On October 3rd, the Black Student Union and the SGA Programs Board held a special event called BLM @ St. Mary’s. Held to support the Black community at SMCM and to serve as a forum for discussion about racial injustice, the event featured speakers include the Department of Political Science’s Dr. Sahar Shafqat, and interim Chief Diversity Officer Kelsey Bush, as well as an open mic segment on the waterfront during which students shared creative works. In response to a request from the Programs Board and the BSU, the Library has put together a book display of materials related to racial justice issues, including systemic racism and police brutality, as well as highlighting works by Black authors. The display, located across from the Circulation Desk on the Library’s first floor, will be up for the rest of the semester, and all books are available to check out. Come visit the library and learn more about race and social justice!
Michael Punke’s 2002 novel, The Revenant tells the story of frontiersman Hugh Glass as he navigates the wilderness in order to hunt down the man who killed his son. The story follows Glass as he travels the wilderness of Montana and South Dakota, surviving multiple attacks on his life, by both humans and animals. The movie was adapted into a film of the same name directed by Alejandro G. Iñárritu in 2015, which was actually the film that Leonardo DiCaprio won his first and only Oscar award for. Would you rather live in the wilderness or live in a major city?
Gillian Flynn’s 2012 novel Gone Girl is a mystery novel that tracks the tumultuous marriage of Nick and Amy Dunne. On their wedding anniversary Amy goes missing and all the signs point to Nick as the culprit. However, as the story continues it becomes very clear that not all things are as obvious as they seem, as the story is full of unpredictable surprises that leaves the reader hooked on every page. In 2014 director David Fincher directed the movie adaptation for the novel, with the screenplay being written by Flynn. The film visualizes the story into a physiological thriller, and like the novel, it deceives the audience up until the last moment. Would you rather live an unhappy, but safe life in your hometown with your family or would you rather move away to an unknown location and start your life over?
Life of Pi
Yann Martel’s 2002 novel, Life of Pi, is a book that explores the time that character Pi Patel spent shipwrecked with only a tiger named Richard Parker as company. The alternating narrative structure and undertones of spiritually make the novel a unique read. The movie adaptation directed by Ang Lee in 2012, brings the shipwreck to the big screen, giving viewers the visualization of Patel and Richard Parker’s adventure. Would you rather be stranded in the middle of an ocean or would you rather be stranded on a deserted island?
Catch Me If You Can
In the semi-biographical novel Catch Me If You Can by Frank Abagnale, the main character Frank Abagnale is a conman who cashed over $2 million dollars using fraudulent checks and multiple identities. Frank chooses a life of crime in order to live the lavish lifestyle he desired. The movie adaptation, directed by Steven Spielberg in 2002, follows the life of Abagnale, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, as he assumes various identities in order to conceal his crimes. Would you rather live lavishly but dishonestly, like Frank Abagnale, or would you rather live plainly but with integrity?
Interview With the Vampire
Interview with the Vampire, written by Annie Rice in 1976, details the life of vampire Louis de Pointe du Lac. His life is filled with stories of death, betrayal, and love as Louis travels from America to Europe and meets various other vampires, dealing with the issues that come along with immortality. The movie adaptation from 1994 directed by Neil Jordan, stars Brad Pitt as Louis and was nominated for multiple awards. Would you rather live life eternally as a vampire or would you rather live a mortal life as a human?
Crazy Rich Asians
Crazy Rich Asians, written by Kevin Kwan in 2013, is the first book of a trilogy, with a main focus on introducing the Asian culture to the Western audiences. The book surrounds two main characters, Rachel Chu and Nicholas “Nick” Young’s romance relationships and the problems, both culturally and financially, that they have to face from their parents and grandparents. Those problems presented in both the book and movie corresponds to the family issues that happen in current Chinese families. Would you rather give up your wealth and reputation altogether for love or stay in the comfort zone and do what the family asked?
