Friday, April 13, 2007

What We're Reading/Listening To....

A poll of what some of the KPL staff is reading, listening to, and watching...


Reading: I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence by Amy Sedaris
Listening to (Music): The Postal Service and Damien Rice
Listening to (Podcasts): This American Life and The Third Coast International Audio Festival


Reading: 1984 by George Orwell and Animal Farm by George Orwell and The Looming Tower by Lawrence Wright
Listening to: Radiohead, Bob Dylan and Death from Above 1979


Reading: The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
Listening to: Pedro the Lion
TV: Enterprise Season II


Reading: The Secret Life of the Sushi Club by Christy Yorke and Physical by James McManus
Listening to: Simon and Garfunkel and WGN


Reading: On Agate Hill: A Novel by Lee Smith

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Simon and Garfunkel

There have been two men who have been a constant in my life. I can depend on them no matter what and my love for them is practically indescribable. Sometimes I will forget about them for a while but when I think of them they welcome me with open arms that envelope me in the warmest, softest hold that no other can provide to me. Those men are Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel.

Growing up we had a large piece of furniture that looked like part of our dining room set but actually consisted of speakers and a record player. We listened to all of our vinyl on this bad boy. Some of my earliest memories are my mom doing spring cleaning while Simon and Garfunkel was on the turntable. I can just picture the house and smell the scent of Windex and spring air. Just hearing one of their songs can put me in a way back machine and BAM! it’s 1979 again and I am four. Now that I am a grown woman with a house to take care of my own when I wash the windows Simon and Garfunkel must be on.

Just hearing their music puts me in the best frame of mind that I can possibly imagine. Their words, the music, the melody…everything about them is just so beautiful. When I listen to their music I just want to lay on the floor, relax my body, close my eyes and just let the sound and words wash over me.

No other artist can move me to tears with their songs. Songs like America, Kathy’s Song, Bridge Over Troubled Water and Slip Slidin’ Away resonate so strongly with me and my life. I can cry at one of these songs at the drop of a hat and the next moment be laughing and smiling at the 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Goovy) or wanting to spin around and dance with Me and Julio Down By the Schoolyard or Kodachrome.

In 2003 I was blessed with the opportunity of seeing them live in concert! It was a costly ticket but well worth it to attend and enjoy the experience with my mom, who without her I am not sure I would have the same love for Paul and Art.

Vicki Stankewicz

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Business Better Left Unfinished...

I have a long list of my favorite things I’ve never finished. A very fine copy of “Gravity’s Rainbow” is gathering dust, a bookmark stranded somewhere in the middle of Part I. Metroid Prime is sitting inside my Gamecube’s disk drive, awaiting the defeat of the final titular antagonist. In my fridge, a growing pile of undeveloped Fuji Reala film canisters is starting to overtake the nearby package of soy cheese. It’ll all be finished one of these days.
Somewhere near the top of my unfinished list is Mark Danielewski. Danielewski is the kind of literary aberration that only comes once in a great while, silently slipping his genius in between the wash of disposable contemporary novelists. In fact, it wasn’t until five years after the publication that I found the volume that reigns supreme on my list: House of Leaves. Once I discovered it, however, rarely did a month ever pass without it being abducted from the fiction stacks by yours truly.

House of Leaves follows in the Ergodic tradition of being a wolf in sheep’s clothing. On the surface (read: on the book jacket) it seems so foolishly simple, but once the spine is cracked, the deeper implications become apparent.

House of Leaves follows a multitude of plots and a whole host of characters.
The book is disguised as an academic paper by “Zampano”, a blind researcher writing on the symbolic and historical implications of “The Navidson Record”. The Navidson Record is apparently an obscure documentary about Navidson, an award-winning documenter who has discovered that there’s something odd about the spatial dimensions of his new home. Navidson’s ensuing video documentary, in raw, messy and unbridled steps, begins to bring light to the fact that this house is bigger inside than it is outside. Something is growing in the unnoticed corners- stretched hallways, new doors, an unquenchable blackness.

