Saturday, December 6, 2008
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Sunday, November 2, 2008
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
In writing The Red Tent, Diamant states that she was inspired by Virginia Woolf's idea that the relationship between women in fiction historically had been drawn too simplistically. Diamant initially considered the complex relationship between Leah and Rachel as her focal point for a story, but changed her mind when she read the very short passage in the book of Genesis about Dinah. Anita states, "I found Dinah's silence to be a great open door - thanks to Woolf and many other feminist writers who pointed out that there was a door. So I gave her a voice." You can read more about the author on her Web site.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Monday, October 6, 2008
For those of you who could not attend but who read the book, I shared with the group some interesting news about one of the versions of "The Taking of Christ." The Ukraine (Odessa) version was stolen from the Odessa Museum of Art in April of this year. The painting was cut from its frame and as of now has not been recovered by international authorities.
Thursday, October 2, 2008
The Lost Painting: The Quest for a Caravaggio Masterpiece, published in 2005, is his second book. Like A Civil Action, it is engrossing narrative nonfiction at its best. Harr's The Lost Painting traces the actual search for a missing Baroque painting and turns it into an exciting narrative on art detection and intrigue in the art world. The true-life characters and the storyline of this book will take you through the dusty archives of an Italian villa, across the sea to a Jesuit residence in Ireland, and into the art restoration laboratories of the British National Gallery as the hunt for a long-lost Caravaggio treasure becomes a thrilling story in itself.
Saturday, September 20, 2008
He hired locals as his models, and some of them can be seen repeatedly in his works. Rather than depicting the subjects of his paintings in heroic or historical garb, he often painted them in the dress of his time. As a consequence, his paintings have a sense of immediacy about them. All his works are bathed in deep, obscuring shadows and bright, defining patches of light.
Arranging his subjects in a dramatic fashion, such as in the moment of Peter’s martyrdom when he is about to be crucified upside down, Caravaggio employed the techniques of foreshortening, theatrical use of gesture, and a concentrated or a narrowed subject field (where your eye is drawn directly to the action/subject) in order to add drama and interest to his works.
Caravaggio painted primarily in Milan, Rome and Naples and enjoyed a degree of patronage; however, his personal life worked against his career as he outspent his income, brawled, gambled and even committed murder. He is said to have died on a malaria-ridden Italian coastline after escaping from prison.
The subject of Jonathan Harr's book, The Lost Painting: The Quest for a Caravaggio Masterpiece, can be seen below.
The Taking of Christ
Saturday, September 6, 2008
Jon Krakauer began his investigation into the story of Chris McCandless with an article in the January 1993 edition of Outside magazine. I wasn't able to find an image of that cover, but the cover shown above is a typical example. Note the banner headline advising you that "Pain and Fear Are Good For You" and the article, "A Death by Snakebite," to get a sense of the amped-up reading experience awaiting you inside Outside.
I was able to find Krakauer's article online, however, so click to read it here.
Thursday, September 4, 2008
In your book On Writing [On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft] you mention that you plot out your stories "as infrequently as possible." How can a writer write anything without having a plot in mind?
I have a general story idea ... a situation. That's where I like to start. Then I let it play out. And that always works as long as I'm honest about what my characters would do in a given situation. If you start to make characters do things because it would be more convenient for you, things wander off course.
What themes do you see running through all your works?
I would say that if there's one theme that runs through my work, it would be, Live according to the truth and try to be brave. And, It's better to do the right thing than the wrong thing, even at costs.
Your books are filled to the brim with suspense. Is there any formula that you use to build up the suspense in a book?
The most important thing about building suspense is building identification with the character. You have to take some time and make your reader care about the characters in the story. I'm thinking about Misery, where you've got this writer, Paul Sheldon, and little by little you get to know this guy and understand him and you get to see different aspects of him. Then you start to empathize with him and you start to put yourself in his shoes and then you start to be very, very afraid because you don't want anything bad to happen to him. But because it's the kind of story that it is, you know that something bad is gonna happen. So one by one you close off the exits and things get more and more nerve-racking until finally there's an explosion.
What, if anything, scares you?
Scary things are personal. Clowns have freaked me out and scared me ever since I was a kid. To me there's something scary, something sinister about such a figure of happiness and fun. I guess that sometimes what makes a scary thing really scary is when we realize there's something sinister behind a nice face.
Many of the characters in your novels meet untimely ends. Do you ever feel bad about having to kill off a character?
Yeah. Yeah, I do. My characters become very real to me. I wrote a series of books called The Dark Tower, and I lived with those characters from the age of about 22 up until when I finished the last one when I was 56. That's like 34 years all told. I'd been with some of those characters longer than I've been with my children. Some of them had to die and that was tough. Anybody will tell you that imaginary friends are as real as real people sometimes. Lucky for me, I still know the difference or else they'd put me away in a room.
