On a muddy World War II battlefield a young soldier happens upon the enemy, shoving a gun in the terrified man’s mouth. In 2010 Los Angeles a newly arrived nursing home resident drops dead at his welcome party. In 1960’s rural France a young boy excitedly shows his classmate the ruins of a burned-out German plane. A pair of young lovers has their picture taken at Coney Island in 1942. A blind woman in the Hamptons in 2005 yearns for someone to love.
What do these people have in common? Nothing at first glance but then again that is the illusion of separateness. In a world that is vast and often alienating it is comforting to think we are somehow all connected – that like the idea of six degrees of separation we don’t have to go too far to find our footing or to appreciate the intricate twists and turns that got us here. More than a series of linked short stories, Simon Van Booy’s delicate novel is a world slowly revealed, where discoveries are made, connections are forged and the reader is part detective, part voyeur and part conspirator.
Beautifully written, with fascinating characters readers will grow increasingly attached to, The Illusion of Separateness depicts a world that will stay in the reader’s mind long after the book is closed.
Kitty cats. We love them. They power the internet (proof). The little dears surely deserve their crystal goblets of Fancy Feast, don’t they? Or is that a more malign glint I see in that crescent-pupiled eye?
The most unhinged, bats-in-the-belfry-surreal cat movie of all time has to be House (Hausu), a must-see for all crazy cat ladies (and men) in training. In this cult film from Japan, high school girl Gorgeous is upset when her father introduces her to his new fiancee - perhaps understandably so, since the fiancee enters in a white dress that conveniently streams in the wind every time the camera settles on her. Outraged at this soft-focus replacement for her dearly departed mother, Gorgeous plans a summer vacation to her aunt’s country house instead of with her father. She takes comfort in the companionship of a white cat named Blanche who has mysteriously appeared in her room at the same time as her aunt agrees to host her. All her friends, who have unlikely names like Fantasy, Prof, Mac, Kung-Fu, Melody, and Sweet, are invited, and they think nothing of it when Blanche appears on the train. But when they arrive at the aunt’s house, she is a little too eager to see them, and they begin to be killed off one by one. The cat starts shooting green lasers from its eyes, pianos eat people, mattresses swallow others, and then things really get weird.
Part of the joy of the film is in its unabashed use of the most cheesy, improbable special effects - it really must be seen to be believed, and even then you still won’t believe it. What’s that, Puff? You need me to bike home from Fred Meyer with a can of tuna and 20 lbs of litter on my back? At your service, my feline overlord, at your service.
Multnomah County Library has an amazing array of titles that might be of interest to our LGBTQ community:
- Looking for something fresh? Check out our New Titles section and specifically new LGBTQ books, movies & TV, and teen titles.
- Perhaps you like things that are more off-the-beaten-path? Check out Librarian Emily-Jane’s LGBTQ Zines Reading List.
- Just want to sit back and watch a movie? I’ve made up a list of some of my favorite LGBTQ films that the library owns.
- Are award-winners your thing? LAMBDA Literary recently announced the winners of their 26th annual Lambda Literary Awards. Here is a list of some of the titles currently available at the library (more titles from this list are being ordered as we speak!)
- History buff? Be sure and browse through Librarian Emily-Jane's LGBTQ History reading list.
- Looking for some tips on parenting, or good reads for LGBTQ familes? Read Andrea's post A Tale of Two Mamas and check out the reading lists on Gay Parenting, Rainbow Family Picture Books and Chapter Books.
- Sci-fi/Fantasy your thing? Take a look at Librarian Natasha's selection of good scifi and fantasy featuring main characters or storylines with LGBTQ themes.
- Planning your big gay wedding? Librarian Emily-Jane has lots of great resources to share.
- Do you prefer mysteries? Librarian Matthew has a great post about his favorite gay detectives, accompanied by this reading list.
Speaking of Librarian Matthew, he is one of our very special My Librarians. He loves making up reading lists and providing readers advisory for LGBTQ literature and non fiction in general. Some examples of his excellent lists are Getting Started with LGBT Fiction and Character Driven Gay Fiction. Not sure what to read next, ask Matthew!
Or you can contact any of us with questions about our collection - or any other question you may have - just visit the Contact page and let us know!
