Monday, December 10, 2007

A Quote

I am currently reading Steve Martin's memoir entitled "Born Standing Up." As you may have guess from the title the book focuses on his ten years as a working stand up comedian. Here's a great quote from the book concerning his decision to attempt to make a living by making people laugh: "I did have the one element necessary to all early creativity: naivete, that fabulous quality that keeps you from knowing just how unsuited you are for what you are about to do."

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Safe for work back from the dead?

I went back and read a classic piece of science fiction a couple of weeks back. I read The Stars, My Destination by Alfred Bester. I read the novel because it kept popping up on lists that covered the all-time best science fiction novels. As a reader of science fiction shouldn't I read the one book, that I haven't read, that seems to appear on these lists?

It's a rare science fiction novel that can read well after ten or twenty years. The Stars, My Destination was published in 1956. As someone who has read a lot of classic SF much of it written back in what's called the golden age of SF I have found that much of what passes for future technology in 1945 or 1956 can appear downright strange to the reader in 2007. For example, I read The Door into Summer (1957) by Robert Heinlein recently and he described an invention by the main character that could be easily seen as a precursor to computer aided design. But, since this is the early 50's the drafting tool he describes is mechanical, not a piece of software. Same idea but different ballpark completely.

The Stars, My Destination though, holds up well. One reason is the use of teleportation by most of humanity. Since common folk can transport themselves from almost any point of the planet to another with their minds, the richest people on the planet (members of families that run corporations like feudal lords) choose to travel as primitively as possible by using classic vehicles driven by chauffeurs. The truly decadent may have a horse driven coach or pay to have a train track put in for a single use. The very powerful also wouldn't email each other, they send messengers. Emailing or using a telephone would be common. Hey, if everyone could afford a giant SUV no one would own one.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Reading Lists

Occasionally someone will ask us if we keep track of what books they have checked out over the years. Not to make sure we are not sharing the information, but because they wish to know if they have read a particular book before. I used to only recommend the library sponsored website called Reader's Club. You can create a reading log and keep track of what you have read. The only drawback to the Reader's Club reading log is that it's not really set up to help you add books you have read in the past. You can add those books but since it doesn't have a searchable database finding what you have read and adding those books to your log is time consuming. If you don't mind starting from scratch, Readers Club is the way to go.

Just recently I have started an account at a site called Good Reads. It's the latest in a long line of social networking websites and the first I have joined that is built around reading. Like the other social websites you and your friends share contacts and content. This time the content is your reading history. If you are interested you can see my reading history in the right sidebar of this blog. I am adding books that I have remembered that I have read everyday. You can enter dates also but here I am going more for just as complete a list of what I have read as I can. I want something I can refer to when I have thinking of what to use in a book talk. Before I just referred to my Reader's Club reading list, now I have a database that is searchable and that will be even more helpful.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Another book down

I am proud to announce that I am five books away from reading 30 books this year. I think back when I was in high school thirty books a year would not seem like a lot. I have more distractions these days, I think. And a career.

I finished Bad Monkeys by Matt Ruff. It showed up on hold for me and I had no idea where why I had placed it on hold. I saw on the cover of the book a blurb by Christopher Moore so maybe I read about it on his website. Probably not since I haven't been to his website in a while. Sometime during all the book review reading I do I must have come across a positive review somewhere.

It's the story of a woman who is being interviewed by a shrink in a jail in Las Vegas. We are told that she has killed someone she was supposed to. Turns out she is in a secret society that "takes out" people they consider evil. They don't try and change the world but if you kidnap people and torture them in your van alongside interstates, they will find you and kill you.

The story was just a tad convoluted with a few major twists at the end and the book was definitely a page turner but I went away feeling a little unfulfilled. Like a couple of Christopher Moore books I read the ending did not live to the buildup. Like Moore, I will probably give the next book by Ruff a chance. Surely someday someone will write a humorous novel that satisfies.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

A good book review

It turns out the reason our country's name resonates so strongly is because the person the continents were named after has almost no historical standing.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Guns o' the South

I read the first couple of books in Harry Turtledove's series called Worldwar. A storyline in which aliens invade the planet in the middle of World War II. After a couple of books the story became a little monotonous for me but for a while there I was really enjoying it.

