Happy Father’s Day!

Today is Father’s Day, and here on Off the Shelf we’re celebrating with a special salute to EPL’s favorite TV dads.  Enjoy, and to all the dads in both Chicagoland and TV land… Happy Father’s Day!

robert crawleyRobert Crawley, Earl of Grantham, Downton Abbey

“He loves his daughters enough to learn from them and see the world in a different, better way.” — Jill



bob belcherBob Belcher, Bob’s Burgers

“He appreciates his kids’ unique qualities and spends quality time with them.  He’s involved in their lives.  He also does something he loves doing and shows the kids a different kind of success.” –Elizabeth Sanderson


Eric Taylor, Friday Night Lights

“Coach Taylor is committed to his family and to making a difference in the lives of the kids on his teams.”  — Jarrett Dapier



randy marshRandy Marsh, South Park

“A terrible example of what a dad should be… but hilarious.”  — Bob Meyer



A Few More Favorites…


EPL’s Favorite TV Dads

tv dads
TV dads Robert Crawley, Homer Simpson, Ned Stark, and Dre Johnson (l to r).

Father’s Day is less than one week away, and that party you’re planning for your dad is really coming together.  You’ve already gift wrapped a fashionable necktie, ordered brats for the cookout, and scoured StubHub for tickets to see the Cubs beat those dastardly Pirates.  Well, here on Off the Shelf we’re also planning a special Father’s Day celebration, and we need your help.  You see, this Sunday we’re saluting our favorite TV dads, and between now and then, we’d like to invite you to share yours.  Please let us know at EPL’s Favorite TV Dads where you can choose from candidates like Ned Stark, Homer Simpson, and the Earl of Grantham or write in your own.  Then, check back with Off the Shelf on Father’s Day when we highlight all of EPL’s picks.  Stay tuned.

Poetry 365: Nicholas Christopher

nicholas christopherThis month for Poetry 365 we’re featuring Nicholas Christopher’s engaging new book On Jupiter Place.  Favorably compared to the work of Wallace Stevens, Elizabeth Bishop, and James Merrill, this eighth collection of poetry from the Tiger Rag author is perhaps his most personal and autobiographical work to date.  Filled with intimate portraits of his grandmother, father, and even Lois Lane, On Jupiter Place shows why W.S. Merwin described Christopher’s poems as “vibrant with light and the surprise of recognition.”  So don’t miss this engaging new book, sample a poem below, and make sure to stop back next month for Poetry 365.

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An Interview with ‘The Loss of All Lost Things’ author Amina Gautier

Amina Gautier
Photo by Jenni Bryant

Amina Gautier writes short stories, and her short story collections win awards.  It’s about that simple.  Back in 2011, for instance, her debut collection At-Risk earned the Flannery O’Connor Award and the First Horizon Award among other honors, and her 2014 follow-up Now We Will Be Happy won the Praire Schooner Book Prize.  This past February Gautier continued the trend with The Loss of All Lost Things – a gripping collection of fifteen stories that explores the unpredictable ways in which characters deal with the loss of their loved ones, careers, reputations, and hometowns.  Not only did her third collection win the Elixir Press Award in Fiction, but Gautier was also included on Newcity’s 2016 Lit 50 list and is set to receive the Chicago Public Library’s 21st Century Award in October.  Back on May 9, Gautier visited EPL to read from The Loss of All Lost Things as part of the 2016 Evanston Literary Festival, but if you missed her that night, have no fear.  You can catch her this Saturday, June 11 at the Printer’s Row Lit Fest, and what’s more, we recently spoke with her via email about her love of the short story form, her creative process, and the challenges of writing intimately about loss.

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Local Art @ EPL: Barbara Freeman

all dressed in whiteWe are very pleased to welcome Barbara Freeman back to the library for a brand-new Local Art @ EPL exhibit.  After debuting with 2010’s Road Light and following up with 2012’s smalltown: faith, flags, & firearms, the Evanston photographer and filmmaker has returned with All Dressed in White – a series of “color photographs that explore the gap between wedding day myths and traditions and the much-more-interesting reality… of two people trying to create a union.”  You can catch this inspired show on the 2nd floor of EPL’s Main Library through the end of June, and don’t forget to stop by this Saturday, June 4 when it’s included as part of the 2016 Evanston Made gallery tour.  Also, make sure to check back with Off the Shelf later in the month for a featured interview with the artist herself.  Stay tuned.

‘Peaky Blinders’ is Back!

