Blog Posts by BARB W

Posted by BARB W on 03/12/18
cover image
Peach, by debut author Emma Glass, came just at the right time. With the advent of the #MeToo and the Time’s Up movements, we can no longer pretend that these unspeakable acts occur outside our circle of family and friends. The victims now have faces, voices, and the contemptible perpetrators have been unmasked. Fewer secrets, greater revelations.

With Peach, Emma Glass exposes another layer of this immense problem, the vicious act itself, difficult to describe and impossible to forget. We experience Peach’s assault in a visceral way as she relives this horrific moment repeatedly. Glass never holds back in her startlingly brutal language. If we thought it was easy to forget how it feels to be violated, Peach reminds us of every painful, degrading moment. Glass is a master of descriptive language, and Peach’s inner dialog is disturbing and relentless.

It is sometimes difficult to hear the unfiltered truth. It is even more difficult to figure out how to put one foot in front of the other and look for normal. Check out a remarkable story from this innovative author.
Posted by BARB W on 03/09/18
cover image
Although I have not yet read The River of Consciousness, author Oliver Sacks is a man I wish I could meet. Sadly, he died in 2015, but left behind an astonishingly diverse body of work. He was a neurologist; the book and film Awakenings derive from his experiences. He was also a writer, weightlifter, passionate motorcyclist and a perennial student of life. His memoir, On the Move, will tell you all you need to know. There is a quote by another famous author, Jack Kerouac, which sums up my admiration for Oliver Sacks. “The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars”. Perfect summation of the brilliance of Oliver Sacks.
Posted by BARB W on 02/19/18
cover image
In 2017, the world lost a gifted artist, Sam Shepard. Some remember him for his many film and television roles, or as a screenplay writer for both of these mediums.

All true, but the core of Shepard’s work and deep impact will be the legacy of the forty-four plays, two novels and several short story collections he created. His last work, the short novel Spy of the First Person, was published on December 5, 2017, and is a memorable final gift from this immensely talented man.

Spy of the First Person is quintessentially Shepard and intensely personal to his struggle as he neared the end of his life. These characteristics of human uncertainty make the story relevant to everyone: the memories we have created, the paths we have pursued, and the people who went there with us. The lonely narrator becomes both the observer and the participant.

Shephard’s style is sparse, precise and affectingly significant in this beautiful read. Please try this, or one of his other rewarding works.
Posted by BARB W on 10/17/17
cover image
Agnes, by Swiss writer Peter Stamm, begins with a startling revelation. The narrator tells us, “Agnes is dead. Killed by a story.” I am a sucker for a great opening line, and that one did it for me. In this brilliant short novel, Stamm explores the relationship between reality, and the reality we would like to create with our words.

We are all guilty of telling stories that do not accurately mirror the authenticity of actual events. If a narrative imagines future events, to what extent can these shape the direction of our lives? Agnes and the narrator meet in the Chicago Public Library and begin a curious relationship. She wants to be remembered, so she asks her lover to chronicle their experiences. But the line between fact and fiction begins to blur, and life begins to imitate art.

Stamm ponders an intriguing subject here. Can we control our own destiny, and can we shape it with our words? Can we script life as we would like it? Interesting characters, a suspenseful plot, and perfectly controlled prose make this an excellent addition to your fall reading list.
Posted by BARB W on 07/02/17
cover image
Worlds Apart (2015), a drama from Greece, set in Greece, is a story that surrenders itself to the qualities that bind us as humans instead of succumbing to the ones that divide us. Although the stories reflect the economic difficulties in Greece, the struggles are universal.

The film intersects three stories filled with passion, pain, love and hope; stories of betrayal, emptiness and missed chances. The people in this world are you and I: kind, compassionate, positive and sometimes misguided. Good people making choices that lead to uncomfortable resolutions.

Academy Award winner J.K. Simmons turns in an endearing performance as a retired German professor looking for a second chance in life. Christopher Papakaliatis, who also portrays the troubled husband Giorgos, superbly directs the ensemble and circuitously connects the stories. To say more would be to reveal too much: savor these richly genuine relationships in this small treasure of a film. (In Greek and English, with subtitles)
Posted by BARB W on 04/09/17
The film Uncommon Grace: The Life of Flannery O’Connor is a revealing portrait of one of the most remarkable authors of the 20th century. O’Connor died at age 39, but in her short life, she left behind a series of stories that continue to captivate her readers and draw the attention of scholars and devotees alike.

The reason? A body of short fiction that will knock the wind out of you. A Southern Catholic in a primarily Protestant region, O’Connor‘s questions of faith are always at the root of her stories. Her characters will be familiar to you: mothers, fathers, grandparents, and children. She will lure you in with these characters, and as she reveals their eccentricities, get ready for these stories to take you to some very dark, violent places in their search for faith and redemption.

Before you watch this, you might want to check out one of her short story collections, Everything That Rises Must Converge, or A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories. There was also a film made from one of her two novels, John Huston’s Wise Blood, with Brad Dourif in the starring role of Hazel Motes, a crazy character in conflict with his faith.