Right now I am reading his book, Guns of the South. In a nutshell, a group of white supremacists from the future show up with AK-47's, MRE's and hand grenades and help the South win the civil war. Armed with AK-47's Confederacy ends the war pretty quickly. In fact, General Lee actually captures Washington City, as it's called. I think he may have wrote this book just so he could write the dialog between Lee and Lincoln that takes place in the White House. It's an exchange between to towering figures from history that comes off as some of the most genuine feeling historical fiction writing I have ever read. It's quite a feat to take a story with such a fantastic premise and insert such realistic dialog. I was quite taken aback.

This happens barely halfway through the book and now the negotiations between the two former warring nations are starting. I am digging this book.

After I got tired of the Worldwar series I wrote Turtledove off a little bit. What has convinced me to delve in Guns of the South is the collection of short stories by Turtledove that I bought a few months ago. I was really impressed by a story about the apocalypse taking place in the middle of trench warfare during World War I. None of the soldiers noticed.

Friday, September 21, 2007


I have been on vacation for almost two weeks. I am in northern Michigan visiting with family. I've done a little reading. In fact, I finished a science fiction book by Kathleen Ann Goonan. It was the first book by her I have read. The book I just read is called In War Times. It's a parallel worlds/time travel book that weaves some of the world war II memoirs of the author's father into the narrative. I really enjoyed it although it tied the assassination of John F. Kennedy to pretty much all the troubles we are currently facing in the world. Up until the final solution of the story I really enjoyed the novel. For some reason I have bee reading novels recently that have a hard time finding a satisfying ending. I attribute it to the same probelm I have with many SF novels. They keep reaching for the stars. Do you have to save the world or even existence itself? Can't we just have a nice adventure?

Saturday, August 25, 2007

New Joe Haldeman Book

Just a couple of days ago I finished tearing through the new book by Joe Haldeman called "The Accidental Time Machine." Most of the time when you go on about Haldeman you are required to mention the book that cemented his status as a great SF writer, "The Forever War." Sometime in the mid nineties when I was in my mid twenties I was starting to really open up my science fiction reading a good bit. As I was searching for new authors I came across a mention of "Forever War" that described it as being based on the author's Vietnam experiences and as an answer to the Heinlein's "Starship Troopers" and the glorification of the military therein. That's the only hook I've found more initially appealing than Michael's short summary of Turtledove's "Worldwar: In the Balance:" Nazis fighting aliens. It also won the Hugo and Nebula awards.

What I really enjoy about Haldeman is, like Heinlein and Zelazny, that he is readable. I can crack open one of his books and I know I am going to be reading quality fiction with believable physics and/or technology and characters that are worthy of empathy. Another talent he has, and that he shows off in his book, is that he can take a foreign setting and with minimal explanation can flesh it out into a vibrant world.

This particular book is about exactly what the title implies. A student at MIT creates a gizmo that goes forward in time anytime he hits the reset button. That only catch is that each time the machine is engaged as a time travel device the time it jumps forward increase exponentially. I don' t to give too much away. He does have a nice time jumping adventure. He ends up in a medieval type theocracy that is so interesting that Joe could have created a book just around that. At some point he meets a nice girl. At some point he meets a living piece of software that may or may not be nice. Nice in her own way, I guess.

I guess one of the criticisms going around about this particular novel is that it's not a particularly serious book. I'd have to agree and disagree with that. It certainly is a story in which you don't feel like the main character is ever really in any danger but there is an underlying tension in the book, especially during his time in the theocracy.