One year, six months, and thirty days.  This virtual eternity in TV time is what “Peaky Blinders” fans had to endure waiting for the BBC gangster epic to return after binging its 2nd season along with their 2014 Thanksgiving turkey.  But mercifully, the devilish delay is over.  Yesterday Netflix finally released Season 3, and now “Peaky Blinders” is back!  Set in 1920s Birmingham, the dark, stylish drama stars Irish actor Cillian Murphy as Tommy Shelby, a tortured WWI hero turned mastermind of his family’s criminal enterprises.  Don’t miss this great Deadline interview with Murphy and director Steven Knight to get the whole scoop on the new season, and check out the trailer above to whet your appetite for what’s to come.  And if you’re new to “Peaky Blinders,” don’t worry.  Swing by EPL to pick up Seasons 1 and 2 and get yourself caught up in no time.  This show is not to be missed.

An Interview with ‘The Lightkeepers’ author Abby Geni

abby geniAbby Geni insists she’s “always been a novelist at heart,” and with her provocative debut thriller The Lightkeepers, it’s clear the Evanston native is following her true calling.  Part murder mystery, part ghost story, The Lightkeepers tells the twisting tale of nature photographer Miranda as she begins a one-year residency on the Farallon Islands – a remote, untamed archipelago off the California coast.  Shortly after arriving, Miranda is assaulted by one of the six biologists studying the islands, and when her attacker is found mysteriously dead days later, she must struggle to face the reality of her assault as the violence escalates around her and suspicions run wild.  An insightful exploration of the nature of recovery and the harsh indifference of the natural world, The Lightkeepers was described by the Chicago Tribune as both “an accessible page-turner” and “an astonishingly ambitious debut [that] like many literary classics… raises questions about humanity that are anything but light.”  Back on April 25, Geni visited Bookends & Beginnings to read from The Lightkeepers as part of an EPL-sponsored event also featuring author Ben Nadler.  If you missed her that night, however, have no fear because we recently spoke to her via email about her novel’s origins, bringing the Farallon Islands to life, and the human disconnect with nature.

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Poetry 365: Jason Zuzga

This month for Poetry 365 we’re highlighting the impressive debut collection from poet Jason Zuzga.  In Heat Wake, the FENCE editor meditates on desire, the complexities of time, and the natural world while traveling through the silent Arizona desert into the suburban New Jersey of his youth.  Poet Kevin Killian raves, “For the anatomical sensations he observes, the tenderness of his sentences, his insatiate curiosity, and his experience of surrealism, we might consider Jason Zuzga the Oliver Sacks of poetry.”  So check out Heat Wake, sample a poem below, and make sure to stop back next month for Poetry 365.

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Poet Profiles: Dina Elenbogen

dinaThe 2nd Annual Evanston Literary Festival might be nearing its conclusion, but rest assured, there is still plenty of book-loving fun to be had this weekend thanks to Northwestern University, Bookends & Beginnings, the Chicago Book Expo, and your very own EPL.  What’s more, here on Off the Shelf we’ll continue featuring interviews with some of the participating authors, poets, and graphic novelists even after the festival wraps.  Next up is poet Dina Elenbogen.  A teacher of creative writing at the University of Chicago Graham School and of Jewish Studies at the University of Illinois Chicago, Elenbogen is the author of the poetry collection Apples of the Earth and the recent memoir Drawn from Water: An American Poet, an Ethiopian Family, an Israeli Story.  She has received fellowships and awards from the Illinois Arts Council, the Ragdale Foundation, the Evanston Arts Council and Hilai Artists Colony in Israel, and her work has appeared in magazines including December, Prairie Schooner, Poet Lore, Tikkun, and Rhino as well as in anthologies such as Lost on the Map of the World, Where We Find Ourselves, and Brute Neighbors.  On Saturday, May 14th at 5:30 pm, Elenbogen will share her work as part of the “5 Poets, 20 Poems” reading at the Unicorn Cafe, and in anticipation, we spoke with her via email about her poetic origins and inspirations, her writing process, and his new poem “Missing.”

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Local Art @ EPL: The Big Read


Dozens of talented student artists from District 65 middle schools Chute and Nichols are the next to be featured in our ongoing exhibition series Local Art @ EPL.  From now until May 31st, you can find over 50 original student works on the 2nd floor of EPL’s Main Library.  Inspired by the Evanston Big Read companion book Yes! We Are Latinos by Alma Flor Ada, this impressive exhibit showcases artwork and writing focused on the students’ family roots and history.  Don’t miss it, and while you plan your visit, you can preview the show below.  Enjoy!

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