From the violent encounter between Grandfather Fortune and Granddaughter Mary Fortune Pitts in A View of the Woods, to the bible salesman who steals Joy’s leg in the barn loft in Good Country People, you will be drawn into the peculiar and curious world of Flannery O’Connor. Indulge yourself with these flawless stories. 
Posted by BARB W on 01/06/17
cover image
Lady Gaga’s latest CD, Joanne, is another stunning addition to the artists already complex and varied musical collection. She continues to add new sounds and styles to her repertoire, and reveal fresh sides of her musical nature.

Joanne is scaled back, softer and more acoustically inclined than most of her works. The ballads are soulful, and open a window into a very personal side of Gaga. There is an elemental power in these songs, an earnestness that is in contrast to some of the other more sensational facets of this richly talented woman.

If you are not already a fan, this might be the time to reach deep into your soul and give this dynamic artist a chance.
Posted by BARB W on 12/03/16
cover image
In her 2016 novel Everfair, Nisi Shawl tackles a complex and seldom visited period in world history, the colonization of the Congo by King Leopold II of Belgium. The story of the massive slaughter and dehumanization of the Congolese was repressed for many years, and now Shawl brings it to life in a unique and spectacular way. She avoids bland academic interpretations and passive retrospectives and instead takes us on a journey through the Congo as she rewrites history with a fresh expression, using the steampunk genre as her vehicle.

As with all speculative fiction, you must immerse yourself in the “what if”, and the alternate reality she proposes. What if steam power were available much earlier in the Congo? Would this have given them the power to support and protect their people? Would it be possible to create a safe haven, and would this Utopia be enough to withstand the pressure and exploitation from challenging sources?

But it is in the telling of this story that Shawl really shines. There is no single perspective here; the characters telling the story are male, female, Europeans, Americans, Africans, and Asians, they are kings, servants, politicians, nurses and scientists, and this fascinating blend of voices contributes deeply to the rich tapestry of this tale.

Enough said. I have revealed more than I should.  Check this book out and go on a remarkable journey with a unique voice in speculative fiction.
Posted by BARB W on 10/21/16
cover image
This Census-Taker, by British author China Miéville, will confound you with more questions than answers in this surreal narrative, with its strange imagination and moody quality. Miéville creates a space that erupts and burns with originality.

This small, thought provoking tale takes us on a journey with a boy who thinks he witnesses a murder, but is unable to trust his own memory. This story appears to be a fairy tale, yet it defies the usual conventions of that genre. Miéville keenly lets the story unfold through the unique vantage point of the child. His sparse revelations cautiously satisfy, while leaving us unsettled and unsure.

Captivating, challenging, this is Miéville at his finest. If you are willing to send your imagination to new heights, to indulge in beautifully constructed language and navigate a world of complex, peculiar characters, this is the story for you.
Posted by BARB W on 08/29/16
cover image
The epic tragedy of the Holocaust has been the subject of innumerable books and movies. The sheer scale of death, deprivation and pain caused by the brutal executions of innocent millions will haunt us and future generations forever.
Then along comes Son of Saul by Hungarian director László Nemes, another entry in the canon of Holocaust material. It is challenging to find originality with this subject, difficult to find a way to retell the story of desolation and sorrow.
This, however, is not one of those stories. This very personal story of a man mourning the loss of a son he barely knew is not about a nation or world in sorrow. The exquisite pain, the fuel of loss, the need for one last moment of dignity and propriety, these things propel Saul Auslander, played with steely, rigid agony by Hungarian actor Géza Röhrig, to find a way to bury his son according to the traditions and laws of his Jewish faith. This story belongs to Saul and his son.
Want recommendations on what to read next? Complete this Book Me form and we will provide a list of recommended books for you to try.
If your status is Confirmed Registration, your spot for the event is confirmed.

If registration for this event is full, you will be placed on a waiting list. Wait listed registrants are moved to the confirmed registration list (in the order of registration) when cancelations are received. You will receive an email notification if you are moved from the wait list to the confirmed registration list.

6.012 Patron-Generated Content

The Library offers various venues in which patrons can contribute content that is accessible to the public.  These include, but are not limited to, blogs, reviews, forums, and social tagging on the Library’s website and catalog.  Any instance in which a patron posts written or recorded content to any of the Library’s venues that are accessible to the public is considered “patron-generated content” and is subject to this policy.
By contributing patron-generated content, patrons grant the Library an irrevocable, royalty-free, worldwide, perpetual right and license to use, copy, modify, display, archive, distribute, reproduce and create derivative works based upon that content.
By submitting patron-generated content, patrons warrant they are the sole authors or that they have obtained all necessary permission associated with copyrights and trademarks to submit such content.
Patrons are liable for the opinions expressed and the accuracy of the information contained in the content they submit.  The Library assumes no responsibility for such content.
The Library reserves the right not to post submitted content or to remove patron-generated content for any reason, including but not limited to:
  • content that is profane, obscene, or pornographic;
  • content that is abusive, discriminatory or hateful on account of race, national origin, religion, age, gender, disability, or sexual orientation;
  • content that contains threats, personal attacks, or harassment;
  • content that contains solicitations or advertisements;
  • content that is invasive of another person’s privacy;
  • content that is unrelated to the discussion or venue in which it is posted;
  • content that is in violation of the Library’s Code of Conduct or any other Library policy