EVPL Communities: lit.fic.reader@evpl's Blog Postshttp://evpl.org/community/blogs/All of lit.fic.reader@evpl's blog posts on the EVPL Communities site.en-USCommunityServer 2008 SP1 (Build: 30619.63) <![CDATA[Another excellent Titanic movie]]> http://evpl.org/community/blogs/movies/archive/2012/04/07/alternative-to-quot-titanic-quot.aspx Sat, 07 Apr 2012 16:49:00 G4T 2375 lit.fic.reader@evpl Posted to the <a href="http://evpl.org/community/blogs/movies/" target="_blank">Movies Blog</a> on EVPL Communities. View the original post at http://evpl.org/community/blogs/movies/archive/2012/04/07/alternative-to-quot-titanic-quot.aspx to post your comments!

April 15th, 2012 will mark the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the famed ocean liner Titanic and interest in this disaster has never waned.     Most of us are familiar with the 1997 epic starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet.  Long before this movie, however, the excellent British 1959 release "A Night to Remember", based on the well-known book by Walter Lord, presented a meticulously detailed and riveting adaptation.  The movie was beautifully filmed in black and white, creating an especially somber tone for the nighttime events.  Although it boasts elaborate sets and costumes, and other topnotch production values, it doesn't wallow in the heavy-handed romance, corny dialogue, and seemingly endless special effects of the admittedly enjoyable Cameron epic  or the earlier Barbara Stanwyck film from 1953 of the same name.  In terms of special effects, it at times takes a" less is more"approach  to conveying the dramatic events which I found very effective.
"A Night to Remember" is considered by many to be the best feature film about this historic disaster.  See what you think!
book jacket
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Shipwrecks Titanic (Steamship) Ocean Liners
<![CDATA[Zoo Story: Life in the Garden of Captives by Thomas French]]> http://evpl.org/community/blogs/books/archive/2010/08/09/zoo-story-life-in-the-garden-of-captives-by-thomas-french.aspx Mon, 09 Aug 2010 12:23:00 G8T 2188 lit.fic.reader@evpl Posted to the <a href="http://evpl.org/community/blogs/books/" target="_blank">Books Blog</a> on EVPL Communities. View the original post at http://evpl.org/community/blogs/books/archive/2010/08/09/zoo-story-life-in-the-garden-of-captives-by-thomas-french.aspx to post your comments!

 "Eleven elephants. One plane. Hurtling together across the sky." From these opening sentences, photo of monkey in zooI was captivated by this account of the inner workings of zoos, in particular Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa.  The author is a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and currently a professor of journalism at Indiana University.

There are many elements that combine to make this such an absorbing narrative.  Woven throughout the book is discussion of the issues surrounding the pros and cons of holding animals in captivity and the attendant political implications, local and international.  The daily challenge of providing for the well-being of the zoo's residents as well as the safety of its human visitors falls on the shoulders of a largely young, poorly paid, and overworked, if dedicated staff. The author intersperses these considerations with the histories of two of the zoo's most celebrated residents: a chimp who has never fully recovered from his separation from the human family that raised him until adolesence, and a stunningly beautiful but ferocious Sumatran tiger.  The ultimate fates of these two animals, the "king" and "queen" of the Lowry Park Zoo, are sadly reflective of the shortcomings of institutions housing animals.  Finally, a lighter tone is introduced with an amusing comparison of the behavior of the two-legged power brokers of the Tampa area and the zoo's overreaching director with that of the four-legged denizens of the zoo.   

This is as enjoyable a nonfiction title as I've read in a long time and I highly recommend it for its thoughtful examination of the complexities of human-animal interactions. 

In discussing the dangers of working with animals, the author makes brief reference to the Christmas Day 2007 attack by an escaped tiger at the San Francisco Zoo, resulting in one human death and another serious mauling; and to the horrific killing, in view of a shocked audience, of a trainer by an orca at Orlando's SeaWorld in February, 2010.  An excellent article on the SeaWorld tragedy,  "The Killer in the Pool" is in the July 2010 issue of Outside magazine, available at Central and North Park libraries, and is also highly recommended.  
 