As the book progresses, however, footnotes begin to appear that have been written by someone else: Johnny Truant, a young lowlife who happened to take Zampano’s manuscript after his death. As the manuscript details the horror of Navidson’s great and empty house, Truant weaves in his tale of his own unraveling sanity. One story echoes another, and soon it is all but impossible to discern one from the other. Footnotes lead to other footnotes which lead to notes hidden in the margins- which in turn refer to volumes and volumes of research- some of which don’t even exist. Each footnote adds a story, an idea, a snippet of a thought.

The effect is disconcerting- where does the academic nature of the work end, and where does the fiction begin? Terrifyingly enough, many of the references in the book are real. Danielewski draws us into the madness with this- the line between fiction and nonfiction is lost in the fine print. Is it a horror story? An analogy of the breakdown of the American nuclear family? A satire on the nature of research documentation? An experiment in typographical style? Each time I read it, it takes on a new face.

A patron once said to me that Finnegans Wake, like the Bible, is one of those books one is never finished reading. The deeper I delve into House of Leaves, the more I feel it is another of the same type. Behind each door is a winding hallway of possibilities and ideas; each exploration unveils another twist, another detail. House of Leaves is less a novel than it is an enigma. It is a multi-faceted artifact that begs us not to complete it in a sitting or a week or a month, but to explore it. It is one of the few books that should remain unfinished for a long time, so that we may better explore its branching caverns and savor each line of its calculated madness. It’s so good that I hope I never finish it.

Nick Garcia

Monday, April 09, 2007

The Time Traveler's Wife

One of my absolute favorite parts of this job is hosting book discussions. We have the most intriguing conversations (sometimes about the book and sometimes not). Tonight we discussed Audrey Niffenegger's The Time Traveler's Wife and all of its literary goodness. I actually read the book a couple of years ago and opted not to re-read all 500+ pages of it for this discussion, but it's been a favorite of mine ever since. The book is simultaneously told from the perspective of Henry, a librarian at the Newberry Library in Chicago who has a genetic disorder that causes him to time travel into various points of his own life, and his wife, Clare.

When asked if this book was written specifically with women or men in mind, Rhonda, a thirty-something regular book club attendee, commented that her husband would read this book. "Well, actually," Rhonda clarifies, "not my real husband, but my imaginary husband who lives in my mind would read this book and he would love it!" The women in the room broke out in a fit of laughter because we all seem to have (or have had) both real husbands and imaginary ones who reside only in our minds. My imaginary husband is cleaning the kitchen as I type this. My real husband is watching The Sopranos on cable.

Allison Beasley

Wednesday, April 04, 2007


When people think of marshmallow Peeps, people think Vicki Stankewicz.

I have always loved getting Peeps in my Easter basket so imagine my delight when I found out they started doing Peeps for all seasons! A lot of people don’t realize that you can get Christmas trees, Halloween bats and pumpkins, Valentine hearts and Fourth of July stars all year round. According to the folks at Just Born, Inc. – Peeps are always in season!

In 2003 Peeps celebrated their 50th anniversary by converting two school buses into what I call Peepmobiles. There was a giant Peep atop the bus and the inside was a mini museum. I had the good fortune of tracking down the Peepmobile in Tinley Park where they stopped for a scheduled visit in front of the K-Mart. I wish they would have kept touring because it was so much fun.

I love finding anything Peep related in the stores. I find that JoAnn Fabrics and Target are especially Peep friendly. Both carry Peep merchandise other than the candy. Target is extra special because they have exclusive rights to red Peeps.

New this year in all stores is the color green which was added to blue, purple, yellow, pink and white.

So, next time you eat a Peep, see them at the store or anywhere else - think of me.

Be sure to check out our Flickr page that has pictures of the Peeps visiting the Kankakee Public Library.