Saturday, April 30, 2005

Books read in April, 2005

I keep a log of the books I read each month. I do longer comments on the blog for those books that I get most excited about. But here are my April books, with one sentence summaries.

1. Assassination Vacation - Sarah Vowell - The author's trips to the historic sites related to three of the assassinated Presidents, Lincoln, Garfield & McKinley.

2. Ella in Europe: An American Dog's International Adventures - Michael Konik - The author's trip to Europe with his beloved dog.

3. Skinny-Dipping - Claire Matturro - Sarasota lawyer Lilly Cleary investigates after she is shot at while representing a doctor in a malpractice case.

4. Every Boy's Got One - Meg Cabot - When Jane Harris flies to Italy for her best friend's elopement, she & the best man she hates must rescue the wedding from disaster.

5. P.S. I Love You - Cecelia Ahern - 30 year old Holly can't get through life without her late husband until she gets his monthly notes about what to do with her life.

6. Eric - Terry Pratchett - A demonologist calls the wizard Rincewind instead of a demon.

7. The Year of Pleasures - Elizabeth Berg - Betta Nolan moves to a small Illinois town when her husband dies, and tries to make a new life.

8. Bloodlines - Jan Burke - Three generations of reporters track the killers of a wealthy family in 1958.

9. More Book Lust - Nancy Pearl - Book suggestions, arranged by category.

10. A Killing Night - Jonathon King - Someone is killing female bartenders in Miami, and Max Freeman doesn't believe it's the suspected ex-Philadelphia cop.

11. Confessions of a Teen Sleuth - Chelsea Cain - Nancy Drew's life story as told in a parody of Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys and other teen detective mysteries.

12. Why We Buy - Paco Underhill - The science of shopping.

13. The Alpine Quilt - Mary Daheim - A former Alpine resident is poisoned at the rectory where newspaper owner Emma Lord's brother is now the priest.

14. Bad Cat - Jim Edgar - Humor book with captioned pictures of cats with attitudes.

15. New Mercies - Sandra Dallas - Haunting story of a Colorado woman's discovery of her Natchez, Mississippi family.

16. Garlic and Sapphires - Ruth Reichl - The secret life of The New York Times restaurant critic who disguised herself as to not be recognized in restaurants. Includes recipes.

Quote

The following is from the Acknowledgments page in Lorna Landvik's new novel, Oh My Stars.

"Speaking of a better world, I hope our government will realize the inestimable value of its libraries and adequately fund them. I will always be thankful for my favorite branch libraries in Minneapolis (now only open part-time), which have been oases since I was a kid. If they managed to stay open during the Great Depression, surely we can figure out a way to keep our libraries open now."

Friday, April 29, 2005

Edgar Award winners - 2005

The Edgar winners were announced last night. I only read two of the winners - Chasing Vermeer, the juv title, and Grave Endings by Rochelle Krich, winner of the Mary Higgins Clark award.

Here are the nominees and winners for 2005. (Winners appear with an **)



Best Novel Nominees
Evan's Gate by Rhys Bowen (St. Martin's Minotaur)

By a Spider's Thread by Laura Lippman (William Morrow)

Remembering Sarah by Chris Mooney (Atria Books)

**California Girl by T. Jefferson Parker (William Morrow)

Out of the Deep I Cry by Julia Spencer-Fleming (St. Martin's Minotaur)






Best First Novel By An American Author
Little Girl Lost by Richard Aleas (Five Star)
Relative Danger by Charles Benoit(Poisoned Pen Press)
Cloud Atlas by Liam Callanan (Delacorte Press)
Tonight I Said Goodbye by Michael Koryta (St. Martin's Minotaur)
**Country of Origin by Don Lee (W.W. Norton & Company)
Bahamarama by Bob Morris (St. Martin's Minotaur)





