Showing posts from January, 2008

Ah, the good old days of vacation reading....

I remember winter break as if it were only yesterday. Actually, it technically ended day before yesterday. For me, it ended after Jan. 1, when I had to start cranking out my paper for the ALISE conference. Here's some of what I read in those now bygone days... Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen An old man, now in a nursing home, flashes back to his younger days when he ran away and became a circus vet, met the love of his life, and witnessed a gruesome murder. This is a good read, page-turning, and heartbreaking in places but ultimately hopeful. Hopeful because we don't have to give up dignity, even if our circumstances seem wretched. Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh You can see why women's self-help gurus of today might want to trace their origins back to this vaunted little tome. A couple of quotes: On honesty: "I find that I am shedding hypocrisy in human relationships. What a rest that will be! The most exhausting thing in life, I have discovered

Convergence Culture by Henry Jenkins

I skimmed the above book at rapid-fire pace today, and here's what I came away with: Jenkins is all about how multiple forms of media allow consumers to become participants. He wrote chapters on the group that tried to sleuth out how each season of Survivor would end by analyzing the footage frame-by-frame, the American Idol participatory phenomenon, and the Matrix with its "transmedia storytelling" through 3 movies, games, and websites. Jenkins writes: "Transmedia storytelling is the art of world making." And I think of all those fantasy novelists who have always been involved with world making, but their worlds were specific to the medium of print. Except when there were also role playing games... "Transmedia storytelling" is an interesting idea, and one I imagine I'll be mulling over for awhile. Finally, he has a chapter on Harry Potter, which I know I'll be assigning to my students for next fall, because it's all about children a

Sherman Alexie, Circadian Rhythms

(nothing so fun as catching typos like "Alexia" for "Alexie" in posts that are months old... long-time GSLISers will know why I made the error....) The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie What they're saying is true, this is a beautiful book. From the scene where Junior's new friend Gordy tells him that books and learning should give him a "metaphorical boner" to the scene where his mom rejects the gift of a pow-wow dancing outfit from the white man Ted (not that Ted fully understands that his hand-outs are being scoffed at, but all the folks on the res do), this book is outstanding. Alexie shows the frustration of being the only "Indian" at his high school besides the mascot. There's a section from this that I'll be reading to my storytelling classes this spring to spark discussions about cultural ownership. Two quotes, both relevant to storytelling in different ways: "So Coach and I sat awake a

Great Reading, Not-So-Great Holidays

This is not the place to complain, but the holidays could have been better this year. Fortunately, I devoted much of my time to the escapist reading of these great books: Rita Gelman, Tales of a Female Nomad Not the best written book in the world, in that there's not a strong narrative binding her wanderings together, but I was in the mood to read about someone else's wandering and it was perfect for that. Gelman has built a life around moving from place to place while also making deep attachments while she's in a place. Her tricks for gaining entree include wearing the local dress and cooking with the groups of women, wherever groups of women are cooking. The author is made of iron, which I envy, but when all's said and done I'd rather be an armchair traveler. She takes us to Mexico, Nicaragua in the '80s, Bali for 8 years, New Zealand, and on various trips back to the states as she maintains ties to her own family even as she builds deep relationships els

Giving up one of many possible paths

I went and saw The Golden Compass on the big screen this week. It was fun, but I echo the comments of others who told me it would be pretty disorienting without the book. I really enjoy the villification of religion, simply because it's such a refreshing change of pace from fantasies where the good is implicitly God. But the point of mentioning Pullman was actually to segue to multiple universes... if I could be all the researchers I want to be, if I could follow every passion, then I would certainly devote some time to trying to scare up the existence and contents of libraries that were in reform schools for kids in the 19th century. The 1876 report Public Libraries in the U.S. has some great leads in this regard. And I found these books.... --Schlossmann, Steven L., Love and the American Delinquent: The Theory and Practice of "Progressive" Juvenile Justice, 1825-1920 --Clapp, Elizabeth J., Mothers of all Children: Women Reformers and the Rise of Juvenile Courts