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nonfiction central library mccollough branch north park branch oaklyn branch red bank branch recommended animals zoos
<![CDATA[United 93 a haunting memorial to September 11th passengers]]> http://evpl.org/community/blogs/movies/archive/2009/09/11/united-93-a-haunting-memorial-to-september-11th-passengers.aspx Fri, 11 Sep 2009 16:51:00 G9T 1844 lit.fic.reader@evpl Posted to the <a href="http://evpl.org/community/blogs/movies/" target="_blank">Movies Blog</a> on EVPL Communities. View the original post at http://evpl.org/community/blogs/movies/archive/2009/09/11/united-93-a-haunting-memorial-to-september-11th-passengers.aspx to post your comments!

As yet another September 11th anniversary comes and goes, I thought I'd suggest a film I watched several years ago about United Airlines Flight 93 that crashed into a farm field in Pennsylvania, killing all aboard.  At the time, I hesitated to check it out, knowing the awful outcome; but on the basis of a number of favorable reviews, I felt almost an obligation to see it and was glad that I did.  Director Paul Greengrass's imagining of what transpired on the doomed plane is filmed in a documentary style using mostly unknown actors.  All the action unfolds as the events take place with no histories of any of the characters and no flashbacks. The story alternates between the increasingly terrified passengers and the bewildered air traffic controllers, and military and government officials on the ground.  There are a few intense scenes of violence, but they are few and very short.  All the characters, whether air controllers, passengers, or terrorists, are presented as ordinary human beings. There is no fingerpointing by the director, no political commentary. 

Although it might seem a strange comparison, as this film drew to its close, I was reminded of the scene in Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds in which the camera draws back and we see birds circling high above a ruined bay in flames -- no narration, just silent watching.  Even so, the desperate efforts of the passengers to seize control of the plane is enormously moving; this film is highly recommended.

 

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terrorism movies 9/11
<![CDATA[The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein]]> http://evpl.org/community/blogs/books/archive/2009/04/28/for-lovers-of-quot-animal-fiction-quot.aspx Tue, 28 Apr 2009 12:32:00 G4T 1454 lit.fic.reader@evpl Posted to the <a href="http://evpl.org/community/blogs/books/" target="_blank">Books Blog</a> on EVPL Communities. View the original post at http://evpl.org/community/blogs/books/archive/2009/04/28/for-lovers-of-quot-animal-fiction-quot.aspx to post your comments!

 

 dog

I rarely read novels in which an animal is a significant character, but the companionship of my two cats over the past  twelve years has made me a bit more aware of this type of fiction.  I recently enjoyed a touching new novel , The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein, a Seattle-area author.  In part, I was intrigued by the title, which I assumed to be a reference to the canine protagonist frolicking in the damp Seattle climate, but is actually a reference to his race car-driving owner.  Although I have no interest in auto racing (bad Hoosier!), I did enjoy the relationship between the beleaguered family and Enzo, their protective and philosophical dog, nearing the end of his days as the novel begins. The loving dog has regretted not being able to more directly help his family during various travails.  After spending much of his indoors life absorbing everything he can from TV auto racing channels (not to mention a fascination with the Weather Channel), Enzo yearns for a human  reincarnation. This one's a charming tear-jerker.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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dogs automobile racing -- fiction
<![CDATA[Defending the Written Word: The Book Thief]]> http://evpl.org/community/blogs/books/archive/2009/03/02/defending-the-written-word-the-book-thief.aspx Mon, 02 Mar 2009 11:40:00 G3T 1312 lit.fic.reader@evpl Posted to the <a href="http://evpl.org/community/blogs/books/" target="_blank">Books Blog</a> on EVPL Communities. View the original post at http://evpl.org/community/blogs/books/archive/2009/03/02/defending-the-written-word-the-book-thief.aspx to post your comments!