You know how it feels when you are in love with new music or a book, and you feel all exultant that this is yours, yours, yours? That’s how I am loving the new tUnE-yArDs CD, Nikki Nack, like a dragon loves his treasure, like cookie monster loves his cookies. The only reason I’m telling you about it is that I actually bought it, because otherwise I wouldn’t want you to put it on hold and take it away from me.
The tUnE-yArDs is largely the work of one person, Merrill Garbus. She plays most of the instruments and does all the singing, including back-up vocals. You can hear the single here.
The music is amazingly interesting, a wild and free mix of R & B, Haitian rhythms, children’s music (with a dark side), pop, punk, and a lot of sampling and repetitive sounds. It sometimes veers close to Captain Beefheart’s and Ornette Coleman’s disjointedness-- which I actually don’t like-- but it doesn’t quite cross that line. It’s unusual, but catchy, even in its strangeness, and you know what?-- you can dance to it, too. Garbus’s voice is the most powerful instrument she has. It sounds to me like my own voice in my head, sometimes sweet and melodic, sometimes ragged and atonal, and sometimes a roar. She’s playful, brave, and astonishing. There’s even an interlude in the middle, a sweet little story about eating children which comes to a much quicker and more hedonistic rationale for cannibalism than Jonathan Swift’s Modest Proposal.
Have a listen!
It’s a jungle out there. And if you have pets, it might be a jungle in here too… So with so many animals- millions and millions of species- where do you start looking for the ones that you want?
The Encyclopedia of Life probably has what you are looking for. It is easy to search, has a really cool map system and tells you where to find a lot more info. The catch is that it is all pretty high level reading and information. Don’t get me wrong- it’s great stuff and there aren’t that many other places to go looking online for sloth genetic code. Some of these other places might ease you into the Encyclopedia of Life. Try one or try them all, it’s up to you!
If you are looking for smaller bites of animal information Animal Planet can keep you up to date on Wild Animals and Pets in fun and handy top 10 lists. My favorites: Top Animal Thieves and the Top Cats of the internet.
A classic place that people learned about animals is the tv show Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. At their site you can watch new videos and check out some of the old videos all the way back to the 1960s. And from there you can head over to the Colorado State library’s collection of photos that one of the Wild Kingdom’s photographers gave to them. The Garst Photographic Collection has thousands of photos and information about the animals in them. They do warn that there are “only” 600 or so species listed, but they are fun and different species like the Egyptian Goose and the Yellow Mongoose. (Hint: only one of those is a bird.)
You can check out the animals at the Oregon Zoo or at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago online and visit them in person if you like. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Department has things covered here in the states and oversees the Endangered Species Act. They also have a huge collection of pictures, videos, sounds and maps that are almost all in the public domain. (Meaning you can use them!) If you want more about people working to help animals, World Animal Net is network of animal protection and conservation groups working all around the globe.
The Natural History Notebooks covers animal species both extant (living) and extinct (died out) from dinosaurs to komodo dragons to squirrels. (And if you scroll to the bottom of the page, they give you the citation for your paper too!) The National Geographic Creature Feature is arranged a lot like the Natural History Notebooks and if you can’t find the animal you want in one it might be in the other.
Still need more animals? Ask a librarian!
In the face of tragedy and violence, it can be hard to know what to say to kids. How do you answer your child’s questions while reassuring them that you will keep them safe? The authors of Taking the Terror out of School Shootings remind us that “[w]hile there are no easy answers about these kinds of events, children will want an explanation from parents and teachers. A complete explanation will not be easy, it may not even be possible, but we must try. We must strive for a balance between helping a child feel safe and acknowledging the existence of violence, evil and danger in the world.”
Here are three other resources that can help parents and caregivers:
Helping your children manage distress in the aftermath of a shooting. From the American Psychological Association.
How to talk to your kids about Reynolds High School shooting, recent teen deaths (links). Oregonian reporter Amy Wang includes links to helping a grieving teen.
A Survival Guide for Parents of Teenagers: What if the next shooting is at my school? (pdf). A tip sheet for talking to your teen about school violence. From the University of Minnesota College of Education and Human Development.
