It’s the Noarlunga Library’s fault I haven’t been to a library in 20 years! I used to be at the library every week and it was a great place for my daughter . They played their part in ensuring she loved books and reading.She even went back as a volunteer when she was older. It was a great library then with all the foreign language books, the wealth of health books, the craft and art books and the massive choice of fiction. They installed computers and allowed us access to this new Internet thing. I booked the two of us in for an hour at a time and we were lost in Netscape and just loved it, so much so I bought my IBM 486 computer and suddenly we could find everything online and were spending lot of time online .The library became superfluous to requirements. Last Wednesday was foul weather in Adelaide and I had the urge to go back to the library to see what had happened to it. It is an airy, well thought out space now. There are not so many books but there are more electronic media, magazines and computers. They even had some retro computers in their own special spot which were fully utilised as flat screens sat idle and unpopular. That was really interesting. There were more magazines and they were really well organised and covered a wide variety of interests. The staff set me up well and quickly and I was borrowing in no time. I also had an update and explanation of how it all works online now. Libraries are linked and so you can book resources you search and they will come to your nearest library. You can read books online or download them to a compatible reader. What interested me as I wandered was there was a map of the proposed changes to the Port Noarlunga foreshore to include and upgraded walking trail. It was clearly explained, there were photographs and it was information worth seeing. There was a lot of art work featured too. It wasn’t overly busy, probably because of the weather. Everyone there was engrossed in what they were doing. I came out with a number of books and some magazines which have already gone to work really hard in my life with the ideas they have brought me. A book or magazine brings you specific content which is curated in a careful way. It is focused learning and focused presentation of material. Books have things which are not necessarily on the internet. It’s another way to see the ideas and creativity of others. The library is now going to be a regular part of my life because it is a learning space which allows you to explore in your own way. I am still discovering the online part of it but I can see that will help broaden my searches and access to information. On a computer you are available to others. In a library you are available to yourself and that thought struck me clearly. Libraries are there for you and your own self development and that has been lost in the passion for technology . Originally, computing was just for me on my IBM 486 but now it has become a place where I am expected to be there. I am used to it and do well with technology but it was lovely to just have me time in the library where my learning needs are met uninterrupted and without any expectations other than my own and that is a library’s biggest asset in 2016.
When you are reading Hugh Holton’s Chicago Blues it’s hard to think of it as the city which has been the home of such great blues music. He does write some blues lyrics in his book and so you wonder whether the lyrics came first and inspired the book or vice versa:
They call it the windy city
‘Cause the wind there has no pity
Like a freight train roarin’ toward you,
Like its whistle blown’ through you,
Through your heart, through your heart.
I found it a hard read because I don’t like violence or violent texts. I persisted because I thought at least it would challenge me and my thinking. For the first 80 pages I was thinking, I am just going to put this in the bin. I don’t want to read it and I don’t want anyone else to read it. Right, it’s going in the bin. Okay, I’ll race through this bit and hope it gets better. I was brought up to respect and revere books , so binning them is sacrilege. Half way through the book it had settled a bit and so had I. It really was a freight train coming at me , it really was whistling through me and it really was crashing through my heart. For the first half of the book the narrative was lost in all the violence. Everyone was harsh, hard, brutal, aggressive. Then a husband and wife sit in the den together and read . For the first time you have normal people doing normal things. You then get great lines once in a while like:
“He opened his mouth and let a couple of drops fall on his tongue. He savored the taste for a moment before smiling. The Odds-n-Ends Souvenir Shop was raining beer. “
This novel was so unlike anything I read so it will take some time to decide what I really thought. I did read the second half very quickly and found it much more satisfying but ,I guess, by then, I knew what I was in for and could manage it psychologically. I just had to detach myself and read and then look at it from a critical point of view. In lots of ways it is very Old testament – If you live by the sword , you die by the sword. It was also very much about the complications of police , politics and mobsters which has some relevance in today’s society. It was written in 1996 and yet you can recognise it as current. Maybe Chicago has gone mainstream? Its difference was what made it a valuable read for me. I learned a lot but I cannot be sure that I’d ever read a book like that again.
Jeffrey Ford knows how to write a good book which keeps you absorbed and guessing. Part of my current challenge was to read a chapter of a book everyday. I chose The Portrait of Mrs. Charbuque because I had started reading it and had then just left it. Not because of the book but because of my life. It had just exploded into being busy and things like reading were being neglected. It’s a fascinating story and you never know where it is going to go next. It is set in 19th century New York and is full of art and artists. It is really good to read a book where you find out a lot about the way artists do things and go about things. It is bizarre and like nothing else I have read because it is so strange. In the end it is why it becomes compelling. I had started to read my one chapter a day which became two which became three and soon I needed to finish the book. It is well written and in many respects you are held at a distance so that you view the work and observe. Art appreciation. The story then takes a turn and you are hooked and lost in the reading of it . I cannot say more. It would spoil it for you if you want to read it.