Each of his last three books have felt, not unfinished, but maybe they could have been more. This one is no different. It's not a bad book, in fact it's quite enjoyable and is better than most of SF you will read all year. I just wanted more. I wanted it to be longer, deeper and uncut. I guess that's the price an author pays when he's this good. We always want more.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Book Sale

Yesterday we had a book sale at the Morrison Regional Library. It was a success. We had shoppers coming in all day. A few people even came by more than once as we were bringing new books all the whole time we were going. We had an accordion player, a harpist and Lunch Money even played. Here are a few pictures from the event.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Grand Re-opening Party

Tomorrow, in the grassy area behind the branch, the Morrison library is having a festival to celebrate the end of our roof construction (and related closings). We are going to have crafts for kids, two performances by the band Lunch Money, storytimes and a big ole book sale. We received books from all over the county so we are going to have a lot of books out there for you to browse through. It should be fun.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Baseball Book

I've been reading another great baseball book for the last week or so. It's called Crazy '08 by Cait Murphy. Before I picked it up I had seen it had received more than a couple of very positive reviews. Any book about the dead ball era of baseball that is of good quality will get my attention.

This is baseball before the home run, before radio, before steel and concrete stadiums, baseball just asserting itself as the national past time and it's a game full of characters. That is what really drives this book is the character of the men on the field, umpires, players and managers. The reason there have been so many books written about baseball is because the length of the season and the pace of the game lend itself to storytelling. Because of that the game has always embraced its more colorful people. If you want to tell a good story it helps if the subject of your story is a little off the wall. This is not a problem in 1908. Cranks abound in this story and she brings in wonderful and funny anecdotal stories just as they are needed to illustrate a point she has made. I've always enjoyed baseball books that weave in short funny baseball stories into the main narrative and Murphy does it as good as anyone.

All the best baseball books are always about more than baseball. Baseball has always reflected what is happening in our country and Murphy takes that into account with some chapter length asides called "Time Outs." In each of these she examines what is going on in the United States in 1908. In the first one she describes the beautiful mess that is the city of Chicago and, in another one, she looks at the exclusion of Black Americans from the game and mainstream society.

The season is winding down and I'll probably finish it tomorrow. Now I got to go out there and find my next good read.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Closed again

It looks like we are closed again today. Yesterday we closed at 4 pm because of fumes due to the roof construction. This last few weeks have been an inconvenience to staff and library users alike. We are all hoping they finish that roof before Christmas.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


Since Harry Potter mania has taken over the country (except for me, I have yet to read book one of the series) how about a Harry Potter related link? Amazon looked at the statistics for the pre-orders of the new Harry Potter book, did some math with census data and put up a list of cities that have ordered the most books per capita. You can view the list here.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Library is nice and open now

It's been over week now since we have had to close due to fumes from the roof construction filling up the building. One of our staff members was walking around today with a meter on her body that was testing our air. The contraption she was wearing was making a humming noise all day and she wasn't all that pleased. I think she got tired of people coming up to her and asking what that noise was. All she could say is, "It's me."

Pirate book

I have seen all three of the Disney movies about pirates and over the weekend I finished a book called The Republic of Pirates by Colin Woodard. He focuses on the four to five year period after the War of Spanish Succession which ended in 1714. It turns out that the life of a pirate in that short period of time wasn't all that bad. It was certainly better than the life of a sailor on a merchant ship or a naval vessel. One of the big reasons men went a-pirating was due to the horrible conditions aboard ship for the common sailor. When you traveled from Europe to Africa, Africa to the Caribbean and then from the Caribbean to North American you could expect to spend some of that time fighting off scurvy when your fresh food ran out and you had to eat from the ship's often rotted stores. Now, if you jumped ship in the Caribbean and got yourself on a pirate vessel, not only did you eat fresh food much more frequently, (due to frequent stops at lush islands to distribute booty, repair ships and get drunk) you also got about 1000 times more money because the pirate society was the first truly democratic European society in the Americas. Booty was distributed much more fairly and pirates elected and monitored their captains.

I've been reading a lot of history books in the last year and this one was the best I have read in during that time, perhaps because his characters were so colorful. Woodard has done a wonderful job telling the personal stories and the overall history of the Caribbean pirates. Not only that, he also lays out quite nicely the reasons pirates existed. From what he says pirates had to exist in the Caribbean, England guaranteed it would happen when privateering started during the war and ill-treated sailors got wind of how lucrative it could be.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Still Closed

Well, it looks like we are going to be closed until Saturday morning. This whole thing with the fumes in the building has really given the staff here an odd week. In fact it was so odd that I took a day off instead of going to the Carolina Room. I did learn one thing this week after working at the Carolina Room on Monday night: archival libraries are pretty boring and slow at night unless you have some side work you can focus on. Know that.