book jacket for "The Book Thief"The third and final selection in McCollough's Defending the Written Word book discussion series is The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.  An award-winning and best-selling novel, it is a searing and moving work set in Nazi Germany. The main character is a young German girl who finds that reading helps to sustain her in an increasingly brutal world, and whose story is told by a quite unusual narrator.  If intrigued, please join us at 3:00 on Wednesday, March 25th, in McCollough's meeting room at the east end of the library.  Copies will be available for checkout at McCollough's circulation desk.  

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mccollough branch book discussions Germany Word War II -- fiction books and reading
<![CDATA["The Squid and the Whale": absorbing family drama (not a science documentary)]]> http://evpl.org/community/blogs/movies/archive/2008/12/30/quot-squid-and-the-whale-quot-not-a-science-documentary-but-an-absorbing-family-drama.aspx Tue, 30 Dec 2008 14:49:00 G12T 1093 lit.fic.reader@evpl Posted to the <a href="http://evpl.org/community/blogs/movies/" target="_blank">Movies Blog</a> on EVPL Communities. View the original post at http://evpl.org/community/blogs/movies/archive/2008/12/30/quot-squid-and-the-whale-quot-not-a-science-documentary-but-an-absorbing-family-drama.aspx to post your comments!

 After seeing it mentioned on one or two best movie lists, I decided to check out this 2005 film although I wondered if I would enjoy its story about a 1980s Brooklyn couple's decision to divorce and the resulting damage to their two sons.  I was swayed by the casting of Jeff Daniels and Laura Linney as the parents and they are indeed both excellent,  Daniels being especially compelling as the increasingly bitter husband watching his wife's star rise while his falls.  My reactions varied from reluctant sympathy for the dissolution of the couple's marriage; amusement at their almost comic diatribes and the husband's occasionally pompous comments; but mostly dismay at the parent's insensitivity to and manipulation of their sons, especially by  the father who can barely stand being bested at table tennis by his younger son.  The title is highly significant but probably not the best choice for  attracting the attention of fans of dramatic films.  The actors who play the sons are very good, and William Baldwin is also enjoyable in a smaller role as a laid-back tennis instructor. As a plus, I also found the soundtrack quite beguiling. 

This is an often heart-rending but also funny family drama, well worth your time. 

 

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reviews families laura linney films Children of Divorced Parents Jeff Daniels
<![CDATA[A Life in Movies]]> http://evpl.org/community/blogs/movies/archive/2008/11/26/a-life-in-movies.aspx Wed, 26 Nov 2008 13:52:00 G11T 927 lit.fic.reader@evpl Posted to the <a href="http://evpl.org/community/blogs/movies/" target="_blank">Movies Blog</a> on EVPL Communities. View the original post at http://evpl.org/community/blogs/movies/archive/2008/11/26/a-life-in-movies.aspx to post your comments!

Although it appears less frequently than the companion "A Life in Books" feature (see Books Blog),  Newsweek's "A Life in Movies" is an enjoyable glimpse into the cinematic likes and dislikes of well-known American and international film directors.  The format is very similar to that used for the books: it asks directors to name and comment on "My Five Most Important Movies"; "A Classic Film You Haven't Seen"; "A Film You Recently Revisited With Disappointment" and "A Film You Hope Parents Will Show Kids".   Featured filmmakers have included the Mexican writer/director/producer Guillermo Del Toro ("Pan's Labyrinth"); British director Danny Boyle ("Millions", "Trainspotting"); and the American documentary filmmaker Errol Morris ("Gates Of Heaven", "Standard Operating Procedure", The Thin Blue Line"). 

