Ages 18+.

Falun Gong: The End of Days

During last week's White House welcoming ceremony for China President Hu Jintao, a protestor interrupted Hu Jintao's opening speech by standing on a camera platform on the South Lawn and shouting at both Hu Jintao and George Bush. The woman pleaded for Bush to help stop the Chinese persecution of the controversial Chinese religious sect Falun Gong.

For those who want to know more about this topic, the library has a book called Falun Gong: The End of Days. According to Booklist, "Political scientist Chang provides a brief and accessible introduction to Falun Gong that places the movement in political and historical context, and she offers a critique of the Chinese government's policy toward religion that raises important questions about relations between quasi-religious groups such as Falun Gong and modern states.

The library also has two copies of Zhuan Falun, which is the core writing of Falun Gong's founder, Li Hongzhi. Finally, those interested in learning more about one of the central practices of Falun Gong can browse through the library's materials on Qi Gong.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #17

For Wendy Wasserstein fans, her passing this past January was deeply mourned. (Blog)

However, we could somehow feel a little comforted with the release of her first (and sadly also her last) novel The Elements of Style.

This dishy satire in the wake of 9/11, centers around Frankie Weissman, the down-to-earth pediatrician who treats the children of Manahattan's A-list, but is herself little affected by their excesses. Chock-full of shopping, private preschool worries, anxiety of maintaining a perfect image, or the scrambling simply to be top of the heap, “Wasserstein gets the trappings and tribulations of friendship and of romance right, making her depiction of the rich and fab trying to connect with one another witty and entertaining”. Enjoy.

Celebrate the opening of the first movie theater

On April 23, 1896, the first movie that was shown in a theater was seen at the Koster and Bials Music Hall in New York City. Until this time, people only saw films individually by using a kinetoscope.

Movies have dramatically changed over the years. As evidence, explore our diverse video and dvd collection including the dvd set, Treasures from American Film Archives, a four dvd set of fifty films that represent the breadth of American film making in its first one hundred years. Winner of the 2000 Film Heritage Award from the National Society of Film Critics and hailed by one critic as "...a bottomless bottle of blue tequila..," the series includes silent films, avant-garde works, documentaries and some of the earliest American films.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #16

Winner of the 1994 Swedish Crime Writer’s Academy Prize for Best Novel Borkmann’s Point (hint - it’s not a place) is Hakan Nesser’s the first Inspector Van Veeteren mystery to be translated into English.

In a measured pace and conversational tone, almost as serene as the small seaside town that he is summoned to, Chief Inspector Van Veeteren narrates the painstaking process of trying to find a serial ax-murderer. When the disappearance of his best detective coincides with discovery of the next victim, he worries that this case might join the only other unsolved one in his 30-year career.

This gripping and atmospheric whodunit will endear Van Veeteren to police procedural fans the world over. Let's hope the next one is already in the capable hands of the translator.

New Fiction Titles on the New York Times Best Sellers List (4/16/06)

Easter week marked the return of three mystery favorites. Hats off to Jonathan Kellerman for grabbing the top spot from Dan Brown.

At #1 is Gone by Jonathan Kellerman: Alex Delaware investigates a murder that follows the disappearance of two acting students. P.S. Check out Sunstroke, the debut mystery by Kellerman's son Jesse.

At #7 is Tomb of the Golden Bird by Elizabeth Peters: the redoubtable Amelia Peabody gets caught up in the intigue swirling around the discovery of Tutankhamen's tomb in 1922.

At #15 is Dark Assassin by Anne Perry: another Victorian mystery with William Monk descending into the dark and deadly sewers of London to track a murderer.

A New Vision of Democracy

In Democracy's Edge, Frances Moore Lappe, author of the groundbreaking Diet For A Small Planet, sets forth her analysis of our current political and social systems and encourages individuals to take responsibility for creating change. She looks at how, as a nation, we share more commonalities than differences, e.g. the quest for economic security, protection of our planet and principled government. Instead of feeling powerless, Lappe says, look to what you can do. She cites examples of some major changes to how our country is run including having a multi-party system. In seven states, the Working Families Party has instituted procedures so that candidates can be cross-endorsed on more than one ballot, a concept called fusion voting that can make voters' interests visible and influence candidates. Another project organized by a woman in Arizona has significantly affected campaign finance practices by having everyone in the state contribute $5 to a campaign. All are invested and candidates who don't have money now do. According to Lappe, it's the people, whether Republican or Democrat, who can join forces to combat corporate greed and out of control spending.

Muriel Spark, 1918-2006

Muriel Spark

Muriel Spark, wonderfully prolific novelist, essayist, and poet, died April 13, in Italy.

Shaped by her conversion to Catholicism when she was 36, Ms. Spark wrote with an almost reportorial calmness, often spiced with dry wit, about the absurdities and tragedies of everyday life.

One of her most beloved books, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, was made into a play starring Vanessa Redgrave (in London) and Zoe Caldwell (Broadway); the latter won a Tony for her performance in 1968. A year later, Maggie Smith won an Oscar for the same role on the silver screen.

Owen Parry’s Abel Jones (Civil War Historical Mysteries)

Abel Jones, Welsh immigrant, former sergeant with the British army in India, teetotalling Methodist, and bookkeeper for a coal company in Pottsville, Pennsylvania, has sworn off fighting and killing but finds himself compelled to help drill the hapless youths who have gathered to join the Union army. He ends up as their sergeant, is injured at Bull Run, becomes a clerk in the War Department, is recruited by General McClellan to investigate a soldier’s death, and the adventures begin.

His investigations provide wonderful commentary on the political, social, military, ethnic, and ethical background of the Civil War. Exciting, harrowing, humorous, and compulsively readable.

Series in order:
Faded Coat of Blue
Shadows of Glory
Call Each River Jordan
Honor’s Kingdom
Bold Sons of Erin
Rebels of Babylon

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #15

“Unexpected, unrehearsed, unconventional” – that’s how Meg Mullins describes the relationships between the main characters in her sparkling debut novel.

At the center of the story is Iranian Ushman Khan, The Rug Merchant. Middle-aged, and feeling abandoned by a wife who refuses to join him in New York, he runs a small rug store on Madison Avenue by day and endures a solitary existence. A chance meeting with a beautiful Barnard student during his nocturnal wanderings at JFK, blossoms into a serious affair.
Then, there is wealthy and demanding socialite Mrs. Roberts - one of his best customers, who seems to be reaching out to Ushman in the most unexpected way.

A quiet and complex novel of “many extraordinary pleasures”, Mullins's auspiciously wonderful debut is not to be missed. My bet is you will be hand-selling it to your friends. Reviews.

New Fiction Titles on the New York Times Best Sellers List (4/9/06)

It's hard to know what to say when the paperback version of a book is released and the hardcover moves back into the #1 position. And Dan Brown also won his British court case. Now everyone is waiting for the movie of the Da Vinci Code.

At #2 is Prior Bad Acts by Tami Hoag: another judge in jeopardy, this time in Minneapolis.

At #8 is The Secret Supper by Javier Sierra: another mystery starring Da Vinci, this time involving clues from his "Last Supper"

At #9 is A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore: for fans of Buffy and the supernatural, a San Francisco store owner becomes a Death Merchant who protects the souls of the recently dead.

At #15 is Intuition by Allegra Goodman: a literary novel exploring the work and lives of scientists at a cancer research institute that is rocked by allegations of a possible fraud.

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