Friday, April 30, 2010

An Australian in New York

Two-time Booker winner Peter Carey, a New York resident since 1990, has written his first book set in the United States, Parrot and Olivier in America. It got a starred review in Booklist, Library Journal said "this engaging book will be particularly appreciated by readers interested in early 19th-century American history, the French aristocracy, and emerging democracy", & Publisher's Weekly enthused "Richly atmospheric, this wonderful novel is picaresque and Dickensian, with humor and insight injected into an accurately rendered period of French and American history". Carey was also recently interviewed by the New York Times.

Peter Carey is the author of several works of fiction, including Theft: A Love Story (the book on CD, read by Simon Vance, was very good) & Oscar & Lucinda (which was also made into a movie). He is also the author of non-fiction, including Wrong about Japan: A Father's Journey with His Son, the story of their trip to Japan to meet manga artists and anime directors, including Yoshiyuki Tomino (Mobile Suit Gundam). At publisher Kodansha, they learned of manga's history, and touring Studio Ghibli, they encountered the "most famous anime director in the world," Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away).

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Celebrate Poetry!

Greetings, poetry mavens! National Poetry Month is winding to a close, but did you know that today is Poem in Your Pocket Day? The idea is simple: select a poem you love, then carry it with you to share with co-workers, family, and friends today. The website has many examples that you can print out!

Additionally, the library catalog has several new poetry books for adults, young adults, & children, including Poetry in Person: Twenty-Five Years of Conversation with America's Poets. This book received a starred review from Booklist magazine, which said
"From 1970 to 1998, Pearl London conducted a 'Works in Progress' poetry course
at the New School in Greenwich Village, inviting poets to bring manuscripts of
poems they were struggling with and offer them up for dissection and
discussion.These remarkably candid and inspiring conversations about aesthetic
and moral matters would have faded from memory if a stash of forgotten cassette
tapes hadn't been found after London's death in 2003. Writer and former New
Schooler Neubauer selected and judiciously edited 23 exciting interviews, which,
accompanied by photographs of the poets and reproductions of their manuscripts,
reveal what poets do and why they do it. Maxine Kumin and Robert Hass have
opposite views about abstraction in poetry. June Jordan speaks of poetry and
politics. Galway Kinnell calls for a new form of nature poems. Derek Walcott
speaks of the "honesty of the line." Extraordinary moments with Frank Bidart,
Amy Clampitt, Lucille Clifton, Edward Hirsch, Li-Young Lee, Philip Levine, and
James Merrill create a treasury of passionate and enlightening exchanges that
illuminate the very life force of poetry."
Other new titles include: The Firefly Letters: A Suffragette's Journey to Cuba by Margarita Engle, a verse novel based on the letters and diaries of Fredrika Bremer, a mid-nineteenth-century Swedish feminist and traveler; Unincorporated Persons in the Late Honda Dynasty by Tony Hoagland (his fourth poetry collection); &, for younger readers, Ubiquitous: Poetry & Science about Nature's Survivors by Joyce Sidman. For more poetry books, try a subject or keyword search using the word 'poetry'.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Behind the Scenes @ Your Library

This machine lives in Long Island City, Queens, in a renovated warehouse two-thirds the length of a football field. It sorts the books for the 132 branches of the New York Public Library. The New York Times has an article about this tremendous piece of machinery, the envy of library systems everywhere.

In contrast, our system involves sorting by hand into bins (see below), which travel by truck to the 17 branches. Not quite as high tech, but suitable for our needs. Now when you place a book on hold you can imagine its journey across town in one of these bins!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Literary Tours

Planning a vacation? How about visiting some of the hotspots from your favorite works of literature? Here are some suggested itineraries!

Maud Hart Lovelace Deep Valley Tour (for fans of the Betsy-Tacy children's books, which are set in Mankato, Minnesota)

Anne's Passport (tour Prince Edward Island, Canada, home of Anne of Green Gables)

The website Literary Traveler has many more suggestions!

Have you recently visited a literary landmark? Let us know about your trip!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Getting the Most from Your Library: Interlibrary Loan

Local author Phyllis Morgan, an ABC Libraries customer, has written a new book called N. Scott Momaday: Remembering Ancestors, Earth, and Traditions: An Annotated Bio-Bibliography (while this book is not yet in the catalog, we do have some of her other books). In the acknowledgements, Ms. Morgan very kindly notes that "Without the concerted efforts of librarians and archivists, this type of work would be virtually impossible. I greatly appreciate the help of librarians and staffs of the...libraries and archives where I conducted research." We are delighted to note that the list includes the Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Library System!

ABC Libraries is happy to be part of the equation, but we couldn't have done it without Interlibrary Loan. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, Interlibrary Loan (ILL) is a fantastic service available to those of you in possession of a valid library card for the price of one small dollar. Looking for an item that doesn't show up in our catalog? Through ILL, these items can be requested from other libraries around the country, ordered, and shipped by mail to your local library.

