Wednesday, May 07, 2008

and who are your favorite fictional librarians

I can't think of any of mine of the top of my head (i know i've read a few though. Here's an article from the Seattle Public Library's Shelf Talk mentioning a few (mostly mysteries which i don't read much.)
I didn't find many likable (or even memorable characters~maybe that's why i can't mention any names) from In the Stacks: Short Stories About Libraries and Librarians ~nor was i all that fond of Borchert's Free for All non-fiction adventure, anyway.

Unleash your inner librarian

by David W (5/4/08)

What are the odds? The brand spanking new Library of Congress subject heading for “Public Libraries – California – anecdotes’” is getting quite a workout. In the past six months we have seen the publication of two humorous memoirs by librarians in the Los Angeles area: Don Borchert’s Free For All: Oddballs, Geeks and Gangstas in the Public Library and Scott Douglass’s Quiet Please: Dispatches from a Public Librarian. They’re both entertaining slices of the library life (or as I like to call it, “The Game”), and I recommend them both. You may have to get in line, as they are both proving to be very popular, and not just with library staff either! It seems a lot of you are interested in exploring your inner librarian. While you’re waiting to get a behind-the-scenes look at the glamorous, high-stakes world of public librarianship, let me introduce some of my favorite fictional librarians.

Meet Cassandra Mitchell, librarian of the small town of Sechelt, British Columbia. While perhaps less well-known than the prim and plucky Miss Helma Zukas just down the coast in Bellehaven, Miss Mitchell is smart, compassionate, resourceful, sexy, a trained professional with a deep commitment to her community, and a love of books, which, she writes, “are my work, my comfort, my joy.” This, in a personal ad answered by RCMP Staff Sergeant Karl Alberg, who observes her well-rounded character in acute detail. “He noticed that as she shelved the books, she pulled some slightly farther out, and then, unthinking, ran her fingers along the spines as if playing a harp.” Small wonder Alberg becomes her love interest and fellow crime solver in nine evocative, psychological mysteries by L.R. (Lauralie) Wright, beginning with The Suspect, winner of the 1985 Edgar award for best novel. Readers with a Masters in Library Science will find special poignancy in A Touch of Panic, in which Cassandra is stalked by that most exasperating of villains, a pompous, predatory professor of library science. Wright died in 2001, but her masterful Northwest mysteries deserve to live on with fans of P.D. James, Ruth Rendell, and mainstream fiction readers as well.
Dorcas Mather, head of Rhode Island’s Squanto Library and droll narrator of Jincy Willett's cunningly titled Winner of the National Book Award, in which she offers her uproariously trenchant views on readers and books, most notably a tell-all crime story written by her twin sister. Abigail Mather is sensual, fleshy, impulsive and free-spirited, while Dorcas is bookish, angular, self-contained and sensuous only toward books. “When I was twelve, and An American Tragedy was my favorite summer book, (Abigail) thrilled to Forever Amber…” Yet the odd pair is linked by mutual love, and the despicable attentions of the superlatively creepy Conrad Lowe, with tragicomic results. Although Dorcas seems at first glance stereotypic spinster librarian, her keen perceptions, vulnerabilities and devastating wit make this a compelling, hilarious and irresistible read.
Myrtle Rusk, the academic librarian heroine of Michael Griffith’s Bibliophilia who has been pressed into service by the head librarian at LSU to prowl the stacks in search of clandestine coitus and to curtail all such free exchange of bodily fluids on library property. Not surprisingly, Myrtle resents being placed in the role of “…deputy sheriff of nookie… a sexless functionary …that joy-spurning old biddy, the Puritan at the Circulation Desk.” It is fair to say that the library itself resents it as well, for one can feel the life force pulsing through the aisles, yearning to break free of its hidebound restraints in small transgressions and grand flagrances, just as Griffith’s prose roils and bubbles with savory expressions. When the library director’s vampish daughter sets her sights on Seti, a pious, charmingly befuddled Egyptian exchange student studying water management, Myrtle must somehow find a way to dam or channel the inevitable deluge.
Then there are librarians’ librarians, such as Alexander Short, the brilliant young hero of Alex Kurzweil’s The Grand Complication, who sublimates his personal insecurities and shortcomings into the exhilarating chase after elusive knowledge, and whose relentless skill at unlocking puzzles and finding arcane answers just opens up more questions. Or William of Baskerville, that daring champion of free thought from Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose who must puzzle through that cruel perversion of learning – a library ingeniously designed to confound its users. Who of us have not shared his frustration from time to time?
We’ve only scratched the surface, so look for more posts on great fictional librarians. And make some noise: Who are your favorite librarians, in fact or fiction?

