Simon Says …

I am always astonished by all the science that takes place in the town of Falmouth, thanks to all of our scientific institutions. Recently I met Simon Ryder-Burbidge who is a guest student at WHOI. He and his colleagues are conducting a survey to understand how the community of Falmouth experiences “connection” to the ocean. They want to build a model for the design of community-based ocean policy, and they need your help! The survey is daunting at first, but as Simon tells me: ” It was a difficult balance to make it a manageable length without losing too much.” However, he also shares: “That being said, I’ve been very impressed by the level of participation so far. Some of the open-ended responses have been an absolute joy to read, and others very informative. People have been really generous with their time, and I do feel that something good is growing here.”

Simon and his colleagues are only looking for Falmouth residents, but Heather Goldstone, of WCAI, is also interested in your ocean stories. She writes: “Wherever you’re from, tell us your best ocean story. Throughout the summer, Living Lab Radio will be featuring your tales of ocean connections. E-mail a brief version of your story and your contact information to Living Lab Radio, or leave us a voicemail at (508) 289-1285.”

So you have two great opportunities to tell the world what the ocean means to you! You can find Simon’s survey for resident’s of Falmouth at www.lowlanderpress.com. As long as I was chatting with Simon, I also thought I’d ask him if he had any favorite books about the ocean, and this is what he told me:

“As for books, I have really been enjoying one called Cod by Mark Kurlansky (very locally relevant) at current. Blowing my mind about once per chapter so far.
Another one I really liked was Sex in the Sea by Marah Hardt. Some crazy stuff going on under the water. “
The full titles are Cod:  A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World and Sex in the Sea: Our Intimate Connection with Kinky Crustaceans, SexChanging Fish, Romantic Lobsters and Other Salty Erotica. Try some ocean reading to get you in the mood for filling out a survey or telling your ocean story!
Jill Erickson
Head of Reference & Adult Services

Books About Boats on WCAI

This morning was pledge drive at WCAI, so the book show was a little bit shorter than normal, but we had lots of calls! Thanks to all of you who called with your boat book suggestions! There was so little time and so many calls, that both Vicky and I are going to give you some bonus books in today’s book blog. If you missed the show, not to worry, you can listen online!

 

Mindy’s Pick

How I Became a Pirate written by Melinda Long, illustrated by David Shannon

 

Vicky’s Picks

Wooden Boats: In Pursuit of the Perfect Craft at an American Boatyard by Michael Ruhlman.   About the boatyard of Nat Benjamin and Ross Gannon on Martha’s Vineyard.

Herreshoff: American Masterpieces by Maynard Bray, Claus Van Der Linde and photos by Benjamin Mendlowitz

The Lazarus World Voyage: A Hurricane Wreck Circumnavigates the Globe by Tim Sperry.  5 young men, most from Marion, Mass. who sail around the world.

The Boat Who Wouldn’t Float by Farley Mowathilarious!

In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex by Nathaniel Philbrick

Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown

Spartina by John Casey

Not enough time for:

Brilliant Beacons: A History of the American Lighthouse by Eric Jay Dolin

Crossing the Bar: The Adventures of a San Francisco Bay Bar Pilot by Captain Paul Lobo.  Captain Lobo lives part of the year in Falmouth.

Ninety Percent of Everything Inside Shipping, the Invisible Industry That Puts Clothes on Your Back, Gas in Your Car, and Food on Your Plate by Rose George

Two Coots in a Canoe: An Unusual Story of Friendship by David Morine

A Path in the Mighty Waters: Shipboard Life & Atlantic Crossings to the New World by Stephen R. Berry

First You Have to Row a Little Boat: Reflections on Life and Living by Richard Bode

Children’s Books

Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus – based on the true story of Manjiro, a 14 year old Japanese boy who was shipwrecked in 1841 and picked up by an American whaling ship whose captain was from Fairhaven

A Storm Without Rain by Jan Adkins – 15 year old boy from Buzzards Bay goes back in time and meets his grandfather.

Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome – Classic! (I had this on my list too! Jill)

 

Jill’s Picks

Stuart Little by E. B. White (Particularly chapters VI, VII, and XIV.)

Schooner: building a wooden boat on Martha’s Vineyard by Tom Dunlop, photographs by Alison Shaw

Tinkerbelle by Robert Manry

Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog!) by Jerome K. Jerome

The Green Ray  by Jules Verne

Hemingway’s Boat: everything he loved in life, and lost, 1934-1961. (p. 56 mentions his trip to Cape Cod & Nantucket)

Food at Sea: shipboard cuisine from ancient to modern times by Simon Spalding

NOT ENOUGH TIME FOR

“The Sea and the Wind That Blows” essay by E.B. White in Essays of E.B. White. The first sentence: “Waking or sleeping, I dream of boats — usually of rather small boats under a slight press of sail.”

