Insurrections: Stories by Rion Amilcar Scott

Short fiction can be an acquired taste; as a reader you have to be satiated by just enough. I have tried to suggest a book of short fiction to my book club but the ladies always scoff and complain that they are left unsatisfied.  They want more time with the characters, more development of the story, more finality than “a prose narrative shorter than a novel” can provide. I can understand the need for more, but a masterful short story collection is at ease with less.

Recently, I was in a book funk; every book I picked up was not right or the story didn’t grab me. That is until I picked up Insurrections: Stories, published by the University of Kentucky Press.  The simplicity of the cover – a flock of birds in flight – and the title, the juxtaposition was striking to me. Mr. Scott held my attention from the very first sentence:

“Walter caught the sight out the corner of his eye one hot July day, and for so long afterward he asked himself what if he had never seen those dangling legs from the balcony above, kicking, kicking, kicking against the open air.” (Good Times).

That indelible image gave me goose bumps and urged me to read on. As I mentioned, I was struck by the title, but the definition escaped me; so I looked it up. By definition, the act of insurrection is a violent uprising against authority or an opposing force which is stifling, throughout the collection characters are “suffering the quiet tragedies of everyday life and fighting for survival” (http://www.rionamilcarscott.com/thebook/).

In the story, “Boxing Day”, a son gauges his father’s mood by the sound and speed of his boxing gloves hitting the bag – from the first sentence the scene is wrought with tension and unease.

“It’s a flapping noise. The louder the sound, the more pissed he’s become. He says every day he punches the bag is boxing day…I would stay out of the basement, away from my punch drunk father and every delusion he’s used to sew himself together, but my mother’s sent me to descend into his Hades to deliver a message” (p. 53).

Scott’s prose is lyrical, authentic, and jarring all at once while he tells the stories of African Americans growing up and growing old in their community where despite seemingly endless hardship, they are resilient. Though bleak and haunting at times, Insurrections: Stories is a portrait of existence; its struggles and its joys.

Formats Available: Audiobook, Paperback, eBook

Reviewed by Carolyn, Crescent Hill Branch

Changes to LFPL’s Book Discussion Kits

Beginning March 15, 2017, the Louisville Free Public Library will be using KitKeeper to manage the Book Discussion Kit Collection. KitKeeper is a popular web-based application widely used by many libraries across the country. We hope you find KitKeeper easy and fun to use.

KitKeeper will provide you many advantages, such as the ability to:

  • Reserve a specific book kit for a specific reading period of your choosing
  • Pick up your book kit on a specific date of your choosing
  • Reserve up to 12 titles up to 1 year in advance
  • View your upcoming selections at any time
  • Receive automatic email notifications when you reserve a kit, when your kit is ready to pick up and when the kit is due back

KitKeeper reservations will take place online and will require a valid email address.

Important: Beginning March 15th you can make reservations for the coming year in KitKeeper. If you currently have a kit checked out, return it as scheduled and make your future reservations in KitKeeper.

There will be some changes in our circulation policy for the kits. For more on these changes, as well as detailed instructions for using KitKeeper, click here.

Questions? Please email us at KitKeeper@LFPL.org or call (502) 574-1611.

LFPL Home

Books to You

LFPL’s Adult Outreach Services brings library resources and materials to adult patrons who are unable to visit any of our 18 locations. LFPL offers outreach services to adults in two ways: Adult Bookmobile and Books By Mail.

Adult Bookmobile

LFPL Books To YouThe Library’s adult bookmobile can make monthly visits to qualifying group residences, which allows patrons to enjoy a rotating selection of materials.  In addition to the delivery of books and other library materials, these visits can sometimes include book talks or book discussion groups.

For more information about adding a group residence to our schedule, please call (502) 574-1611 or send an email.

Free Matter for the Blind Mail Service

LFPL Books To YouThe Library’s Free Matter for the Blind Mail Service offers a free books-by-mail service for patrons who qualify.  This service allows qualified patrons to have large print books or audio books mailed directly to their residence free of charge via the United States Postal Service. To learn more about this service, please click here.

If you think you qualify for the Library’s Free Matter for the Blind Mail Service, please print this enrollment form and have it signed by a competent authority, as defined on the form. In addition, please fill out the Patron Reading Preferences form for your library location found here.

