Tuesday, November 22, 2011

4th Annual Art & Author Holiday Market

Just in time for Holiday giving! Buy local, buy original. Meet local authors and artists. Books, art, unique finds and more! Join us at the Blum House for a festive and fun-filled day at the 4th Annual Art & Author Holiday Market on Saturday, December 3rd from 12-8pm. Hosted by the Collinsville Memorial Library Center in conjunction with Christmas in Collinsville.

-Posted by Jessica Lawrence

Local Author Publishes New Book

Local Collinsville author Rev. Dr. Lloyd E. Shaw has just published his seventh book entitled Memoirs of a Retired Pastor. In honor of this achievement Shaw's daughters hosted a party/book signing on Sunday, November 20th in the Community Room here at the Collinsville Memorial Library Center. The event was an enormous success with Dr. Shaw not only signing his newest book, but actually giving away free copies! Spirits were high among the large crowd that turned out, and there was a lot of joking between the author and attendees. However, if you missed this party and the chance to get your own free book don't worry. Lloyd E. Shaw will be a guest at the Art & Author Holiday Market at the Blum House on December 3rd from 12-4pm. As well, his book Memoirs of a Retired Pastor will be available for checkout from the library along with Lloyd E. Shaw's Dreams : Doorway to Emotional Health, God in the First Person : Moving Beyond Belief to Knowledge, and Reflections of a Twentieth-Century Tom Sawyer : Growing Up in the Depression.

-Posted by Grahm Underwood

Monday, November 21, 2011

The International Fiction Book Club - November 16th, 2011

The International Fiction Book Club meeting of November 16th, 2011 delved into the novel, Suite Française by Irène Némirovsky.  First published in France in 2004, sixty-two years after the author was put to death in the gas chamber at Auschwitz, this book proves to be the first document in novel form about the German invasion and occupation of France since it was written while the events described were happening.  According to an interview published in the book, Woman of Letters: Irène Némirovsky and Suite Française,  Némirovsky’s daughter, Denise Epstein, received a valise from her father, as he was being taken away by the Nazis, and was told it contained her “mama’s notebook”.  The dramatic tale of how the “notebook” survived is fascinating in itself as the author’s two daughters barely managed to avoid capture by French collaborationists and spent time in hiding and in an orphanage and then later in a boarding school.  While in hiding, Denise kept the valise by her side but when sent off to school it was kept by a notary until she came of legal age.  For many years she could not bear to open the notebook, thinking it was her mother’s personal diary and would be too painful to read.  When she finally transcribed the minute handwriting (so to save the scarce paper supply) she realized she was dealing with the first two parts of a planned five part novel concerning the exodus from Northern France (“Storm in June”) and the occupation of a small French town by German soldiers (“Dolce”).

             From her notes, we can better understand the grand plan that Némirovsky envisioned.  The first part “Storm in June” acts as a prelude while “Dolce”, in Italian, is a musical term that means sweet and slow.  Her intent was to show the “struggle between personal destiny and collective destiny”.  As one participant in the discussion said, “this book provides an intimate look at the occupation of France…very personal and immediate…the prose is lyrical [yet] restrained”.  By describing little vignettes of those fleeing the bombing, the author gives us a telescopic view of upper-class interiors instantly submerged through panic into the domain of the exterior populace that makes up the lower classes.

             From the wealthy Pericand family, with the grandfather’s threats to leave his fortune to a home for wayward youth, to the bourgeois writer Gabriel Corte, Némirovsky nimbly uses descriptive detail but never overdoes the scene.  She manages to parcel out satire with deft awareness as in her juxtaposition of the aristocratic art collector Charles Langelet stealing petrol in order to continue his escape with the Pericand’s cat sinking his teeth into a bleeding bird.  Némirovsky deals out the mad reactions to the panic as Monsieur Corbin, the banker, chooses his mistress and her dog while leaving his middle class clerk and his wife, the Michauds, with an ultimatum to catch the train for the branch bank on threat of dismissal.  Since the tracks were bombed the Michauds begin walking and as a result are both fired.

             Another participant in the discussion remarked he was “amazed that this woman, who in occupied France had to wear the yellow star and suffer great humiliation because of it, was able to prevent bringing in that personal experience into her characters”.  This led to a discussion of some Jewish criticism that refers to Némirovsky as an anti-Semite because she published some short stories in a journal that also published anti-Semetic propaganda.  True, there are no Jewish characters in the novel, but the art collector, Charles Langelet, at one point bemoans the current conditions while being thankful he is not Jewish.  He is by no means a sympathetic character and, upon his return to Paris, after the armistice is signed, he is run down by a car and killed in the darkened street just after the stingy hiring of a maid for his apartment.  After his death in the street we are propelled back to the apartment where the maid tips over an expensive vase.  The biographers of Irène Némirovsky revealed that the Langelet character was based on a well-known right-wing journalist of the time.