Best Paperback Original
The Librarian by Larry Beinhart (Nation Books)
Into the Web by Thomas H. Cook (Bantam)
Dead Men Rise Up Never by Ron Faust (Dell)
Twelve-Step Fandango by Chris Haslam (Dark Alley)
**The Confession by Domenic Stansberry (Hard Case Crime)





Best Critical/Biographical
**The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Short Stories edited by Leslie S. Klinger (W.W. Norton)
Latin American Mystery Writers: An A-to-Z Guide by Darrell B. Lockhart (Greenwood Press)
Booze and the Private Eye: Alcohol in the Hard-Boiled Novel by Rita Elizabeth Rippetoe (McFarland & Co.)
The Life of Graham Greene, Vol. 3: 1956-1991 by Norman Sherry (Viking Books)





Best Fact Crime
Ready for the People: My Most Chilling Cases as Prosecutor by Marissa N. Batt (Arcade Publishing)
**Conviction: Solving the Moxley Murder: A Reporter and a Detective's Twenty-Year Search for Justice by Leonard Levitt (Regan Books)
Forensics for Dummies by D.P. Lyle, MD (Wiley Publishing - For Dummies)
Are You There Alone?: The Unspeakable Crime of Andrea Yates by Suzanne O'Malley (Simon & Schuster)
Ballad of the Whiskey Robber: A True Story of Bank Heists, Ice Hockey, Transylvanian Pelt Smuggling, Moonlighting Detectives, and Broken Hearts by Julian Rubinstein (Little, Brown)
Green River, Running Red: The Real Story of the Green River Killer -- America's Deadliest Serial Murderer by Ann Rule (Free Press)





Best Short Story
**"Something About a Scar" - Anything You Say Can and Will Be Used Against You by Laurie Lynn Drummond (HarperCollins)
"The Widow of Slane" by Terence Faherty (EQMM - March/April 2004)
"The Book Signing" - Brooklyn Noir by Pete Hamill (Akashic Books)
"Adventure of the Missing Detective" - Sherlock Holmes: The Hidden Years by Gary Lovisi (St. Martin's Minotaur)
"Imitate the Sun" by Luke Sholer (EQMM - November 2004)





Best Young Adult
Story Time by Edward Bloor (Harcourt Children's Books)
**In Darkness, Death by Dorothy & Thomas Hoobler (Philomel Books)
Jude by Kate Morgenroth (Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing)
The Book of Dead Days by Marcus Sedgwick (Wendy Lamb Books)
Missing Abby by Lee Weatherly (David Fickling Books)





Best Juvenile
**Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett (Scholastic Press)
Assassin: The Lady Grace Mysteries by Patricia Finney (Delacorte Books for Young Readers)
Abduction! by Peg Kehret (Dutton Children's Books)
Looking for Bobowicz by Daniel Pinkwater (HarperCollins Children's Books)
The Unseen by Zilpha Keatley Snyder (Delacorte Books for Young Readers)





Best Play
**Spatter Pattern (Or, How I Got Away With It) by Neal Bell (Playwrights Horizons)
Eliot Ness: An Untouchable Life by Max Allan Collins (The Art House)
An Evening of Murder and the Like by Edward Musto (Barrow Group Studio Theatre)





Best Television Episode Teleplay
**Law & Order: Criminal Intent - "Want", Teleplay by Elizabeth Benjamin. Story by René Balcer & Elizabeth Benjamin
Law & Order: Criminal Intent - "Conscience", Teleplay by Gerry Conway Story by René Balcer & Gerry Conway
Law & Order: Criminal Intent - "Consumed", Teleplay by Warren Leight Story by René Balcer & Warren Leight
Law & Order: Criminal Intent - "Pas De Deux", Teleplay by Warren Leight Story by René Balcer & Warren Leight
Monk - "Mr. Monk and the Girl Who Cried Wolf", Teleplay by Hy Conrad





