Tuesday, July 24, 2007

NY Times Article: Settling Down in a City in Motion

Since the next Readers Roundtable book, Heaven Lake, is set in Taiwan and China, I thought you might be intrigued by this New York Times article, Settling Down in a City in Motion. It's about this woman who moved from NYC to Shanghai last year. As she finds out, there are two ecosystems coexisting in Shanghai: the Westernized life and the "old lane life."
THE first week I lived in Shanghai, I was walking down Nanjing Street, in front of Cartier, and a man tried to sell me tiger paws. I was near one of the main high-end shopping plazas, a glittering mass of high-rise office buildings and luxury stores, when the man — rustic looking, darkly tanned and wild-eyed — approached me. Nearby, on a cardboard box, I saw his wares: the dried-out skins of indeterminate animals. He walked up to me and thrust out the two giant paws, clearly those of a long-gone big cat. He peered at me expectantly and waited for his money. I looked down at the moth-eaten paws and up at the diamonds in Cartier’s window, and I felt as one often does here, like part of a Surrealist painting. (Link to article.)

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Still More Summer Reading Suggestions

Still looking for summer reads that won't rot your brain? Here are a few more articles with some helpful suggestions.
  • The fourth installment in Salon.com's summer read series is called Thrills and chills. These mysteries and science fiction novels will transport you to a higher plane.
  • Slate has asked a number of its contributors to recommend some recent books of note. Pack them up for the beach or sit down next to the air conditioning, and enjoy.
  • For London's Telegraph.co.uk it's summertime and the reading is easy - unless, of course, this is the year you do Tolstoy.
BTW: My guilty page-turner this summer is Tina Brown's book Diana. (Yes, believe it or not, Princess Di is back on the bestseller lists.) What I love about the book is Tina Brown's sharp wit and crisp writing style. And while there aren't any new, earth-shaking revelations about Diana in it Brown is very deft at delineating England's social milieu and capturing Diana's troubled personality and incandescent charisma. My favorite witticism is a quip from a reporter who describes the group of tabloid reporters that first stalked the 19-year-old Lady Di as the "creme de la scum."

Have you read a good page-turner this summer that you'd like to share?

NYTimes: CEO Libraries Reveal Keys to Success

It's one of my pet theories that great leaders are intensely curious people and one of the ways they feed their curiosity is by reading. There's an article the business section of New York Times today (7/21) titled CEO Libraries Reveal Keys to Success that seems to confirm my theory. The CEOs mentioned here pass over the trendy business bestsellers to read the classics, history, politics, contemporary fiction, poetry, philosophy, science, etc. Books on wide-ranging topics that expand the imagination, spark creativity, generate ideas and foster new insights.

Some people think business is about staying busy and making money, and that reading is mere escapism, a waste of time. It's heartening to find out that there are some highly successful business leaders who believe that reading is actually worthwhile, that it can enhance not only their business endeavors, but life itself.
CEO Libraries Reveal Keys to Success
Michael Moritz, the venture capitalist who built a personal $1.5 billion fortune discovering the likes of Google, YouTube, Yahoo and PayPal, and taking them public, may seem preternaturally in tune with new media. But it is the imprint of old media — books by the thousands sprawling through his Bay Area house — that occupies his mind. (Link to article.)

Event: Hurricane Sam & the Hotshots

Music in the Summer Air
Saturday, July 21, 2007
2:00 PM to 4:00 PM

At the Main Library - 300 Estudillo Ave.

Hurricane Sam has been called “one of the most unique and accomplished pianists on the planet...” by Albert Salerno of Bay Area Music (BAM). He and the Hotshots will provide an exciting, high energy performance of swing, blues, R & B, and funk. Their jazzy, improvisational style will have you moving to the beat. You may even be inspired to jump up, grab a partner, and take a turn on the library plaza! These incredible musicians have worked with some of the biggest names in jazz music and are sure to provide a wonderful afternoon of FREE entertainment. Don’t miss it!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Free Talk about at Main Library

FREE Talk About
Nobel and Pulitzer-winning
Playwright Eugene O'Neill
at the
San Leandro Main Library, Karp Room
Thursday, July 19 at 7pm

Join us for the first of three events in the San Leandro Reads "Long Day's Journey into Night" summer program.

Professor Dan Cawthon, longtime board member of the Eugene O'Neill Foundation, Tao House will discuss the events of O'Neill's tortured life and how they inspired the brilliant masterworks that went on to transform the American theater in the 20th century.

This free event "sets the stage" for the other two San Leandro Reads events this summer: 1) A free showing of the movie "Long Days Journey into Night" on Wednesday August 15 at 5:30 pm; 2) An all-day field trip to Tao House, O'Neill's beautiful home in Danville on Saturday, September 8 at 8:30. (Space is limited and registration required.)

