New U.S. Poet Laureate

Natasha Trethewey has just been named  the 19th poet laureate by the Library of Congress. Creative writing professor at Atlanta’s Emory University, she’s the first Southerner appointed to the post since Robert Penn Warren in 1986 (the first poet laureate), and the first African American since Rita Dove in 1993. In 2007 she won the Pulitzer Prize for her collection Native Guard, and her newest book of poetry Thrall will be published this fall.  Much of her work deals with memory, “in particular the way private recollection and public history sometimes intersect but more often diverge. “The ghost of history lies down beside me,” she writes in one of her poems, “rolls over, pins me beneath a heavy arm.”  See the library catalog for more of her writings, and check out this NYT article and the NPR link to hear Ms. Trethewey read two of her poems.



Guy Noir Alert! Garrison Keillor and Friends on Audio

As an admitted Guy Noir fan, I had to share this bit with everyone. An excerpt of “Guy Noir and the Straight Skinny,” the newest book, is available online. How can you not like a hero who contends with the likes of “geezer gangster Joey Roast Beef”? The link has a few photos, too. Enjoy!

Shira S.

The smell of books dying

On NPR’s Morning Edition program today, Margot Adler reported on the loud and passionate debate over the proposed renovation of the iconic main building of the New York Public Library on 42nd Street in Manhattan. The beautiful Beaux Arts-style building with those glorious lions guarding the entrance was opened in 1911 after nearly nine years of construction. The seven floors of stacks which are closed to the public hold 3 million volumes. Victoria Steele, head of collections, says, “It’s very hot and still in these stacks. It’s not good for the books. And actually, if you take a little whiff, that’s the smell of books dying.”

The hotly debated plan to demolish the stacks and move the books to a storage location under the nearby Bryant Park branch and to a climate-controlled location in New Jersey has many up in arms. The full story (see link above) goes on to present both sides.

Barbara L.

Meet Alan Furst!

Author Alan Furst visits EPL on Saturday, June 16th at 4 pm.

That’s right, folks.  NY Times Bestselling author Alan Furst is coming to EPL, and we couldn’t be more excited.  Described by Vince Flynn as “the most talented espionage novelist of our generation,” Furst will visit the Community Meeting Room of EPL’s Main Branch on Saturday, June 16th at 4 p.m. to read from Mission to Paris – the latest of his 12 critically acclaimed books.  As we eagerly await this very special event, we thought we’d share a pair of pleasant diversions to help pass the time until Mr. Furst’s arrival.  First, to help whet your appetite for Mission to Paris, check out this glowing NY Times review in advance of the novel’s June 12th release.  Then, as a final literary appetizer, don’t miss this insightful Wall Street Journal interview with Mr. Furst himself.  Enjoy, and see you on the 16th!

Local Art @ EPL

“King Leonidas” by Timothy L. Campbell

We are proud to welcome Alice DuBois and Timothy L. Campbell back to EPL this month for a brand-new Local Art @ EPL exhibit.  After making their solo library debuts in 2010, the Evanston-based artists have teamed up to present two dozen stunning works that mix oils, acrylics, and collage.  Spirited, surreal, and endlessly creative, the paintings are inspired by history, travel, alchemy, music, and even books from EPL’s own collection which are included in the display.  You can catch their show on the 2nd floor of EPL’s Main Branch through the end of June and also view more of their work at the following: Ms. DuBois’ Flickr site and Mr. Campbell’s Flickr site.  Finally, make sure to stop right back here on Off the Shelf later this month for a featured interview with the artists themselves.  Stay tuned.

Short Quiz: Guess the Title from the Cover

Can you figure out the classic’s title from the blanked out cover? Hint: one of them is by an author who was in the news today. Quiz provided by Gabe Hash of PW. Answers on the bottom for those who give up! Shira S.

Ray Bradbury, 1920-2012

Known as the master of science fiction, Ray Bradbury died Tuesday at the age of 91. More than eight million copies of his books were sold during his lifetime, including the short-story collections The Martian Chronicles, The Illustrated Man and The Golden Apples of the Sun, and the novels Fahrenheit 451 and Something Wicked This Way Comes. Born in Waukegan, Illinois, he and his family moved to California when he was 13. “Waukegan had everything that was good about a small town,” he told the Chicago Sun-Times in a 1991 interview. “ There’s a park in Waukegan named in his honor. Mr. Bradbury was presented with the National Medal of  Arts in 2004 and received a special Pulitzer citation in 2007 “for his distinguished, prolific and deeply influential career as an unmatched author of science fiction and fantasy.” You can read the entire New York Times article here. For more of Mr. Bradbury’s works check the EPL catalog.

Richard Roeper’s column in today’s (June 7) Chicago Sun-Times is also worth reading.


Oprah’s Book Club is Baaack

Oprah Winfrey is reviving her book club after a 2-year break.  This new version of  her book club is called Oprah’s Book Club 2.0 and has been updated with with digital and social-media elements such as Facebook and Twitter.  Her first pick is Wild by Cheryl Strayed, a nonfiction tale of the author’s author’s epic hike of the Pacific Crest Trail that was published in March.  Wild is sure to climb up the NYT best-seller list now that it has the Oprah seal of approval.  Check out today’s article in the New York Times.