maybe i'll be able to think of a few at some point...
Well, i do have some fondness for Dewey of Unshelved fame (not to mention Dewey the "Small-Town Library Cat" and Robert Hellenga's Margot Harrington of The Sixteen Pleasures. And okay, The Camel Bookmobile's Fiona Sweeney by Masha Hamilton was somewhat appealing as was of Josephine Carr's somewhat stereotypical Alley Sheffield of The Dewy Decimal System of Love; and of course, i loved Henry from Audrey Neffeneger's The Time Traveler's Wife (haven't seen the movie, though.) So maybe i can think of a few. There is also Charlaine Harris's Aurora Teagarden series, which i haven't read, but i do like the Sookie Stackhouse series (or True Blood for you television aficionados~which i have seen and loved.) And, gosh, that's a mystery too (go figure...)
Then there are a few non-fictional librarians that i appreciate: starting with Henry T. Coutts and Edmond Lester Pearson from the turn of the last century (i'm talking about the 19th here, folks~couldn't find these in any library or even ILL so spent more than a pretty penny to actually buy them!); Joel Rane (Scream at the Librarian); Betty Vogel (A Librarian is to Read); and Will Manley.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

bookthoughtdraft #1 (not a full-grown post) Enola Holmes

So, good intentions have left me with a gigantic (read: massive, enormous, colossal, extensive, imposing, ponderous, monumental, cumbersome, towering [get the thesaurutical idea? i think i've actually amassed about two years worth~yes, i said two years] ) pile (pile being only theoretical, of course) of unposted posts that i keep meaning to post. I'm going to start posting them unfinished (the idea being to make it just one step further along on the stumbling path of my life. That being said, let me present the first such draft (appropriately back-dated, but of course.)
maybe one day i'll find my notes for these.
The Case of the Missing Marquess is the first in the Enola Holmes Mysteries series by Nancy Springer (Enola Holmes being the much younger sister of Sherlock and Mycroft). Enola's mother disappears leaving the Holmes' brothers to threaten Enola with boarding school where she'll learn to be a "lady" (the last thing she wants, by the by) after they see the appalling amount of freedom Enola has to run about and be herself. When Enola discovers a series of cyphers left behind by her mother (who has conviently been teaching her the art of cyphering) Enola runs away from the Holmes' estate to London both to find her mother and escape her brothers' plan. As soon as she hits the city she immediately stumbles upon a mystery of her own involving the disappearance of young Viscount Tewksbury. She uses what is apparently a genetic propensity to solve the case employing a wide variety of disguises. Springer plays with quite a few ideas surrounding the restrictive Victorian mores, but if Enola's character seems to make some asynchronous slips her naivety makes up for it. She is an ingenuous ingenue. Sherlock comes off as rather an ass at the beginning but his character grows on you a little (the same can't be said of Mycroft so much.)
The second Enola Holmes mystery~The Case of the Left-Handed Lady has Enola (still in hiding from Mycroft and Sherlock) setting up shop as a Perditorian (totally stumped me until i realized that it has zipped right past me in the first book: from the Latin perditus meaning “lost”, Perditorian: one who divines that which is lost) in London. She has gained quite a bit of street smarts this goround and has grown quite adept at juggling disguises. The book is pretty much as enjoyable as the first (which was enjoyable~did i mention that?) A quick, intelligent, entertaining read for early teens (or those of us with that level of intellectual ability.)

Thursday, May 01, 2008

it's about time for a Beltane celebration (and where are those May flowers?)

Maybe because it comes in May, perhaps something about the name, it could be that it signals the "springing up" of flowers (and i do love certain flowers~wild flowers~[believe it or not this sarcastic librarian not only appreciates certain beauty in nature but also gets extremely sentimental at times~just between you and me] especially forget-me-nots, my favorite, the flower {sometimes mentioned as my birth-flower and the flower i wanted as my centerpiece/theme if ever i should marry}~the color {the color of sky, the color of air} i would love my dress to be...). But anyway give May Eve (sounds so much better than "May Day" for us night owls) a chance to let go of worries (and that ever-present head pain) and be happy that you are alive in the beautiful world.
Today is Beltane (and Mayday was my grandmother's birthday so i always remember what a great woman she was on this day~a family of May Taureans somehow we turned out~me, my father, his mother...)
Second of the two most important “high holidays” or “great sabbats,” this festival celebrates the marriage of the Goddess and the God. This pagan holiday centers on flowers, Maypoles, and greenwood frivolity. This date stays the same each year.
Note: Some pagans celebrate Beltane “Old Style” when the sun has reached fifteen degrees Taurus (4 May 2008; this date varies each year).
Also known as May Eve, May Day, and Walpurgis Night, happens at the beginning of May. It celebrates the height of Spring and the flowering of life. The Goddess manifests as the May Queen and Flora. The God emerges as the May King and Jack in the Green. The danced Maypole represents Their unity, with the pole itself being the God and the ribbons that encompass it, the Goddess. Colors are the Rainbow spectrum. Beltane is a festival of flowers, fertility, sensuality, and delight. Prepare a May basket by filling it with flowers and goodwill and then give it to someone in need of healing and caring, such as a shut-in or elderly friend. Form a wreath of freshly picked flowers, wear it in your hair, and feel yourself radiating joy and beauty. Dress in bright colors. Dance the Maypole and feel yourself balancing the Divine Female and Male within. On May Eve, bless your garden in the old way by making love with your lover in it. Make a wish as you jump a bonfire or candle flame for good luck. Welcome in the May at dawn with singing and dancing.
go romp in the meadow amongst the flowers and celebrate life...