Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Good Eats

Digging around in my freezer the other day I found some overlooked berries.  Lifting the package out brought summer memories of drowsy bees foraging among the blackberry thorns, and our dog’s reproachful look as I halted our walk, set down my containers, rolled my sleeves up and reached in to pluck the ripe juicy fruit.

The frozen treasure also included blueberries that birds didn’t harvest and ripe huckleberries painstakingly sorted from the green and cleaned from miniature stems while swaying on the porch swing.  A few last raspberries were also tossed in as silent witnesses to my lost battle with the deer.  All were toted upstairs, dusted with sugar and tossed with tapioca to macerate overnight in the fridge before going into a pie.  

Everyone can appreciate a book that demystifies processes like cooking.  Here’s a fun example with a segment on green tomato pie (a great way to justify another attempt to grow tomatoes on the coast).  It is titled, United States of Pie:  Regional Favorites from East to West and North to South, by Adrienne Kane. You can reserve a copy here.

Or don’t grow it yourself.. Newport Farmer’s Market is again outside and right down Nye Street from the library every Saturday.  No need to miss out on nature’s bounty now or during the long winter months to come.  


Monday, May 9, 2016

What the Dickens?

Charles Dickens' stories are full of delighfully descriptive names: Ham Peggotty, Paul Sweedlepipe, Jeremiah Flintwinch, and Blathers are just a few I found a website called Name Nerds.  The story of Nicholas Nickleby is no exception, with appearances by Wackford Squeers, Charles Cheeryble, Newman Noggs, and Sir Mulberry Hawk.

The 2002 film version of Nicholas Nickleby is our May Literary Flick, and will be shown on Tuesday, May 10 at 6:30 p.m.

After the death of their father leaves them penniless, Nicholas and his sister Kate travel with their mother to London to seek help from their cold-hearted Uncle Ralph. Ralph's only intentions are to separate the family and exploit them. Nicholas is sent to a boarding school run by the cruel, abusive and horridly entertaining Wackford Squeers  and his wife.

Eventually, Nicholas runs away with schoolmate Smike, and the two set off to reunite the Nickleby family.  Once home, he meets a young woman, Madeline Bray, and has to protect her and his sister from the insidious scheming of his Uncle Ralph.

Join us at 6:30 for a star-studded cast* of Dickens' finest!  As always, we'll be serving free popcorn, too!

*Partial listing of cast
  • Charlie Hunnam as Nicholas Nickleby
  • Nathan Lane as Vincent Crummles
  • Jim Broadbent as Wackford Squeers
  • Christopher Plummer as Ralph Nickleby
  • Jamie Bell as Smike
  • Anne Hathaway as Madeline Bray
  • Timothy Spall as Charles Cheeryble
  • Tom Courtenay as Newman Noggs
  • Juliet Stevenson as Mrs Squeers
  • Romola Garai as Kate Nickleby
  • Stella Gonet as Mrs Nickleby

  • Wednesday, May 4, 2016

    Read magazines on your mobile device!

    A rolling stone gathers no moss, and neither does the Newport Library! Using our new subscription to Flipster, you can read Rolling Stone and 49 other magazines on your smart phone, tablet, or computer! 

    Flipster is available on the library's website, under the tab for "eBooks & More."  After you log in, you can scroll through the most recent covers of the magazines.

    Once you select a title, you have the option of reading the current issue, or a back issue. 

    You can also view thumbnails of each page, and click between them to move to another section of the magazine.

    To use Flipster on a mobile device, you'll need to download the app.  You'll continue to browse for titles from the website, but once you decide on an issue, you can download it to your app. This allows you to read it even when you are not connected to the internet.  

    Weekly magazines check out for two days, and monthlies for five days.  If you need more time, just check it out again; there is no waiting period!  

    We hope you'll enjoy Flipster.  Give it a try, and tell us what you think!

    Monday, May 2, 2016


    At the beginning of March, also known as "Read A Book You’ve Always Wanted To Read Month," I started reading Leo Tolstoy’s War And Peace, in a recent translation by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky. Now, exactly two month’s later, I have finished.

