Category Archives: Reviews

The Ghosts of Eden Park: The Bootleg King, the Women Who Pursued Him, and the Murder That Shocked Jazz Age America by Karen Abbott

The Ghosts of Eden Park: The Bootleg King, the Women Who Pursued Him, and the Murder That Shocked Jazz-Age America by [Abbott, Karen]

This true tale set in the Prohibition era follows the tragic trajectory of bootlegger George Remus and his second wife, Imogene.  I had never heard of George Remus but his story is quite epic.  At one time he owned 35% of all the liquor in the United States. He was sharp and intelligent; first, a lawyer before he went into the illegal whiskey business.  I refuse to say his downfall was Imogene as I think it’s a common trope/myth throughout perpetuity that a woman is the root of a man’s downward spiral, either mentally or financially or both.  Not saying Imogene was a saint but George made his own choices in my opinion.

Now I love a soap opera and you could not make up a better story than this one: an infamous bootlegger’s wife having an affair with the Prohibition agent sent to take Remus down. 

Remus’s claim of temporary insanity is up for debate, yet Abbott’s portrayal of his deterioration into psychosis when learning of his wife’s betrayal while serving a prison term is distressing and hard to dispute.  His rants and mood swings and just general gnashing of teeth is bizarre and wacky.  But the wacky turns to disastrous.

The equally fascinating part of the book for me is Abbott’s concentration on the first woman U.S. Assistant Attorney General, Mabel Walker Willebrandt.  When she takes the position Willebrandt makes prosecuting Remus her main priority, but her decision to send FBI Prohibition agent Franklin Dodge to investigate Remus is a fatal one.  Her personal and professional strengths and weaknesses in a man’s world is enlightening and authentic. 

For a Gatsby-esque tale of money, murder and mayhem check out The Ghosts of Eden Park.

— Review by Heather, St. Matthews

National Poetry Month is here!

“National Poetry Month in April is a special occasion to celebrate the importance of poets and poetry in our culture. In this time of uncertainty and great concern, we can rely on poems to offer wisdom, uplifting ideas, and language that prompts reflection that can help us slow down and center mentally, emotionally, spiritually.” – Poets.org, The Academy of American Poets

Poetry has always brought a sense of calm to me regardless of the state of the world, so I hope our patrons find comfort in this poem by Joyce Kilmer. Visit poets.org to learn more about the National Poetry Month celebration and to read more wonderful verse from our nation’s poets.

Trees

I think that I shall never see

A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest

Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,

And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in Summer wear

A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;

Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,

But only God can make a tree.

LFPL is here for you

 We want everyone to stay connected with the Library at this time!

If you have a library card with overdue fine-restrictions, if you have a library card that has expired or is about to, or if you are eligible for a library card but don’t have one yet, we want to make sure LFPL’s digital resources are available for you during the COVID-19 related closure.

That’s why we have decided to temporarily make the following changes:
1) New Library cards will be granted virtually – follow directions at www.lfpl.org/get-card.htm
2) Restrictions due to overdue fines and replacement fees have been lifted
3) Expired and soon-to-be expired library cards are extended until June 1st
4) All holds have been extended to 21 days so that your current holds will be here when we reopen
5) Late fees are suspended at this time so don’t worry about returning materials to the Library until we reopen

Check out our free Digital Services at https://www.lfpl.org/digital.html.

Research your family’s history from home with Ancestry.com Library Edition (currently available until April 30th).

For up-to-date information on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic from trusted sources, go to kycovid19.ky.gov

Reading Behind Bars by Jill Grunenwald

I’m not going to lie, the title was the first thing that drew me to this book. Even though I am a library assistant, my bachelor’s degree is in Criminal Justice and Criminology so I’ve always wondered how a library would work in a prison. I knew they existed because of the classes I took in college but I didn’t learn how they would work.

Reading Behind Bars: A True Story of Literature, Law, and Life as a Prison Librarian by Jill Grunenwald answered the questions I had and even questions I didn’t even ask.
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is prisonlibrary.jpgWhen the author graduated from library school in 2009 there were more librarians than jobs. Gruenwald took the only one that she could find, a position for a librarian at a minimum-security prison outside Cleveland, Ohio. What follows is a memoir of her time at the prison, the inmates and officers she meets, as well as the lessons she learned.