Source Citation: King, Stephen and Bryon Cahill. "Stephen King: Halloween's Answer to Santa Claus." Writing. 28.2 (2005, Oct. ) 8-13. Rpt. in Contemporary Literary Criticism Select. Detroit: Gale, 8-13. Literature Resource Center. Gale. BERNARDSVILLE PUBLIC LIBRARY. 4 Sept. 2008
Gale Document Number: GALEH1100074413
Friday, August 29, 2008
Krakauer was born in Brookline, Massachusetts, and raised from age two in Corvallis, Oregon, within reach of mountains that drew him into a lifelong love of climbing. His father, an active alpinist himself, introduced Krakauer to the sport at age eight. Krakauer graduated from Hampshire College in Massachusetts in 1976, then spent the next few years working solely to fund his passion for mountaineering, taking carpentry and commercial fishing jobs for five months and spending the rest of the year climbing. His writing career began with a magazine article about a climb he completed in 1977, alone, during which he charted a new route to the peak of Devil's Thumb in Alaska. When he began receiving regular magazine assignments, he decided to take on journalism as full-time work. Krakauer married Linda Moore in 1980 and attempted to curtail his highly dangerous avocation for her sake, but found himself unable to resist; he told an Outside Online interviewer that the conflict almost ruined their marriage, but eventually Linda accepted climbing as an integral part of her husband's career. He published a collection of his articles, Eiger Dreams, in 1990, and his next two books, Into the Wild (1996) and Into Thin Air (1998) were highly successful. Into the Wild spent over two years on the New York Times bestseller list. Into Thin Air, also a bestseller, was named Time magazine's best book of the year and propelled Krakauer onto the list of finalists for the 1998 Pulitzer Prize in general nonfiction. Krakauer received an Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1999 for Into the Wild and Into Thin Air. In response to the events he recounted in Into Thin Air, Krakauer established the Everest '96 Memorial Fund, which provides humanitarian aid to the peoples of the Himalaya region through royalties from the book as a tribute to those who perished during the expedition.
Krakauer's books have begun as articles on subjects that he wanted to investigate in greater depth than a short essay would allow. Into the Wild recounts the true story of Chris McCandless, a young man restless with conventional life who traveled to the Alaskan wilderness intending to live off the land; woefully unprepared, he died of starvation. Four months after he began his adventure, hunters found McCandless's body and a desperate plea for rescue scrawled on a torn book page. McCandless was roundly criticized as foolhardy, but Krakauer looked past his fatal choice and crafted a compelling story, providing a fuller account of McCandless's background, emotional state, and his objectives. Into the Wild was adapted for film, with a screenplay and direction by Sean Penn, and released in 2007.
With Into Thin Air, Krakauer unintentionally became part of the story, which began as an assignment from Outside magazine to write about the increasing commercialization of climbing expeditions on Mount Everest. Krakauer revived a childhood dream to scale the famous mountain and signed on to participate in a climb while chronicling the experience along the way. His group reached the summit, but several people, including a veteran guide, perished during the descent when a storm blew in. His account of the tragedy was published first as an article in Outside and sparked a backlash from other climbers. Krakauer changed topics with Under the Banner of Heaven (2003), which explores the closed world of fundamentalist Mormons, a group with whom he had some contact as a child in Oregon. Krakauer did not shrink from controversial subject matter in this book either, delving into the highly charged topic of violence in the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS), also known as the Mormon faith, and the development of fundamentalist splinter groups that have created legal and moral problems for the modern LDS movement. One such splinter group is profiled in Under the Banner of Heaven, which examines the true story of Ron and Dan Lafferty, brothers who in 1984 murdered their sister-in-law and her infant daughter in the name of God.
Krakauer has been praised for his ability to make nonfiction stories highly engaging--an ability critics find all the more impressive given that he has no formal education in journalism or literature. Critics received Into the Wild with kudos bordering at times on amazement at the skillful freshman entry into the literary world. Suzan Nightingale echoed the sentiments of many reviewers who reported that Krakauer's portrait gave them a curiosity about McCandless--and what he was seeking and may have failed to find. Krakauer's mountain-climbing tales benefit from his personal experience with the subject, which he says is not a sport but a way of life. Into Thin Air received strong criticism from many in the alpinist community who argued that Krakauer had profited from the tragedy. Krakauer responded by noting that he had joined the expedition as a journalist on assignment and, as such, it was his job to tell the story. Literary critics lauded Into Thin Air as skillfully told, but some also recounted arguments from other witnesses to the events who disputed Krakauer's account. In particular, Anatoli Boukreev, a well-known alpinist described by some as a champion of Himalayan climbing, took issue with Krakauer's characterization of him and wrote his own account, The Climb, which cast the descent in a different light. Critics praised Krakauer for not shying away from difficult issues in Under the Banner of Heaven, a book that to some is considered blasphemous. Krakauer's presentation of the history of the Mormon faith was described as insightful and thought-provoking, and some critics found parallels between the author's examination of religious fundamentalism in America and that of the Middle East. Robert Wright concluded that, in this way, the book "may have broader relevance than the author intended."