If you would prefer for the Library to mail paper copies of these forms to your home us at BooksToYou@LFPL.org and include your name and complete mailing address. Once the Library has received both your signed enrollment form and your reading preferences form, they can begin mailing materials to your home.

If you do not qualify for either of the Library’s Adult Outreach Services, please contact the library branch closest to your home (list of library locations) to learn about other services for which you may qualify.

LFPL Resources for Local Writers

IndieLou resources

 

 

 

 

Local authors – indie, self-published, aspiring, and mainstream – now have a unique opportunity to create an eBook, connect with readers and promote their books at the Library.

Self-published authors can even upload their eBooks for possible inclusion in the Library’s online collection.

create and design your own professional eBook Upload your eBook and share it with local libraries throughout the state Promote - schedule an author talk at the library

MORE HELPFUL LINKS

Blood Done Sign My Name: A True Story by Timothy Tyson

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Letter from a Birmingham Jail, 1963

On May 11, 1970 in the North Carolina town of Oxford, an African American man named Henry Dortress Marrow, Jr. was viciously beaten and murdered in public by three white men who would all three be acquitted by an all-white jury of this horrendous, cold-blooded crime. In response to this travesty of justice, there were demonstrations, riots, and a months-long boycott by African Americans in the community of white-owned businesses that eventually forced the leaders of Oxford to end segregation practices there. That’s right, end segregation practices in 1970, despite the passage by the Congress of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

blooddonesigned

This is very difficult book to read, and I am not referring to the writing or narrative style. The violence and injustice that is recorded within its pages is repugnant and infuriating, but this is an important story to hear. I feel certain that there may be some who would say: Why write this book and drudge up hard feelings? Nothing good can come from it. To these people I would reply that in order for a country and its society to move forward as a unified people, it is essential to study the past, most especially those events that continue to divide, so that chasms may close and wounds healed.

Mr. Tyson, the son of a white Methodist minister who was a strong and public advocate for the Civil Rights Movement, was ten years old and living in Oxford at the time of Mr. Marrow’s murder, and it is this crime and its fallout that shaped the person that Mr. Tyson developed into as an adult. The reader joins Mr. Tyson in reflecting very deeply upon the Civil Rights Movement and the history of race relations in the United States, which leads to a litany of questions. How does one define freedom? How is change most effectively encouraged by a movement? What is the current state of race relations in America today?

It is absolutely vital that these and additional questions be examined by all, as the future of our country really does depend upon everyone facing our past in order to understand the present so that we may make progress together as a single people. And Blood Done Sign My Name serves as an emotional and powerful impetus for just such a purpose.

“Hate, it has caused a lot of problems in this world, but it has not solved one yet.”
Maya Angelou
Conversations with Maya Angelou, 1989

Formats Available:  Book (Regular Type), Audiobook (CD), Downloadable Audiobook

Reviewed by Rob, Crescent Hill

The Coaching Habit by Michael Bungay Stanier

coachinghabitbungay

“If you deal with other human beings, this book will help you,” says author Michael Bungay Stanier.

On the surface, The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever is straight forward, concise, and an extremely helpful guide on how to build new habits in a work environment to improve staff productivity and to become a better manager. On a deeper level this book could easily be applied to any one in any area of their life. Stanier makes it very clear, if you’re interested in living a better life, you have to know how habits are formed. This is because habits represent who we are as people, ”we are what we repeatedly do.” Showing up early or late is a sign of who we are and what we make a priority. Cleaning up after ourselves or leaving a mess everywhere points to the type of qualities we have and chose to showcase for the world to judge. Small habits make up every part of who we are and they are extremely hard to change permanently, that is often why making changes fail. Diets, exercise, quitting a bad habit like smoking or picking up a good habit such as eating more vegetables all take a tremendous amount of work and time to make a habit.

Stanier takes baby steps to convince his readers that change is possible and incredibly beneficially to those who put in the time and effort. The book highlights research that shows,

“leaders and managers who regularly take part in coaching make a markedly positive increase in company profitability and moral. Yet, many managers and supervisors do not take part in coaching. Managers know coaching is good for us but often have become advice giving maniacs trying to come up with solutions before they even know the problem.”

This fundamental habit of giving advice and talking too much is what this book is designed to break from its readers. The need for managers to be in control, have all the answers, and know the next step is not being “coach like.” Being “coach like” for Stanier is simply asking more questions and rushing to action a little bit slower.