One thing which I discovered while reading this book is how similar working in a prison library is to working in a public library.  You still have the same patron looking for the newest James Patterson or other bestselling authors. You still have patrons asking random (sometimes off-the-wall) questions, seeking legal advice, and wanting the daily paper.

But I also learned what makes them different. A patron looking for the latest bestseller may be stymied due to prison rules and regulations about content. Further, budgetary considerations mean that patrons have to wait until a book is available in paperback. Also, prison libraries are subject to quite a bit of censorship, which for the most part is something that doesn’t exist in public libraries.

Reading Behind Bars isn’t a fast-paced memoir, but it was an informative read about one librarian’s first  job and the lessons she learned along the way. This is an important memoir for librarians and library employees. Any reader, as well as those employed in the criminal justice field, may learn something from this memoir.

– Reviewed by CarissaMain Library

An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good by Helen Tursten

I recently finished a collection of stories by the Swedish author Helene Tursten called An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good. The book contains five short stories about a the life of a very elderly matron, Maud, and how she deals with people who step into her sphere. These stories got my attention with their dark humor, mystery, and insight into how other cultures look at life (and murder) in a more raw and crude manner.

The first story, An Elderly Lady Has Accommodation Problems, introduces Maud in her apartment when a young art graduate. Jasmin is seeking to take over Maud’s apartment because of its roomier size and prettier view of the skyline.  When Maud gets sense of the young lady becoming too friendly, things begin to change. After multiple visits to see Maud and her dwelling, Jasmin invites Maud to come look at her apartment decorated with phalluses in multiple shapes and sizes.  Read on.

In An Elderly Lady on Her Travels, Maud visits Sardinia to unwind and take care of family. While there, she reminisces about various excursions to Cairo and the South Pole.  In this one story you come to understand how Maud continues to be the one family member who takes care of others before herself. She even does so through many challenges, such as taking care of her mentally ill sister.

Other tales include a tale of Christmastime in Sweden with a twist of mystery when she hears loud voices next door and learns of an “accident” to her neighbor.  Maud senses there is a bigger story behind the accident than what was told and is determined to get to the real truth.

Translated from Swedish by Marlaine Delargy

– Review by Micah, St Matthews Library

The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

Looking for a murder mystery set in Downton Abbey/The Matrix/Groundhog Day?  YEAH, THAT’S A THING. A thing you never even knew you needed.  And it’s bloody fantastic.  It’s The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

You wake up in a house…Blackheath House to be specific, but knowledge of its name will come later.  And you find yourself in a body you don’t recognize as your own. 

There are three rules of Blackheath House:

  1. Evelyn Hardcastle will be murdered at 11:00 p.m.
  2. There are eight days, and eight witnesses for you to inhabit.
  3. We will only let you escape once you tell us the name of the killer.

I adore a good mystery, it’s my favorite genre and this one takes the cake. It’s a different take on the traditional murder mystery; twisty, cunning and quite ingenious in my opinion. It is so complexly layered there may be times in the book, particularly through the beginning, you feel yourself bewildered and lost. 

But hang on!  Store each little scrap of information in the back of your mind and it all comes brilliantly together. 

— Review by Heather, St. Matthews

Dining with the Famous and Infamous by Fiona Ross

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Recently and quite by chance, I came across mention of a book entitled Dining with the Famous and Infamous published in 2016 and authored by Fiona Ross.  Now, whenever the opportunity arises to mix different things I enjoy into one experience, I typically leap with little thought.  Since I consider myself a person with rather broad proclivities toward the gastronomic along with an inclination for the printed word, with this book involving both, I placed a reserve on it immediately.  When it arrived, I was not disappointed.

The book contains five chapters that divide the diners into categories, with each person begin given a mere four or five pages each: artists, movie stars, musicians, writers, and “the nuts.”  This is an outstanding format in that it allows the reader to jump from person to person based on his or her personal preferences.  I admit that I began with the writers, with Evelyn Waugh first up to bat and being introduced with the following:

Cecil Beaton’s diaries famously record the death of Evelyn Waugh in 1966: “Evelyn Waugh is in his coffin.  Died of snobbery.”