             The proposed third section of the novel was to be called “Captivity” and, as the events were unfolding, she writes in capitals in her notes, “FOR CAPTIVITY FOR THE CONCENTRATION CAMP THE BLASPHEMY OF THE BAPTISED JEWS… MAY GOD FORGIVE US OUR TRESSPASSES AS WE FORGIVE YOURS”.  Mainly, for her children sake it appears, Némirovsky converted to Catholicism in 1939.  She never practiced the Jewish faith and hated her mother but hated hypocrisy even more.  She reserved the cruelest fate of any character for Father Philippe, the oldest son of the Pericand family and a priest.  He was given the duty of evacuating the group of wayward boys from the home that received the grant from the elder Pericand.  Along the way through the countryside the priest stops at intervals to pray for the strength to manage this group of boys.  He dislikes the troubled youth and they in turn take advantage to steal from a farmer’s cottage.  When he tries to stop them, they stone him to death.  He ends up stuck in the mud of a stream trying to escape their throws.

             During the German occupation of a small town, similar to the one where Némirovsky lived at the time she was writing the novel, an uneasy romance of a sort is played out between a cultured German officer and one of the occupants of the house where he is billeted.  Lucille, whose husband is a prisoner of war and who she was never in love with, strikes up an uneasy friendship with the officer.  Her mother-in-law lives in the house and despises the German but has to put up with him.  Although Lucille is friendly with the officer, she dramatically resists him when he makes advances.  She also agrees to hide an escaped French soldier who killed another German officer who he suspected of making advances to his wife.

             It is clear that Némirovsky wanted to write a book about how the German invasion and occupation of France exposed the differences in classes which led to such hypocrisy and even collaboration.  Some of the cultured class in French society felt more of a bond with the German occupying force than with their own people who were beneath them on the class scale.  Rather than feeling empathetic with the masses leaving Paris, Charles Langelet says, “All the men looked like bandits, the women like con artists”.  Her plan for “Captivity” included the wealthy author Corte becoming a collaborator only to become disillusioned.  It was obvious that everyone in attendance at our meeting agreed that Némirovsky’s novel speaks for itself.  She only published in a right-wing journal when she, as a Jew, was turned down by her usual publishers.  After publishing a short story in such a manner, she made note that she feels, “like someone who makes fine lace in the midst of savages”.

             Though most of the plot focuses on small events, a panoramic view of the French capitulation, there are enough mentions of the conflict at large to put things in perspective.  Every so often, between sketches of major character development, the author uses minor characters or un-named French voices to draw back from the personal and note the horrors of large scale war.  One example we discussed was the fate of three sons of a local blacksmith.  One was a prisoner of war, the other killed in battle and the third missing at Mers-el-Kébir.  This was a reference to the Algerian port and the sinking of the French fleet by the British.  According to her idea of the novel found in Némirovsky’s notes:

                        The most important and most interesting thing here is

                        the following:  the historical, revolutionary facts etc.

                        must be only lightly touched upon, while the daily life,

                        the emotional life and especially the comedy it provides

                        must be described in detail.

This book relies on the intensive quality of each sentence as the author probes the soul of the French populace.  It is the youngest Pericand son, Hubert age 17, who remarks, …“everywhere you look, chaos, cowardice, vanity and ignorance!  What a wonderful race we are!”

            If there are heroes to find, they are Hubert, who joins the French army though he is underage, and Jean Marie who escapes from a POW camp and is set to fall in love with Lucille in “Captivity” but when he finds out that she still has feelings for the German officer sets off once again to fight the Germans.  Némirovsky had faith in the French youth and was looking forward to a fourth section entitled, “Battles” and alas, a fifth section, “Peace”.  She would not live to see peace again but the document she left behind is an incredible testament to the search for truth in a time of crisis.

            Our next selection for the International Fiction Book Club is The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery.  We will be meeting the evening of December 21st at the historic Blum House next door to the Collinsville Memorial Public Library.  Copies of the book may be checked out at the front desk.

                                                                                                        Posted By: Jim Krapf 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Consider giving the gift of a library card.

This holiday season - shop small - shop local.

Consider giving the gift of a library card...it even fits in a christmas stocking!

If you live inside the Mississippi Valley Library District and you haven't applied for your library card - you are missing out.  You are already paying for your library card, you just need to stop by and sign up.  There is no age limit.  What a wonderful gift this will be to your family as they become lifelong learners. 

