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Friday, January 30, 2009

Remembering John Updike

A giant in 20th-century literature died this week. John Updike, a prolific writer who penned more than 25 novels, a dozen short story collections, poetry, as well as art and literary criticism, passed away on Jan. 27.

He is most well-known for his Rabbit series, which featured Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom as its main character. Two of the books in the five-novel series, Rabbit Is Rich and Rabbit at Rest each received the Pulitizer Prize in Fiction in 1982 and 1991. Other novels he is known for include The Witches of Eastwick, which was made into a movie and Bech Is Back. His most recent fiction was The Terrorist about a convert to Islam who tries to blow up the Lincoln Tunnel.

For some of Updike’s lesser-known work, try these:

The Widows of Eastwick

Still Looking: Essays on American Art

Villages

The Early Stories – 1953-1975

Americana and Other Poems

Gertrude and Claudius

Don’t Miss . . .

Special events to celebrate the City of Fairfax’s Chocolate Lover’s Festival at the City of Fairfax Regional Library Feb. 7-8. Sign up is required for all events.

Saturday, Feb. 7, 10 a.m. Chocolate Lovers Crafts for Kids. Girl Scout Troop #1194 provides simple crafts as a part of the City of Fairfax’s Chocolate Lovers Festival. Age 4-8 with adult.

Saturday, Feb. 7, 11 a.m. Turley the Magician. A magic show full of comedy and old-fashioned fun for the whole family as a part of the City of Fairfax’s Chocolate Lovers Festival. Cosponsored by the Friends of the City of Fairfax Regional library. All ages.

Saturday, Feb. 7, 2 p.m. Glass Harp Music Performance. Presented by world famous harpist Jamey Turner as part of the City of Fairfax’s Chocolate Lovers Festival. Cosponsored by the Friends of the City of Fairfax Regional Library. All ages.

Sunday, Feb. 8, 1 p.m. Magical Moments With Jonathan Austin. Magic, movement and fun. Part of the City of Fairfax’s Chocolate Lovers Festival. Cosponsored by the Friends of the City of Fairfax Regional Library. All ages.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Changing Novel in the Digital Age

“We think of the novel as a transcendent, timeless thing, but it was shaped by the forces of money and technology just as much as by creative genius,” writes Time magazine in a recent article about the future of literature ("Books Gone Wild: The Digital Age Reshapes Literature," Wed., Jan. 21, 2009). Due to technology a new business model is evolving and the magazine’s writers predict “the novel won't stay the same: it has always been exquisitely sensitive to newness, hence the name. It's about to renew itself again, into something cheaper, wilder, trashier, more democratic and more deliriously fertile than ever.”

As the stigma of self-publishing is removed, the result, according to Time is: “more books, written and read by more people, often for little or no money, circulating in a wild diversity of forms, both physical and electronic, far outside the charmed circle of New York City's entrenched publishing culture.”

In the 20th century, publishers supposedly acted as gatekeepers, making sure only the best literature got into print, but this process often didn’t work and shut out some good writing. Now that fiction can be published electronically and cheaply and distributed to a worldwide audience with a rising literacy rate, the form of the novel may actually change. We may see more serialized novels and while the old publishing model won’t go away, readers will have more choices and they will be able to read literature vetted by readers such as themselves.

Are the Time writers correct? Is the digital age is changing the form and content of the novel? What are your thoughts?

Don’t Miss . . .

Wednesday, Jan. 28, 11 a.m. Pohick Regional Library
Independent Living Project: Improve Your Nutrition. Cosponsored by the Department of Family Services’ Fairfax Area Agency on Aging. A series of programs for older adults and adults with disabilities. Sign up required. To sign or for accommodations, call 703-324-7210, TTY 703-449-1186 or e-mail jennifer.edge@fairfaxcounty.gov. Adults.

Saturday, Jan. 31, 1 p.m. George Mason Regional Library
Korean New Year Celebration. A Korean New Year celebration of Korean culture through traditional dance and the dramatic sounds of drum instruments. All ages.

Friday, January 23, 2009

The President’s Reading

This week, the New York Times surveyed our new president’s favorite reading ("From Books, New President Found Voice", Jan. 19, 2008). As an accomplished orator, author and wordsmith, President Obama was often seen with a book in hand during the campaign. Here are some of the new chief of state’s choices:

Parting the Waters by Taylor Branch

Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin

Ghost Wars by Steve Coll

Moby Dick by Herman Melville

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

Other recent articles have offered recommendations of books the President should put on his reading list. Any suggestions?

Friday, January 16, 2009

Recession Bargains

Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal featured an article on the increase in library use during the recent economic downturn ("Folks Are Flocking to the Library: A Cozy Place to Look for a Job,"Jan. 15, 2009).

Public libraries throughout the nation from Stockton, Calif. to Stamford, Conn. and right here in Fairfax County, Va. are experiencing an increase in use as visitors seek job information, entertainment, such as books, recorded books and DVDs or just a quiet place to spend the day.

