Jack Finney was born John Finney in MilwaukeeWisconsin on October 2nd 1911, 104 years ago this Friday. He was called “Jack” almost immediately, and when his father died when he was three, he was re-named Walter Braden Finney in the elder Finney’s memory. The “Jack” moniker stuck for the rest of his life, though.
Finney is definitely not what you'd call a "classical" or probably not even a "classic" author, but his 1955 novel The Body Snatchers was made into a movie--that has come to be recognized as a sci-fi classic--the next year. "The Invasion of the Body Snatchers" was ignored by most critics (shows you what they know, eh?) upon release but gradually gained almost cult status. The book fared less well. Critics have disparaged it as outstandingly unoriginal and lacking basic scientific accuracy, but as Mark Twain once observed, it never pays to let truth stand in the way of a good story.
Finney's greatest literary success was his 1970 science fiction novelTime and Again. In it, an advertising man in NYC works in a secret government time-travel-to-the-past project. Time and Again is notable on at least two counts. The descriptions of 1880s New York are exceptionally vivid. And time travel via intensive reading about, research upon, and collection of artifacts from the era to visit combined with hypnosis and self hypnosis is intriguing.
Shortly before his death in 1995, Finney published a sequel to Time and Againtitled From Time to Time. In this iteration, his hero, Simon Morley visits the Big Apple in 1912 in an attempt to avert WWI. It was well regarded by critics and public alike.
So, a classic? Depends on what you mean, I guess. I'm confessing to pop cultural ignorance here, but I've never seen any of the movies inspired by Body Snatchers. Of Finney's books and short stories, I've only read Time and Again and thoroughly enjoyed it. So, yes, I call it a classic, but you needn't take my word for it. Check it out from YOUR FAVORITE PUBLIC LIBRARY and decide for yourself!
Until next time: Remember--NON ILLEGITIMATI CARBVRVNDVM, Es mejor morir de pie que vivir de rodillas and Keep on Readin'!
Resources at Branigan Library are available to anyone who has a library card. Our library offers access to a variety of print and digital resources, including online resources that patrons can access from home or in person with a library card, like e-books, e-magazines, e-music, online homework help, and online research help.
“Our library provides access and programs for students of all ages,” says Renee Payne Frankel, Library Administrator. “For preschool age children we offer early literacy and lap-sit story times to encourage school readiness. For older children and teens we supplement education with hands-on technology programs, and for older teens we have information and tools to help prepare for college and mentoring programs. For adults, we have career help with “Brainfuse,” an online job resource that offers free assistance with resume writing, online job coaching, interview tips, and more. There’s really something for everyone and it’s all free with a library card.”
For more information on how to sign up for a library card, visit Branigan Library in person or visit the library online at http://library.las-cruces.org
In a little over a month (on Saturday, August 15th to be exact) Branigan Library will look, feel, and smell like a new Library! That's because the approximately 180,000 books, 15,000 CDs and audiobooks, along with the nearly 19,500 linear feet of shelf in the Library will have just gotten a much needed cleaning. And, while we're at it, we'll have the carpeting and tile deep-cleaned, clean and wax the computer lab, plus paint the magazine/newspaper room.
In addition, we'll do the first ever inventory of the almost 300,000 records in the Library's database. This will allow us to determine just how many of those items are lost and/or missing and get a baseline for tracking the Library's collections and generating more accurate reports in the future.
So that we can do this in the least disruptive and safest way possible for you, our customers, the Library will be closed from Monday August 10th through Friday the 14th. In this way, we'll avoid even the possibility of any customer sustaining injuries during the cleaning. It will also enable staff to perform the inventory in the quickest, most accurate way possible.
This is just one more way we're striving every day to bring you the very best library services possible. We appreciate your cooperation and understanding as we undertake this important and necessary operation to help us all better conserve, preserve, and use the Library.
The book/media drop will be closed only briefly for the computer lab cleaning. It will remain open for the rest of the week so you can return materials on time and not incur overdue fines.
According to Melissa Mayntz* the above terms are collective nouns for Hummingbirds. Even just a casual flipping through Marcy Scott's new book Hummingbird Plants of the Southwest(Tucson: Rio Nuevo Publishers, 2015) could make you think that she may be right, as the stunning photos lend credence to all the visual allusions.
Thanks to the graciousness of author and publisher, I received a review copy by mail a couple days ago. Wow! Any self-respecting "hummer" birder in the Southwest will want to get their hands on this book. If you're a gardener also, then . . . well, need I say more?