A Unit of Water, A Unit of Time: Joel White’s Last Boat by Douglas Whynott

Uncommon Carriers by John McPhee

A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers by Henry David Thoreau

On the Water: Discovering America in a Rowboat by Nathaniel Stone

Images of America: Steamboats to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket by William H. Ewen Jr.

Little Pig Saves the Ship by David Hyde Costello

 

LISTENER PICKS

Sailing Alone Around the World by Joshua Slocum

The Endurance: Shackleton’s legendary Antarctic expedition by Caroline Alexander

The Adventures of Onyx and the Fight Against the Falls by Tyler Benson

Patrick O’Brian Aubrey/Maturin series. Here is the order.

Captains Courageous by Rudyard Kipling

10,000 Leagues Over the Sea by William Albert Robinson

Voyages to Galapagos by William Albert Robinson

Horatio Hornblower novels by C.S. Forester. Dan Tritle tells us the character of Captain Kirk was based on the character of Hornblower!

 

 

Summer Reading on The Point

On today’s radio book show on The Point on WCAI we talked about great books for summer reading, if you have time for summer reading. If not, hold on to our suggestions until the autumn! Mindy Todd was joined by Jill Erickson, Head of Reference and Adult Services at the Falmouth Public Library and Jennifer Gaines, librarian at the Woods Hole Library. Thanks to all of our many callers, with all of your great book suggestions!

Our Books & Authors Festival will feature 16 authors over 8 weeks with 11 events! Authors include Robert Finch, Ellen Herrick, Patrick Dacey, Anne LeClair, and Anita Diamant! You can see all the details here! Geoff Wisner will be here on August 2nd, and you can read more about his visit and Thoreau’s 200th anniversary here.

Mindy’s Picks

Beyond the Bright Sea and Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk

 

Jennifer’s Picks

Summer World: a season of bounty by Bernd Heinrich

Population: 485, meeting your neighbors one siren at a time by Michael Perry

Coop: a year of poultry, pigs, and parenting by Michael Perry

Eels: an exploration, from New Zealand to the Sargasso, of the world’s most amazing and mysterious fish by James Prosek

The Boys in the Boat:nine Americans and their epic quest for gold at the 1936 Olympics  by D. J. Brown

House on Crooked Pond by M. L. Shafer

The Children of Green Knowe by L. M. Brown. The first in a series of six books.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Nantucket Summer by Leila Howland. Contains Nantucket Red and Nantucket Blue in one volume.

Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson. Here’s more information on the Woods Hole Library Summer Book Club, Social Justice.

 

Jill’s Picks

Art of the National Parks by Jean Stern, Susan Hallsten McGarry, and Terry Lawson Dunn

The Outer Beach: a thousand-mile walk on Cape Cod’s Atlantic Shore by Robert Finch.

The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry

“The Fall River Axe Murders” by Angela Carter in Saints and Strangers and in her Burning Your Boats: the collected short stories.

See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt. Tinder Press edition now available.

Home Made Summer by Yvette Van Boven

Thoreau’s Wildflowers by Henry David Thoreau, edited by Geoff Wisner, with drawings by Barry Moser

Thoreau’s Animals by Henry David Thoreau, edited by Geoff Wisner, illustrated by Debby Cotter Kaspari

The Shark Club by Ann Kidd Taylor

Picture Books:

Duck’s Vacation by Gilad Soffer

Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall (And this supplies the illustration for this blog!)

The Storm by Akiko Miyakoshi

Listener Picks

Y is for Yesterday by Sue Grafton. Put in your hold now! Due out August 22nd.

My Struggle. Book One. by Karl Ove Knausgaard

The Hate u Give by Angie Thomas

Ruthless River by Holly Conklin FitzGerald

Bless Me Mother: how church leaders fail women by Finbarr M. Corr

The News from the End of the World by Emily Jeanne Miller

Edgar & Lucy by Victor Lodato

The Rent Collector by Camron Wright

Monticello: a daughter and her father by Sally Gunning

The Nature of Cape Cod by Beth Schwarzman

International Labor Day Posters Exhibit

The Falmouth Public Library is one of three Cape libraries hosting an exhibit of international labor day posters which will give you a taste of May Day from around the world during the month of May.

