Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Guest Reviewer!!! TODAY!!!

We have a review we want to share with you. This is from Joan:

Since this isn't in the popular reading collection, I don't know how appropriate it is to post about it here. I'll let you decide! :)

Impulse, by Ellen Hopkins, is a young adult book about teens in a facility because of their suicide attempts. There is one word that describes this book: WOW! It's a very powerful book and you really get a feel for the characters and how they came to be suicidal. You end up rooting for each and everyone of them! Don't let the size of the book scare's actually a pretty fast read, since it's written in verse form, which takes up lots of space. It's not exactly rhyming verse so it's easy to read just like a regular novel.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Jon Hassler

Kristen, I just found out that Jon Hassler has died. He has always been a favorite writer of mine, and when I taught a course in midwestern lit, my students all thought the novel we studied (Grand Opening) was tremendous. I've never had such a strong response to an author from students. His writing touched people of all ages because he had the ability to make his characters come so alive that you care, you really care, about the people who populate his novels.

He graduated from UND in 1961 and received a doctorate of letters here in 1994. In 1996, the Chester Fritz Library celebrated its millionth volume--and what did we select to be that millionth volume? "Christmas in Omaha," by Jon Hassler. Mr. Hassler came to the library and we had a formal presentation as he donated a signed copy.

I've met a lot of writers in my life, but I have never been as excited as I was that day, seeing a writer I admired so much.

And now he's gone.

You'll have to excuse me if I'm a little sad today....

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Hey Janet,

A couple things come to mind as I read your post:

About the fake memoir-I read another good article that might be of interest to our students. Bob Thompson, Washington Post Staff Writer, says:

To: The publishing industry.
From: Your friends in the news biz.
Re: Fake memoirs.

Two words: Fact check!

It was interesting to find out publishing houses do not fact check, saying they have to trust their authors and they don’t have the money to fact check. That’s the perfect kind of low-paid job that gets your foot in the door of a magazine or newspaper! Can you believe, Janet, that in my New Jersey hometown I started off my career as a features reporter by proofreading ads? ME! The one YOU’RE always correcting for spelling?

Anyway, Tim Madigan has had quite a successful career in the newspaper industry. That’s how he met Mr. Rogers. They instantly had a connection and kept up correspondence throughout the years. Tim would take opportunities to visit Mr. Rogers in Pittsburgh from time to time. Tim still likes to visit our area too. He was here in December supporting youth hockey, and he came here during the flood and wrote a really moving story, talking with many people from his past, including his long-time friend Ryan Bakken from the GF Herald. When I contacted Tim about the popular reading collection, not only did he write a letter to the students and donate autographed copies for us but he gave us a paperback edition of I’m Proud of You that we’ll include as a prize for our upcoming contest (to entice students to contribute to this blog).

Also, let’s hold off on our next “Author of the Month” until next week’s writer’s conference is over. In the meantime, wear on sweater on March 20th. Our coworker alerted us that Thursday is 'Wear a Sweater Day' in honor of Mr. Rogers.

It's a beautiful day in the library-

Monday, March 10, 2008

I believe you...and I'm proud of you

Kristen, thanks for posting about the controversies surrounding recent "memoirs" that turn out to be either fictionalized, or totally made up to begin with.

This allows me to focus on a memoir that is NOT fictionalized. Tim Madigan is a UND graduate, and he's written a wonderful remembrance of his friendship with Mr. Rogers. Yes, that Mr. Rogers--"It's-a-wonderful-day-in-the-neighborhood" Mr. Rogers. Publishers Weekly gave Tim Madigan's book, I'm Proud of You: My Friendship with Fred Rogers a rare starred review.

It deserves that star.

When we began this blog, we determined right away that Tim would be our first Author of the Month. We were still learning how to make things work techie-wise, and we didn't get him featured as much as we'd have liked. But he's in the forefront of our minds now as we consider the art of the memoir, and how well he's done it.

To Tim Madigan, we have to say this: Thank you. And you know something else? We're really proud of you.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Do you believe me?

Janet, do your ever tell stories about yourself? Do you ever exaggerate a bit or combine some aspects to make the story easier to tell? I bet you did--I know I have. I think most people are smart enough to know that about people. What about authors of autobiographies? How much slack should we give them? Oprah didn’t give much to James Frey, author of the book A Million Little Pieces in 2006. Apparently his “true-life” story about drug and alcohol addiction recovery had some events that were not entirely accurate. Publisher Random House stood behind the author in a lawsuit and new copies of the book have a disclaimer. Our copy of the book has the letter from the publisher right in the front of the book and the genre “Biographical Fiction” is used to describe this book in our catalog.

There are recent controversies about the “memoirs” of a holocaust survivor and a totally fabricated story about a South-Central LA foster child who succeeds despite overwhelming odds. The author of the second book “Margaret B. Jones” is really Margaret Seltzer who made up her life, ethnicity and background --portrayed as a true account in this book. The story received rave reviews in the New York Times, and interviews all over the country including NPR were lined up for the publicity launch. Instead, after the author’s sister recognized her in an article and called the publisher to say they’d been duped—the publisher pulled all copies of the books of the shelves.

Why did the author have to say it was a true story about themselves rather than a novel? The vastly successful Memoirs of a Geisha was written by an American white male. Some insight may come from psychologists rather than literary critics. I listened to several stories on NPR and there’s a long history of this according to Laura Browder author of Slippery Characters: Ethnic Impersonators and American Identities. Of course, our job as librarians is to stay on top of these issues to help spread the word—but Ms. Browder noted in her NPR interview that it’s unusual for books to be pulled off the shelves for deception—there’s usually a firestorm of publicity and then things return to normal. So Janet, you can’t always believe what you read—even if it’s on the Chester Fritz Library shelves.