In The Coaching Habit, Stanier wants managers to make a mindset shift, to go from having a few good questions to really being curious about what is beneath the surface in any situation. By spending a bit less time giving advice and talking, and more time asking questions, waiting for feedback we can drastically change the environment and the attitude of our team. This book asks managers to really look at where a staff person is and to help them find answers or solutions themselves.

The book discusses a study which showed ten percent of employees report that coaching had a negative impact on their enthusiasm for their job. This means that currently, a large amount of coaching de-motivates people from trying their hardest and performing their best. Stanier says that this is often because companies are providing “coaching training” but not practical tools that managers can implement. Managers who try to implement anything they’ve learning in traditional coaching training are setting themselves up to fail as most recommends scheduling coaching to occur monthly or having a “coaching meeting.” How dreadful to look at your calendar each month and count down the days to when you are forced into your manager’s office for a talk on how you are failing at your job and what you can improve. No, a typical scenario like this, one which occurs regularly across corporate culture, puts both the manager and the employee on edge. Stanier describes these types of interactions as leading to lasting negative connotations and the relief felt by both employee and manager when they are “delighted the ordeal is over for the month.”

We’ve likely all been on one side of this situation or the other and know how hostile coaching in this manner feels. Instead, Stanier would like his readers to look at coaching as an ongoing cycle. He wants us to understand that coaching isn’t about the occasional event; it’s about understanding that every interaction can be a bit more coach like. Whether it’s bumping into each other in the hall, having a quick chat in an elevator, stripping back some of the formality of coaching will help take the anxiety away from the situation and make the conversation more effective. Stanier makes a great comparison of thinking of coaching as drip irrigation, not a flash flood. Flash floods can be devastating and hardly ever produce the desired outcomes. Drip irrigation on the other hand provides steady and consistent water to help grow crops.

I originally picked up this book because of the positive changes I felt it could help me make at work. After reading it however I strongly feel that many of the steps Stanier has asked readers to implement can be applied in a wider context. Since the book lays out a foundation of how to make small habit changes in all areas of our life, really just about anything you wanted to change or improve could be accomplished with these same steps. I found the book incredibly helpful and encouraging. Often, when we fail at building a new habit it’s because we have fallen prey to the gimmick of “change your life in 30 days” sales pitches when in reality a habit is an ongoing process which could take months or years to feel comfortable.

Both the book and audio version are short and very easy to digest. Stanier wanted to make a practical tool for the busy, tired, and over worked person who could quickly get through the information and start to implement his strategies. In a final thought by the author, he states that coaching is the least utilized leadership skills even though a range of great impacts including engagement and moral. He hopes to have supplied readers with useful practical tools to help them develop this underused skill and become a better person throughout their life.

Formats Available: Book

Reviewed by Lindsay, St. Matthews Branch

Gypsy: A World of Colour and Interiors by Sibella Court

Need a calming, beautiful book to give you a little peace in this mad world? I’ve got just the one. 

Gypsy

I’ve been reading and perusing this stunning book at night before bed, and my anxiety and blood pressure seems to immediately lower and I feel instantly soothed.

Gypsy is essentially a love letter to travel.  Designer and wanderer, Sibella Court, takes you around the globe and encourages you to use all of your five senses to draw muse and creativity from the world around you.  She gives solid advice on how to take pieces bought or seen on your travels to decorate your own personal world.  Her color palettes from each region she visits (Turkey, Scotland, and Transylvania to name a few) are lush and evocative of each province.  The color and light of the verdant photos taken by Sibella’s brother, Chris, an award-winning photographer, are incredibly relaxing and lovely.

This is one of those books I need to own.  But until then I’ll continue to check it out at my Louisville Free Public Library branch.  You should too!

Formats Available: Regular Print

Reviewed by Heather, St. Matthews

Top Picks: Graphic Novels of 2016

Well, time has rolled around again for my annual best of list.  This year, I’m going to go about it a little differently.  I’m choosing one selection from each of the 2016 meetings of the Graphic Novel Discussion Group.

The list is in chronological order by month rather than any ranking by preference.  I have included the topic we covered for that month as well.  There are some of the selections where I have only listed the stand-alone work or the series as a whole.

All right, let’s get to it…

Craziness, that’s all I’ve got to say!  If you like the tough-kid Borribles series (a major influence on writers like China Mieville) and the twisted narratives of David Lynch‘s movies then you will love this graphic novel by Farel Dalrymple.