Lan Su Chinese Garden is on a city block downtown. Most of us only go there when we have out of town visitors, traipsing through and taking photos. I have a membership and love to go there often. A visit to Lan Su truly complements a reader’s life.* Here’s what you might do in the garden:
1. Sit in a cozy spot and read.
Benches in gazebos or rocks by a pool are so cozy, and everyone else will ignore you. When you get up, rest your eyes on the many shapes and textures, and breathe deeply--fragrant plants are in bloom year round.
2. Get the feel of the inner courtyards, gardens and rocky landscapes featured in books about China.
I just finished Amy Tan’s Valley of Amazement, which sweeps through several settings in old China and sometimes takes place in a scholar’s quarters. The Garden is also known as a scholar’s garden and has many of the objects I read about on display.
3. Enjoy the brush paintings, script and poetry on the walls and even inscribed in the wood.
Maples in the Mist is a great intro to contemplative poetry for kids and adults. There are also occasional live demos of brush painting and poetry readings.
4. Enjoy music, tea, and treats in the teahouse.
Perhaps you’ll be reading The Garden of Evening Mists, a moving story set on a tea plantation, as you sample the many varieties available. Check the calendar for music times.
5. Find wonderful Chinese-themed books for children and adults in the bookstore.
And, as a bonus, if you love to read cookbooks, look for the cooking demos throughout June.
*There are usually a few free days in January.
I recently read The Still Point of the Turning World and was blown away by it. It's a memoir by Emily Rapp whose son was born suffering from Tay-Sachs disease, a horrible, rare genetic disease that causes a progressive deterioration of nerve cells and mental and physical abilities resulting in death before a child turns four. The author has written a powerful, beautiful, devastating book about every parent's worst fear. Actually devastating doesn't even begin to describe how it felt to read this book. In many parts, I had a difficult time deciphering the words through my tears. Even now as I write this, I find myself with tears in my eyes. This book is the story of Emily's son, Ronan, and so much more. It's about philosophy, poetry, literature, and the question of how to live a mortal life.
I was totally immersed in The Still Point of the Turning World and when I finished it in one afternoon, I came up gasping for air and thought about my own son. He's 24-years old and just moved away last December to start his new post-college life in Ann Arbor. I'm happy and sad about it. And I know how lucky I am to be able to still have a son no matter how far away he might be living. . .
[Emily Rapp has also written Poster Child, her story about being born with a congenital defect that required the amputation of her entire leg below the knee; it's at the top of the stack of books by my bed that I'll be reading soon. On a brighter note - Emily gave birth to a baby daughter on March 8th. I hope that she won't need to write a heartbreaking memoir ever again.]
Portland has a new illustration and comics festival called Linework NW - it aims to highlight the dynamic energy of creators of comics, prints, graphic novels, and original art. The first-ever event took place on April 12, and we went in search of self-published minicomics and zines for the library’s zine collection. Portland’s Norse Hall was packed to the gills with art, comics, artists and appreciators. The atmosphere was super friendly and excited; I noticed a trend of folks getting their copies of zines signed with personalized illustrations. Of course, we found many wonderful things to add to the library’s zine collection! Here are a few of them:
I Made This to Impress a Boy by Jeannette Langmead consists of lovely color comics about the author's life spanning several years during which she moves to Japan and back to the U.S., ends a relationship, and does some self-reflection.
Falling Rock National Park by Josh Shalek is a series set in a National Park in the southwest. In volume 1, Ernesto the lizard introduces readers to Ranger Dee and various animal characters, then heads into the Uncanny Valley, where everything gets weird. We picked up #1, 2, and 3 at Linework!
The most recent volume in the humorous series Henry & Glenn Forever and Ever, about boyfriends Henry Rollins and Glenn Danzig, includes an epic story about zombie mayhem, family relations, and the dark arts while guest starring Hall and Oates.
Cat People / Dog People by Hannah Blumenreich is a two-in-one zine - one side is Cat People, and you flip it over to read Dog People. It contains some true and not-so-true stories of famous people and their pets.
Each volume in the Comics for Changeseries celebrates a community organizer who is making Oregon a better place for everyone: Alex Brown, Polo Catalani, Walter Cole, Dan Handelman, Cheryl Johnson, Paul Knauls, Ibrahim Mubarak, Genny Nelson, Kathleen Saadat, and Wilbur Slockish. The series is written and illustrated by a collection of talented Portland comic writers and illustrators.