Category Archives: Library Programs

Upcoming Author Talks at LFPL

Bestselling author and historian

H.W. Brands

brandshw

Main Library, Monday, June 15, 7 p.m.

Join bestselling author and historian H.W. Brands for a discussion of his latest book Reagan: The Life. Brands teaches history and writing at the University of Texas at Austin. #LFPLAuthors

This is a free event, but tickets are required – click here.


Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist

David Hoffman

hoffman

Main Library, Thursday, July 21, 7 p.m.

Join Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist David Hoffman for a discussion of his latest book The Billion Dollar Spy. Hoffman is a contributing editor at The Washington Post. #LFPLAuthors

Tickets available starting June 1, 2015.


Miss an author event, or just want to enjoy a presentation again?

Listen to the podcast or Watch it online

Authors at the Library
Welcome to LFPL’s “At the Library” series, an ongoing podcast featuring author talks, programs and events at the Louisville Free Public Library.

Subscribe to this podcast Subscribe with iTunes

In Defense of Comics, pt. 3

I had originally intended this segment to be a discussion of how comics can be differentiated from other visual arts but points in my original post have generated some very good questions from readers that should be addressed first.

The questions all refer back to the following statement:

“Comics are not just for kids and never really were except for those with some deep investment in an arbitrary highbrow/lowbrow distinction. This distinction is one based on historically constructed relations that give privilege to very debatable aesthetic principles.” (Buchanan, 2014)

You’ll notice that this paragraph is – primarily – composed of two assertions, one about the appropriateness of comics to any particular age group and another about the standards for judging a form of art.  The latter point also expressly questions such standards based on an – ancillary – investigation into how such standards are derived (or rather, constructed).  Implied in the standards are further questions regarding the nature of this “authority” (i.e., what fits a certain category of art, who can or should enforce standards for the categories, etc.).

Let’s look at the first assumption, often expressed by critics of comics as some variation of “comics are just for children,” and how it fails to hold up as something other there than a pat dismissal of the art form.

For the sake of discussion, let’s define comics quickly as publications that tell stories with pictures on paper using pencil and/or ink that may or may not incorporate words.  It’s not the only – or even best – definition but it conforms well to the general understanding of what makes a comic.  In the West, broadsides and their descendants, mass publication newspapers, have included such stories – either editorial or entertaining – in some form since the 18th Century.

These information outlets have hardly been within the purview of children in that time.  Other than following the comics page, children have used newspapers mostly for mandatory research into a current or historical event for class.  With the rise of the Internet, even the modern media-savvy child is less likely to read the printed newspaper than ever before.  Further, children’s input into mass publication newspapers has rarely extended beyond the comics page.  Only a few features such as comics page war-horse Slylock Fox have solicited input from and encouraged participation by kids.

Mass publication newspapers are owned by, created by, and published for adults.  As cartoons (and comic strips) have been a staple of newspapers for over 200 years, it would indicate that they are deemed appropriate for adults.  The function of the comic strip was to leaven serious publications with some light-hearted fun, helping to increase circulation.  It is this aspect of joviality that gave the comic its name, separating it from the more serious (in intent) “cartoon.”

The evolution of the comic strip to the comic book was tied to the fortunes of the newspaper in the era between the First and Second World Wars.  The earliest comic books were simply republications of strips in a different format.  The first monthly comic book, Comics Monthly, was published in 1922. It lasted for 12 issues and reprinted various comic strips from 1921. During the Great Depression, publishers even created comic books for give-away just to keep their very expensive printing presses running.

Traditional comic books have been consumed by adults continuously since 1920’s.  During World War II, about 44% of servicemen read comics regularly and another 13% read them occasionally. (Gordon, 1998, p. 139)  According to the U.S. War Department, comics accounted for approximately 25% of all printed materials sent overseas to soldiers in 1944. (Gordon, 1998, p. 140)  Figures for comic book readers over the years are notoriously hard to pin down but adults have become the dominant demographic as generations of comic fans have grown older and continue to read them.

So why were comics supposedly just for children?

Looking back to the period before World War II when this cultural attitude took root, the newspaper was often considered a lower form of information than literature or scholarly studies.  It was literally disposable.  Comic strips – one of the least important features – were especially ephemeral, viewed by many as nothing that an adult would think twice about.

Even the stand alone comic book was thought to be a cheap publication akin to pulp magazines rather than a proper book.  The lurid or gaudy figures that dominated comics in those days – private detectives, action adventurers, funny animals, and superheroes – were deemed inappropriate for “literature.”  The stories were seen as less coherent and less meaningful, as something that appealed to the under-developed tastes of children.