    One reviewer wrote: “If the world could write by itself, it would write like Tolstoy.” And as cryptic as that sounds, I’d have to agree. To paraphrase Whitman, this is a book that contains multitudes. Originally written as narrative fiction, Tolstoy extensively re-wrote the novel over ten years to include chapter-long interludes on history, philosophy, politics and human nature. The overall effect is a book trying to describe everything, to understand everything. To contain multitudes.

    Did I like it? “Like” isn’t the word I would use. It’s over 1200 pages long. And sometimes I found it vague and rambling, as if vodka might have been involved during the writing process. But, like the sun bursting out from a cloud, a passage would jump off the page, so beautiful and so moving, that I’d have to read it several times. As if, purely in the act of writing, Tolstoy had awakened to an almost Zen-like understanding of life. And in those moments, I was enthralled.

    Reading War And Peace requires a commitment of time, attention, and patience. For me, the commitment was worth it. I felt as if I’d grown a little, understood the world a little better. And isn’t that one of the reasons why we read?

    You can reserve War And Peace here.

    Tuesday, April 26, 2016

    The Buried Giant

    While I have seen the movie Remains of the Day, I had never read a book by Kazuo Ishiguro until I picked up The Buried Giant on audiobook. With no idea of what to expect, I plunged into the post-Arthurian world of an elderly couple, Axl and Beatrice, who live on the outer perimeter of an underground warren. Their intimate conversations reveal a mental confusion that at first seems age-related, but it turns out their whole village forgets events that happened in the recent past. 

    Axl and Beatrice grasp at memories as though through a fog, and faintly remember that they have a son who lives far away. They begin a journey to find him, and are joined by Wistan, a Saxon warrior, and Edwin, a boy rescued from ogres. Wistan is on a quest to slay Querig, the dragon whose breath fills the land with a mist of forgetfulness. When they meet the ancient Sir Gawain, the only remaining knight from King Arthur’s realm, a sense of foreboding seeps into the narrative.

    The Buried Giant can be enjoyed for the poetry of its language, for its mythological elements, and for its allegorical presentation of the value and danger of memory. Are forgotten wrongs best left in the past, or should they be remembered and avenged? 

    The audiobook is narrated by David Horovitch, a British actor whose sonorous and steady cadence lends a tone of gravitas to the tale.


    Thursday, April 14, 2016

    Feral Child

    My childhood was spent without a t.v. set.  Maybe this wasn’t uncommon in the late 50’s, early 60’s.  Our bedtime was reserved for books, and reading lasted sometimes through two chapters of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe or The Hobbit.  By the time we did have a set, I was eight and my media socialization began.

    To this day I cannot reliably participate in trivia contests, but am very comfortable with the thought of being raised by wolves thanks to Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, and stories about Mowgli with reminders from Akela, the head wolf, intoning the mantra, "Ye Know the Law," whenever the pack strayed from a firm moral footing.

    I will be going to see the 2016 movie, even though my deeply held impressions of Mowgli, Baloo, Bagheera and Shere Khan were savaged by their Disney portrayals in 1967. Previews of this newest version are heartening.

    But I also definitely recommend you delve into our collection of Kipling before launching into the newest iteration of an old classic at the local theater.

    Sunday, April 10, 2016

    Elementary, my dear Watson

    Sherlock Holmes is a cultural icon, and our image of him spans generations, from Basil Rathbone in the 1940's to today's Benedict Cumberbatch.  Our Literary Flick for April, the 1959 version of The Hound of the Baskervilles, stars Peter Cushing in the coveted role.  The film shows at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 12 in the McEntee Meeting Room.

    Legend has it that centuries before, Sir Hugo Baskerville was killed by a "Hound of Hell" while walking on the moor near his estate. His descendant, Sir Henry Baskerville (Sir Christopher Lee) believes his family is cursed, and hires Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson (AndrĂ© Morell) to investigate. Cushing's Holmes is vivid, dynamic and arrogant, exactly as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote him. It's a performance of steely integrity and terrific skill, one of the greatest Holmes performances ever.