Water, water everywhere…well, maybe not

This week WBEZ radio launched a series called “After Water” that explores the future of our water supply in the face of increasing climate change. On July 20th, host Shannon Heffernan kicked it off by interviewing nonfictiolake michigann writer Michele Morano who was hoping to find a way to get the public to be more engaged in the looming problems of water supply. Morano came up with the idea of teaming sci-fi writers with scientists. Each writer would work with one scientist, learn about his or her area of research, and then write a sci-fi short story set in the near future. And, so the series was born. Heffernan commented, “We’ve invited fiction writers to peer into the future—100 years or more—and imagine the region around the Great Lakes, when clean, fresh water could be a rare resource. Hear the writers’ stories on air and online, and listen as scientists weigh in too.” Listen to the full interview here.

WBEZ is also hosting an event on July 30th where the first batch of stories will be told live at the Mayne Stage, 1328 W. Morse in Chicago at 6pm. For more information click here.

Barbara L.

What to read this summer? Nancy Pearl tells us!

nancy pearlIt’s Pledge Week this week for Chicago-land WBEZ listeners, and I know some folks may cut back on listening a bit. If you are one of those who go on a public radio diet, you may have missed the segment last Monday with Nancy Pearl alerting listeners to great, under-the-radar choices for summer reading.  As usual, Nancy Pearl makes all six selections sound wonderful and the only frustration is where to start. All genres are represented: fiction, nonfiction, mystery, fantasy, travel, and short stories. Listen here to the interview. I’ve listed the titles below with links to the EPL catalog.

Understories by Tim Horvath

Astoria by Peter Stark

The Selected Works of T. S. Spivet by Reif Larson

Into Thick Air by Jim Malusa

Death of a Unicorn by Peter Dickinson

The Glass Sentence by S. E. Grove

Happy reading!

Barbara L.

Fictitious dishes: memorable meals from classic literature

fictitious_dishes_heidiHeidi’s toasted cheese, Du Maurier’s dripping crumpets, the watery gruel that Oliver wanted more of, all foods we really can’t see. We rely on the author’s power of description to help us imagine the feast, or in poor Oliver’s case, the opposite, set before the characters in a book. Until now, that is. With Dinah Fried’s new book, Fictitious Dishes: An Album of Literature’s Most Memorable Meals, we need struggle no more. A graphic designer and photographer, Fried chose 50 iconic meals to create the eater’s-eye view tableaux in her new book. She spoke with NPR’s Melissa Block on today’s “All Things Considered” about the inspiration and creation of the book. Listen to the story and view some of the photographs here.

Barbara L.

Urban library or homeless shelter?

This morning on NPR, Steve Shafer reported on the decision by the administration at the San Francisco library to have a full-time social worker SF-Public-Library-Mainon staff to work with the library’s homeless patrons. As program host Steve Inskeep said in his introduction, “whether they like it or not, libraries in some cities serve as homeless shelters. People come off the streets to find quiet and warmth. If libraries want to do something about this, they have some choices: They can put homeless visitors back out on the street. San Francisco libraries want to get them back on their feet.”

Listen to the full story, and note the printed version’s listener comments for some thought-provoking responses.

Barbara L.

J.K. Rowling (a.k.a. Robert Galbraith) will release another detective novel

The SilkwormJ.K. Rowling of Harry Potter fame announced that she has penned another Cormoran Strike mystery titled The Silkworm. It is to hit the bookstands next June and will still show the author as Robert Galbraith. The first Strike novel, The Cuckoo’s Calling, was met with mixed, but generally good reviews, but when it was leaked who the real author was, sales skyrocketed. In the new book Strike’s able assistant, perky Robin Ellacott, is still around, and works with her boss to solve the brutal and bizarre murder of writer Owen Quine. Read the article in The Independent for more on Rowling’s latest.

Barbara L.

Hermione and Ron: was it a mis-match?

