Tuesday, December 29, 2009
It's no surprise that Pete Dexter's "Spooner made Library Journal's best books list. You may be surprised, though, to learn that Dexter lives on Whidbey Island. He keeps a low profile, and clearly devotes his time to writing, for which we can be very grateful.
Spooner is quite different from Dexter's previous novels: it's a funny and sensitive tale of a young man finding his way, and the stepfather who sticks by him through it all. Is Spooner autobiographical? Perhaps, according to the Publishers Weekly reviewer who wrote that "the novel's premise—that life is one big vale of tears and that writing about it wittily and exuberantly is the best one can do...pays off in spades for Dexter and his tragicomically conflicted alter ego." Dexter's own father died when he was four. He and his mother moved to Milledgeville, Georgia, where she married a college physics professor.
Here are a few more of LJ's top titles from 2009: Check them out at the library!
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel.
Last Prince of the Mexican Empire by C.M. Mayo
All the Living by C.E. Morgan
Short Girls by Bich Minh Nguyen
Lark and Termite by Jayne Anne Phillips
Saturday, December 19, 2009
“They lay and sit about mid-winter...and the time whiles they are broodie, is called the halcyon daies: for during that season the sea is calm and navigable...” (1601)
Calm, tranquil, happy or carefree are words to describe halcyon days, which traditionally begin December 15. The word halcyon came into English use in the 14th century. The Greek word halkyon means 'kingfisher'. Ovid tells the story of the halcyon in Book Eleven of The Metamorphoses. Aeolus, the ruler of the winds, had a daughter named Alcyone who was greatly devoted to her husband, Ceyx, the king of Thessaly. Ceyx was drowned in a storm, and in her grief at seeing his body in the sea Alcyone threw herself from a jetty. However, rather than sinking, she “seemed to skim the surface, like a bird on new-found wings.” When she reached the body of her husband and tried to embrace him with her wings, the gods took pity on her and turned Ceyx into a bird. “They mate, have young, and in the winter season,/ For seven days of calm, Alcyone/ Broods over her nest on the surface of the waters/ While the sea-waves are quiet. Through this time/ Aeolus keeps his winds at home, and ocean/ Is smooth for his descendants’ sake.” (Translation by Rolfe Humphries) From this myth grew the story of a legendary bird, usually identified with the kingfisher, that was said to nest on the sea and to charm the wind and the waves for fourteen days centered on the winter solstice.
Wishing smooth seas and fair winds to all, Mary.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Jane Austen fans number in the millions. As an author, she is as popular and revered as any literary figure. Her six novels, written in the early 1800's, are held up as the basis for the true romance story. Of course they are much, much more, as any true Jane acolyte can attest.
Austen's stories have been made into film at a regular pace since 1938, when Pride and Prejudice was first filmed for TV. Becoming Jane, based on Jane Austen's letters, was released on DVD last year. Anne Hathway plays a very charming Jane in this exquisite film. One reviewer, though, found that "James McAvoy stole the show with his passion and character development." The film is a treat to watch for fans of Jane and for those who aren't familiar with her work. See it free at the Oak Harbor Library's Saturday Matinee on December 19 at 2pm. Visit the library catalog for more Jane Austen books and movies.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Oak Harbor teens display their amazing multi-media artwork once again at the library's annual Teen Art Show, funded by the Friends of the Oak Harbor Library. View the show, meet the artists and enjoy some fabulous refreshments at the Opening Reception on Thursday, December 10 from 7-9pm. The event will be catered by award-winning Wildcat Catering from Oak Harbor High School. The show continues on Friday and Saturday, December 11 and 12, from 10am until 5pm. Contact Mary or Anne at the Oak Harbor Library at 360-675-5115 for more information.