Artists, Samella Lewis and Richard Long at Woodson Regional Library in August

Renowned artist and art historian, Dr. Samella Lewis,  and author, Dr. Richard  Long, will present a lecture at Chicago Public Library Woodson Regional Library at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Agust 14. The two lecturers will speak at length about James Richmond Barthe’ (1901-1989). Dr. Lewis is the author of,  Barthe’: His Life in Art. For information, call (312) 747-8184.

Susan M.

Have You Read . . . ?

sixwordToday’s find from out of the stacks is a little book called Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure. The book is a project of SMITH Magazine, an online publication and community for storytellers of all stripes. Among other story projects, in 2006 SMITH launched the six-word memoir project to great popularity on the web. Inspired by the legend of Ernest Hemingway’s own six word short story allegedly written in a bar bet (“For Sale: baby shoes, never worn.”), the magazine launched its project and watched it spread like virtual wildfire across the internet. Not Quite What I Was Planning collects a wide assortment of the submissions from amateur and professional writers alike. Some of the notable brief memoirists include Chuck Klosterman, Ornette Coleman, Harvey Pekar, Amy Sedaris, Tracey Morgan, Curtis Sittenfeld, Jonathan Lethem, Aimee Mann, Stephen Colbert, Daniel Handler, and David Rakoff among many others. The sheer range of voices on display here is a wonderful thing. It’s like walking down the street and reading the story of a life in each face you pass. You’ll be amazed at the power six little words can have over your emotions. From laughter to sadness to wincing recognition, there are as many ways to respond to these stories as there are stories themselves. The only thing these pieces have in common aside from their brevity is the honesty at the core of each. Think of them as literature for the Twitter Age. Enjoy a sampling below, and if you’re feeling inspired, be sure to drop us a comment with your own six-word memoir.

Taking a lifetime to grow up.

                                                                                   Nothing profound, I just sat around.

Can’t tonight, watching Law & Order.

                                                                                   Thought I would have more impact.

Graduated May. 21 June. Married July.

                                                          Hiding in apartment knitting against depression.

It was embarrassing, so don’t ask.

                                                                           Discovered moral code via Judy Blume.

In a Manolo world, I’m Keds.

                                                                                       One tooth, one cavity. Life’s cruel.

Would you like fries with that?

                                                                                      Little bit Lucy, tempered by Ethel.

Became my mother. Please shoot me.

                                                                                     God, grant me patience. Right now.

Accidents cause people-son is wonderful.

                                                                                     Age eleven: became a middle child.

Loved home. Left to make sure.

The Suicide Index

suicideindexphotoWickersham, Joan. The Suicide Index. 2008. (155.937 Wicke.J)

When Paul Wickersham killed himself in 1991, he not only ended his own life, but also shattered the lives of his wife and two adult daughters, irrevocably altering their futures, as well as their pasts. Every former notion, thought, and memory of the man that they had known and loved so well is called into question by the final act of his life. Now, 16 years after the fact, his daughter Joan, attempts to make sense of the man, and the action that has come to define him. Rather than tackle the memoir as a straight chronological narrative, Wickersham tells the story in the form of an index. Imposing this formal, orderly structure on such a chaotic and emotional event allows her to bring a level-headed objectivity to the story and enables her to clearly organize the labyrinthine and erratic nature of her thoughts and feelings about her father’s suicide. Wickersham recreates her father’s life by skipping backwards and forwards through time, gradually unpeeling layer after layer of the man, searching futilely for a motive which she knows she will never find. As the details of the suicide and her family history unfold, painful truths about abuse, failures, and betrayals kept hidden for years are revealed, and to her credit, Wickersham never backs away from the conflict, confronting it head-on with an unflinching intimacy. Despite the heavy subject matter, the book never gets bogged down in despair. Wickersham’s beautiful writing is fluid and concise throughout, and she occasionally finds room for humor amid the darkness. This book will appeal to fans of biographies, memoirs, and psychology texts, as well as anyone personally touched by suicide. Wickersham puts a bold human face to an oft hidden topic.  (Andy R. Reader’s Services)