The Library doesn't own this gem of a book yet, but we have two copies on order. So, you can request that we hold it for you as soon as it arrives and is ready to go.
To do this, click on the link below and follow (most of) the instructions. Don't, however, press the Enter(the instructions call it RETURN) key after you type your name into the box. Go ahead and type your library cardnumber (the instructions call it barcode) into the next box and then, **and only then**, press the Enter key.Now you're ready to Click here.
But back to the book. You get a bouquet of several books rolled into one when you pick this one up. First, there's the profiles of the baker's dozen plus one Hummingbird species that regularly occur in the Southwest. Then, there are the plants, ten dozen of them, to be precise, that attract these winged jewels. Scott skillfully interweaves information about when which plants attract what species of "hummer" with what type of soil and watering they require with what other birds, mammals and insects use it for food or shelter plus a host of other info, to present a satisfyingly holistic result. This makes it truly invaluable for a whole host of readers. Birders, botanizers, landscapers, hikers, the merely curious, amateur armchair naturalists, all these, and others, will find scads more than enough to keep them coming back time after time.
But that's not all! The essays on hummingbirds' lives, plant pollination, setting up a southwestern native plant garden, attracting "hummers" and migration corridors are marvels of readability and precision. Then, there are the photos! While she took none of them, Scott certainly knew whom to tap for their talent and expertise in this area. Every single picture is reason enough alone to buy the book. Indeed, the whole thing, from photos, to species profiles, to the glossary, to the appendix on ways to help hummingbirds, to the bibliography and resource list is a natural history masterpiece.
And, in the works: a presentation and book signing with the author herself. Marcy Scott lives in Las Cruces and we're setting up a date for her to come to Branigan Library to talk about and sign copies of her book. So, keep watching for an announcement about that!
In closing, although primarily known for their eye- rather than ear-pleasing qualities, a tune of Hummingbirds is still an apt expression. No one would suggest that they're great songsters, but there's certainly something quite tuneful about the sound made by air rushing through a displaying male's feathers during mating season.
Today we celebrate Émile Zola, born on this day 175 years ago.
Émile Édouard Charles Antoine Zola (2 April 1840 - 29 September 1902) was a French author, and the self-proclaimed leader of the Literary Naturalism movement. In addition, he was one of the principal movers in the 19th century political liberalization of France. Over the course of his career, Zola wrote more than 30 novels, numerous short stories, and several plays. Perhaps best know for his "J' Accuse...!" letter during the Dreyfus Affair, Zola was very much involved in liberal politics of his day.
The Dreyfus Affair
Alfred Dreyfus, of Alsatian and Jewish descent, was a Captain in the French Artillery. In 1894, he was, on extremely flimsy circumstantial evidence, accused of selling military secrets to the Germans. Convicted of treason, he was expelled from the Army and condemned to life in prison on Devil's Island in French Guiana.
Two years later, new evidence was discovered that exonerated Dreyfus and disclosed the true culprit. The Army not only suppressed it but also punished whistle-blowing officer.
On 13 January, 1898, Zola risked his career and more with his open letter to the President of the Republic accusing the very highest echelons of the French Army of obstruction of justice and anti-Semitism in the Dreyfus Affair. It was published on the front page of the Paris daily L'Aurore. As he and his liberal friends had planned, he was tried and convicted for criminal libel of the army. What they had not foreseen was that he would have to flee to England to avoid arrest and prison. Soon, however, Zola was pardoned and returned home. Eventually, Dreyfus was pardoned and French liberals saw it as a victory of obscurantism. Without doubt, the outcome of the Dreyfus Affair was due in large part to Zola's fame, already well established before he became involved.
Zola's best-known work and masterpiece is Germinal, the 13th work in his 20-volume series Les Rougon-Macquart. The series relates the story of a fictional family in the Second French Empire and is one of French Literary Naturalism. The book relates, with stark honesty the story of a coal miner's strike in Northern France and takes its title from the name of one of the spring months in the French Republican calendar. At the beginning of the strike, the miners have great hopes for a better life, but conditions worsen until the miners and their families, driven to despair, riot. Zola unflinchingly portrayed the violence on both sides when the Army and police repress it and the miners are forced to return to work. Germinalends on a hopeful note, though and has inspired labor activists ever since its publication.
At least one Anarchist assassin, Michele Angiolillo, went to his death with the word "Germinal" on his lips. And at Zola's funeral, crowds of workers thronged the streets, chanting "Germinal! Germinal!" as the cortege passed by.