The Monhegan Memorial Library eagerly announces the return the Distinguished Writers Series with a double program July 29-30th.
On July 29th, storytellers are invited to share their stories of Monhegan at “Monhegan Tales,” an open-mic-style night modeled after programs such as The Moth. Each storyteller will have a 5 minute limit, and advanced sign up is required (visit the Monhegan Memorial Library to do so). “Monhegan Tales” is hosted in collaboration with the Monhegan Museum.
On July 30th, there will be a talk by John Bear Mitchell, a storyteller, educator and citizen of the Penobscot Nation. He will speak on the importance of storytelling to Native peoples.
Both programs will take place at the Monhegan Community Church at 7:30pm. John Bear Mitchell’s talk has a suggested donation of $5.
The Distinguished Writers Series had been put on hold for two years due to COVID. This is the fifth iteration of the series. Donations to support the continuation of the Series can be made by visiting www.monheganlibrary.com.
On Wednesday, we had our Annual Meeting, this year again held via ZOOM out of concern for COVID safety. And again, I’d like to share my Annual Report with you! This year was a quiet one for the Library, but what if we’ve learned anything this year, it’s that quiet isn’t always bad. We’ve been able to be open uninterrupted, and are back to serving patrons as normal. We’ve even brought back some events! In such uncertain times, these feel like big gains. So we’re proud and happy with how this year went and is going, and we hope for more of the same as we head into our last month and a half of busy season.
Want to know all about it? Click here to read more!
A big heartfelt THANK YOU for using the Library this year. During times like these, your support is extra appreciated. Stay safe, wear a mask, and read a book!
At long last, presenting the Writing Group Zine 2019! Available at the Library or to download here. All this fabulous work was created in Writing Group last year, back when we could all sit around a table together. I felt nostalgic putting it together. And so grateful as always that these wonderful writers shared their work with me every week. One of the true privileges of my job.
HELLO! This blog space has been quiet for quite awhile (not that I was ever a prolific blogger anyway…). We usually post announcements about our summer events and our Distinguished Writers Series. We were planning big things. But none of it happened. A common theme for the summer, and 2020 in general!
We did have our Annual Meeting this past Thursday. We welcomed Felicia Dunson, Lisa Jahn-Clough, and Kelena Reid, who will be our new Secretary. So glad to have them! Carol Burdick will be our new President, with Miki Partridge stepping down but remaining on the board. THANK YOU MIKI! Your leadership has been extraordinary in an extraordinary time.
And we said goodbye to some board members too. I’d like to take a moment to recognize all their hard work. Thank you to Jan Kornbluth, Bob Smith (who will remain ex-officio in an advisory role), and Candis Kerns. They have been on the board since I started as Librarian in 2011! From Raffle ticket selling to events planning and everything in between, these people have truly made the Library the institution it is. I’d like to especially thank Candis, who was the President when I first began this job, right out of college. She has helped and encouraged me so much. I’m going to miss you! But I know you’ll each remain an active part of the Library community.
Upwards and onwards! If you’d like to hear more, please click here to read my full Librarian’s report. Among other things, you’ll find out: how we fared during the pandemic, how to get WiFi, and my plans for anti-racist posts online.
Lastly, I just want to say I’ve been so happy to greet many of our regulars this summer and this month in particular. For those of you who aren’t able to be with us, we miss you. Thank you all for your support!
On Tuesday, August 20th, we held our Annual Meeting here at the Library. We re-appointed Miki Partridge as President, Michael Brassard as Vice President, Don Abbott as Treasurer and Candis Kerns as Secretary. We also welcomed Andrew Dalrymple to the board!
As always, I’d like to share my Librarian’s report with all of you, so you can see (read) everything we’ve been up to! We couldn’t do it without YOUR support!
The Monhegan Memorial Library is proud to welcome Lois Lowry in our Fourth Annual Distinguished Writers Series on Monhegan Island. A two-time Newberry Award Winner, Ms. Lowry is best known for the beloved young adult books The Giver and Number the Stars. The author of 44 titles in total, she is recognized for tackling important subjects such as racism, the Holocaust, and the questioning of authority. The Giver, her dystopian novel, was called “a warning in narrative form” and has been both a banned book and an essential part of school curriculums.
Lois Lowry will give an Author Talk on Friday, August 2 at 7:30pm in the Monhegan Community Church (admittance by suggested donation of $10) followed by a Book Signing with light refreshments. On Sunday, August 4th at 11:15am she will hold a Q&A for Writers at the Monhegan Memorial Library (advance registration required). The Distinguished Writers Series was founded in 2016 and has since hosted Richard Blanco, Paul Doiron and Christina Baker Kline. Donations to support the continuation of the Series can be made by visiting www.monheganlibrary.com.
For questions or to sign up for the Writer’s Q & A, please contact Mia Boynton: firstname.lastname@example.org, 207-596-0549.