Further comics were under attack during the late 1940’s to early 1950’s.  The attacks were part of a general paranoia about the rising demographic of the “teen” and its potential delinquency.  It culminated in the Comics Code Authority, a self-regulating board for the comics industry, which enforced a series of rules which guaranteed that comics in the U.S. would be suitable for children.  Unfortunately, the industry was also stifled from developing for many years, so much so that mainstream comics ended up reinforcing the idea of the art form being “just for children.”

How this all changed is something for another article, though.

If you would like to talk about comics further, please join us for the Graphic Novel Discussion Group at the Main Library. The next meeting will take place tomorrow, May 11th, at 6:00 PM.

GraphicNovelGroup_Planetary_Main

______________________________________________________________________________

Works Cited:

Buchanan, A. (2014, September 25). In Defense of Comics. Retrieved May 10, 2015, from http://blogs.lfpl.org/readers/734/

Gordon, I. (1998). Comic Strips and Consumer Culture, 1890-1945. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press.

 Article by Tony, Main Library

Alexander McCall Smith is coming to LFPL

AMS

New York Times bestselling author of The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series

Alexander McCall Smith

Main Library, Thursday, April 9, 7 p.m.

Join author Alexander McCall Smith for a discussion of his latest book Emma—a retelling of Jane Austen’s classic story, with a modern-day twist. #LFPLAuthors

This is a free event, but tickets are required – click here.


Authors at the Library podcast

Miss an author event, or just want to enjoy a presentation again?

In Defense of Comics

Some – as I will call him – Random Dude recently told me, “Why don’t you read a real book?  You’re an adult, aren’t you?”  This person overheard me discussing a graphic novel with a friend and felt compelled to be a jerk, it would seem.  Jerk?  Yes, I wrote that (and wished I had said it to him rather than pointedly staring until he walked away).

The guy is a jerk for two reasons:

  1. Comics are real books. They’re not “texts” in the manner understood by structuralism where narrative can exist outside of a formal literary manifestation (common examples in structuralist writings are cinema, music, or art).  Comics have clear “beginning, middle, and end” structure and are created with an eye for some form of codex.  Even web-comics typically mimic either the comic strip or the comic book or are repackaged as such for general consumption once obtaining enough popularity to be commercially viable.
  1. Comics are not just for kids and never really were except for those with some deep investment in an arbitrary highbrow/lowbrow distinction. This distinction is one based on historically constructed relations that give privilege to very debatable aesthetic principles.

Long gone are the days when it could reasonably be said that a culture is only developed and leaves its legacy in the rarefied fields of arts and literature.  Comics, film, video games, and other pop culture artifacts are not just effluvia that can be ignored.  They shape and reflect the contours of modern society, like it or not.

The French have considered comics to be a “ninth art” (following architecture, sculpture, painting, dance, music, poetry, cinema, and television) for the past fifty years.  The term arises from a series of articles starting in 1964 by Maurice De Bevere (known by his pseudonym Morris) in the French weekly Spirou.  While Morris questioned whether comics should be considered the ninth or the seventh art (as cinema and television developed after comics), the term became accepted widely in France.

One of the largest comic conventions in the world, the Angoulême International Comics Festival, has been held every year in Angouleme, France since 1974.  The prestigious Grand Prix de la ville d’Angoulême prize is awarded at the Festival to creators for their body of work and/or contribution to the development of comics. This year’s recipient is Bill Watterson.  He is, of course, the reclusive creator of the beloved Calvin and Hobbes comic strip.

Another example closer to home is actually a very old one at this point.  In 2001, Michael Chabon won the Pulitzer Prize “for distinguished fiction by an American author, preferably dealing with American life” for his work, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & ClayThe story is completely the product of comics, particularly the unique social circumstances of the late 1930’s that helped to produce the superhero genre and the American comic book industry that we know today.

Historically, the comics industry is a subset of the larger publishing world.  Like publishing in general, comics vary greatly in the type and quality of individual works but taken as a whole respond to the real and/or perceived demand of consumers. In the era of Chabon’s story, the demand for a superhero character had been building for some time due to the cultural stew of adventure tales, science fiction, and crime stories that were popular at the time.  A superhero combines all these genre elements in one brightly-colored package.

