Library Column – December 28, 2006

Are you someone who likes to plan ahead…way ahead? The library needs some volunteers to help us with our next long-range plan, which will cover 2008-2012. The plan will need to be developed during 2007 and will require some of everyone’s favorite social activity: meetings. Give me a call at 496-3913 if you are interested. We would also benefit from a volunteer with a very flexible schedule to fill in when volunteers and staff are away on vacation. Thanks!

My reading (and viewing and listening) has been very diverse indeed. Here is a partial selection.

The Interpretation of Murder by Jed Rubenfeld. This historical mystery includes Freud, Jung and Ferenczi as characters and a young woman named Nora who is almost murdered by a serial killer…and loses her voice and her memory. Twisty, amusing and filled with interesting ideas about truth and analysis.

To Conquer the Air: The Wright Brothers and the Great Race for Flight by James Tobin (audio CD, abridged). How did the Wright Brothers do it? This book tells the amazing story of their meticulous labors as designers and experimenters, along the sad stories of all the other odd characters who were trying to get off the ground at the same time, but failed.

English, August: An Indian Story by Upamanyu Chatterjee.  A delightfully odd novel, written in English by an Indian. A view of India that no tourist will ever encounter. The main character, Agastya, heads off to a town called Madna in a remote part of India, where he will train as a civil servant in the Indian Administrative Service. He avoids work, smokes pot, reads Marcus Aurelius, and contemplates the ceiling of his room. Funny, sad, bitter and warm, a book about the pains of facing adulthood and “real” life.

In the Land of the Wild Onion: Travels Along Vermont’s Winooski River by Charles Fish. The best book I’ve read this year. Fluent, thoughtful, deep, amusing, complex, wide-ranging and with a solid sense of place, this book will tell you a lot about Vermont, its history, people, flora, fauna, geology, character. Highly recommended!

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. Do you miss the old-fashioned novel, filled with awful family secrets, dark passageways, quirky mysteries, and lots and lots of literary references? This book will hit the spot, dead on.

A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon.  This delightfully vertiginous novel from the author of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, drops the reader into the middle of several interlocking crises in the life of a middling British family. Amusing and painful at the same time.

The City of Falling Angels by John Berendt (audio CD or book).  Meet Venice, an ancient city with some modern problems: pollution, politics, ambition, deception and disaster. The author spent years interviewing Venetians about their city, their lives and their history, centering his tale around the burning and rebuilding of the famous Fenice Opera House.

Through a Glass Darkly by Donna Leon (audio cassettes). Police procedural, set in modern
Venice, which takes a cynical view of modern Italian politics and government. Entertaining, with lots of twists and turns in the plot, plus a quick tour of the Venetian glassmaking industry on the
island of

Radical Prunings: A Novel of Officious Advice from the Contessa of Compost by Bonnie Thomas Abbott. Actually a novel written entirely in the form of gardening advice columns, including answers to questions from readers and a lot of odd information about the main character’s life, household and ex-husband. Funny. Probably even funnier for readers who know something about gardening which I, alas, do not. 

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