Hermione RonAs much as I loved the wonderful Harry Potter series, I always felt Hermione could have done better as far as boyfriends go.  I mean, she was so smart and so passionate about her causes (case in point, S.P.E.W and the House Elves), and don’t forget how fierce she could be in defending her friends. Never afraid to show off her brilliance, she’d raise her hand even in Snape’s class risking his scorn and ridicule. Ron, on the other hand, always seemed a few beats behind Harry and Hermione as they plotted and planned. He was a loyal friend and a true fighter for the cause of good, but sometimes was completely befuddled by the fast-thinking pair. Now some might say opposites attract and that Hermione and Ron would have been content in their life together. But I always thought the attraction was contrived. In the “19 years later” chapter of the final book, I really wondered if she was happy with her choice of mate. Did she glance longingly at Harry?

Apparently I’m not the only one who feels this way. In an interview J.K. Rowling gave to Hermione portrayer Emma Watson, the author herself admitted that she made a mistake in pairing the two. And Watson agreed.  A CNN Entertainment article quoted Rowling, “I wrote the Hermione/Ron relationship as a form of wish fulfillment. That’s how it was conceived, really,” Rowling says in the interview. “For reasons that have very little to do with literature and far more to do with me clinging to the plot as I first imagined it, Hermione ended up with Ron.” Avid fans, both pro and con to this revelation, shared opinions on mugglenet.com, one of the biggest HP fans sites going. So should there ever be an eighth Harry Potter book, the title might be “Harry Potter and the Messy Divorce.”

Barbara L.

Founding Mothers: Remembering the Ladies

founding mothers 2founding mothersNPR’s Cokie Roberts was interviewed on today’s airing of Morning Edition about the release of the illustrated, children’s version of her 2004 book Founding Mothers: The Women Who Raised Our Nation. The children’s version is subtitled Remembering the Ladies, and is aimed at an audience age 7-12. In the interview Roberts said she felt that most of us know so little about the women who were so involved and proactive during the Revolutionary era because from an early age, we only learn about the “Founding Fathers.” She felt that school-age kids needed a good resource for getting the full picture of the importance of these women, some who fought right alongside our troops or followed the army to provide cooking and laundry services, as well as the wives who ran the households, businesses and farms, like Deborah Read Franklin who kept the presses rolling and  handled the accounts while husband Benjamin was off in England. Listen to the full interview here.

Barbara L.

30th Annual Cowboy Poetry fest

This week marks the 30th annual National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, NV. In both spoken word and song, the culture and traditioncowboyss of the American West are celebrated by cowboys, ranchers, farmers, city folk, country folk, and anyone who treasures the heritage of this uniquely American phenomenon. The week long fest includes poetry readings, musical performers, films (Westerns, of course), crafts and more. For a taste of the genre, EPL’s collection includes Buckaroo: Visions and Voices of the American Cowboy. 

Barbara L.

Goodnight, Irene…goodnight, Pete. Iconic folk singer dies at age 94.

Pete Seeger, folksinger, song writer, activist, died in his home in upstate New Yopete seeger 3rk yesterday after a long and rich career as one of the most talented and beloved entertainers in America. A fine, steady voice, a clear vision of the amazing nation America could be, and an uncanny ability to stand alone on a stage and get an audience of over a thousand people to sing along with gusto was what made him an icon of the mid-2oth century folk scene. This fine remembrance, heard on NPR Morning edition this morning, tells the story of a life and career that inspired many and delighted thousands. Check the EPL catalog for our collection of material on Pete Seeger, and don’t miss the wonderful Reeltime documentary, The Power of Song.

Barbara L.

Malice Domestic

ServantsHooray! Downton Abbey is back! As Americans relish the continuing story of the upstairs and downstairs lives of this grand estate in season 4, a current display of books and films at EPL features stories from the servants’ points of view. In the wonderful universe of coincidence, NPR this weekend re-ran Dave Davies’ Fresh Air interview with Lucy Lethbridge, author of Servants: A Downstairs History of Britain from the Nineteenth Century to Modern times.

We Americans are fascinated by the parallel lives of those upstairs and those below, but we lack a deep cultural sense of the history and impact on lifestyles and attitudes. Lethbridge uses diaries, letters, and memoirs as well as household records to help us grasp the import of a life in service and the complex relationship between servants and masters. Listen to the interview and visit the EPL website for earlier Downton Abbey seasons.

Barbara L.