July 19
Fear and Trembling __July 26
I’m Not Scared______ August 2
No! _______________ August 9
Volver ____________ August 16

Videos on Demand from the Library

BHPL now offers downloadable movies from our website using MyLibrarydv

To view the movies:

· go to the BHPL website

· click on the “Remote Databases” link

· enter your library barcode and pin at the prompt

· Select MyLibrarydv from the database table

MyLibrarydv provides access to more than 450 videos that can be downloaded using a broadband connection. Videos from Antiques Roadshow, Rick Steves’ Europe, America’s Test Kitchen, Today’s Homeowner and many Hollywood classics are available.
Movies can be downloaded to a computer and then played on television.
NB: the Independent Films from the Film Movement are not included in this video library available from the BHPL website.

Harry Potter Must Die

Or maybe not. That's the question on every Harry Potter fan's mind as we await the release date of the seventh and last book in the popular series about the young wizard. Last week there was a rumor that somebody, named Gabriel, had hacked into the publisher's website and revealed the ending of the book on this internet site. Reuters reports on the rumor in this article.
If you want to read the alleged ending, click here.

We do know that author J.K. Rowling has revealed the ending to one person: her husband.

Second Tuesday of the Month Book Group

BHPL's evening book group has selected the following titles for the next six months. Readers who would like to join the group should contact the Reference Department. The group meets on the second Tuesday of every month at 7:30 pm.

July 10 - Lady Chatterley's Lover by D.H. Lawrence
August 14 - Clear Light of Day by Anita Desai
September 11 - The Borgia Bride by Jeanne Kalogridis
October 9 - The Amazing Adventrues of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon
November 13 - Zuleika Dobson by Max Beerbohm
December 10 - The History of Love by Nicole Krauss

Remembering Diana in Books

Several books about Princess Diana have come out this summer for the tenth anniversary of her death. Local author and Diana biographer, Tim Benford, has recollections of happier times for the "People's Princess" in this piece about Diana's visit to the island of Nevis, West Indies with her two young sons.
Benford's book, To Kill a Princess, was published last summer when the author visited BHPL to talk about his work. The annotation from the library catalog states:
"This work of fiction--a novel of conspiracy, betrayal, real facts, and richly detailed incidents from Princess Diana's life--is told in parallel with a thrilling, multi-plot story that culminates in a Paris tunnel on August 31, 1997."

New this summer in the Diana genre are:

After Diana by Christopher Anderson

The Diana Chronicles by Tina Brown

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Books for Dad on Father's Day

Howard Shirley of BookPage wrote this piece recommending books that would be good gifts for Father's Day. At the top of the list is the ubiquitous Dangerous Book for Boys. Shirley writes:
"Reading The Dangerous Book for Boys by brothers Conn and Hal Iggulden is like coming across an old trunk in an attic. The book is full of forgotten treasures, tantalizing challenges and bits of history, science and adventure sure to stir the hearts of boys. It's not a book you read in order, but a wonderfully jumbled collection of surprises. There are instructions for folding "The Greatest Paper Airplane in the World"; building tree houses, go-carts and electromagnets; making and shooting a bow and arrow; speaking Navajo; finding north with a watch; and on and on. Mixed in are tales of great battles; the adventures of explorers, fighter pilots and mountain climbers; primers on grammar, Latin, astronomy, insects and trees; along with advice on everything from first aid to talking with girls—the sort of things, say the Igguldens, that every boy should know."

Stephanie Plum's Thirteenth Adventure

Janet Evanovich's hapless heroine, Stephanie Plum, the Trenton, NJ, bounty hunter, will be back on June 19 when the latest book in the series will be released. Lean Mean Thirteen already has thirteen "holds" (reserves) on it at BHPL which shows just how much readers anticipate the new books in this humorous mystery series.
In this interview with BookPage, Evanovich doesn't take herself too seriously. When asked about her inspiration for writing, she says,
"I have muses. They just come in the form of birthday cake and the occasional tankard of beer."
Asked about how she relaxes,
"Unwind? I'm afraid if I ever unwound I wouldn't be able to wind again."
She sounds a lot like her junk-food eating, comic heroine.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Friends in Fiction

Guardian reviewer Sarah Salway wrote a piece on friendships in fiction. She included Pooh and Eeyore and the rest of the 100 Acre Wood gang; Mapp and Lucia by E.F. Benson; and Lenny and George from John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men.
Salway makes some rules for choosing literary friendships, "no love interest (which cut out the Empress of Blandings and Lord Emsworth), no traditional master-servant relationships (step down Rebecca and Mrs Danvers), and nothing I haven't read but people keep telling me to put in (Don Quixote. Oh, the shame)."
Which got me to thinking, what friendships would I choose given those rules? She ruled out my favorites Jeeves and Wooster and other P.G. Wodehouse characters. I would include Mma Ramotswe, founder and principle of the Number One Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith and Mma Makutsi, her partner whose distinction is having achieved 97% at the Botswana Secretarial College. They are friends who recognize each others faults but remain loyal to each other in good times and bad. Most detectives have best friends: Holmes and Watson for example, but the friendship seemed a little unbalanced. Was Holmes even capable of having a friend? M. C. Beaton's Hamish MacBeth takes his dog Lugs with him everywhere, but that might get into the people and their pets category. But Hamish also trusts and confides in the doctor's wife whose name escapes me. Anyway, more on this later perhaps.

Monday, June 4, 2007

The Skeptic's Review of the Secret

Scientific American has a regular column by Michael Shermer called Skeptic which, as the name would suggest, debunks commonly held, but misguided, beliefs. In this month's issue, June 2007, Shermer reviews the book the Secret, which has hit the top of the bestseller list with the support of Oprah Winfrey.
Basically, the book says that if you think positive thoughts, good things will happen; or if you want something, you can get it by just thinking the right thoughts. Since it takes a whole book to say that, that must be a simplification, but for the sake of brevity, let's say that's it in a nutshell. Shermer, in his piece "The (Other) Secret" takes issue with that theory and gives excellent reasons why the theory is not only bogus, but misleading to the point of causing great pain and misunderstandings.
He says, "The secret is the so-called law of attraction. Like attracts like. Positive thoughts sally forth from your body as magnetic energy, then return in the form of whatever it was you were thinking about. Such as money. "The only reason any person does not have enough money is because they are blocking money from coming to them with their thoughts," we are told. Damn those poor Kenyans. If only they weren't such pessimistic sourpusses."
If the converse of the "law of attraction" is that people bring bad things on themselves or at least prevent good things from happening because they just aren't cheerful and hopeful enough, than most of us are in trouble and the poor, diseased and afflicted are just getting what they deserve. Maybe this is reduction ad absurdem and not what the author means, but I think, as does Shermer, that the law of attraction theory does tend to go in this direction: blaming the victim.
Take a look at Shermer's website Skeptic and his magazine of the same name. BHPL does not subscribe to Skeptic, the magazine, but we do get Scientific American in hardcopy and online in full-text from 1995 available from the EbscoHost database.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

First Friday of the Month Book Group

BHPL's First Friday of the Month Book Group chose titles for the next six months yesterday:
July: Nine Stories by J.D. Salinger
August: Morality Play by Barry Unsworth
September: Madonnas of Leningrad by Debra Dean
October: Digging to America by Ann Tyler
November: the Beautiful and the Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald
December: Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

The last two titles are available in full-text online; just click on the title links above. The other titles are linked to various review sources available on the internet. To join the book group, contact the Reference Desk at the library.