May Day, the first of May is known throughout much of the world as the day for workers. It is celebrated in over one hundred countries by workers and trade unions. In most countries, the celebrations are not about military parades, but rather about highlighting the struggles workers are going through. It is not a recognized holiday in the US and Canada. Instead these two countries celebrate Labor Day. The reason for this is that the celebration of May Day was linked to Communism, Socialism, militant workers and other activists who fought for improving the lot of workers. The irony of this is that the movement of celebrating May Day as a workers holiday emanated from the US. A national strike was called for May 1, 1886, if Congress did not pass legislation shortening the work day to eight hours. On May 1, 60,000 workers went on strike in Chicago. The movement spread worldwide. The struggle for the 8-hour day was realized years later.

The exhibit is interesting as graphic art, and as culture and political history. Artists may appreciate the ways a similar theme is depicted in different countries and cultures. Lewis has made the foreign language posters more accessible by including information, including the translation of key phrases. Historians can see what social and political changes were being advocated for in different countries at different times. Activists can see some of their favorite causes, including the celebration of May Day itself in these posters. One example of interest Lewis points out is the difference between the tame language in the Liechtenstein posters, where workers are generally treated well, and the much more militant language in posters from countries like El Salvador, where labor unions are severely repressed.

Stephen Lewis is exhibiting May Day posters at the Falmouth, Mashpee and Bourne public libraries. Lewis has numerous May Day posters that he has collected, from France, Spain, Namibia, Australia, Denmark, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Cuba, Germany and Liechtenstein to name only a few.

This project is supported in part by grants from the Falmouth and Mashpee Cultural Councils, local agencies which are supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and by a number of labor unions including Roofers Local 33, Asbestos Workers Local 6, IBEW Local 103, Painters DC 35 and Laborer’s Local 1249 in memory of Norman P. Thayer.

Lewis has a collection of 6,400 posters which he exhibits regularly around Massachusetts. He can be reached by email: lewisposters@gmail.com

 

Books of Ireland for a Green Spring Day

Today’s The Point with Mindy Todd on WCAI featured books about Ireland and by Irish authors. We think all of today’s Spring green was a perfect setting for Irish books. Joining Jill Erickson, Head of Reference & Adult Services, was Vicki Titcomb of Titcomb’s Bookshop in East Sandwich. What a pleasure it was to have Vicki back in the studio with us! And if you missed the show this morning, you can listen online.

I did have a few updates on past shows this morning. Thanks again to the anonymous donor who brought me six paperback copies of Josephine Tey mysteries, after I mentioned I had not read them, last February when we did the mystery book show with Jennifer Gaines of the Woods Hole Library. I have now begun to read Josephine Tey, and very much enjoyed reading Miss Pym Disposes.

Last month, when we were talking about bird books, I had mentioned a novel that I had not yet read nor even seen, but had learned about via Twitter! It was published in Australia, and thus was a bit tricky to find a copy. However, I now have read The Birdman’s Wife by Melissa Ashley, a very beautiful and moving novel about Elizabeth Gould, wife of ornithologist John Gould. Thanks to the Biodiversity Heritage Library you can see many of her bird paintings on Flickr! The novel is also chock full of details about painting and science, childbirth, and most especially the collecting of birds to identify new species. It also is a particularly beautiful book, with fabulous endpapers and jacket and even the paper is lovely, all thanks to Affirm Press, as they say on their web page: “an independent Melbourne-based publisher dedicated to publishing great Australian stories, big ideas, and the most engaging local and international authors.” The novel is now available at the Falmouth Public Library, and I hope soon will be picked up by an American publisher! If you want your very own copy, you currently can purchase a copy via Book Depository. As they describe themselves on their web page: Book Depository is “the world’s leading specialist online bookstore. We’re proud to offer over 17 million titles, all at unbeatable prices with free delivery worldwide to over 100 countries.”

So here are the lists, and now I have to go do my reference librarian homework, and see if Frank Zappa really was the first to say: “So many books, so little time.”