Best Television Feature Or Mini-Series Teleplay
**State of Play by Paul Abbott (BBC America)
Prime Suspect 6: The Last Witness by Peter Berry (Granada TV & WGBH Boston)
Death in Holy Orders by Robert Jones, based on the novel by P.D. James (BBC Worldwide)
Amnesia by Chris Lang (BBC America)
"The Darkness of Light" - Wire in the Blood by Alan Whiting (Coastal Productions)





Best Motion Picture Screenplay
**A Very Long Engagement - Screenplay by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, based on the Novel by Sébastien Japrisot (2003 Productions)
The Bourne Supremacy - Screenplay by Tony Gilroy, based on the Novel by Robert Ludlam (The Kennedy/Marshall Company, Universal Pictures, Hypnotic)
Collateral by Stuart Beattie (DreamWorks SKG)
I'm Not Scared - Screenplay by Francesca Marciano, based on the Novel by Niccolò Ammaniti (Miramax Films)
Maria Full of Grace - Screenplay by Joshua Marston (HBO Films)





Robert L. Fish Memorial Award
Thomas Morrissey
"Can't Catch Me" - Brooklyn Noir (Akashic Books)




Grand Master
Marcia Muller




Ellery Queen
Carolyn Marino, Vice President/Executive Editor, HarperCollins




Raven
Cape Cod Radio Mystery Theatre (founded by Steve Oney)
DorothyL listserv (founded by Diane Kovacs and Kara Robinson
Murder by the Book Houston, TX (Martha Farrington, Owner)





Special Edgar Awards
David Chase (writer/producer - The Sopranos, The Rockford Files, Kolchak: The Night Stalker and many other breakthrough TV shows)
Tom Fontana (writer/producer - Homicide: Life on the Street, Oz, and The Jury and many other breakthrough TV shows)





The Simon & Schuster - Mary Higgins Clark Award
Perfect Sax by Jerrilyn Farmer (William Morrow/Avon)
The Drowning Tree by Carol Goodman (Ballantine Books)
Scent of a Killer by Christiane Heggan (MIRA Books)
**Grave Endings by Rochelle Krich (Ballantine Books)
Murder in a Mill Town by P.B. Ryan (Berkley Prime Crime)

New Mercies

New Mercies is the latest novel by Sandra Dallas, author of The Persian Pickle Club (which I would recommend to any woman who hasn't read it). Dallas' latest book tells of people haunted by the past. Nora Bondurant is haunted by the secret behind her divorce and her ex-husband's subsequent death. When she inherits property in Natchez, Mississippi, she is intrigued by the secrets behind her aunt's murder and a neighbor's suicide. And, in 1933, the people of Natchez are still haunted by the ghosts of the War between the States, slavery, and their own losses. Two ex-slaves, Ezra and Aunt Polly, are the key to Nora's search for answers.

Dallas brings her characters and 1933 Natchez to life in an atmospheric novel.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Bad Cat

There are tons of literary blogs out there, but this will never be very literary. My taste in books is just too plebeian. Any cat lover who hasn't seen Bad Cat by Jim Edgar is missing the most hilarious cat book I've ever read. The subtitle is "244 not-so-pretty kitties and cats gone bad." It's a collection of cat pictures, with humorous captions, along with the cat's name, age, and hobby. On the back cover it says, "They're bad cats, with bad intentions, bad habits, and bad attitude. So the next time your sweet little ball of fur misses the litterbox, ask yourself - was it really an accident?"

Definitely a gift book for cat lovers with a sense of humor.

Quote

The following is from the dedication page of The Game by Laurie R. King:

For the librarians everywhere, who spend their lives in battle against the forces of darkness.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Book Lust

I discovered a terrific blog today - Book Lust. I found it through The Happy Booker's site. If you haven't checked out Book Lust, it's at

http://storms.typepad.com/

It's a blog after my own heart - loves books, loves cats, and has great cartoons.

There's a wealth of litblogs out there, but many are way too literary for my taste. I like ones that speak to the ordinary reader - someone looking for a good book.