 

This is an incredibly detailed 24 foot-long panoramic drawing by Joe Sacco that tries to capture the full events of just one day of battle in World War I. The set also includes a 16-page booklet to give viewers some historical context.

 

  • The Sandman series (by Neil Gaiman and J.H. Williams III) – Sandman Overture

sanmanoverture

Neil Gaiman finally returns to his award-winning, beloved Sandman series with a prologue tale that explains just how Morpheus was captured in the very first issue of the series.  The art by J.H. Williams III is gorgeous and appropriately psychedelic as befits the adventures of the Lord of Dreams across the galaxy as he attempts to right a wrong from long ago.

 

roadtocivilwar

This volume of the first Civil War series collects the prequels to the main tale.  In it we get to see how key players such as Doctor Strange, Mister Fantastic, Namor, Professor X, and Iron Man form the ultra-secretive Illuminati, as well as how Spider-man is drawn into the conflict between the forces of government control and those superheroes who wish to retain their autonomy.

 

  • May 2016: We did not have a meeting in May so I’m going to put up a comic that I read in 2016 and just loved, Gotham Academy!

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Gotham Academy is a prestigious boarding school with a ton of secrets.  Mystery, magic, and the bonding of a special group of students make for a creepy thrill-ride.

 

Brian K. Vaughan and Marcos Martin have beautifully crafted a future where all our expectations about privacy have been turned upside down after a major event that shuts down the Internet for good.  In this world, our main character, a private investigator, and his femme fatale client break rule after rule in search of her missing sister.  Along the way they stumble into a conspiracy that threatens to shake the very foundations of this new social order.

 

Strangers in Paradise was the 13 year project of indie comic writer and artist, Terry Moore.  It was a complicated series of interlocking stories told in a realistic style with a dedicated fan-base addicted to the intensely personal quality of the main characters’ interaction. It mixed several sub-genres – romance, crime drama, and autobiography – while always feeling fresh and compelling.

 

  • Valiant Comics – Harbinger (by Joshua Dysart)harbingah

Honestly, I could have picked a few other titles such as The Death-Defying Doctor Mirage, Archer & Armstrong, or The Eternal Warrior as my favorite Valiant Entertainment selection but Harbinger is the title that originally attracted me to their line of comics.  It is the tale of Peter Stanchek and other teens like him who have psionic powers and are trying to escape Project Rising Spirit, who have been holding them prisoner and conducting experiments on them.  Joshua Dysart‘s pacing is tight and his dialogue is crisp, letting the reader get to know the characters while keeping thrills coming one right after the other.

 

A classic and a cornerstone of many introductory Comic Studies courses, Scott McCloud‘s Understanding Comics is more than just that.  It is also an entertaining comic in itself.

 

Mike Mignola has created one, excuse the pun, hell of a quintessentially quirky supernatural comic character with Hellboy.  This trade is a collection of the various one-offs and other ephemera about Hellboy that were published in other titles.  Also, there is a short story, King Vold, that was created especially for this particular compilation.

 

Well, what can I say?  Doctor Strange is one weird dude and so are most of his stories.  I honestly can’t pinpoint a particular one that I’d suggest because I tend to like him best when he is part of a team, be it The Defenders, the Illuminati, or as Dr. Doom’s sidekick in Jonathan Hickman‘s Secret Wars.

 

lrv1n24

This series is hard to quickly summarize because there have been three different creators, all brothers, with different visions who have participated across the 30+ years of its existence.  The primary two creators have been Jaime Hernandez, whose focus has been on the punk scene of a primarily Latino community in California (presumably East Los Angeles), and Gilbert Hernandez, who has spun out a rich set of stories about a mythical Latin American town called Palomar (and the immigrants in the U.S. who’ve hailed from there).

My personal favorite are the stories that focus around the characters Maggie and Hopey, also known about town as the Locas.  You can see them in action in the above now-iconic picture from Love & Rockets #24.

 


If you are interested in discussing these titles or other works of sequential art, please join LFPL’s Graphic Novel Discussion Group. Meetings are held at the Main Library on the second Monday of every month, starting at 6:00 PM.