It is a pretty easy process-just stop by the Information Desk at any branch to ask about getting an item through Interlibrary Loan. Or, check out our website for ILL FAQs-there you'll find a list of items not available for ILL, an explanation of loan periods, & you can even print out request forms! Whether you have research to do or are just looking for something else to read, ILL is a wonderful service offered by the library. I use it myself!

Monday, April 19, 2010


Wow! Has it really been February since my last Victorian read? Well, this latest one was a doozy. Nightingales: The Extraordinary Upbringing and Curious Life of Miss Florence Nightingale by Gillian Gill is a book I picked up at random-I read last fall (& enjoyed) another of her books, We Two: Victoria and Albert: Rulers, Partners, Rivals-which turned out to also be the right period! I guess I should have known the Crimean War was during Victoria's reign, but I'm not very knowledgeable about military history.

Nightingales was an engaging read. Not to be too much of a spoiler, but 3/4 of the action occurs before Florence Nightingale is 40 years old-though she lived to be 90, she spent 30 years as a near-recluse, suffering from what was probably chronic brucellosis. Gillian Gill wants her biography to be the biography of the Nightingale family, so there's a significant amount about her family history & her immediate family in the beginning of the book. Her immediately family-father WEN, mother Fanny, & sister Parthe-did play a large part in forming Florence's unique character. Florence Nightingale was a study in contradictions-passionate yet able to cut friends ruthlessly out of her life for a single infraction; energetic & hardworking for her cause, yet sickly & prone to depression;& as 'the Lady of the Lamp', she tirelessly toured hospital wars & charmed her patients, but then chose to remove herself from social life entirely in later years. Her story seems very Victorian in that, in many ways, her life's work almost didn't happen as circumstance, social conditions & family thwarted her at almost every turn. Nightingale should have married, taken care of her parents & plain, invalid sister, & lived out a quiet life in comfort. But she didn't, as we know.

Many pages-at least 5 chapters-are devoted to Nightingale's time in Crimea, which was actually just 21 months. These wartime experiences are the heart of the book, & Gill reaches to try & include Nightingale's family in this part of her story, but not very successfully. Her wrangles with the military, politicians, & other women sent to nurse (since nursing wasn't a profession yet, people's definitions of it varied greatly) are eye-openers. Alcohol is considered medicinal, some of the nurses are religious sisters bent on saving souls rather than healing bodies, & hygiene is not considered at all until Nightingale's arrival-soldiers lie in their own filth, covered by stinking linen & teeming with lice, in their hospital beds, before she takes over.

Nightingales' flaws lie in Gill's writing style. I found her style down to earth & engaging at times (she refers to Nightingale as 'Flo' for most of the book), but at other times choppy & confusing, as she introduces characters & plotlines in one section & then explains them fully 5 or 10 pages later, bouncing back & forth on the timeline she knows by heart but which the casual reader does not.
Despite its flaws, I would recommend this book as an introduction to the life of Florence Nightingale. It is witty, informative & you will not be bored!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

National Library Week
April 11 – 17, 2010

Please share your story! Tell us how the library has made a difference in your life and help us advocate for the importance of libraries in our community.

I got my first ABC Libraries card shortly after I moved to Albuquerque in 1992. At that time, I had no car & I lived north of Academy & Harper, so I used to walk once a week down to Erna Fergusson, armed with a backpack that I lugged back & forth, emptying & refilling (I've always been a voracious library patron, even with a 3 mile walk each way). Later, when I worked at Borders, I used to see books I wanted to read on the shelves, make a note of them, & then check them out of the library (even with the employee discount, I would rather borrow books than buy them). By this point I had moved downtown, & Main was the branch library I walked to weekly, usually after trolling the website online & placing multiple holds (I especially remember discovering 'Find Similar Items' tab, which has greatly enhanced my searches). Now I work for the library & have my own SmartCard for the computers, which has made it possible for me to go months at a time without paying for computer access at home-spending lunches on the computer at work, or heading to my local branch on my days off-which has been a great help to me financially. I love the library-thanks for the computers, the place to browse, the 3443 items I have checked out over the years!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

2010 Pulitzer Prizewinners!

Winners of the 2010 prize have been announced! Put your hold now on titles like:

The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt by T.J. Stiles
(winner for Biography)

Tinkers by Paul Harding
(winner for Fiction)

The Dead Hand: The Untold Story of the Cold War Arms Race and Its Dangerous Legacy by David E. Hoffman
(winner for General Non-Fiction)

For more Pultizer Prizewinners, visit their website.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Reading Music

I am a child of the '80s. More particularly, my musical heyday was the '80s. So I was delighted to see that our library system had acquired Please: Music Inspired by the Smiths, the Smiths being one of my favorite bands. Stories are named after Smiths songs like "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now", & the website PopMatters says "many of the best pieces capture a bit of The Smiths' spirit in way that will send you back to listen all over again."