Vicki’s Picks

Opened Ground Selected Poems, 1966-1966 by Seamus Heaney “Digging”
Collected Stories by Frank O’Connor
Galway Bay by Mary Pat Kelly
In the Woods by Tana French
The Green Road by Anne Enright
Circle of Friends by Maeve Binchy
The Princes of Ireland: the Dublin Saga by Edward Rutherford
Saints for All Occasions by J. Courtney Sullivan
Eggshells by Caitriona Lally
An Irish Doctor in Love and at Sea by Patrick Taylor

Didn’t cover, but really wanted to:

The Immortal Irishman: the Irish Revolutionary who Became an American Hero by Timothy Egan

Jill’s Picks

A Journey with Two Maps: becoming a woman poet by Eavan Boland
The Search for Missing Friends: Irish immigrant advertisements placed in the Boston Pilot
Saints and Sinners by Edna O’Brien (or any collection of Edna O’Brien stories)
The Springs of Affection: stories of Dublin by Maeve Brennan (or any collection of Maeve Brennan stories)
An Irish Country Doctor by Patrick Taylor
Walking in Ireland: 50 walks through the heart and soul of Ireland by Christopher Somerville
Irish Travellers: the unsettled life by Sharon Bohn Gmelch & George Gmelch

Listener Picks

A Shocking Assassination by Cora Harrison
The Trick of the Ga Bolga by Patrick McGinley

Bird Books on The Point

Today was the monthly  WCAI book show with Mindy Todd on The Point. We hope you got to hear Dennis Minsky  and Jill Erickson talk about bird books. We had such big piles of bird books, we think we’ll be doing another bird book show in the fall! Sorry we were pre-recorded today, so you couldn’t call in with your favorites, but if you have a favorite bird book, please add a comment to our list! Miss the show? You can listen here!

 

Dennis’s Picks

Ode to a Nightingale” by John Keats

The Kookaburas” and “White Owl Flies Into and Out of the Field” from House of Light by Mary Oliver

Mind of the Raven by Bernd Heinrich

The Genius of Birds by Jennifer Ackerman

Birdscapes: birds in our imagination and experience by Jeremy Mynott

Wesley the Owl: the remarkable love story of an owl and his girl by Stacey O’Brien

The Peregrine by J. A. Baker

The Running Sky by Tim Dee

 

Jill’s Picks

The Eponym Dictionary of Birds by Bo Beolens, Michael Watkins, and Michael Grayson

Bright Wings: an illustrated anthology of poems about birds edited by Billy Collins with paintings by David Allen Sibley (Includes Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird by Wallace Stevens

The Birdman’s Wife by Melissa Ashley. Nominated for the Australian Book Industry Award for Fiction.

John Gould’s Birds, with a biographical introduction by Maureen Lambourne

A Convergence of Birds, edited & introduced by Joanthan Safran Foer

Joseph Cornell’s Manual of Marvels: how Joseph Cornell reinvented a French agricultural manual to create an American masterpiece

Mr. Cornell’s Dream Boxes by Jeanette Winter

Birds Art Life: a year of observation by Kyo Maclear

A Year of Falmouth Birds by Craig Gibson, photographer

 

 

 

Resources for Verifying News

Last night, we had a great discussion about fake news, media literacy, and the role of the public library to help people find reliable sources. Big thanks to Sean Corcoran and Allison Butler for leading the discussion, and to FCTV for streaming the program live to Channel 13. I also would like to thank the audience for all of their participation and thoughtful comments and questions.  I hope everyone learned a little bit more about how to identify reliable news sources.  At the bottom of this blog, you will see a list of online news resources and ways to improve your media literacy.

I began the evening with a few quotations:

“The highest purpose of the library is to serve as the armory of the truth, to defend it against lies that serve the powerful.” John Overholt, Curator of Early Modern Books and Manuscripts, Houghton Library, Harvard University.

“Google can bring you back 100,000 answers. A librarian can bring you back the right one.” Neil Gaiman

“When Oxford Dictionaries announce post-truth is Word of the Year 2016, we as librarians realise action is needed to educate and advocate for critical thinking — a crucial skill when navigating the information society.” IFLA, the International Federation of Library Associations

“Standing up for our values also means, as we all surely know, that we must be especially careful to provide the highest level and quality of service to people and communities who see the world differently, and who maybe aren’t unhappy about the new direction of the country.

Indeed, the American Library Association Code of Ethics states: ‘We distinguish between our personal convictions and professional duties and do not allow our personal beliefs to interfere with fair representation of the aims of our institutions or the provision of access to their information resources.” That’s not always easy or comfortable, it’s just crucial because it’s everyone’s library. We absolutely cannot afford to start eroding confidence in who we are and what we do.” Joseph Janes, Library Journal, March/April 2017

And for those of you interested in the erroneous Moby-Dick quotation about cranberries that I mentioned last night, you can read my blog on this here. And as a bonus, my blog on an erroneous Scott F. Fitzgerald quotation! (And do read the comments at the bottom of that blog entry! We even were mentioned on a blog created in New Zealand!)