Do you know someone who doesn't live in a library district? Did you know that you can give the gift of a library card? The Mississippi Valley Library District sells library cards to non-members for $85.00 for one year. Consider the possibility. What a great family gift this holiday season. Don't just pick one book or one DVD as your gift - why not pick them all!  Shop Small - Shop Local!

According to the National Small Business Association...With a little over a week until the Thanksgiving holiday, NSBA is urging small-business owners and their customers to participate in the second annual Small Business Saturday on Nov. 26, 2011. Building on “Black Friday,” where most retailers do a significant amount of business, Small Business Saturday is a campaign to urge consumers to dedicate a portion of holiday shopping to local, independently-owned small businesses.

Small Business Saturday was originated by American Express in 2010, and NSBA—along with myriad other small-business groups—is proud to support the effort to drive customers to shop at their local small businesses.

Social media will play a central role in helping raise awareness about the importance of supporting small business and recognizing Small Business Saturday. Please visit the NSBA Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/NSBAAdvocate to get more information on Small Business Saturday. Here, you can also “like” a local business—even your own—to help drive local awareness to your business.

Read entire article at NSBA

Posted by Katie Heaton

Monday, November 14, 2011

Book Review – Killing Lincoln by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard

“The man with six weeks to live is anxious.” (pg. 3)  This first sentence of Killing Lincoln draws the reader into the true story of the assassination of President Lincoln.  Even I as a Canadian know the end of this story, in fact, I was in Washington D.C. last summer and sat in Ford’s Theater and saw the pistol Booth used to shoot Lincoln, but knowing the ending does not diminish the intrigue, planning, near misses, twists and turns that lead up to this historic event and the manhunt that followed.

In the opening “Note to Readers,” O’Reilly writes, “Before historian Martin Dugard and I began writing this book, I thought I understood the facts and implications of the assassination. But even though I am a former teacher of history, I had no clue. The ferocious assassination plan itself still has elements that have not been clarified. This is a saga of courage, cowardice, and betrayal. There are layers of proven conspiracy and alleged conspiracy that will disturb you. You will learn much in these pages, and the experience, I believe, will advance your understanding of our country, and how Lincoln’s murder changed it forever.” (pg. 1)

These layers are carefully and artfully laid out in such a way that the reader is so caught up in the story that the reality and the learning that is transpiring go almost unnoticed. The ending of the Civil War, the hopes and dreams of Lincoln for reunification and reconciliation, the scope of Booths plot, and the role of pride, hatred, prejudice, jealousy, and betrayal are woven together in a way that on the one hand is inspiring and on the other frightening.

O’Reilly has written several New York Times bestsellers and his rich vocabulary, skill at crafting a sentence and at engaging his readers evident in this work is bound to earn this work a high spot on that coveted list. He has succeeded in his goal to advance the understanding of this nation and of true heroism and cowardly betrayal and in the process he gives the reader a new appreciation for those who have helped shape this nation as well as inspiring that truly American ideal that every person can and does make a difference some like Lincoln for the good of all and others like Booth and his co-conspirators to the potential destruction of the nation. Read this book – learn some ‘well known’ details of history, understand how much worse the events of April 1865 could have been, and be inspired to preserve and improve this great nation.

Submitted by Jim Ritter

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Public Library, Completely, Reimagined

You'll hear a lot of talk about the "death of the public library" these days.  It isn't simply the perpetual budget crises that many face either.  It's the move to digital literature, and the idea that once there are no more pinrt books (or rather IF there are no more print books), the library as an institution will cease to exist.

Librarians will remind you, of course, that a library is much more than a book repository...

Read the rest of this interesting article at MindShift.

Posted by Katie Heaton

Thursday, November 03, 2011

2011 Teens' Top Ten

Teen Read Week is an initiative of the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA). Teen Read Week started in 1998. This year's theme was Picture It @ your library®, which encourages teens to read graphic novels and other illustrated materials, seek out creative books, or imagine the world through literature, just for the fun of it. Libraries across the world celebrate Teen Read Week with a variety of special events and programs aimed at encouraging teens to read for pleasure and to visit their libraries for free reading materials.

More than 9,000 teens voted for the winners of the 2011 Teens' Top Ten.
Watch video announcements and winning author video acceptance at:   YALSA

1.   Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
2.   Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
3.   Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick
4.   I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore
5.   The Iron King by Julie Kagawa
6.   Matched by Ally Condie
7.   Angel:  A Maximum Ride novel by James Patterson
8.   Paranormalcy by Kiersten White
9.   Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
10.  Nightshade by Andrea Cremer

Posted by Katie Heaton