Last Friday the Morning News Tournament of Books declared The Good Lord Bird by James McBride the winner of TOB X. I added this to my to-read pile along with one other TOB competitor, Long Division by first time author Kiese Laymon whose writing judge Héctor Tobar described as, “a tour de force of colloquialisms and street slang put to intellectual good use,” before eliminating it from the competition in the first round. It lost to Donna Tartt’s Goldfinch a novel I am committed to never reading.
Two is not an impressive number of newly discovered reads and I didn’t go into the tournament having read a lot of the books. Just three and a half, At Night We Walk in Circles by Daniel Alarcón, Life After Life by Kate Atkinson, The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri and about half of A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki.
This actually reflects my sense of my 2013 reading year. I don’t have the stats but it wasn’t a year full of books I loved. Few of the books I liked made the TOB, only the Alarcón and Atkinson. And The Lowland is by far Lahiri’s weakest work. So I took a look at the TOB long list to see how that stacked up and found a lot of books I read or that were on my to-read list that didn’t make the cut. There were a lot. Read Pamela’s recommendations from the TOB long list.
March Madness gets us all in the end. For the last three years, the library has been following The Morning News Tournament of Books. Yes, we are fans and the brackets are displayed in an exhibit case in the library.
This year’s winner is The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson. Although the tournament started with a play-in round of Iraq war themed novels won by Billy Lynn’s Long Half-Time Walk, the official opening round started with The Round House by Louise Erdrich versus The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. The Fault in Our Stars was the staff book club’s March pick so we have a soft spot for it (along with most of the US.) Green’s win over Erdrich set up the first of two match-ups between The Fault of Our Stars and The Orphan Master’s Son, the quarterfinals.
and was defeated! Goodbye Orphan Master’s Son. So how do two titles knocked out of the tournament end up in championship final? They come back as zombies. In the TOB books rise from the dead. Zombie #1, The Fault in Our Stars earns its spot in the final with a controversial win over Building Stories and Zombie #2, The Orphan Master’s Son takes down Gone Girl.
— Pamela Mann
I’m following up on my last post about the Haiku Cubes and the Japanese American Experience exhibit with an interview with Tiko Mason. The concept and the content of the exhibit was her idea I thought I’d let her explain it to you.
Pamela: Can you share with our readers where the idea for the library exhibit came from?
Tiko: This past summer I participated in the St. Mary’s Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SMURF) program. I had intended to research the Japanese-American experience from the arrival of the issei (first generation Japanese to come to America) to the yonsei (my generation) using my family’s personal experience as text. Prior to the project I knew my great-grandfather Seizaburo’s name, that he had lived in Seattle, and that something bad had happened to him during the war. I had no idea that on my first visit to the National Archives and Records Administration I would happen upon a gigantic file, replete with over a hundred documents, handwritten letters, memorandums from the Department of Justice and the FBI, all topped with Seizaburo’s mug shot and fingerprints. My project morphed into a creative engagement with this file, supported by other historical research, that grappled with my personal questions of identity in relation to this not-so-distant family member from the not-so-distant past. The documents in this exhibit come from that research.
Pamela: Had you read When the Emperor was Divine before you started your project?
Tiko: I did read When the Emperor was Divine prior to beginning the project (at the suggestion of my excellent adviser Professor Beth Charlebois). I also re-read it 3 or 4 times during the course of the summer (while doing my research). Julie Otsuka’s language and description of these events sparked my own creativity. I came to see so much of my great-grandfather Seizaburo in the father from the story, and there are points where the narrative eerily describes my own family’s experience.
If you’ve been in the library you may have noticed these cubes around the building. The text on the cubes are haikus written by St. Mary’s students in response to this year’s FYE summer reading book, Julie Otsuka’s When the Emperor Was Divine. They serve as companion pieces to an exhibit co-curated by Tiko Mason on the Japanese-American experience during World War II.
You may view the exhibit on the 2nd floor of the library in the exhibit case by the elevators. For off-campus viewing, check out the exhibit photos on our Facebook page. For more information about the topic see the “Japanese-American Internment 1942-1945″ Research Guide.