From dull to brilliant

Last week’s NYT’s book review of J.K.Rowling’s first adult book labeled it dull and that was the least of it.  This week’s Time magazine’s review written by Lev Grossman basically said it was brilliant, so much for a difference of opinion.

Of the two, Grossman’s review, I think, was better written.  He analyzed the plot, characters, and writing in more depth than Michiko Kakutani, who wrote the piece in the NYT.  He sees the book as more than light social satire.  He credits Rowling with delving deeper into “the emotional and social gaps between us and the grotesque emotional wounds we inflict on those on the other side” of the social ladder.  In addition, the reviewer is very impressed with Rowling’s ability to understand what makes teenage boys tick.  She exhibited that talent in the Harry Potter series and continues to add to that ability.

Grossman’s thumbs- up review of “The Casual Vacancy” was more than it’s a well-written book.  Besides brilliant he called it “a big, ambitious, funny, upsetting and magnificently eloquent novel of contemporary England.”  Can’t get better than that.  Read both reviews and see what you think.  Also check out the great illustration that accompanies the Time review.


Jerry Pinkney

Jerry Pinkney, the author winning children’s book illustrator and portrait painter, will have 140 of his works exhibited at the Hudson River Museum in Yonkers.   The exhibit entitled “Witness: The Art of Jerry Pinkney” will open Sunday, September 30, and run until Jan. 13, 2013.  Pinkney, a Croton resident,  is a Caldecott Award winner for his children’s book “The Lion and The Mouse.”  He has also designed nearly a dozen Black Heritage portraits for the US Postal Service.

One of Pinkney’s most challenging assignments was to paint portraits for the National Parks Service.  These paintings are part of the African Burial Ground Interactive Museum in Lower Manhattan.  He was given a very brief description of the person thought to be buried at this site, and then had to create images of the person.  Sometimes the description was as short as “runaway slave.”

I have placed information dealing with this exhibit on the bulletin board near the Children’s Room.  There is also a reminder that we offer a free pass to this museum.


The Women – DVD

This is from 1939 with a fabulous cast: Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, Rosalind Russell, Paulette Goddard, Joan Fontaine, Hedda Hopper, Butterfly McQueen AND Marjorie Main of Ma & Pa Kettle fame (most of you are way to young to have seen any of those).

The story is about marriage, gossip, affairs, divorce, cattiness and competition, adapted from a play by Clare Boothe and directed by George Cukor. The clothes are classic, the acting outlandish, the outdoor scenery fake. Really great slapstick. I loved it.

Fantastic Fiction

Andrew recommended a website to me for easily finding out the publish dates of the material of popular authors.  The website is based out of the U.K. Check it out here:

It looks like a very simple database, but it has everything the author has ever published, including materials written under pen names if the name is known to the public.  It also endeavors to list works about the author, as well as books the author recommends.  Interesting stuff and definitely worth taking a look at when you get a chance!

More miss than hit

The old saying goes that you are as good as your last book, movie, etc.  Hopefully, this is not the case with J.K.Rowling’s new novel.  The best thing that the NYT’s review of the “The Casual Vacancy,” published on Thursday, noted was that the book was dull.  Since this is Rowling’s first attempt at writing for an adult audience comparisons shouldn’t be made with her Harry Potter series, but, of course, they will be.  “There is no magic in this book.”  The book is filled with “self-absorbed, small-minded, snobbish and judgmental folks, whose stories neither engage nor transport us.”

I remember reading a few months back that the children who read the Potter books are of an age now to read adult books.  I am not sure if that audience is prepared for “The Casual Vacancy.”  Her language is raw; drug addiction and pornography are important elements of the plot. Perhaps she was trying to move as far away from Hogwarths as possible.  Hopefully, the reviewer notes that she will leave this new world far behind in her next effort.