This free talk is open to all and refreshments will be served. No tickets necessary.

For more information, call (510)577-3971.

Photo Credit: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Carl Van Vechten collection, [reproduction number, e.g., LC-USZ62-54231]

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Pictures from the Hammett Walk

Well, I'm finally catching up a bit and have downloaded my pictures from the Hammett Walk last Saturday (7/7). A few are posted below.

Despite it being a chilly, blustery day (i.e. just another typical summer's day in SF), I hope those of you who went on the walk had fun and learned something new about San Francisco, Dashiell Hammett, and his book The Maltese Falcon. Several fun facts that I walked away with are:
  • Even though Falcon is a noir novel, meaning the character's motives are dark, the city itself was bright, white, and shiny new in the novel since it had just been rebuilt after the 1906 earthquake and fire.
  • Sam Spade and Miles Archer are like a couple of yuppie businessmen on the make looking to attract rich clientele by renting upscale offices in the good part of town.
  • Because of his background as a Pinkerton detective, Hammett's characters and their lingo had a harder edge and more authenticity than many of his contemporaries' work.
  • Prior to Hammett's hard-boiled detective, the mystery genre was mainly populated with posh characters who spoke with British accents and lived in grand country estates or sweet quaint villages.
  • In Hammett's day the word "gunsel" was slang for young homosexual partner. There's a nice little entry on this term in World Wide Words.
If you have any insights or pictures from the tour that you'd like to share, please contact me. If the blog link isn't working, use this email, but remove the word SPAM: lhitchcock@SPAMci.san-leandro.ca.us

The walk began in front of the Flood Building, 870 Market St., where Hammett worked for Pinkertons, a detective agency. (Thanks Liz for this photo.)

In The Maltese Falcon, Joel Cairo went to see a play on Geary St.

In The Maltese Falcon Sam Spade ate at John's Grill on Ellis before embarking on a wild goose chase that took him down to Burlingame. It's a good bet Hammett himself probably ate here on occasion since the Ellis entrance to the Flood Building is just next door.

Hammett lived at 891 in the top floor, right corner studio apartment while writing The Maltese Falcon--so naturally, it served as the model for Sam Spade's apartment. When the murphy bed is opened up, the living room is called the bedroom until it goes back up.

( Thanks for this photo Liz.)

Don Herron reenacts the murder of Miles Archer. Throughout the tour, I was impressed with how well Herron retold the key scenes of The Maltese Falcon. Each time I came away with some new, interesting insight. Very enjoyable.

Miles Archer died on a pile of dirt that is now an alley near the Stockton St. tunnel.

The tour lasted about 3 hours. At the end of it I think we were all hungry, thirsty, and ready to take a load off. But I hope everyone had a good time.

For those interested in reading more of Dashiell Hammett, Herron recommended one work in particular:
The Big Knockover
It contains short fictional works featuring the Continental Op, a nameless detective that was the prototype for generations of tough-guy detectives. The library is missing this book, but we should get a replacement shortly. Meantime, you can check out the book The Continental Op, which is also a good read.

Of course, you could always read Hammett's other great novels: The Dain Curse, The Glass Key, The Thin Man, The Red Harvest. All are at the library either individually or as part of a Hammett collection.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

NY Times Article on Hipster Librarians

Sunday's (July 8) edition of the New York Times has a fun article about hipster librarians--those in their 20's and 30's--and how they're changing the profession.

A Hipper Crowd of Shushers
Published: July 8, 2007
A new type of librarian is emerging: think Dewey Decimal meets Generation X.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Reminder: Hammett Walking Tour

If you signed up for the Hammett Walking Tour this Saturday, July 7th, I have a few logistical items to share with you:
  • We'll be meeting at the San Leandro Bart Station near the ticket machines at 11 am.
  • Do NOT buy a BART ticket; it was included in your tour fee.
  • The tour will last about 3 hours.
  • Please remember to bring water and a snack since we won't be stopping to eat.
  • The weather is forecast to be around 70 degrees, ideal for a walking tour.
  • Unfortunately, I just heard that the All-Star Game is in town this weekend, so the streets may be very crowded. Please stick together and watch out for others in the group.
  • We' should reach the Powell St. BART station in SF by noon.
  • Before embarking on the tour, we'll make a pitstop at the San Francisco Shopping Center's restrooms.
  • We'll meet Don Herron, our tour guide (see picture), at the entrance to the Flood Building, 870 Market St. (near The Gap store) between 12:15-12:30.
  • Once the tour is over, we'll get you back to a BART station so you can catch a train back home.
It should be a fun day, and I look forward to sharing it with you! -Lori

Feeding the Imagination

This post has nothing to with books or libraries, but I thought you might appreciate the culinary-literary wit that went into the creation of this sign. It's hanging on a the door of Trieste Cafe, a Greek deli in Minneapolis.