But comics and cartooning are so much more than superheroes.  So in the spirit of honest dialogue – the kind of dialogue that Random Dude was not interested in having – I will be posting a series of articles about comics in order to explain them to those who are unfamiliar.  I don’t know how often an article will appear or how long this series will run but I do hope that you’ll follow me on an exploration of this vibrant art form.

Before I go, I want to let you know that this week happens to be the annually sponsored American Library Association (ALA) event known as Banned Books Week (September 21st – September 27th).  This year, in partnership with the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF), Banned Books Week will be spotlighting graphic novels and the history of comic book censorship.  As the CBLDF web site states:

Comics are one of the most commonly attacked types of books, with challenges and bans happening every year. In the last few years, attempts to ban critically acclaimed graphic novels Persepolis and Barefoot Gen made international headlines. Other comics attacked in recent years include all-ages classics like Bone by Jeff Smith, which made ALA’s list of the ten most challenged books in 2013, as well as acclaimed books for adult readers like Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home

If you haven’t ever read a graphic novel or a comic book, I challenge you to try one out.  Come on in to your local library branch and we’ll help you find something that suits your tastes.  And if you do read graphic novels and wish to talk about them, I encourage you to come to LFPL’s Graphic Novel Discussion Group, which meets at 7:00 PM on the second Monday of every month at the Main Library.

GrNoDiGr

 Article by Tony, Main Library

New exhibit examines Black Freedom, White Allies, and Red Scare in 1954 Louisville

 

BlFrWhAl

This year marks the 60th anniversary of a home purchase, bombing, and trial that shook Louisville and the nation. In 1954, the Wade family moved into a Shively home purchased by civil rights activists Anne and Carl Braden, becoming the first African American family on the block. After segregationists bombed the home, the Bradens were put on trial — accused of plotting a communist takeover of Kentucky. A new exhibit at the Louisville Free Public Library — Black Freedom, White Allies, and Red Scare: Louisville, 1954 — chronicles the 1954 bombing and ensuing sedition trial of Anne and Carl Braden.

Black Freedom, White Allies, and Red Scare: Louisville 1954 incorporates photographs, newspaper articles, and artifacts from the Courier-Journal and University of Louisville Library and Archives, with contemporary historical and documentary text from Braden biographer Dr. Cate Fosl and the Braden Institute staff. The display examines racial equality and civil rights in 1954 Louisville, as well as its legacy today.

Black Freedom, White Allies, and Red Scare: Louisville, 1954 will be on display in the Main Library’s Bernheim Gallery from September 25, 2014 to November 9, 2014.

Be sure to check out the following related programs at the Library!

Opening Reception

October 1, 7:00 p.m. at the Main Library

It will feature an introduction to the exhibit by Dr. Cate Fosl, followed by a preview of the sedition trial reenactment directed by U of L theater professor Amy Steiger

Students from the university’s public history program also will be on hand that evening to record oral histories with visitors who want to share how they experienced 1954 and the related topics covered in the exhibit.  

The exhibit and opening reception are free and open to the public.


The Social Construct of Race: Immigrants and the “Box” – Panel Discussion

October 7, 6:30 p.m. at the Iroquois Branch


Anne Braden: Southern Patriot – Film Viewing and Panel Discussion

October 21, 7:00 p.m. at the Main Library

 


The Wall Between by Anne Braden – Adult Book Discussion

October 22, 6:00 p.m. at the Crescent Hill Branch

 


Throughout the exhibit’s run, patrons will have the opportunity to share their six-word stories on race through The Race Card Project.

 Visit LFPL.org for more information and join the conversation on Twitter using #BradenWadeat60.

When Hell Freezes Over and the Devil’s Inside

We’re launching a new book discussion group here at Bon Air, beginning September 24 at 7 p.m.  Our selections will cater to ages 15-25 but slightly older adults are welcome.  The club will generally feature Older Teen and Adult Fiction with young adult characters ranging from 15 to 25-ish.

 

IcedMoning

In the spirit of new beginnings I decided to choose two books that I had not previously read.  September’s selection is Iced: A Dani O’Malley Novel.  This book is set firmly in the middle of the ongoing popular Fever series by Karen Marie Moning.  It is the first book told from the perspective of Dani O’Malley, a rather unusual 14 year old in a world gone mad.  If you haven’t read the series, don’t despair.  This book can be read as a stand-alone.

Bodacious fairies and dark evil things that go bump in the night have hemorrhaged over into our reality.  Unfortunately, pretty much all of them are monsters and they think humans are tasty morsels. But even in the midst of monsters and mayhem, relationships and people who “care” may just be the most dangerous thing around.

