MORRILL MEMORIAL LIBRARY

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Friday: 10:00 am - 5:00 pm
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Meet Cinderella!

cinderella-story-time-website-imageWednesday, October 18th
11:00 am
Ages 6 and under
Registration required

Join Miss Amy from Norwood’s K&M Dance Studio as she comes dressed as Cinderella!  Cinderella will read us some stories, teach us some dance moves, and stick around for photo ops.  Please call the library at 781-769-0200 x225 or use the form below to register your child today!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Margaret Atwood’s Prisons

The most common of library problems is requesting one thing and getting something else by mistake. Recently there’s been a recurring issue with patrons finding themselves in possession of a mediocre film adaptation from 1990 rather than a recent hit show. The Handmaid’s Tale is in the public eye at the moment, becoming a successful series on Hulu this year and winning eight Emmys, including those for best drama, best actress, best supporting actress, best writer, and best director. With a prominent career stretching back over fifty years, Margaret Atwood is one of Canada’s best and most-recognized authors. She has won the Man Booker Prize for the best novel published in the British Commonwealth (The Blind Assassin, 2000) and has been shortlisted for four other novels. She has earned the Canadian Governor’s General Prize for Poetry (The Circle Game, 1966) and Fiction (The Handmaid’s Tale, 1985) and has been a finalist on seven other occasions. In addition to accolades in literary society, Atwood is also a major figure in modern science fiction (or speculative fiction, as she prefers to call it) and fantasy, winning the Arthur C. Clarke Award for The Handmaid’s Tale, which was also nominated for the Nebula award in the US, and receiving accolades for Oryx and Crake (2003), The Penelopiad (2005), and The Heart Goes Last (2015).

The Handmaid’s Tale is one of those rare events in film and television that matches or maybe even improves upon the original book. The story envisions a near future where birth rates have fallen dramatically and an extremist religious group takes control of America, forcing fertile women into service for the families of the group’s leaders. Elizabeth Moss portrays one of these women, Ofglen, who has been taken from her husband and daughter and made into a “handmaid” under the threat of torture, expected to provide a child for her master and his barren wife. Atwood and the showrunners explore both the fear and paranoia of the handmaids, who are always under observation, and the bitterness and resentment of the wives, who support this conditional adultery but want the children for themselves.

Both the book and the television show respond to contemporary trends in American (and Canadian) politics that threaten women’s rights to their own bodies. The “Republic of Gilead” takes this to a totalitarian extreme, making it illegal for women to read or write, or to move about the streets of the Boston suburbs unescorted. This imprisonment and imposition of power is central to several of Atwood’s other works as well. Alias Grace (1996) arrives on television in November and looks to the past rather than the future for its titular prisoner. Grace Marks was an Irish immigrant who became a house servant and was then convicted of the murder of her employer in the 1840s. The fictionalized account of her life as told to a psychologist interviewing her reflects on the constraints and pressures that she felt as a working class woman with no legal recourse to protect her from either abuse or poverty.

Two other recent books by Atwood also focus on prisons and the choices people make over the course of their lives that voluntarily limit their options. The Heart Goes Last follows a couple who trade their personal privacy and freedom of movement for the safety and security of a prison compound. An odd romance begins to tear their relationship apart as their constrained lives start to wear on them. Hag-Seed (2017), Atwood’s newest novel, approaches these ideas from the direction of a modern crime story. A failed theater director begins teaching classes at a remote prison and sees his new actors as a means to revenge on those who forced him from the stage. The twist is that the play he is producing as well as the book itself are both modern adaptations of Shakespeare’s The Tempest about the wizard Prospero in exile on a remote island. This is part of a series of books planned by Random House to adapt Shakespearean stories into modern novels of different genres, including Anne Tyler, reimagining The Taming of the Shrew in Vinegar Girl, as well as forthcoming books by Tracy Chevalier, Gillian Flynn, and Jo Nesbø, who will take on Othello, Hamlet, and Macbeth.

Despite the grim nature of some of these descriptions, The Handmaid’s Tale series is an excellent example of how hope and even some humor can be found in even the most desperate situations. Despite the setting of each book, Atwood takes an unflinching look at some of the worst aspects of modern life and then creates characters that can adapt and persist in the face of adversity. As her protagonist Ofglen repeats at her darkest moments, nolite te bastardes carborundorum (“don’t let the bastards grind you down”).

As a refreshing conclusion, Atwood has also recently published the Wandering Wenda series of children’s books about the adventures of a woman and her woodchuck companion and Angel Catbird, a tongue-in-cheek graphic novel featuring a superhero scientist who is part feline and part owl. All of Atwood’s books are available through the library and The Handmaid’s Tale should be out on DVD in the spring.

Jeff Hartman is the Senior Circulation Assistant, Paging Supervisor, and Graphics Designer at the Morrill Memorial Library. Read Jeff’s column in the September 28th issue of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.

Reserve October and November Best Sellers and Sneak Peeks

Want to get a preview of some of the new releases coming out next month?

2017 October Fiction

Download or view the October Fiction and October Non-Fiction lists to see if anything interests you. Click on the links for the complete list with titles (in blue) linked to the Minuteman Library catalog.  Log into your account and place a reserve. You may also pick up a complete list in the library and ask librarians to request them for you.

levis-smart-jacket

Smart Phone, Smart Watch… Smart Clothing?

It may seem like science fiction, but Google and Levis have teamed up to create a jacket, controlled with motion, that allows cyclists and drivers to use their phones with having them in hand.