All of the resources below will help you with your media literacy skills and give you a hand identifying true news from untrue news. And remember, you can always ask a reference librarian for more help!


Center for News Literacy: Stony Brook University School of Journalism. It is designed to help students develop critical thinking skills in order to judge the reliability and credibility of information, whether it comes via print, television or the Internet.

Factcheck.org: A Project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center

Fighting Fake News, and article by Marcus Banks from American Libraries Magazine

How to Spot Fake News from IFLA (International Federation of Library Associations)

Indiana University East Campus Library: How to identify and avoid fake news

Mass Media Literacy: Their mission is to ensure that all Massachusetts students are taught the critical thinking skills needed to engage with media as active and informed participants in the 21st century.

Massachusetts Library System Fake News Resources

The News Literacy Project: a nonpartisan national education nonprofit that works with educators and journalists to teach middle school and high school students how to sort fact from fiction in the digital age.

Snopes: a small staff of researchers and writers dedicated to investigating and analyzing rumors.

Storytellers Without Borders, a partnership between The Dallas Morning News and the Dallas Public Library

The Trust Project at Santa Clara University

You might also be interested in this six volume set of books in the Reference Room: Encyclopedia of Journalism, General Editor, Christopher H. Sterling. Of particular interest, the section on “Self-Regulation” which includes a history of news scandals.

 

Notice from Lynda.com

Lynda.com users impacted by data breach in December 2016

The Lynda.com security team determined that an unauthorized third party breached a database that included information about our Lynda.com users. Certain user information, like learning history, was exposed. Any users who had email addresses or passwords exposed were notified directly by Lynda.com in December 2016. For the small percentage of users who had cryptographically salted and hashed passwords exposed, Lynda.com invalidated their passwords and required that they create new ones. There is no evidence that any of this data has been made publicly available.

If you have questions, we encourage you to contact Lynda.com through their Support Center.

Mysteries on The Point!

Today on The Point we talked about mysteries! If you missed the show, you can listen online. By the way, the great photo that WCAI used to illustrate the radio show was taken from the back cover of Killer Verse: poems of murder and mayhem. Jennifer Gaines of the Woods Hole Library (and enthusiastic mystery reader) joined Mindy Todd and Jill Erickson for a lively discussion on what a mystery is and why one kind of mystery appeals to one person and not another, not to mention the plight of a library cataloger trying to decide where to SHELVE a novel that might be a mystery and might not.

Jennifer asked if we could post our mystery lists, and they are now posted! The lists include Stand-Alone Mysteries, Mystery Series Set in Foreign Cultures, and Mysteries Set in the United States.

I mentioned the Twitter conversation with Neil Gaiman‘s twitter followers, which began here, and then continued over here. And thus began a cataloging conversation for the ages between an international world of public and academic librarians, and just readers who love Neil Gaiman. As Susan Wyndham commented: “Great question, great discussion. Can we have librarians unleash Dewey knowledge every week? Are there other tricky books?” To which Mr. Gaiman wrote: “probably another question for the librarians.” The conversation itself surrounded Gaiman’s newest book Norse Mythologyand you will see in the link that we have decided to put one copy in fiction and one copy in non-fiction.

But I digress! The real discussion was about how deeply librarians care about where to put mysteries, and thus what IS a mystery, and also some great books about mysteries. The list of books discussed are below. We hope you enjoyed the show! We did!

 

Jennifer’s Picks

MYSTERIES, American in which winter weather figures heavily:

William Kent  Krueger:  character Cork O’Connor in Minnesota;

Julia Spencer-Fleming:    “novels of faith, murder, and suspense” Characters Rev’d Clare Ferguson & police Chief  Russ Van Alstyne, upstate New York, town in the farm and factory land nestled against the Adirondacks, In the Bleak Mid-Winter, etc.

MYSTERIES, Canadian:

Louise Penny: province of Quebec, village of Three Pines

MYSTERIES/Thrillers, Scandinavian Noir

(Sweden) Hennig Mankell, Kurt Wallender series; Steig Larsson, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, etc.