Dani’s number one prerogative is to keep the people of Dublin safe. Number two is to stay free.  Not-quite-human club owner Ryodan manages to blackmail Dani into helping him solve a mystery that threatens not only his business, but all of Dublin.  To that end he keeps her under his thumb.  Dani’s number one makes her want to help, but her number two makes her resistant and bitter.

Despite the despicable means by which their partnership is formed the two characters forge ahead to find out how and why something is freezing humans and evil creatures alike.  The frozen venues are barely approachable by supernatural ilk.   And for some reason, they keep exploding.

Dublin was already the seventh circle of Hell but now it’s frozen over.  Will our reluctant heroine save the day?  Only the book will tell.

Formats Available:  Audiobook, Book, eBook

 

HornsbyHill

October’s selection is Horns by Joe Hill and we will meet on October 29 at 7 p.m.  I swear on my library card that I didn’t know this book had a movie being released on October 31st.  Just days after I picked this book, I was thumbing through my various “social” addictions…I mean appswhen I spotted a video box with Daniel Radcliffe’s face.

“Hmmm, wonder what that is?”   Imagine my surprise when I click the play button like a good little monkey and I’m treated to an early sneak preview of Horns!  “Yes! ” I mentally shouted, while I did a little spastic dance around the room.  Luckily the only witnesses were my family and they’re used to my strange silent outbursts.

My family waited patiently for me to explain.  When I told them that Daniel Ratcliff was playing the lead of a great philosophical horror story, my teens all began clamoring in protest, “You can’t do that to Harry Potter! That’s just wrong.”   I laughed, perhaps a little bit maniacally, and told them that Daniel Radcliffe could play any character he desired, even a devil!

WARNING!!!  This book will may make you squirm.

The beginning chapters of this story are dark and graphic.  The main character, Ig (Ignatius) Perrish, has been living in a town where everyone thinks he raped and murdered his high school sweetheart, Merrin.  He didn’t kill her.  He loved her so deeply, he is lost without her.

Unable to cope with the anniversary of Merrin’s death, Ig drinks himself into such a stupor that he can’t remember the previous evening when he awakens the next morning.  Of course, he knows almost immediately that he must have done something really, really bad.  The horns sprouting out of his head are dead giveaway.

Ig’s first reaction is to think he’s hallucinating, but his current girlfriend, quickly disabuses him of that notion when she affirms that she can see them.  As if that weren’t bad enough, she immediately begins to divulge her darkest urges and thoughts. Ig flees.  He moves from person to person looking for help or absolution, but each encounter just leaves him more sickened and shell-shocked.

Slowly Ig begins to realize that he can influence people.  He can’t make them do something they don’t want to do.  But if the urge is tucked away inside somewhere, Ig can coax it out.  When Ig finds out who truly killed Merrin he begins to actively used the horns and his new strange powers.

He wants justice and revenge, so he embraces the devil inside.  Does that make him evil?  You’ll have to decide for yourself, once you read the book.

Formats Available:  Audiobook, Book

Reviews by Angel, Bon Air Branch

What do these six authors have in common?

LFPL’s fall Authors at the Library series includes six bestsellers

authatlib

What do these six authors have in common?

They all have new books coming out this fall, they have all spent time on the New York Times Bestsellers list, and they’re all appearing as part of the Louisville Free Public Library’s Authors at the Library series.  From memoir to the Middle Ages, from Gutenberg’s printing press to the birth of the ‘pill,’ this series is sure to be entertaining and thought-provoking. All Authors at the Library programs begin at 7 p.m. at the Main Library, 301 York Street.  The events are free, but tickets are required; visit LFPL.org or call 574-1644.


 Chris Tomlinson

Wednesday, September 10, 7PM

tomlinson Author, journalist, and filmmaker Chris Tomlinson is a fifth-generation Texan whose ancestors were slave holders. His latest book, Tomlinson Hill: The Remarkable Story of Two Families who Share the Tomlinson Name – One White, One Black, examines what the family’s legacy means, both for the author and the African American Tomlinsons—particularly the most famous descendant, former NFL running back LaDainian Tomlinson. Join Chris Tomlinson for a discussion of his new book at the Main Library, Wednesday, September 10 at 7 PM.

The event is FREE, but tickets are required; click here to order or call (502) 574-1644.