I am not sure exactly how the conversation began, whether we started by talking about books we were reading and authors we particularly enjoy, or about the imminent closure of our beloved college. Because of Green Mountain College closing, my colleague, Heather, and her family are moving from Vermont to Blacksburg, Virginia where she and her husband will teach. “My daughter lives down there, not too far from where you are going” I said to her. “Well, then, you have to come and visit us on your way down to see her,” she replied, “and we will go to eat at Barbara Kingsolver’s restaurant.” I asked if she had read Barbara’s most recent novel, “Unsheltered”. Heather looked at me with a funny expression on her face, and then the expression cleared as she said, “I just can’t read that right now.” I didn’t understand right away why she would say that, but then I stood there and it was as if she communicated telepathically.
The book focuses on Willa, whose husband who is a professor and just lost his job when his small liberal arts college closed. As a result, they had to move from the home and community they loved to a new place where they felt very alienated. In the new place, the house they are living in, and the only one they could afford, is falling apart – physically splitting down the middle. There is a whole lot more going on in the story; many things besides the house itself are falling apart in this family’s life. As I looked into my friend’s eyes, I saw the harsh reality that when things fall apart, it is enough, more than enough, to make a person feel exposed to the vagaries of the world and not in a good way.
Barbara Kingsolver’s novel weaves back and forth between this contemporary family whose life is frighteningly similar to those of my colleagues and so many others whose small liberal arts colleges are closing, and the days of Charles Darwin. The second storyline focuses on a newly-hired high school teacher, Thatcher Greenwood, and his family who live in the same house, as the cracks are initially starting to threaten its integrity. The teacher, facing an entire community bent on denying Darwin’s theories and refusing to allow him to bring any current science into his classes, strikes up a friendship with his next-door-neighbor, a woman who corresponds with Darwin and other luminaries of the time about her scientific observations in the natural world near her home in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey.
“Unsheltered” is about facing change and uncertainty while striving to hold onto one’s sense of self. Some of these changes are personal, while others are as large as the furor around Darwin’s concept of evolution in a world that was not ready or willing to imagine new ways of thinking. A particularly strong aspect of the novel is the relationship between Willa and her grown daughter, Tig. The author uses their conversations to consider the issue of climate change and its ties to consumerism and individualism. “Unsheltered” is about confronting the fault lines in our lives in ways that are honest and true despite society’s unwillingness to consider it’s complicity in the challenges all around us. Kingsolver’s novel is a highly readable perspective on creating a sustainable life in a times of uncertainty and upheaval.
I’m excited to announce our SECOND-EVER Writing Group Zine!! A loving compilation of work we did in Writing Group this year, simply click here to download a PDF copy. It’s also available at the Library!
(Are you wondering where the first Writing Group Zine is? It’s at the Library too, and soon-to-be available online.)
This novel has been hailed as “timely,” and after seeing it in every bookstore window this winter, I knew I had to buy it for the Library. When I finally got around to reading it this summer, I found it so much more. Though the global politics of India and US relations play a part, as does 9/11 later on in the novel, the scope remains remaining appropriately “small”: it is a tale of the Lajpat Nagar bomb blast of 1996 (a real occurrence).
The Association of Small Bombs refers to the name of an organization for people bereaved by bomb blasts, but also to the characters in the story: the Hindu parents of two boys killed in Lajpat Nagar, their Muslim friend, a terrorist, and an activist, who form their own kind of association, bound by the bomb to each other, in often unexpected ways. Unraveling these connections, Mahajan draws you deeper into each character, while covering a few decades and a building great deal of suspense. Though less than 300 pages, these intricacies makes it feel like much a larger novel, and Mahajan has done an elegant job interweaving the strands.
What I most liked about the book was the way in which Mahajan refuses to give easy answers when tackling the loaded topic of terrorism. To say he humanizes the characters is to miss the point: of course, all of them are human, both victim and terrorist. It is simply that Mahajan writes them so realistically. There are issues of class, religious vs. secular, Hindu vs. Muslim, East vs. West, and in this sense, An Association of Small Bombs fits right in with the pantheon of South Asian fiction. But Mahajan doesn’t lapse into stereotypes and keeps everything raw: “’They should kill everyone in the Taliban,’” says Deepa, the bereaved mother. “‘When we see what is happening in the West, we are glad. We are glad George Bush is going after terrorists. It should be a lesson to our country’… Afterwards, they were shocked at themselves. They were no longer liberals.” There are moments of tenderness, equally surprising: the bomb maker going swimming with his best friend, “they held hands like lovers, though there was nothing sexual about this.” Most startling to me was this line: “The fewer that die, the lonelier the victims are. It’s better for the event to be big, to affect many. People say 9/11 was the worst terror attack of all time—was it? I think the small bombs that we hear about all the time, that go off in unknown markets, killing five or six, are worse,” observes one character, who concludes grimly, “Better to kill generously rather than stingily.”
This sentiment is echoed throughout the novel, perhaps the only conclusion that Mahajan allows for. The prose is smooth and even understated, and yet this will often be an uncomfortable read, especially for Americans. While 9/11 (and terror attacks on the Western world in general) are tragedies that produce worldwide empathy, it is other places that bear most of the burden of extremism. It is countries, like India, who are shaken by these “small bombs in unknown markets,” the ones we hear about “all the time,” on the TV or social media– the ones we scroll by and then forget. Like one character comments, when it comes to violence in the non-Western world, we’ve become “immune to the only disease without a cure.” As Mahajan deftly illustrates, what is often the most devastating is not the bomb, but the aftershock.