I do hope that library users that can't get into the building this week are not too upset over the inconvenience. I know it's a terrible inconvenience for some users. There are people out there that not only use us as a source for their leisure reading but also to search for jobs. Closing down the building is not just an inconvenience for some. For them it can actually hamper their search for a new career.

The building was not closed without a lot of thought on the part of those that made the call. They chose to consider the safety of the staff and library users. For that I applaud them. Like I said, closing down has inconvenienced many but where health is concerned I think it is right to err on the side of caution.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Closed again

You may have noticed if you drove to the library today, we are closed until Thursday morning. I am sorry for the inconvenience. There is still some work being done to the roof of the library. The sealant they are using is being sucked in by the A/C which then distributes the fumes throughout the building. The fumes were especially bad downstairs and members of the circulation staff were reporting headaches and sore throats. I applaud those that were in charge that made the tough decision to close the branch after having been closed for an extended period before.


You may not be aware of this but the librarian profession is in a constant state of change. This excerpt of a good story on technology in libraries sums it up well: "“The librarian as information priest is as dead as Elvis,” Needham said. The whole “gestalt” of the academic library has been set up like a church, he said, with various parts of a reading room acting like “the stations of the cross,” all leading up to the “altar of the reference desk,” where “you make supplication and if you are found worthy, you will be helped.”"

I find this to very much be the case at the Morrison library. People don't come to the desk right off anymore. They tend to come to us when they get stuck. It is necessary to not only direct people to online resources and web sites but you have to know how to walk them through these resources and sites.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Michael Chabon

Last night I finished what will most likely be the most unique book I will read this year. I finished Michael Chabon's The Yiddish Policemen's Union. The novel is a murder mystery set in an alternate universe in which a temporary Jewish homeland has been set up in Alaska in 1948. It is set in present day and a down on his luck detective is attempting to solve the murder before the land reverts back to American control. Not only is it all that, it's also noir. And it's got gangsters. Real gangsters, tough gangsters. The kind of gangster that would kill ya just for lookin' at 'im cross eyed. Old school gangsters that have no fear of law enforcement or governments. Those are the kind of gangsters I like. Those that wield true power and don't have to concern themselves with the authorities. Those were the days.

To me as an overall novel this one held up much better that The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Klay. That Pulitzer Prize winning novel seemed to lag at the end. This book didn't. It really held my attention to the very last page. This book is going to appear on a lot of year end lists and will be seriously considered for a lot of awards.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Our doors our open

In case you were checking for information on the building, like West Virginia we are now open for business. For a couple of days there the new A/C unit wasn't working properly. Well, I guess the unit itself was working just fine but it wasn't hooked up to our ducts properly and then the building's thermometers were not feeding the right data into the contraption so it had to be manually turned on and off. Everything seems to be fine now except for a slight chemical odor that is permeating the building due to sone final work being done to the air ducts. No one has experienced a headache yet so I guess everything is fine.

Downstairs at the circulation desk there has been installed the self checkout stations. Our patient circulation staff is standing by at the terminals to help walk you through the self checkout process. I haven't tried it myself yet but I hear that it is pretty easy. The future of libraries is at your library today!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

More reading

Well, I finally finished Rabbit Redux over the holiday. A long trip to Michigan for a funeral and a day of recovery followed by a holiday party really took away from my reading. I guess I could have read during that day of rest after the long road trip but I just didn't.

These two books concerning the character named Rabbit have been interesting reads. There is good bit of hopelessness and hopefulness that pervdades these novels. Much as it was in the novel Terrorist. To me that is what seperates truly great writing from what is merely good and entertaining, the ability to conjure up the depression and the joys of life as experienced by everyone that has ever lived. The mistakes we stupidly make, the people we've hurt, those that hurt us. He shows that hurt and how we can recover from even the worst of it.