 Gail Sheehy

Tuesday, October 14, 7PM

sheehy

World-renowned journalist Gail Sheehy will discuss her latest memoir Daring: My Passages. The book chronicles her trials and triumphs as a groundbreaking “girl” journalist in the 1960s to one of the premier political profilers of today.

Tickets available beginning September 15 at 9 AM


 Steven Johnson

Thursday, October 16, 7PM

stevenjohnson

Steven Johnson is best known for writing about innovations, ideas, and culture. His new book How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World celebrates the history and power of great ideas. A six-part series of the same name will air on PBS during his visit at LFPL.

 Tickets available beginning September 15 at 9 AM


Dan Jones

Monday, October 27, 7PM

danjones 

Are you obsessed with Game of Thrones, fascinated by British royal history, or really into medieval warfare? Then join historian, journalist, and New York Times-bestselling author Dan Jones for a discussion of his latest book The Wars of the Roses: The Fall of the Plantagenets and the Rise of the Tudors.

 Tickets available beginning September 15 at 9 AM


Azar Nafisi

Tuesday, November 4, 7PM

 nafisi

Azar Nafisi is the bestselling author of Reading Lolita in Tehran. Join her for a discussion of her latest book The Republic of Imagination: America in Three Books at the Main Library.

Tickets available beginning October 1 at 9 AM


 Jonathan Eig

Tuesday, November 11, 7PM

 johnathaneig

The birth-control pill has been called one of the most influential—if not controversial—inventions of the twentieth century. Bestselling author and journalist Jonathan Eig explores the pill’s unlikely genesis in his latest book The Birth of the Pill: How Four Crusaders Reinvented Sex and Launched a Revolution.

 Tickets available beginning October 1 at 9 AM

 

CHECK OUT OUR ARCHIVE OF AUTHOR TALKS!

Authors at the Library podcast

Miss an author event, or just want to hear a presentation again?

 

BELOW ARE A FEW OF THE MOST RECENT TALKS.


Dave Barry, author of You Can Date Boys When You’re FortyRSS icon Listen now.

Michele Stephenson, co-author of Promises Kept.RSS icon Listen now.

Chang-Rae Lee, author of On Such A Full Sea.RSS icon Listen now.

 

The Mayor’s Book Club Is Reading “State of Wonder” by Ann Patchett

The Mayor’s Book Club 

This book discussion group meets at the Main Library on the third Wednesday of the month, from noon to 1:00 p.m.

Brown-bag lunches are welcome.

The book club’s next reading will be:

AUGUST 20, 2014 – State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

State of Wonder
2012-05 – Paperback
Harper Perennial
9780062049810
Check Our Catalog 
State of Wonder
By Patchett, Ann
Award-winning, New York Times-bestselling author returns with a provocative and assured novel of morality and miracles, science and sacrifice set in the Amazon rainforest.

TOP PICK FOR BOOK CLUBS
Ann Patchett, the best-selling author of the acclaimed Bel Canto and four other novels, returns with a darkly fascinating story about the nature of scientific inquiry. In State of Wonder, pharmaceutical researcher Marina Singh is tasked with finding out what happened to her co-worker, Anders Eckman, who died in the Amazon jungle after joining a research team. Contending with snakes, heat and mosquitoes, Marina connects with the field team, which is led by Annick Swenson, an ambitious gynecologist researching a tribe whose females have remarkable childbearing abilities. Annick was once Marina’s mentor, and encountering her brings back a past Marina is trying hard to escape. Giving readers access to the recondite world of drug research while exploring the impulses that motivate us all, Patchett has crafted an intriguing novel, filled with complex issues that will generate lively book club discussion. © 2011, All rights reserved, BookPage
_______________________________________________________
Publisher Comments
In a narrative replete with poison arrows, devouring snakes, scientific miracles, and spiritual transformations, State of Wonder presents a world of stunning surprise and danger, rich in emotional resonance and moral complexity.As Dr. Marina Singh embarks upon an uncertain odyssey into the insect-infested Amazon, she will be forced to surrender herself to the lush but forbidding world that awaits within the jungle. Charged with finding her former mentor Dr. Annick Swenson, a researcher who has disappeared while working on a valuable new drug, she will have to confront her own memories of tragedy and sacrifice as she journeys into the unforgiving heart of darkness. Stirring and luminous, State of Wonder is a world unto itself, where unlikely beauty stands beside unimaginable loss beneath the rain forest’s jeweled canopy.
_______________________________________________________
Powered by   ©1994-2014. All Rights Reserved

For the complete list of upcoming titles, click here.