Don Quixote

The Spanish world celebrated Don Quixote this weekend in a way that no book in English has ever been celebrated. We celebrate the publication of Harry Potter books every couple years, but it's wonderful to read about the celebration of a book. The following article is the Reuters news release.

Mad About Quixote, Spaniards Read Around the Clock

Sun Apr 24,10:17 PM ET Entertainment - Reuters


By Estelle Shirbon

MADRID (Reuters) - Hundreds of Spaniards declared their love for "Don Quixote" on the 400th anniversary of Miguel de Cervantes' masterpiece with a non-stop relay reading of the book that ended on Sunday.



Readers of all ages took more than 48 hours to work their way through more than 1,000 pages of Cervantes' action-packed novel, which made national icons of the knight who charged at windmills and his faithful sidekick Sancho Panza.


It was the annual "Don Quixote" readathon at Madrid's Circulo de Bellas Artes, a venerable center for the arts, but there was a special buzz this year thanks to the anniversary that has sparked festivities all over the Spanish-speaking world. The first tome of the book was published in 1605.


"This year, with the anniversary, it's contagious! Everyone wants to read Don Quixote," said Alejandra Plazas, 47, just after taking her turn reading.


In a darkened room with a simple lectern under a spotlight, people waited in line for a chance to read a short excerpt. Most were ordinary Spaniards, though dignitaries including Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero also read a few lines.


Six-year-old Hugo Sesma gave no sign of stage-fright as he took the stage, although he had previously read "Don Quixote" only in comic book form.


"I wasn't scared. I have known how to read for a long time. I wanted to do it," he said just after his reading, as his parents proudly snapped photographs.


Others were more nervous.


"I came several years in a row because I love listening to the reading but this year I finally plucked up the courage and read too," said Delia Cortina Blanco, 63, beaming with relief.


Her husband, Guzman Mata Enrich, read just after her.


"At first I didn't want to because I have a cough but in the end I made it," he said.


Even in the dead of night there was no shortage of readers.


QUIXOTE MADNESS


Enthusiasts from as far afield as Sri Lanka, Equatorial Guinea in West Africa and Latin American countries took part in the reading via live video links.


Some participants read in other languages than Spanish to emphasize the universal appeal of "Don Quixote." Excerpts were read in Latin, Arabic, Hebrew and Greek as well as 18 languages spoken in the European Union.


Blind readers used editions in braille to take part.


"Don Quixote" celebrations have been going on for months, but went into overdrive during the weekend because April 23, the anniversary of Cervantes' death, is national "reading day."





The date has resonance far beyond Spain's borders. In Caracas, hundreds of Venezuelans stood in line on Saturday to obtain free copies of "Don Quixote" given by the government. President Hugo Chavez frequently compares himself to the knight.

In Spain, state radio broadcast every few minutes excerpts of the book read by luminaries ranging from King Juan Carlos to Colombian Nobel prize-winning writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

The weekend newspapers offered special editions of the novel at bargain prices, and published reams of print about everything from Cervantes' favorite wines to the worst film versions of the knight's adventures.

In a bid to enthuse the young, the Madrid region staged a competition for the best text-message inspired by Don Quixote. Entries could be no longer than 150 characters -- the longest possible text-message on most mobile telephones.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Confessions of a Teen Sleuth

Just finished Confessions of a Teen Sleuth, A Parody by Chelsea Cain. Anyone who read all those teen detective stories, and has a sense of humor, would enjoy this. A couple of reviewers on Amazon said they threw the book in the trash. Definitely no sense of humor.