Upcoming meetings will take place on the following dates:

dciomfeb2017

Formats Available:  Graphic Novel

Reviewed by Tony, Main Library

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

whataliceforgotWhen Alice Love wakes up on the cold gym floor, she’s astonished at her surroundings. What in the world is she doing at the gym? She doesn’t even like the gym. What about her unborn child? She’s worried that something has happened. It is only when she reaches the hospital that she realizes that not only is she not twenty-nine years old and pregnant, she’s actually thirty-nine years old with three children that she doesn’t remember. What happens next is Alice coming to the realization that she has not become the woman that she thought she would be in the ten years that she is missing.

I will be completely honest and tell you that it took me a while to get into the story. I read so many books for children, so when I actually read a book written for adults, it takes a while for my mind to switch over from kittens and puppies to adult emotions and feelings. The story takes place in Sydney, Australia and as I listened to it, I was drawn into the lyrical voice of the narrator. I honestly don’t know what I would do if I suddenly lost ten years of my life. What type of person would I have been? I can barely remember ten minutes ago, let alone ten years.

Alice believes that she is currently pregnant with her first child and doesn’t really believe the doctors when they say that this isn’t true. She is even thrown off by the way her sister, Elizabeth, treats her. After all, she thinks its ten years before, when she and her sister had a wonderful relationship.

I’m absolutely enthralled by this book. I don’t know if it was the thought of having to start fresh on your own, when others know what you have done but you can’t seem to remember. I was very fascinated with Alice and how she kept on chugging along. Ms. Moriarty has written several books and it usually takes me a while to start to like any of the characters but this one was one I couldn’t wait to continue. Once I was able to get into the story, I wanted it to continue. This is one you won’t want to miss. Check it out.

Formats Available:  Book (Regular and Large Type), eBook, Audiobook (CD and Downloadable), Foreign Language Book (Spanish)

Reviewed by Damera, Okolona Branch

Bull Mountain by Brian Panowich

When you think of Southern Fiction what comes to your mind?  To Kill a Mockingbird, Gone With The Wind, A Time to Kill, and All Over But the Shoutin’ are just a few of the titles, many of which were adapted for film.

Southern Literature as a genre has been with us for well over 175 years but in recent years we have seen several well written authors taking up their pens to depict a South plagued with problems.  These stories still draw many readers, even if only for the familiar surroundings.

Numerous websites such as BookRiot.com, have published reading lists for readers looking to read more of this fictional genre.  Below is a review of one such, the recent novel by Brian Panowich.  It won the 2016 Thriller Award for Best First Novel, presented by the International Thriller Writers organization.

bullmountain

Bull Mountain delves into the mysteries and life styles of a Southern town.  It is a place where characters abound and suspense creeps along the pages, ending in a way that may well surprise you.  In this gripping, hard edged tale of murder, abuse, drugs, and alcohol, you meet the Burroughs family, a clan that traffics in drug and moonshine.  While running the roads of Georgia, the Burroughs cross paths with the motorcycle gang known as the “Jacksonville Jackals.”

1950’s

The morning is cool in Bull Mountain, Georgia as three men, a young man, his father and his uncle, step into the woods hunting for deer.  It will be the young man’s first deer.  The father instructs his son to take a shot as the deer comes within sight.  A loud shot rings out.  The deer falls.  At that same instant, the young man/boy hears another shot next to him.  As he looks towards the other two, he sees his uncle unmoving, lying on the ground.  “Deddy” had taken deliberate aim at his brother for own form of justice/revenge.

Present Day

Even though his genealogy has past ties to trafficking crimes, Clayton is the one member of the Burroughs clan that has decided to sit on the right side of the law.  Wanting to curtail the illegal business of drug and alcohol trafficking in his home town, he becomes the town sheriff.  But trouble comes for Clayton and his family in the form of a revenuer, Special Agent Simon Holly from the A.T.F. (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms).  Agent Holly wants to see Clayton in regards to his older brother who is running drugs all around the Bull Mountain community.  In order to protect his family Clayton will now have to stop looking the other way, putting an end to the trafficking trade in his both his town and Jacksonville.

There is a great deal going in this tale, digging into the choices people make out of loyalty and family ties.  The author shows the determination and grit of those behind the trafficking drugs and moonshine, and that of the gangs in competition.  Alternating chapters, between past and present, as well as shifting between Sherriff Clayton and Agent Holly as narrator, you are kept on the edge of your seat.

Formats Available:  Audiobook, e-Book, Large Type, Regular Type

Reviewed by MicahShawnee Branch