This Sun of York

One of my favorite of Shakespeare's plays has always been Richard III. Richard is one of Shakespeare's great villains, and the play contains some of his best lines. It was actually Ian McKellan's version which reset the whole drama in the 1930's that made me love the play. But last night I watched the version made by Laurence Olivier in 1955. What struck me about this version was how well Olivier structured it around Richard's monologues, including us all in his villainy. I think it must have been an innovation to have a Shakespearean character speak directly to the camera as Olivier does... and it's quite effective. I was also struck by the way Olivier uses shadows and light and by the interesting use of Christian imagery.

This is one of the more complicated of Shakespeare's plots, so if you need a little explanation of what's happening (as I did), here is a good write-up.

"Let us go then, you and I...."

The Academy of American Poets has designated April as National Poetry Month. You can celebrate verse, rhymed or unrhymed any number of ways. "Poem in Your Pocket" is a national push to have everyone put a poem in their pocket on April 20 and share it either with a friend, your classroom, your dog, whoever. Add it to an e-mail. Text it, whatever works for you to pass along your love of the written word. Or enter the "Free Verse" photography contest in which you can take a line from a poem (not yours) and find an appropriate photo that matches your text. Combine photo and text in your submission. Deadline is April 15.

The Library has an excellent collection of poetry for both youth and adult. Here's a haiku to whet your appetitie from the collection, The 100 Best Poems of All Time edited by Leslie Pockell:

Don't Kill That Fly!
Kobayashi Issa

Look, don't kill that fly!
It is making a prayer to you

April 5th -- Baseball's Opening Day

We may have had our last snowfall. I've even seen people in shorts this March. Now it's time to dust off your favorite team's cap and pound last year's dirt out of your beloved mitt. The Major League Baseball season begins this Sunday, April 5th, with last year's World Series champion Philadelphia Phillies taking on the Atlanta Braves. The promise of a new season can only be heightened by waxing nostalgic through baseball's storied history with such gems as Autumn Glory: Baseball's First World Series by Louis P. Masur, 100 Years of the World Series by Eric Enders, or Faithful by Steward O'Nan and Stephen King. One team will reign supreme come October -- is this your team's year?

No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency

Precious Romotswe may be the only lady detective in Botswana but that's not why she's No. 1. Jill Scott (Precious Romotswe) stars in the film based on the series by Alexander McCall Smith, The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency.

The show starts on Sunday March 29th on HBO.

Book 1: No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency
Book 2: Tears of the Giraffe
Book 3: Morality for Beautiful Girls
Book 4: The Kalahari Typing School For Men
Book 5: The Full Cupboard of Life
Book 6: In the Company of Cheerful Ladies
Book 7: Blue Shoes and Happiness
Book 8: The Good Husband of Zebra Drive
Book 9: The Miracle at Speedy Motors
Book 10: Tea Time for the Traditionally Built

Alexander McCall Smith has written his first online novel, Corduroy Mansions.

A master playwright remembered

Today is the birthday of Tennesse Williams who was born Thomas Lanier Williams in Columbus, Mississippi in 1911. Williams had a very unhappy childhood and dropped out of college continued to write. He eventally returned to college in Iowa where his first plays were performed and were resounding successes. His work is characterized by smoldering emotion, either expressed or just beneath the suface. He also wrote screenplays, novels, short stories, and a book of poetry. His play, A Streetcar Named Desire was recently produced by the Purple Rose Theater in Chelsea and got rave reviews.

Japanese translated books

Japan America flagsJapan America flags

Thanks to a grant through Toyota Motor Corporation to the American Library Association, the Ann Arbor Public Library is a proud recipient of Japanese books translated into English. The books range from adult fiction, nonfiction, and manga. We are very excited to offer these quality books to our patrons to check out. Here is a sampling of the adult fiction titles available:

Ashes by Kenzo Kitakata
Birthday by Koji Suzuki
Blade of the courtesans by Keiichiro Ryu
Boy by Takeshi Kitano
Cage by Kenzō Kitakata
Crimson labyrinth by Yusuke Kishi
May in the valley of the rainbow by Yoichi Funado
Naoko by Keigo Higashino
Now you're one of us by Asa Nonami (a mystery)
Outlet by Randy Taguchi
Parasite Eve by Hideaki Sena
Poison ape by Arimasa Osawa (a mystery)
Promenade of the gods by Koji Suzuki
A rabbit's eyes by Kenjiro Haitani
Sayonara, gangsters by Genichiro

Invisible Wall

At the age of 93, Harry Bernstein started writing a book about his childhood in a mill town in Northern England, where an "Invisible Wall " seemed to separate the Jewish and Christian families. At the age of 96, Invisible Wall: a Love Story that Broke Barriers was published and filled with the memories of Harry's absent alcoholic father, hardworking loving mother, characters from both the Christian and Jewish side of the street, and of course the forbidden romance between his older sister Lily and a Christian boy, Arthur, that lived on the other side of the "wall". Berstein describes the neighborhood with vivid recollection and makes you feel as if you are walking the cobblestone roads with him. If you read and enjoy this book, you might try Bernstein's later memoir The Dream centering around his family's journey to America when he was 12.

Fireflies in December

Fireflies in December is the debut novel of Jennifer Erin Valent about a 13 year old girl, Jessilyn, and her parents taking in her best friend Gemma, after Gemma's parent were tragically killed in a house fire. The problem is, the year is 1932, Gemma is black, the Lassiters are white, and they live in a small Virginia town. Jessilyn is the character of dreams, taking cues from her father and speaking out against the threats coming from her small prejudiced community. The tone and speech in the novel take you to the south to a time where the people faced struggles not only from the Depression but from intolerance as well. The plot of this novel reminds readers of the evil that ordinary human beings are capable of doing, even in the name of righteousness. If you don't mind some moderate religious undertones, this book is heart-warming yet bittersweet and reminds us that even in the face of violence and terror, goodness can still surround us.

Commencing the Menses

If you're particularly squeamish and don't like to hear about that "female problem," then skip this post and Rachel Kauder Nalebuff's new book My Little Red Book. But if you're up for a little humor, a little sympathetic cringing, check out this new arrival. Nalebuff, who will be an undergraduate student at Yale this coming fall, has compiled anecdotes from diverse women--from different nations, backgrounds, and professions--about their first periods. Now, I always take issue with the way that chick lit depicts women as NYC natives, stylish, single, glamorous, successful, and brand-conscious shopaholics. So, it's refreshing to see an anthology about women from all walks of life, recounting an experience that almost every women lives through--her first period. Every girl's got a story about "surfing the crimson wave" for the first time. And Nalebuff's collected a bunch of them! It'll definitely be interesting to see how the women represented in Nalebuff's book will refer to their "Aunt Flo."

The D Word: Comic Collections to Watch Out For.

Dykes to Watch Out ForDykes to Watch Out For

My latest preferred form of episodic entertainment has been found in reading our collections of Alison Bechdel's Dykes to Watch Out For, a comics series about a diverse group of lesbian women and their many adventures. It's just good, fun reading, with characters that you really come to care about. But it's also one of the few pieces of current, popular storytelling that I know of which actually focuses on women, LGBTQ people, people of color, and progressive issues. I didn't even realize what I was missing until I started immersing myself into these great stories. We have many of the compilations here at the library.

And of course, I would highly recommend Bechdel's Fun Home: her graphic memoir about her early life and experience of coming out. It's a really special book.

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