The article notes that the increase in use ironically comes at a time when the institution had almost been written off as irrelevant because of the Internet and when local governments facing severe cutbacks are forced to close libraries or drastically reduce library service.

So, if you haven’t discovered your local library branch and all its resources, go back to the library’s Web site and click on Branches.

How are you using your local library these days? Let us know.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Inauguration Trivia

With the Inauguration of our 44th President only a week away, here are a few interesting tidbits on past ceremonies thanks to About.com:

● Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson were the only two presidents-elect to walk to their Inaugurations;

● In 1917 Edith Wilson was the first First Lady to accompany her husband to the Capitol for the ceremony;

● Warren G. Harding was the first president-elect to ride to the Inauguration in an automobile in 1921;

● In 1965 Lyndon Johnson was the first president-elect to ride to the ceremony in a bullet-proof limousine;

● John Adams was the first president to receive the oath of office from the Chief Justice in 1797;

● In 1923 Calvin Coolidge’s father administered the oath to his son;

● The Inaugural parade dates back to George Washington, but it wasn’t until 1873 during Ulysses S. Grant’s Inauguration that the tradition of reviewing the parade at the White House was begun;

● Dolley Madison hosted the first Inaugural Ball in 1809. Beginning with Dwight D. Eisenhower, the number of balls increased to two and grew to 14 with Bill Clinton’s second Inauguration.

For more on the history of Inaugurations, browse these books:

Presidential Inaugurations by Peter F. Boller

The Inaugural Addresses of the Presidents

Lincoln’s Greatest Speech: The Second Inaugural by Ronald C. White

Ask Not: The Inauguration of John F. Kennedy and the Speech That Changed America by Thurston Clarke
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Where will you be for next week’s 56th Inauguration ceremony of a President?
Let us know.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Resolved

The statistics are dismal when it comes to keeping New Year’s resolutions. One recent study found that 52 percent of people were confident they would attain their goals, but only 12 percent actually did so. The healthyminds.org Web site offers some advice on how to follow through on our good intentions.

1. Try again

2. Don’t make too many resolutions

3. Choose your own resolution

4. Make a plan and write it down

5. Involve family and friends

6. Forgive yourself

7. Reward yourself

The top five New Year’s resolutions according to USA.gov are lose weight, manage debt, save money, get a better job and get fit. If these are among your goals in 2009, here are some upcoming library events that might help.

Thursdays in Jan. 8, 15, 22, 29, Noon. Pohick Regional Library
Independent Living Project: Exercise Class. An exercise class for older adults and adults with disabilities. Cosponsored by the Department of Family Services’Fairfax Area Agency on Aging. Sign up required. To sign up or for accommodations, call 703-324-7210, TTY 703-449-1186 or e-mail Jennifer.edge@fairfaxcounty.gov.

Wednesday, Jan. 14, 7:15. Oakton Library
Lifetime Financial Fitness. Personal financial management and investment in turbulent times. Includes group discussion. Suggested reading: The Age of Turbulence by Alan Greenspan. Adults.

Thursday, Jan. 8, 7 p.m. Tysons-Pimmit Regional Library
Model Investment Club of Northern Virginia. Learn more about investing following an investment club model. Meets the second Thursday all year. New visitors welcome. Adults.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Writers Remembered

In 2008, we lost some distinguished authors. Among those whose work you might want to sample are:

George McDonald Fraser, author of the Flashman series (April 2, 1925 – Jan. 2, 2008).

Margaret Truman Daniel, author of Murder at the White House and other mysteries set in D.C. (Feb. 17, 1924 – Jan. 19, 2008).

Phyllis Whitney, author of young adult and adult books (Sept. 9, 1903 – Feb. 8, 2008).

Sir Arthur C. Clarke, author of science fiction such as 2001: A Space Odyssey and Childhood’s End (Dec. 16, 1917 – March 19, 2008).

Alexandr Solzhenitzyn, Nobel Prize winner and author of One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (Dec. 11, 1918 - Aug. 3, 2008).

Gregory McDonald, author of the Fletch series (Feb. 15, 1937 - Sept. 7, 2008).

Tony Hillerman, author of a mystery series set in Navaho country. (May 27,1925 – Oct. 26, 2008).

Studs Terkel, author of Working and other oral histories (Oct. 26, 2008 - May 27, 1925).

Michael Crichton, author of novels including Jurassic Park, Andromeda Strain and creator of the TV series, “E.R.” (Feb. 25, 1939 – Nov. 5, 2008).

Harold Pinter, Nobel-prize-winning playwright known for “The Homecoming” and “The Caretaker” (Nov. 2, 1914 - Dec. 24, 2008).

Donald Westlake, mystery author, nominated for an Oscar for his script for “The Grifters” (July 12, 1934 – Dec. 31, 2008).