The only problem I had with Rabbit Redux was some of the profanity, especially when used in reference to women and sexual situations. It seemed forced and unnatural. Almost like he was doing what he could to bring such profanity into a literary novel. In doing that he may have seemed daring at the time but now it just comes off as awkward.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

A crossword puzzle

For some reason I thought it would be fun to create a crossword puzzle to hand out to library users during our summer adult reading program. Did you know that creating a crossword puzzle is harder than solving one? I stopped and restarted about four times. Finally yesterday I finished my rough draft and today I have it finished. I may tweak the clues before I hand it out next month but it's pretty much done. I offer it to you here. If you have a hankering to solve a crossword puzzle try the one I made which I will link to below this paragraph. Since the New York Times Puzzle has a name I will call this one "Two Authors in the Middle." You'll have to print it out to solve it since the fill-in portion is a jpeg and you can't type on it. Someday I'll figure out how to make PDF's and then you could fill it out on the computer.

I did violate two rules of crosswording (as I learned watching the movie Word Play). One: Not all the words are connected. It's actually two separate puzzles.
Two: Each letter should be in two words. There are two letters in this puzzle that only appear in one word.

Two Authors in the Middle

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Interview archive

I came across an archive on the BBC's website. It's an archive of various interviews. You can hear interviews with some prominent authors here.
Back from vacation

Yesterday was my first day back two work after a two week layoff. Of course, sitting on my desk was a stack of books I had placed on hold earlier. Two books I have been anticipating were in that pile, The Children of Hurin by Christopher Tolkien and The Yiddish Policeman's Union by Michael Chabon. Wow, what to read first? I think I'll go with the Tolkien book since it's shorter and has been getting pretty favorable reviews. I think I may have to put down Rabbit Redux and read these two books first.

Monday, April 30, 2007


It's probable that you have seen that David Halberstam died in the last week. I have only read three of his books: Teammates, Summer of '49 and October 1964. Summer of '49 was the first book by him that I read and it is still the baseball book by which all others are measured. The only book on baseball I have read that comes close to the majesty of '49 is The Boys of Summer by Roger Kahn.

As a reporter and historian he brought to his books on baseball much more than the game. He brought in the world around the game that directly influenced how the game was poplulated and played. You can't have a major sporting league without the society that supports and staffs it. He knew that and brought the contemporary American culture into both Summer of '49 and October 1964. Two aspects of October 1964 really stand out to me: his description of the majesty of the young Mickey Mantle and the baseball tragedy of his early injuries and the awe in which the teammates of this damaged warrior held him and how the embrace of integration by the St. Louis Cardinals allowed them to beat the Yankees in 1964 and how the Yankees' management ignored racial integration and paid for it and didn't finish in 1st place again until 1976.

If you are even in the mood to read a baseball book you can't go wrong by picking up any of three books I mentioned above. He captures the game, the time and the players better than anyone else.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

John Updike

Over the last few days I have been reading Rabbit, Run by John Updike. A few months ago I read my first Updike book, Terrorist. I've been told by a friend that Updike is sexist and that his portrayal of middle America is too pessimistic. I am withholding any judgement until I finish this book. Just like Terroist, Rabbit, Run is full of some stunning prose. Not only that but the book was published when Updike was 28 years old. That's amazing to me.

I have read that a complaint about Updike is that he doesn't address big issues in his book. So far I would have to disagree with that assessment. What can be bigger than a person's life? The main character is going through a bad time. He is leaving his wife, he is disillusioned with American life as it was lived in the early 1960's. Rabbit, Run is a serious book and I believe it can't be dismissed lightly.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

How to be Impressed

I love reading the New York Times Book Review. Every now and then I will come across a review that flat wakes me up. I just finished reading a review by Clive James on two new books about Leni Riefenstahl.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Book talking

Every month the reference staff here at Morrison travels to Atria Merrywood, a retirement community, to give a book talk in their library. With a staff of six that means I go a couple of times a year. Depending on staffing you can sometimes go three times a year. I subbed for the bossman today because he had a lot of email to answer. It may have been more inolved than that but emails is the reason I am using today.