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reviews
<![CDATA[What do writers read?]]> http://evpl.org/community/blogs/books/archive/2008/11/25/what-do-writers-read.aspx Tue, 25 Nov 2008 17:28:00 G11T 922 lit.fic.reader@evpl Posted to the <a href="http://evpl.org/community/blogs/books/" target="_blank">Books Blog</a> on EVPL Communities. View the original post at http://evpl.org/community/blogs/books/archive/2008/11/25/what-do-writers-read.aspx to post your comments!

It's always intriguing to find out what  famous and newly acclaimed authors recommend from their current or past reading.  Parade, the Sunday magazine that is distributed by many newspapers (including the Evansville Courier & Press), publishes an occasional column, "Parade Picks", that features the recommendations of popular authors.  Recently, Nicholas Sparks commented on five novels that have moved him most.  Newsweek publishes a similar column in most of its issues, "A Life in Books", asking esteemed writers to list and comment on "My Five Most Important Books", "A Book You Always Return To" , "A Book You Hope Parents Read to Their Children", and "A Classic You've Revisited With Disappointment" (interesting to see how the passage of time can affect one's attitude towards a fondly-remembered book). 


 

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books
<![CDATA[a superb history for lovers of "John Adams" ]]> http://evpl.org/community/blogs/books/archive/2008/10/08/a-superb-history-for-lovers-of-quot-john-adams-quot.aspx Wed, 08 Oct 2008 17:45:00 G10T 710 lit.fic.reader@evpl Posted to the <a href="http://evpl.org/community/blogs/books/" target="_blank">Books Blog</a> on EVPL Communities. View the original post at http://evpl.org/community/blogs/books/archive/2008/10/08/a-superb-history-for-lovers-of-quot-john-adams-quot.aspx to post your comments!

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you're one of the many viewers captivated by the HBO minisieries "John Adams", it's quite possible you would also enjoy a 2007 highly praised history of this era, The Great Upheaval, by Jay Winik, a scholar and historian who also wrote another acclaimed and bestselling history about the last month of the Civil War, April 1865The Great Upheaval covers the period 1788-1800 when revolutionary fervor was sweeping the planet.  The author describes, in vivid detail, the interactions among the existing and emerging powers of the day --  in particular the nascent republic of the United States, France, and Russia (oddly, not much attention is paid to England,  a major player at the time).  I found especially fascinating the struggles between Catherine the Great's imperial and decadent Russian empire and the Islamic peoples of the Ottoman Empire.  Winik's central thesis, as stated in the introduction, is that "the world was far more interconnected than we realize ... stitched together in a myriad of ways almost unimaginable to the modern mind.  From the French salons in Paris to the young American capital in Philadelphia, from the luxury of St. Petersburg to candlelight dinners in Monticello and Mount Vernon, from the bustle of London and market stalls of Warsaw to the mysteries of the seraglio in Constantinople and the steppes of the Crimea, great nations and leaers were acutely conscious of one another.  And year after year, they watched one another, learned from one another, and reacted to one another."

       Lovers of U.S. and world history should check this out.

  

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Eighteenth century History Civilization United States -- History -- Constitutional period
<![CDATA[online book club]]> http://evpl.org/community/blogs/books/archive/2008/07/29/garden-tips.aspx Tue, 29 Jul 2008 15:23:00 G7T 100 lit.fic.reader@evpl Posted to the <a href="http://evpl.org/community/blogs/books/" target="_blank">Books Blog</a> on EVPL Communities. View the original post at http://evpl.org/community/blogs/books/archive/2008/07/29/garden-tips.aspx to post your comments!

Does everyone know about this online book club?  If not, it's a convenient way to sample new books:

Dear Reader,

Join a book club and every morning I'll send you a portion of a book in your email. After you've read two or three chapters from a book, I'll start sending a new book. It's free and you can read at more than one club. Join today and start taking a five minute reading break every day.

Suzanne Beecher
Suzanne@DearReader.com

Click here or scroll down for information on clubs:

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Book clubs -- Web sites