Nancy Drew tells the true story of her life, which was stolen by her roommate Carolyn Keene, a girl from an Iowa hog farm who was expelled from college due to her addiction to Uncle Ezra Pinex Cough Syrup. Nancy married Ned, but Frank Hardy was the true love of her life. Cherry Ames, the Hardy Boys, Trixie Belden, Tom Swift and Donna Parker are just some of Nancy's acquaintances in this book. It's a funny look at the teen detective world, mixed with historical happenings, and a happy ending as Nancy reunites with Frank when she's in her seventies. Her comment? "They didn't call him Hardy for nothing."

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

A Killing Night

A Killing Night is the fourth Max Freeman novel by Jonathon King. Max leaves the Everglades to assist his lawyer friend, Billy Manchester, when crew members of a cruise ship have been threatened. However, his primary interest is in the disappearance of female bartenders because a fellow ex-cop from Philadephia is the main suspect. A Killing Night is not as strong a story as the Edgar-winning first novel, The Blue Edge of Midnight, or Shadow Men, the third one. Perhaps it is because King's descriptions of the Everglades in the earlier books sucks the reader into the story so that you can feel the heat and humidity. King doesn't do as well with the city environments as he does with the wilderness. I'll still read King, and A Killing Night was good, just not up to his best work.

Friday, April 15, 2005

I quit!

Well, Nancy Pearl gave me permission to quit reading The Ice Queen by Alice Hoffman.(grin) I've been struggling through it, although it reads quickly. But, I've been trying to figure out who in the heck I could recommend this book to. It's the story of a woman who is hit by lightning and considers herself ice in relationship to other people until she finds a man who has been hit by lightning and is always hot. Here's what Nancy Pearl answered me.

With regard to The Ice Queen - I have to say that the book didn't pass
my 50
page rule - it was too repetitious, somehow. (I think her recent books
are
far weaker than the earlier ones.) I think her fans will still be
interested in it (as I was) but may be disappointed. I do think that
her
two major appears are character and language, although this has not
language
as a secondary appeal, but story (in my opinion). In any case, it was
a big
disappointment to me.

All best, Nancy



So, I'm quitting this book as of right now. I've already read my 100 pages worth.

Lawrence Clark Powell

I remember reading works of Lawrence Clark Powell's when I was in grad school, and I was very impressed with his writing. He was founding dean of the School of Library Service at the University of California at Los Angeles. Nancy Pearl quoted him in her new book, "More Book Lust," and I loved his quote.

"I have always been reconciled to the fact that I was born a bibliomaniac, never have I sought a cure, and my dearest friends have been drawn from those likewise suffering from book madness."

If you're reading this blog regularly, I hope you suffer from book madness.

Twisted

I read Jeffery Deaver's collection of short stories because I literally bumped into him at the Lee County Reading Festival (me: oh excuse me, Mr. Deaver! him: Please (smile)...Jeff.) I recognized him instantly because he looks exactly like his picture on the backs of his books - menacing. His demeanor was surprisingly personable. I thought I should at least check out his work - although belatedly. I also figured it was a safe bet that I could make my way through a set of short stories given my current schedule.

In general I found the writing to be rather uneven. At times pedestrian and forced and occasionally, I forgot I was reading (high compliment). But, if I am going to read something touted as "mystery fiction" I want a little more suspense and a lot less description of the night air and its weight on the tree boughs. The title certainly does the stories justice. Each one has a twist to it. Some were a little predictable or a little "so what" but at least two or three of them caused me to "(gasp!)NO!" The reflex that I enjoy so much.

So, for quick semi-satisfying reads, pick up Twisted. For a really creepy encounter with a twist at the end - bump into "Jeff" in person.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

More Book Lust

I went to the Burton Barr Library in Phoenix today to hear Nancy Pearl speak. Nancy Pearl has retired as a librarian from Seattle Public Library, but never as an advocate for books and reading. She still talks about books on NPR's Morning Edition. She's an inspiration to all of us who love books and sharing books.

More Book Lust is her new book featuring another 1000 books; the sequel to Book Lust. I have to share the first paragraph of her introduction to the new book.

