Monday, September 22, 2014

...for the bullied and the beautiful

I discovered Shane Koyczan for the first time at my stepdaughter’s high school graduation ceremony, when one of the young men in her class performed a poem entitled “Remember How We Forgot.” It really moved me, and I went home and downloaded it onto my MP3 player so that I could hear it again, and again, and again-- and investigated. Who is this Koyczan guy that he can get teenage guys to voluntarily perform poetry in front of huge crowds of people?

The answer is—he’s a Canadian spoken word poet and writer, and he’s amazing. His performance of his poem “To This Day: for the bullied and the beautiful” went viral on Youtube, and he performed it in a TED talk as well. In that poem, he shares his own experience of being bullied, and finding the strength not to internalize the cruelty. Here is a small piece, and I urge you to check out the full performance:

I’m not the only kid
who grew up this way
surrounded by people who used to say
that rhyme about sticks and stones
as if broken bones
hurt more than the names we got called
and we got called them all
so we grew up believing no one
would ever fall in love with us
that we’d be lonely forever
that we’d never meet someone
to make us feel like the sun
was something they built for us
in their tool shed

We just purchased a graphic novel version of To This Day, with beautiful emotive illustrations by thirty international artists. Check it out.

And click on the play button below to hear Koyzcan perform.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Bowl Of Heaven by Gregory Benford and Larry Niven

A few hundred years into the future, Earth has become an ecological wasteland. In a final act of desperation, humanity sends out a shipload of carefully picked colonists, who, in deep sleep and piloted by a skeleton crew, journey to a planet nicknamed Glory. There, mankind hopes to start again.

After decades of travel and nearing their destination, the colonists aboard Sunseeker encounter a bowl-shaped object bigger than the biggest solar system. Powered by a star locked within a gravity well, this “Bowl of Heaven” is astounding in its size and complexity. From viewing areas aboard the ship, the crew can make out mountain ranges as big as planets, hurricanes larger than the moon, and flashes of lightning longer than the Mississippi River.

The crew aboard the Sunseeker awaken a team of scientists to land on the bowl and explore. And so the adventure begins.

I found both “Bowl of Heaven” and its sequel, “Shipstar” to be a wonder-filled and imaginative read, filled with outrageous alien species, enviable super-futuristic technology and just enough true science to keep it real. 

You can reserve the first book, Bowl of Heaven, here.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

ARRR You Ready to Talk Like a Pirate?

International Talk Like a Pirate Day is September 19! 

Do you know the difference between “me matey” and “me hearty?” A “lass” and a “wench?”

If not, we have the perfect program for you, Mango Languages! Mango is a language learning database that is free to Newport Library card holders. It has lessons for studying dozens of languages online, including Pirate! 

Just log in to Mango with your Newport Library card and PIN, and click on the link to Start Learning

You can scroll through a series of lessons, and become fluent in Pirate in no time! 

Of course, Mango also has courses in other languages from all over the world—Spanish and Danish, Yiddish and Finnish, Croatian and Korean—there are 63 languages in all!  

Here is a short video to get you started in Pirate Talk!


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Cats on the Case

I like mysteries with animals, especially cats. Animals are insightful in ways not possible in less sensitive humans. Some of my favorite cat and detective pairings are Mrs. Murphy and Pewter (Rita Mae Brown), Midnight Louie (Carole Douglas), and of course Koko and Yum Yum (Lilian Jackson Braun). In these mysteries the cats (and their other animal friends) talk to us as readers, but their humans are woefully unable to understand the often very important messages coming from their eager helpmates.

This isn't the case in Grey Zone by Clea Simon. Mr. Grey talks loud and clear (when he feels like it), not to just to us but also to his owner, an often misunderstood doctoral student Dulcinea Schwartz, Dulcie for short. Some of us who are cat owners might not find talking cats too big a reach, but here’s the kicker…Mr. Grey is a ghost cat.

As Dulcei moves in and out of the Harvard campus and Boston proper, she’s trying to piece together her life around a missing student, a suicide, her stalled doctorate paper, her insecurities about her own fast moving relationship with boyfriend Chris, and wondering if hearing a ghost cats talk is really a sign that she’s headed around the bend. Oh, and little troublemaker kitten Esme, Mr. Grey’s earthbound replacement…does she talk to Dulci too?


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Reading in the Digital Age

In what ways do ebooks serve or change the act of reading? As reading becomes a predominantly digital experience, what effects might this have on writing and on our interactions with information overall? The works of an author are the same whether published in print or pixels. But, does a book read the same way on page as on screen?

In response to these questions, the Newport Public Library will host “From Print to Pixels: The Act of Reading in the Digital Age,” a free conversation with Portland author Mark Cunningham on Sunday, September 14 at 2:00 p.m. This program is sponsored by Oregon Humanities.

Cunningham most recent book is The Flickering Page: The Reading Experience in Digital Times, which weaves together some of the most cogent thought of the past fifty years, urging readers to consider anew the many questions about our technological revolution that remain far from settled.   He has also published the illustrated limited edition short story collection Date of Disappearance, the novels The Green Age of Asher Witherow and Lost Son, and another work of nonfiction,  The Honorable Obscurity Handbook.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Smoke Signals on the Big Screen

Smoke Signals, September's Literary Flicks selection, will be shown at the library on Tuesday, September 9 at 6:30 p.m. 

This 1998 film is based on Sherman Alexie's book, The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven.  Skinny, nerdy Thomas Builds-the-Fire and stoic, athletic Victor Joseph are Coeur d'Alene Indians who leave their reservation for the first time to retrieve the ashes of Victor's father, Albert Joseph.

Thomas and Victor's fates were linked by a calamity from the cradle. Thomas was an infant when his parents were killed in a fire; it was Victor's father who saved him. Victor has not seen his father since Albert walked out on his family in an inebriated fury 10 years before. As the movie settles into the rhythms of a road picture, the two characters converse, and the dialogue becomes the heart of the movie.   The movie won both the coveted Audience Award and the Filmmakers’ Trophy at the Sundance Film Festival. 

Admission is free, as is the popcorn!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Kill My Mother

I was first introduced to Jules Feiffer’s work in college when my then-boyfriend (now-husband) informed me that The Phantom Tollbooth, illustrated by Feiffer, was one of his very favorite books and I should read it with all possible urgency. I loved Feiffer's artwork and have made it a point to keep an eye on him over the years.

He’s come out with two awesome (and wildly different) books in 2014: Rupert Can Dance, a children’s picture book about a cat who likes to break it down while his little girl sleeps, and Kill My Mother, a graphic novel inspired by the pulpy noir fiction and films of Feiffer’s childhood. I came by an advanced reading copy of the latter at a library conference in Indianapolis last March. The weather was below freezing, and a bunch of us librarians had to wait in the cold for a bus back to our hotel from the conference center. I pulled out Kill my Mother and totally forgot about how miserably cold I was as I fell into a Chandler-Hammett land peopled by thugs, starlets, crooners, and cross dressers. As soon as I finished the book I called my husband and informed him he had to read this book with all possible urgency. Turnabout is fair play!