I was a little nervous going in today because I felt that last time I didn't do a very good job. I was not as prepared as I should have been. I've watched other staff deliver book talks and a couple of them can go in there with a few books and talk. I tried that last time and it just didn't work out. I need notes. I don't read from my notes but if I don't write down my major points and refer to the notes as I go I get lost and the talk is not nearly as good as it should be.

Today, armed with three pages of notes and four books I read recenlty I wowed the nine residents of Atria Merrywood that were in attendance. It's funny, my performance at Merrywood can determine how the rest of my week is going to go. My last performance sent my week into a tailspin. Right now I am ready to wrestle a b'ar.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

So it goes...

I'm sure everyone has seen that Kurt Vonnegut died today. I figured I should be mentioned him because this wouldn't be much of a library blog if I didn't acknowledge the passing of one of the great writers and thinkers of the last fifty years.

One of the best experiences of my life was sitting in the audience at Spirit Square for about an hour listening to Kurt Vonnegut speak. This happened back in the early 90's before some of you were even born. I remember telling my friends afterwards that I felt I had sat in the presence of a truly wise person for the first time in my life. A remark that probably would have given him fits of laughter since to him man was anything but a wise animal.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Peeps! Peeps! Peeps!

OK, this has nothing to do with the library but how can I resist linking to a contest for dioramas with peeps? How could I not link to that? How?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Adios, Last Empress

Well, I put down The Last Empress the other day. I just couldn't get into it. It just isn't as interesting as Empress Orchid I have moved on to a biography of Johnny Cash by Michael Streissguth. This book I am really enjoying. I feel that I know a lot about Cash and I am learning new things about Johnny. I am really liking when the author goes into detail about the making of specific songs and albums. I love good descriptions of how music is created and recorded. I only wish there was more of that here.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Last Empress

I am in the middle of reading The Last Empress by Anchee Min. I am having a hard time really getting into the book. The writing is just as good, the attention to detail is still there but it has a detatchment that Empress Orchid didn't have. I have a feeling part of the reason is that this book is plowing through a longer time period than Orchid. Orchid was more about the title character than the last empress. Both books have a lot of palace intrigue (which is really fun when done right) but Orchid was really about Orchid, not so much politics. Empress is almost all politics and history. Heck, it's almost like one of those new Star Wars movies. It's different from a new Star Wars movie in that reading it has not caused me to want to gouge my eyes out.

I think I'll finish this book but I'm disappointed because I will nto be able to use this as enthusiastically in book talks as I was hoping. Using this book and its predecessor for book talks was my plan. I guess I still can do that but I like to talk about books I really like.

I'm a little bummed because I really wanted to like this book.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Un Lun Dun

I think I may be on a young adult fantasy kick. Recently I read the first and, so far, only two books in Ursula Le Guin's new fantasy series and right now I am reading Un Lun Dun by China Mieville. I'm intrigued by Mieville's writing. He writes urban/modern fantasy. Generally that is fantasy outside of what you may consider traditional fantasy. I would group him in with Michael Swanwick, Sean Stewart and Kelly Link. I own his short story collection Looking for Jake. I have not finished the book but the stories I have read have really impressed me with the pure imagination that went into them.

Un Lun Dun is the story of two teenage girls who live in London and have adventures in a city that is a magical mirror of London called unLondon (hence the title). unLondon is not merely a reflection of London, it turns out the two cities exchange everything from clothing styles to garbage to enemies. The abcity (as it's called in the novel) is filled with as many variations of talking animals, bizarre humans or hybrids of the two that Mieville could dream up.

The city is being threatened by what is left of the Great London Smog of 1952. The girls appear in unLondon apparently to fill long kept prophecies. Instead of following what could easily be the usual journey of a hero in fantasy story Mieville starts throwing curveballs immediately. Nothing is as it's supposed to be and that's where the fun starts. Mieville directly attributes Lew Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland as an inspiration. Probably because the debt is so obvious that he wanted to be the first to make the comparison.