(Norway) Jo NesboKarin Fossum

(Iceland) Arnaldur Indridason

(Denmark) Peter Høeg , Smilla’s Sense of Snow

MYSTERIES, Travel Destinations

Cara Black: Paris

Martin Walker: South of France, the Dordogne with his Bruno, Chief of Police

Donna Leon: Venice

Janwillem Van de Wetering: Amsterdam

MYSTERIES, crossed with historical fiction

Jacqueline Winspear: Maisie Dobbs, mostly WW1, English nurse

Todd, Charles: Bess Crawford, WW1 battlefield English nurse (also Inspector Rutledge) “vivid period mystery series” (New York Times Book Review)

Kuhns, Eleanor: Will Rees, weaver, Shaker communities, 1790’s

King, Laurie R.: Mary Russell/ Sherlock Holmes

MYSTERIES, Cape Cod and the Islands  There are lots, but these are the ones we talked about:

Craig, Philip:  The Vineyard, fishing derby, Z

Phoebe Atwood Taylor, Cape Cod in the 1920’s, sleuth Asey Mayo charges along the sandy back roads of the Cape in his roadster

MYSTERY, LIBRARIES (who knew?)

Jenn McKinlay: Due or Die

 

 

Jill’s Picks

The Readers’ Advisory Guide to Mystery by John Charles, Candace Clark, Joanne Hamilton-Selway, and Joanna Morrison. (See how many people it takes to describe what a mystery is!)

The Encyclopedia of Murder and Mystery by Bruce F. Murphy

Arthur and Sherlock: Conan Doyle and the Creation of Holmes by Michael Sims

On Conan Doyle or, The Whole Art of Storytelling by Michael Dirda

Buried Angels by Camilla Lackberg (And the Wellfleet copy is back! And copy should be available very soon!)

Killer Verse: poems of murder and mayhem edited by Harold Schechter and Kurt Brown

Pistols and Petticoats: 175 years of lady detectives in fact and fiction by Erika Janik

Women Crime Writers. Four Suspense Novels of the 1940s edited by Sarah Weinman

Women Crime Writers. Four Suspense Novels of the 1950s edited by Sarah Weinman

The Arvon Book of Crime and Thriller Writing by Michelle Spring and Laurie R. King

The Strand Magazine (Feb.-May 2016 issue has interview with Mark Gatiss, co-creator of Sherlock.)

Listener Picks

Louise Penny mysteries. The first one in the series is Still Life.

Michael Connelly mysteries. The first one in the series is The Black Echo.

Friday Reads: All the Old Knives

This month the FPL Fiction Book Club read an espionage novel entitled All the Old Knives by Olen Steinhauer. This is the fifth espionage novel we have read in a six-month series that began with Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent and will end next month with Swimmer by Joakim Zander. One of the first questions, which I was not able to answer the day we discussed the book, was where does the title come from? We all knew about the idea of someone stabbing you in the back, but not about the old knives part. So, after a little investigation, I discovered that in fact this is a quotation by Phædrus from his Fables. It is translated as: “All the old knives that have rusted in my back, I drive in yours.” (By the way, Phædrus also gave us “to add insult to injury.”) Another quotation related question was what was “that old Stalin quote about tragedies and statistics” that is mentioned in the book. That quotation is attributed to Stalin and it is: “A single death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic.”

The most interesting thing to me, as the one person who attends both the Wednesday evening group and the Thursday morning group, was how radically different the two groups responded to the same book! The Wednesday evening group LOVED the book, and the Thursday morning group thought the author (who said it took him just a month to write the novel) should have done at least one more rewrite!

The plot is extraordinarily timely as it involves two CIA officers in Vienna, Henry Pelham and Celia Harrison, who were lovers at the time of a hostage crisis. Celia leaves the CIA and ends up in Carmel-by-the-Sea and Henry has tracked her down to see her one more time, to relive the past, maybe, or to put it behind him once and for all. Most of the novel takes place at a dinner at a restaurant in Carmel-by-the-Sea and the point of view switches between Henry and Celia. The author had the idea of setting this thriller at a restaurant after he watched the Masterpiece dramatization of Christopher Reid’s poem The Song of Lunch, which starred Alan Rickman and Emma Thompson. As he writes in the introduction to the book: “I wondered if I could write an espionage tale that took place entirely around a restaurant table.”

The people that loved the book, loved the pacing, and the story, and the fact that it was a quick read. The people who loathed the book thought there wasn’t enough story, the changing of point of view was too confusing, the character of Celia was unbelievable, and the prose wasn’t engaging enough. EVERYONE agreed that the ending was superb!! This novel is soon to be a major motion picture, so we are all waiting to see how the movie will differ from the novel.

The next meeting of the FPL Fiction Book Club will be March 15th at 7:00 PM or March 16th at 10:00 AM. The book we will be discussing is Swimmer by Joakim Zander, and you can pick up a copy at the Reference Desk.