Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Brower Park #79, 10/20/07

Last Saturday was a really bad day for me. I had something really hard to do, and it was something that will be with me forever. Also, it was something that required a lot of waiting, so I decided to take my mind off things a bit by going to a library first and getting some reading material. Winesburg, Ohio was excellent. according to Dean Koontz's afterword (yeah, I don't know either) the author was never able to replicate the success of it again, and there were a variety of reasons. I can think of one: it's almost perfect. I'm a sucker for early 20th century literature, but this was really above and beyond most novels (or related short story collections) that I had ever read before, in any setting. It was reminiscent of Ray Bradbury's Dandelion Wine and I wouldn't be at all surprised if it was a major inspiration for that title. I recommend Winesburg, Ohio highly.

I chose to go to the Brower Park Branch because it wasn't too far away, and had a book I was interested in from seeing it in my friend Annette's Barnes & Noble. That's right. She has one personally.

Branch: Brower Park
Location: 725 St. Marks Ave. at Nostrand Ave.
Transport: bicycle
Books: The O. Henry Prize Stories 2007 edited by Laura Furman; Soledad Brother: The Prison Letters of George Jackson
Date: Saturday, October 20, 2007

This library was in Crown Heights. My current roommate Dave used to live there, on Eastern Parkway. That was a nicer part than this. Even on a Saturday around noon, the area seemed sketchy, mostly because of the teenagers yelling at each other when I first got there. When I saw the name Brower Park I pictured a park right at the library. There is an actual Brower Park near there, but I didn't go to it. Maybe it would've helped my impression of the whole place, I dunno.

The library itself was small, but its main problem was selection. Beyond the empty shelf space I've seen at some libraries, this branch had multiple copies of many books, stacked on top of each other like they would be in a bookstore display. I understand wanting to have the books on display so the customers can see them, but I don't understand a library with obviously limited funding buying multiple copies of the same book instead of having the widest variety possible. If these were even the most popular books, then you'd think some copies would be checked out, but in most cases there were 3 of each such books, and there must have been ten to fifteen examples.

OK, rant over, what do I know about it blah blah blah. I had noticed Soledad Brother in my friend's store and remembered that I meant to read it years ago. Written by an African-American man imprisoned for a robbery he didn't commit, whose brother was shot and killed while trying to free him, the letters span the years 1964-1970. Haven't started it yet but I'm aure they'll be interesting. As for the other book, it's the O.Henry prizewinning story collection that I mentioned last time.

Something about this project makes me feeling like I'm working toward something. I'm not discovering another planet or writing a novel, but just the same it seems to give my life forward motion it might otherwise lack (school, work and interpersonal relationships notwithstanding). I appreciate everyone who takes the time to read it and comment on it, and I hope to keep you entertained, at least until the libraries run out. 40 down, 20 to go. Picture time.

There's really only one view of it.

I guess I could back up a little?

Maybe...the buildings across the street? I don't know.

That's it for this time. Keep caring about libraries and I probably will too.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Coney Island #32, 10/9/07

Wow, I went to this library on Tuesday, that's like six days ago. So I guess I figured it was probably time to post about it. In the meantime, the weather's gotten nice and cool, I rode 30 miles to cure MS (but you can still donate, I know you wanna), and it was the 50th anniversary of Sputnik being launched! Wait, that happened on October 4. Either way. I decided to go to the Coney Island Branch because, well, it had some books that I wanted, and a friend of mine agreed to go, and Coney Island is sweet. Oh, and I wanted Nathan's. Those fries are delicious.

Branch: Coney Island
Location: 1901 Mermaid Ave. (Near W. 19th St.)
Transport: F train
Books: Laika by Nick Abadzis; Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson
Date: Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Coney Island is great in the off season. Empty...cold and windy...gray...salty smelling...I love it. The library was ok, not too big but a very helpful librarian. In fact, one of the books I wanted was in the back room and he want and got it for me. Now that's service. I was totally ready to give up but Jenny (my fellow library student who came with) told me the guy was good. Like REALLY god. And he was. The library also had a very pleasant atmosphere to sit and read or relax in. It seemed to have a group of regulars who were happy to be there and contributed to the nice environment. Nothing really wacky happened though. Ah well.

Laika is a comic about the Russian dog that got shot up into space. It's partly fiction, but it was heavily researched and for the most part seems to be historically accurate. It's really well written and illustrated, and really makes you feel for the animals that get sacrificed, whether it be for science, or politics, or sometimes just publicity.

Winesburg, Ohio is a book of inter-related short stories from the early 20th century about life in a small town. I found out about it while flipping through the beginning of the new O. Henry prizewinner short stories collection. The few I've read so far are excellent. I'll report more later. Pics:

From the other side of the intersection.

One street closer.

Right in there. There's Jenny! On the left! Can you see her?

Here's Keyspan Park where the Brooklyn Cyclones play. And that parachute thing or whatever you call it. Be back soon.