This isn't the first time that fiction has dealt with rock music. Just this year, Nick Hornby gave us Juliet, Naked, about the fictional Tucker Crowe, a has-been American musician, destined to fade into obscurity save for a handful of devoted listeners like the musically obsessed Duncan Thomson.

We only have Music from Big Pink (which I haven't read) in the catalog, but the 33 1/3 book series has some very interesting titles available.

A subject search under "musical fiction" brings up a bevy of titles, including those that might be of interest to jazz aficionados (1929 by Frederick Turner, a story involving Bix Beiderbecke), polka lovers (The Clarinet Polka by Keith Maillard), & opera fans (Anne Rice's Cry to Heaven is fascinating). The Kreutzer Sonata by Margriet de Moor "traces narrative arabesques around the terrible romantic jealousy suffered by a blind music critic" according to Publisher's Weekly. Divine Music by Suruchi Mohan deals with Hindustani music.

On a non-fiction note, Da Capo Press has given us some writings to consider, such as The Show I'll Never Forget: 50 Writers Relive Their Most Memorable Concertgoing Experience & Da Capo Best Music Writing; & I highly recommend music geek Rob Sheffield's Love is a Mix Tape: Life and Loss, One Song at a Time & Nick Hornby's Songbook. I can't recommend Patti Smith's new memoir Just Kids highly enough.

Have you read any fiction or non-fiction about music? I'm always looking for recommendations in that direction!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

10 in '10-Reading New Mexico

Here are the first two books we've read for our reading challenge: Wild Penance by Sandra Ault This is the fourth book in the series featuring Jamaica Wild, Bureau of Land Management agent. Jamaica Wild is looking for a killer who's tossed a body off the Rio Grande Gorge. We enjoyed the read because it was set during Easter, and as suspicion falls on Los Penitentes, readers are introduced to their beliefs & customs. Interesting for those unfamiliar with their practices, as we were! Blind Eye by Jan Coffey This novel of suspense will hook readers as the action moves back and forth between New Mexico and Connecticut. Scientist Marion Kagan is the sole survivor after assassins attack the underground facility where her team was working on a top secret project (so top secret, she doesn't even know where she is). Wounded and trapped in a collapsed building, Marion must stop radioactive test samples from leaking out and killing millions. We found the novel not so believable, but fun & interesting due to its local setting & references to WIPP. But shouldn't the characters have been flying out of Carlsbad (where U.S. Department of Energy's Field Office is) & not Roswell? Have you been reading for our 10 in '10 reading challenge? Let us know what you've read!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Always wanted to know what makes librarians tick? Consider taking a look at the documentary Hollywood Librarian, now available in the library catalog! According to the cover, "The Hollywood Librarian is the first comprehensive treatment of the subject of librarians. A vivid blend of factual documentary, feature film, and storytelling, it reveals the history and realities of librarianship in the entertaining and appealing context of American movies. Interviews with actual librarians, intercut with film clips of cinematic librarians, examine such issues as literature, books and reading, censorship, library funding, citizenship and democracy. For the first time, we see and understand the real lives and real work of American librarians who for decades have been a cultural force hiding in plain sight."

Not to toot our own horn too much, but if you're interested in libraries & librarians, also recently released is This Book is Overdue! How Librarians & Cybrarians Can Save Us All by Marilyn Johnson. BookPage Reviews says: "Energetic, winningly acerbic and downright fun."

& finally...Keith Richards is a fan of the Dewey Decimal System! Read about it at the Guardian!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Jazz Appreciation Month


April is Jazz Appreciation Month! Visit the Smithsonian Jazz site to view their Jazz Month events, This Day in Jazz History, & suggestions on how to celebrate Jazz Month, including recommended jazz-themed children's books for kids aged 4-8 like The Jazz Fly by Matthew Gollub and Karen Hanke, The Sound That Jazz Makes by Carole Boston Weatherford and Eric Velasquez, If I Only Had a Horn: Young Louis Armstrong by Roxane Orgill and Leonard Jenkins, & Chris Raschka’s Mysterious Thelonious or Charlie Parker Played Be Bop.

A keyword search of jazz in our catalog will bring up a variety of items in books, music, & movies! Check out the most recent biographies of Thelonious Monk & John Coltrane, both very favorably reviewed. For an interesting listen, check out Melody Gardot's My One & Only Thrill or Worrisome Heart.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

We Remember Tony

Last Tuesday we showed a film called "We Remember Tony", a tribute to Tony Hillerman. The film is a one hour remembrance of Tony Hillerman, as more than a dozen writers and friends share stories of how his work and friendship affected their writing and personal lives. The video is hosted by bestselling author Craig Johnson. Authors recalling Tony and his help to them include Joe Badal, Judith Van Gieson, Steve Havill, Margaret Tessler, and Pari Noskin Taichert.

We had a lot of questions about buying a copy of the film. Here is the contact information for the videographer:

Laureen Pepersack
1116 Avenida Codorniz
Santa Fe, NM 87507

REV Digital Video, her company, ph 471-8441 .

Thanks to everyone who stopped by & made this event a success!