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Monday Book Review: The Robber Bridegroom November 30, 2009

Posted by dataduchess in Book Reviews.
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Recently, we posted about the National Book Awards, and I was surprised at how few of the 77 past fiction winners I had read. So, I picked a few titles to find at my local library. I had once read a book where the main character was named Eudora, after the famous American writer, and have since been curious about her – so Eudora Welty was my first choice from the National Book Awards list.

My library did not have in stock the actual award winner, The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty, so I browsed and chose the presently reviewed novella.

The Robber Bridegroom, published in 1942, is a fairy tale, similar in style and theme to many a Brothers Grimm tale. The beautiful daughter of a rich plantation owner is lured away from her home by a bandit, and the two fall in love and encounter a number of unpleasant characters and obstacles, from the girl’s mean and ugly stepmother to the tattletale numbskull neighborboy, Goat, to the psychotic cave-dweller, Little Harp, who is told what to do by his brother’s head, which is kept on a spike in a trunk nearby. The story is both enchanting and confusing, as a few of the characters are apparently legendary in Southern folklore, and perhaps a little prior knowledge of their mythos would have been helpful. Despite this, it was a lovely story, and the writing was as beautiful as it was sprightly and refined.

Eudora Welty

In my curiosity about the Pulitzer Prize-winning author, I found that after her death in 2001, her home in Jackson, Mississippi, was restored and preserved by The Eudora Welty Foundation in a tribute to her, her writing and photography, and as she wished, also to arts and literature in general. The goals of the foundation are to promote and encourage reading and the efforts of young writers, as well as maintain the writer’s home for visitation, education and inspiration. Eudora Welty was also an avid gardener, and the gardens around her home have been restored and preserved. The home and gardens are open for tours in person by reservation. However, if you aren’t planning a trip to Mississippi any time soon, the home is open 24 hours, 7 days a week for a virtual tour on the website. It’s worth checking out.

Umberto Eco: Closet Librarian? November 16, 2009

Posted by pupfiction in Uncategorized.
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In this interesting interview by Spiegel,  Umberto Eco, renowned author and scholar, perhaps best known for his mystery work The Name of the Rose, explains his upcoming exhibit at the Louvre–a showcase on the importance of lists in society and the arts. While this seems like an abstract (or odd) choice at first, Eco explains that lists have a way of combating mortality, saying “We have a limit, a very discouraging, humiliating limit: death. That’s why we like all the things that we assume have no limits and, therefore, no end. It’s a way of escaping thoughts about death. We like lists because we don’t want to die.”  Eco goes on to explain why the lists generated by Google do not fulfill these spiritual needs, and how education should address the transient and unreliable nature of information on the web. Though he may not realize it, he is fighting for information literacy as an educational standard; something we American librarians have been fighting for for a long time. Eco, we are behind you!