WRITINGS BY THE AUTHOR:
Eiger Dreams: Ventures among Men and Mountains (essays) 1990
Into the Wild (nonfiction) 1996
Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster (nonfiction) 1998
Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith (nonfiction) 2003
Thursday, August 7, 2008
September will take us down some scary trails as we read both a fictional horror story, The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King, and a non-fiction accounting, Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer. Each one involves a young person "lost" in the woods, but in one case the person doesn't realize this until too late. They are both exciting reads, and I hope you enjoy them.
Thursday, June 5, 2008
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
Grendel has captured the artistic imaginations of illustrators for the Beowulf editions and even South Park cartoons, but "our Grendel" inspired a wonderful series of portraits by Emil Antonucci which mark the beginning of each chapter in John Gardner's book. Here Grendel's complexity of expressions indicate his capacity for thought processes and emotional states of mind. Have the illustrations by Antonucci affected how you feel about Grendel?
Friday, May 16, 2008
Get ready to "tear into" Grendel by John Gardner for a reading experience that is both unique and engrossing....okay, and maybe a little bit gross, too! But we won't let a few dead bodies deter us from some great literary analysis of this critically acclaimed book!!
After all, this is a book about a monster/creature, but not the same monster that haunts the meadhall in the Old English poem, Beowulf, upon which the new story is loosely founded. Our Grendel is protohuman and poetic, philosophical and inquisitive, witty and awestruck. He is also a deeply flawed, murderous character trapped in his own mode of thinking and in his own inevitable role to be played out in the story. He is much more than a monster.
At a later date I will be posting some information about John Gardner, his moral vision and his hatred of existentialism, as well as some guideposts to help you navigate through the book. Please refer to the handout if you want to focus on any of the suggested points of interest noted there.
Saturday Samplers will discuss this great fictional work at our next meeting on June 7, 2008, at 3:30 p.m.
Sunday, May 4, 2008
Friday, April 18, 2008
Moving in her youth from Chicago to Atlanta and finally to Louisville, Kentucky, ZZ excelled at math and science and wished to become an engineer. She was accepted by MIT, but chose to attend Yale University where she developed an interest in writing. Graduate work in the Writing Seminars program at Johns Hopkins University was followed by her participation in the Iowa Writer’s Workshop. She then became a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University.
Several of her stories have appeared in “The New Yorker” and her short story collection, Drinking Coffee Elsewhere, was a New York Times Notable Book for 2003. This debut book was also nominated for the 2004 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. ZZ Packer is currently working on her first novel.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Saturday Samplers will dive into ZZ Packer's short story collection, Drinking Coffee Elsewhere, for our next discussion on Saturday, May 3rd at 3:30 p.m. Copies of this book are available at the circulation desk for you to borrow.
Drinking Coffee Elsewhere offers eight short stories which explore interesting characters in thought-provoking situations. Some of these stories fairly swoop along in a marvelous narrative; others move forward relentlessly toward a shattering or unsettling conclusion. Still others simply leave you with new insights into what it must be like to walk in someone else’s shoes… someone you might not normally consider to be in your realm of concern. These are memorable stories full of humor, sadness, and insight.
Saturday, April 5, 2008
If anyone is interested in writing a review of the book, I can post it on the library's book blog, Book News and More, http://bernardsvillereadersadvisory.blogspot.com/ at some point.
Friday, April 4, 2008
Thursday, April 3, 2008
Following the tragedy of the Galveston Hurricane, Isaac Cline moved his family to New Orleans where he managed the U.S. Weather Bureau Station, among other jobs. He is credited with saving the city from a flood in 1903, having predicted that the Mississippi River valley was vulnerable to growing floodwaters at the time. While the U.S. Weather Service disagreed with his predictions, Cline persuaded the New Orleans levee board to temporarily raise the levees, which did, in fact, avert a spillover of floodwaters into the city.
Isaac Cline is seen here walking in New Orleans where he also owned the Art House, a glassware and art restoration shop. To read more about this man, please click on the link below.
Friday, March 28, 2008
Lithographic copy of the painting, Galveston's Awful Calamity, 1900.
Artist's rendering of victims on Tremont Street, Galveston.
Flood map of Galveston showing loss of property.
Orphans and sisters of St. Mary's Orphanage before the storm.
Isaac Cline's family.
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Our first discussion book, Isaac's Storm, is now available at the circulation desk of Bernardsville Library, so borrow your copy soon. You'll find the book to be a gripping story propelled forward by the drama of true events as well as by the author's clever use of characters and historical context. It is moving and artful in its delivery, so readers of fiction and readers of nonfiction alike should find this book to be of interest to them. Meet to discuss this book on Saturday, April 5th, at 3:30 p.m. in the library's Community Room. All are welcome.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Thursday, March 6, 2008
Friday, February 29, 2008
Sunday, February 3, 2008
Saturday Samplers announces the first three titles we will be reading for our discussion group:
- Isaac's Storm by Erik Larson
- Drinking Coffee Elsewhere by ZZ Packer
- Grendel by John Gardner
Isaac's Storm, a gripping piece of nonfiction, will be discussed first on April 5th. For a change of pace, we will next explore the humorous, insightful short stories of ZZ Packer on May 3rd, followed by John Gardner's unique fictional work on June 7th. Start your engines!