'If we were at a twelve-step meeting together, I would have to stand up and say, "Hi, I'm Nancy P., and I'm a readaholic." As I explained in the introduction to Book Lust, my addiction to reading (and my career as a librarian) grew out of a childhood that was rescued from despair by books, libraries, and librarians. I discovered at a young age that books - paradoxically - allowed me both to find and to escape myself. I was enthralled with the sheer glory of the written word when I read (or had read to me), for example, Robert McCloskey's One Morning in Maine and A Child's Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson as a child, and I've never looked back. Recently a friend reminded me of what Francis Spufford says in The Child That Books Built: A Life in Reading: "The books you read as a child brought you signs you hadn't seen yourself, scents you hadn't smelled, sounds you hadn't heard. They introduced you to people you hadn't met, and helped you to sample ways of being that would never have occurred to you." As a child, I lived those words, and continue to do so as an adult reader.'

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

The Year of Pleasures vs. P.S. I Love You

I accidentally read two books about recent widows within a week. Although I enjoyed both of them, there was quite a contrast.

I'd give P.S. I Love You by Cecelia Ahern an A. (By the way, she's the daughter of the Prime Minister of Ireland, and there was quite a bit of contraversy when her book came out, saying it was only published because of her father.) Ahern's book is fun and sassy, despite the fact that 30 year old Holly is a recent widow. She is mired in sorrow until she finds an envelope her husband left her. In it, he leaves her one envelope to be opened each month until the end of the year. Each message tells her something to do to get on with her life - buy an outfit, sing Karaoke, get a job. Holly has setbacks, but she has a supportive group of friends and family who help her through the difficult times. Holly is not a mature woman - she still parties and drinks heavily at 30, which is why the book itself is not as mature as The Year of Pleasures.

The Year of Pleasures is Elizabeth Berg's beautiful book about a fifty-year-old woman who lost her husband to cancer. Betta Nolan goes against the common advice, and sells her house in Boston and starts driving toward the Midwest because she and her husband wanted to start over somewhere in a small town. In Stewart, Illinois, she finds a house she likes and people she can befriend such as the widowed realtor, the young boy next door, and a couple college students. She still misses something, so she reaches out to her three college roommates who swoop in to support her. As in P.S. I Love You, the widow's husband has left her notes. In Betta's case, she has to puzzle out that the notes are indicating she should continue to find the beauty in life. Perhaps it's a pat solution, but even so, I loved Betta's early ideas for a shop, called What a Woman Wants, which features artwork and linens and stationery and ribbons, and other delicate items. The shop allows Betta to surround herself with friends and other women, and shared beauty. Definitely one of my favorites for the year so far, based on Berg's writing and Betta's own search for happiness in life.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Why are librarians sexy?

The following is from David Austin at NCSU, as reported on a library listserv.

"Sitting at her desk with her back very straight, she asks the young man very politely, the one who always comes into the library to check out bestsellers, asks him when it was he last got laid. He lets out a weird sound and she says shhh, this is a library. She has her hair back and the glasses on but everyone has a librarian fantasy, and she is truly a babe beneath.

I have a fantasy, he says, of a librarian." (57-58)

"This [next] one is a businessman with a vest. He is asking her about a book on fishing when she propositions him. His face lights up, the young boy comes clean and clear through his eyes, that librarian he knew when he was seven. She had round calves and a low voice." (59-60)

Aimee Bender, "Quiet Please," The Girl in the Flammable Skirt (Doubleday, 1998), 57-64. (Story first published in GQ.)



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


"Despite popular theories, I believe people fall in love based not on good looks or fate but on knowledge. Either they are amazed by something a beloved knows that they themselves do not know; or they discover common rare knowledge; or they can supply knowledge to someone who's lacking. Hasn't anyone found a strange ignorance in someone beguiling. An earnest question: what day of the week does Thanksgiving fall on this year? Nowadays, trendy librarians, wanting to be important, say, Knowledge is power. I know better. Knowledge is love.