He obviously had a lot of fun writing this. Some of the citizens of unLondon are fantastic enough to almost be beyond words. He's not afraid to go on little rampages of description when going on about the many strange denizens of unLondon. He also has the ability to give a place the right amount of strangeness with just a few words like this scene witnessed by the two girls in an unLondon open market, "They ran...past what looked like an argument at a honey stall between a bear in a suit and a cloud of bees in the shape of a man." At this point in the book there are two drawings, one of the bear in a suit and the cloud of bees in the shape of man. Throughout the book there are many inspired drawings of characters we encounter and they are all drawn by Mieville. There's a particularly great illustration of a carnivorous giraffe that you really should see.

I hope to have this book finished by tomorrow night so I can move on to the new Anchee Min book called The Last Empress. It's a sequel to Empress Orchid, a book I loved when I read it a couple of years ago.

Monday, March 26, 2007

An experiment

Starting on the 27th of March there should be a link to this page from the Morrsion Regional Library section of the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County page. I decided to try and get this to happen after I decided to starting updating this page recently. I mean, a guy can never have enough blogs can he? Mainly I'll be using this blog to cross post something from my personal blog that has to do with reading, writing or library work in general. The reason I haven chosen not to link to my personal blog is because that particular blog uses dirty words now and then. I guess there is nothing particularly wrong with dirty words as a whole, they've done nicely for George Carling, but I assumed that the library would prefer to link to an employee's blog that didn't drop certain bombs now and then. OK, all the time.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


I think I read my first noir fiction over the weekend. I read "Driver" by James Sallis. I had never heard of Sallis until I read the comic by the Unshelved guys. I had been thinking about reading a piece of noir fiction for a while ever since Pollack mentioned the genre in his blog back when he was reading and editing noir fiction.

Not only was the novel noir it was Hollywood noir. Have I written the word 'noir' enough yet? The scene you seen in the Unshelved comic strip is the opening scene of the book. From there you follow the fascinating life story of the character just known as Driver from teenage runaway to respected stunt driver and getaway driver. Three story lines are weaved together in this clever novel. The story of his early life as a child and runaway, his day to day life as a stunt driver and L.A. resident and the story of the robbery gone wrong that we are in the middle of when the book opens.

This jumping around in time and place can be a little confusing at times but it really all ties together nicely because Driver is on just about every page. Only near the end when the main plot is tying up do we lose his viewpoint for a few pages here and there. By that time Driver is stuck so firmly in your head that he's there with you as your are reading.

The best book are the ones you wish hadn't ended so soon.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Pass the paper

One of the exercises the kids in my writing group most enjoy is the one where we pass a paper around and each person takes a turn adding a line to a story. There is a website attemtping to become the internet version of that. You can check it out here. It's called Ficlets.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Free! Audio! Books!

Yes, they are free. Yes, they are in public domain and yes, they are read by volunteers. Still, free audio books.

Monday, February 26, 2007

A survey by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg planning Dept
This sure doesn't have a lot to do with libraries but I took the survey and you should too. Got some opinions on how Charlotte is being developed? Tell the yokels in charge at the survey link to here.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Bloggin' at the 'brary

I am currently working with two library employees to evelauate and and recommend changes to the library's family of websites. If you go to the library's page and see that little star next to the link that allows you to give your opinion on the page you are viewing you are seeing one of our suggestions already in action.

I was thinking today that I would like to see the library link to blogs written by library employees. You could link from somewhere in the page to any employee's blog where that blog is specifically designed to deal with issues that someone viewing a library webpage would be interested in. You know, books and libraries. For example, I have a personal blog and I have a blog I use to communicate with my teen writers group. I sometimes cross post when I am blogging about something I want to share with both my audiences. I, and others, could do the same thing with our personal and library-related blog, when a post is writing/reading related it could be posted to both blogs. And, of course that library-related blog would be linked to from the library's website. I think that will be one of my suggestions. I'll even volunteer to monitor the page and add and delete blogs as needed.