Well, a good laugh is an excellent way to begin any reading, really.  And it continued on to C.S. Lewis:

He had unusual views about boiled eggs, though: when Roger Lancelyn Green offered Lewis a hard-boiled egg on the train from Oxford to Cambridge, he refused.  “No, no, I musn’t!” insisted Lewis.  “It’s supposed to be an aphrodisiac.  Of course, it’s all right for you as a married man – but I have to be careful.” 

Indeed.

While unshakably partial towards the writer, I must be honest that the anecdotes relating to movie stars and musicians were quite a bit spicier (and I refer not to the food), and I am fond of spice.  From Liz Tylor’s love affairs with food (and men) to the whirlwind/tornado/tsunami that was the The Rolling Stones of the 1960s, the stories paint a picture of decadence that is apparently the status quo in the world of the halls of rock and the silver screen.

Naturally, Ms. Ross would be remiss if recipes were omitted.  Highlights include:

“Get Gassed” Vodka and Grapefruit Juice (Andy Warhol)

Chicken Cacciatore to Woo Arthur Miller (Marilyn Monroe)

Cornmeal Okra (Woody Guthrie)

Goat Curry (Ian Fleming)

Oysters (Casanova)

Of course, the full recipe details are provided in the book.

A Glance at Louisville’s Music through LFPL’s catalog

As a budding musician, I’ve been lucky to grow up in Louisville. Being influenced by the movement and history of this scene has created a solid foundation to explore my interests. It serves as a trusty anchor that reminds me to stay engaged with music culture. Thankfully, your local library likes to support this scene in a handful of ways, one of which is by carrying a whole bunch of CD’s produced by local artists!

As always, you can check these things out FOR FREE! I don’t have an exact count, but our local music catalog is around 600 items and is constantly growing. I haven’t heard all of them, but I’ve heard quite a few and I’m always impressed with it. Below are 5 albums from our catalog that I highly recommend – in no particular order.

Hello, Anxious by Mountain Asleep (2008)

This was released right before I noticed our local scene and they were a fan favorite of the community I found for their memorable performances. This chaotic, noodly, and ecstatically positive punk record has left a lasting impression on my musicianship and taste. These members have made music elsewhere in bands like Xerxes, August Moon, Whips/Chains, and Cereal Glyphs to name only a few. Also, listen to a Rhode Island band called Tiny Hawks for a reference on this style of Punk.

Red Glows Brighter by Second Story Man (2006)

This band started in 1998, and though they have a couple of LP’s, this EP stands as my favorite release. The atmosphere they present in this is so pleasant and shimmery that it captures a comforting nostalgic quality. Stylistically, this is an “Indie Rock” band but their identity is unique with complex songwriting and an intriguing sonic palette. I find this somewhere between Sonic Youth’s Experimental or No Wave take on Indie Rock and the poppy dreaminess from someone like The Cocteau Twins.

One Less Heartless To Fear by Shipping News (2010)

This is the last release in a career that started in 1996. It was recorded live at Skull Alley and the energy that comes through is killer. This band helped define the “Louisville Sound” and Post-Rock in the 90’s with its dark aesthetic, mathy time signatures, avant-garde construction, and spoken word vocal performances. If you like Noise Rock and Post-Hardcore in bands like Shellac or SWANS, this refined and uniquely Louisville approach will come off as tasteful, elegant, and sublime.

Spiderland by Slint (1991)

If Shipping News helped define Louisville and Post-Rock, this album is the progenitor. This blurb won’t do justice like the books or documentaries about it, but this broke the rules of Rock music and its influence is seen around the world. If The Beatles wrote the blueprint for the “Rock Band”, Slint deconstructed that and put an existential memoir next to it. I can’t point to similar music other than Post-Rock bands to come after it, but if you are moved by something like Martin Luther’s 95 Theses, you’ll admire this reformation.

Self Help by Straight A’s (2010)

Though I might call this a “Punk” record for its explosive attitude, it bears little resemblance to many Emo/Hardcore conventions from someone like Mountain Asleep. This album is weird, angular, and discordant, all while being very catchy and dancey. I love the short songs, most being under 2 minutes and none reaching the 3-minute mark. Imagine the oddly sexy, dancey vibes of The Blood Brothers, the abrasion from Mindless Self Indulgence, and the stripped-down instrumentation from Pre.

— Reviewed by Noah, Bon Air