People think librarians are unromantic, unimaginative. This is not true. We are people whose dreams run in a particular way. ... The idea of a library full of books, the books full of knowledge, fills me with fear and love and courage and endless wonder. I knew I would be a librarian in college as a student assistant at a reference desk, watching those lovely people at work. "I don't think there is such a book," a patron would begin, and then the librarian would hand it to them, that very book.

Unromantic? This is a reference librarian's fantasy.

A patron arrives, says, Tell me something. You reach across the desk and pull him toward you, bear hug him a second and then take him into your lap, stroke his forehead, whisper facts in his ear. The climate of Chad is tropical in the south, desert in the north. Source: 1991 CIA World Factbook. Do you love me? Americans consumed 6.2 gallons of tea per capita in 1989. Source: Statistical Abstract of the United States. Synecdoche is a literary device meaning the part for the whole, as in crown heads of Europe. I love you. I could find you British Parliamentary papers, I could track down a book you only barely remember reading. Do you love me now? We own that book, we subscribe to that journal, Elvis Presley's first movie was called Love Me Tender.

And then you lift the patron again, take him over to the desk and set him down so gently he doesn't feel it, because there's someone else arriving, and she looks, oh, she looks uninformed." (8)

"I was to the library born .... I liked the idea of taking care of things. I like order, good manners, and – because I'm basically a stingy person – I like being able to counteract that stinginess by giving people free things all day long. I like knowing things other people don't. You know my favorite part about the library? Our little local history section. Nobody in our town ever goes into it ... It's small. There's the voting records, the census, and one book a man wrote twenty years ago, called Brewsterville, My Home. Boxes of posters for summer fairs, tickets to concerts. And it's all necessary, it's all things you can't find anywhere else, and I'm the one who owns it. The genealogists come in, wanting information, and I give it to them, the desiderata, the ephemera, everything." (182-183)

Peggy Cort, Town Librarian, in Elizabeth McCracken, The Giant's House: A Romance (The Dial Press, 1996).



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"I can see that you've come here to give me something and I think you should follow through," she snaps in my ear as her delicate, cold hand slides down my torso to my hip, then crosses my thigh and rests on my dick. Without moving her body away from mine, she effortlessly slips out of her navy blue jacket and tosses it to the side.

Fetish Diva Midori, "Cool Blue Suit: Packing Heat for an Icy Librarian," On Our Backs, 1999



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The Universe (which others call the Library) – is unlimited and cyclical.

"The Library of Babel,"Jorge Luis Borges, Labyrinths



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Libraries are the enchanted domain of two major difficulties. They have been resolved, we know, by mathematicians and tyrants (but perhaps not altogether). There is a dilemma: either all these books are already contained in the Word (la Parole) and they must be burned, or they are contradictory and, again, they must be burned. (100)

In writing The Temptation, Flaubert produced the first literary work whose exclusive domain is that of books: following Flaubert, Stéphane Mallarmé and his Le Livre become possible, then James Joyce, Raymond Roussel, Franz Kafka, Ezra Pound, Jorge Luis Borges. The library is on fire. (107)

Michel Foucault, "Language to Infinity," in James D. Faubion, ed,. Essential Works of Foucault 1954-1984 Volume 2: Aesthetics, Method, and Epistemology (The New Press, 1998)



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


I doubt that everyone has a (female) librarian fantasy, especially if "everyone" means everyone and so includes the straightest women, but it is a common fantasy among men attracted to women. One female dominatrix even tells me that, with the exception of The Teacher, The Librarian is the dominant role most requested of her by male submissives. According to one quite persistent stereotype, librarians are sexually repressed, which implies, of course, that there is a lot there to be repressed. So it is not very surprising that many straight men imagine that librarians are sexy. (For the moment, I'm limiting discussion to straight fantasies. I'll consider later questions about gay and lesbian fantasies about librarians of a variety of genders and orientations.)