 

From the article:

“Over a year after Google showed off its “connected” jean jacket designed for bike commuters at last year’s Google I/O developer conference, the company today is unveiling the final product, which goes on sale on Wednesday for $350. Designed in partnership with Levi’s, the new smart jacket takes advantage of technology from Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects group (ATAP), which involves weaving multi-touch sensors into clothing.

At Google I/O, the companies demonstrated how a bike commuter could instead touch their jacket’s cuff and use gestures to control various functions that they would otherwise have needed to pull out their phone for – like handling calls and messages, adjusting the volume, or navigating with Google Maps, for instance.

In today’s announcement, Google says the new Levi’s Commuter Trucker Jacket will allow its wearers to do things like stopping or starting their music, getting directions, or reading incoming text messages just by swiping or tapping on the jacket’s sleeve.”

 

Interested? Read the article here.

Surviving the Crazy Time

While I became officially divorced just ten months into the 21st century, I received the news that my marriage was over at the end of the 20th. I faced Y2K and The Millennium as a divorcee. The implications of the end of the world as we knew it, and the promises of a new start, were both frightening and unfamiliar.

I’d had my suspicions about a possible breakup for several years before that summer in 1999, but I was still blindsided when it ended. And while I was not shocked when my ex-husband began dating (and eventually married) one of my then-closest friends, it was a staggering conclusion.

I had married somewhat young just before my 21st birthday. We were well into our 27th year as a couple and had achieved college degrees, witnessed the births of three daughters, and had moved many times around the country and the world. We had nearly three decades under our shared marital belt.
I hadn’t ever seriously thought about the reality of being single again. In fact, a few years later, when I checked off a box on some various form declaring myself as “single,” I shook my head in quizzical disbelief. “Wow, that’s weird,” I thought.

Those messy, topsy-turvy years are now well beyond me and I happily celebrate my tenth anniversary of remarriage this month. I hopefully am on my way to another 27 or more years of marriage. That said, when a newly-published book about surviving divorce appeared on the “new non-fiction” shelves, it caught my fancy. Sometimes I just need to validate that crazy time in my life and at the same time look for ways to help others survive it.

Mid-Life Ex-Wife by Stella Grey was one such book on the New Books shelf this summer. The version we have in Norwood is actually the American edition of a book by British author; it was originally published in a column format in the Guardian, the UK daily paper. The name Stella Grey is a pseudonym, of course, and the real author began to write for the Family page of the Guardian in 2014. Eighteen months of columns were published as a book in England titled The Heartfix. In May 2016, the American version was published as Mid-Life Ex-Wife.

The woman behind the Stella Grey name began her journey when her husband asked for a divorce. He was, simply, in love with someone else. They had no children and Stella was left dumbfounded and alone. In the first paragraphs of the book she writes that the sudden and unexpected news was “rather like that scene in Alien, in which John Hurt is sitting contentedly eating spaghetti … and then the infant monster burst out of his chest, leaving everybody [sitting with him] shocked and splattered.”

If this description brings a smile to your face, a nod to your head, or a tear to your eye, so will Stella Grey’s book. It’s shocking, funny, witty, cringe worthy (at times) and maddening. She documents her wild ride through the jolting and twisting of life after divorce.

Stella Grey was just 50 at the time and she wasn’t writing herself off. Yet.
I laughed and cried along with Stella’s whose experiences were unfortunately so familiar. Who thinks they will endure a first date again? Or a blind date? Or a bad date? Certainly not Stella! Or me.

Stella writes “When somebody announces that they’re leaving you, it’s a physical shock. It starts in your brain and reverberates through your bones.” The good news, though, is that it is, in fact, treatable and not terminal. Stella Grey wrote eighteen months of posts – a quest to find love again, one that naturally included her journey through dating and singlehood. Stella then met Edward and eventually shared her news about starting fresh, half of a new couple, over a year ago.

In the first few months of my separation, and eventual divorce, I consulted my library and read many books such as The Healthy Divorce and Helping Your Kids Cope, but very few practical and honest books about starting over.

But then I found Crazy Time – Surviving Divorce and Building a New Life by Abigail Trafford. Reading it, I realized that the roller coaster ride was a natural process. There were guffaws of laughter, sighs of relief, and sudden realizations that sunk me in my chair. Amid the “aha” moments, there was fear and grief. Amid the tears, there was hope and optimism.

Trafford first wrote Crazy Time in 1982, the second edition followed in 1992, and the third in 2014. It was the 1992 edition that I read. One reviewer on Amazon wrote “Who told {Abigail Trafford] all this information about me?” That the beauty of this book. It is your reality, your roller-coaster, and your survival that Trafford writes about. I gave copies of the book to my friends who were facing that same “crazy time,” of divorce.

Today, of course, there are more-recent self-help books about divorce – of building a new life, learning to date again (Internet and otherwise), surviving financially, and all the other sociological and psychological aspects. These titles include The Optimist’s Guide to Divorce by Suzanne Riss and Jill Sockwell (2016), A Judge’s Guide to Divorce – Uncommon Advice from the Bench by Roderic Duncan (2007), and Divorce – Think Financially, Not Emotionally by Jeffrey A. Landers (2015).

I don’t want to ignore books written specifically for men who are going through a divorce. Sam Buser and Glenn Sternes wrote The Guys-Only Guide to Getting over Divorce in 2009 and Sam Margulies wrote A Man’s Guide to a Civilized Divorce, published in 2004.

Margaret Atwood wrote “A divorce is like an amputation. You survive it but there’s less of you.” It’s learning to navigate the world before and the world after with fear, humor, courage and joy that can be made easier by the experiences of others.

Charlotte Canelli is the library director of the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood, Massachusetts. Read Charlotte’s column in the September 21, 2017 issue of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.

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