But I do find it somewhat curious that librarians are stereotypically thought to be closely linked to sexiness. After all, not every person-stereotype includes sexiness, not even every stereotype that is limited to one gender or just to women. (For example, ...) More generally, I wonder why some stereotypes include or highlight sexiness and some do not. As a way of beginning to investigate the latter issue, I want to try figure out what exactly it is about a librarian's role that makes sexiness so closely allied to it. My guess is that there is a deep connection between love, one of the guises of sex, and knowledge as power, and that it is because librarians are seen as guardians of access to knowledge that they are also seen as sexually repressed and therefore sexy. The idea of such connection can be traced to Plato, usually through Freud and Foucault for modern readers, and I want to see if some of their ideas can be clarified in application to this case.



The idea that knowledge is power is very closely allied to the idea that knowledge is dangerous. And dangerous knowledge is the kind that, it is most often insisted, requires some measure of censorship. While the latter is anathema to modern librarians, the role of censor has often in the past fallen to librarians, whose responsibility it was to prevent access to knowledge as much to facilitate it. I suspect that some still feel that we'd not need so much censorship if librarians would only "do their jobs properly," as they did in the "good old days" of, say the early nineteenth century and before. When only the rich could afford to be literate, they thought that only the rich deserved to be literate, because only they had the necessary learning safely to manage the knowledge afforded by books. Women, as prisoners of their emotional, irrational and hypersexual natures, could be granted only limited literacy, if any, for fear that they would be harmed by too much knowledge or knowledge of the wrong kind.

[Comments to: david_austin@ncsu.edu]

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Community of Readers

The following quote is from Barbara Samuel's web page.

THE COMMUNITY. Readers. Booksellers. Librarians. Reviewers. Writers. What a smart, interesting, thoughtful group of people! Ever notice that the conversation never flags or gets boring when you have a collection of book people together? Ever notice how many wise things you hear in such a gathering? I feel very blessed to be part of such a community, and if I’m ever tempted to be depressed about the future of the world, all I have to do is sign on to a reader board or listen to a librarian or visit my local bookstore and talk to the clerks and I feel more certain that all will work out well.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

The Shoes of the Fisherman

It's difficult to watch the news as Pope John Paul II dies. I've order a copy of The Shoes of the Fisherman by Morris West so I can reread that story of an outsider who became Pope. Loved the book, and the movie with Anthony Quinn.

I'm one of those millions of Americans who have a memory of seeing the Pope. I was a grad student at Catholic University of America in 1979 when Pope John Paull II made his first trip to the U.S. and to D.C. The campus was closed to only invited guests and students with IDs, so we had the opportunity to see him. I have a picture of a sign in front of one dorm, done in red and white, that says, "Have a Pope and a Smile." And, I remember standing in the crowd as we all waved to him, as he arrived on campus, in the "Popemobile" surrounded by security guards. He waved to the students as we all called we love you, and he responded, "Papa loves you, too."

As I wrote this, the news came through that Pope John Paul II has died, at 12:37 Mountain time, at 9:37 pm in Vatican City.

May God bless him.

Assassination Vacation

I should let Ann review this book, since she knows the author, Sarah Vowell, but maybe she will post about it when she reads it. (Ann?)

Assassination Vacation is a fascinating book, showing the author's knowledge and research about three presidential assassinations - that of Lincoln, Garfield, and McKinley. Who else has traveled to so many sites related to these murders? Who else can combine that knowledge with humor? And who else does such a marvelous job comparing the McKinley administration with the problem with the present administration?

I loved the following paragraph. 'Of course talking about the murders of previous presidents is going to open the door to discussing the current president. That's what I like to call him, "the current president." I find it difficult to say or type his name, George W. Bush. I like to call him "the current president" because it's a hopeful phrase, implying that his administration is only temporary.'

Vowell's wit and knowledge permeate the entire book.