Flash Contest: Win Tickets to Marjane Satrapi!

image from Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis courtesy of Midnight in a perfect worldShelf Talk has two tickets to An Evening with Marjane Satrapi at The Moore Theatre, this coming Monday, April 14, @ 7:30 PM. Marjane Satrapi is a critically acclaimed writer and comic artist who is best known for her film Persepolis, nominated for a 2007 Academy Award for Best Animated Film.

Satrapi does an autobiographical talk about her life. She talks about growing up in Iran and why she became a comics artist. She’s serious about her work but explains it to audiences in her amusing, funny and unique way. Her sense of humor shows through as she improvises and lets the evening dictate the program direction. It is in part political (about her life and childhood in Iran), and part of her art and where the two meet. Satrapi was a big hit when she visited Continue reading “Flash Contest: Win Tickets to Marjane Satrapi!”

Remembering Kurt Vonnegut

image man without a countryIt’s been almost a year since Kurt Vonnegut died, but I’ve been thinking about him a lot. I recently read the final book he published during his lifetime, A Man Without a Country. It’s a concise collection of biographical essays that feel like they were written by your cantankerous, but highly intelligent and funny, old uncle.

I felt such deep affection for the man while reading these essays. Then, when I got to page 102 and read his eloquent thoughts about librarians and libraries, I fell for him hook, line and sinker. Here’s what he wrote:

I want to congratulate librarians, not famous for their physical strength, their powerful political connections or great wealth, who, all over this country, have staunchly resisted anti-democratic bullies who have tried to remove certain books from their shelves, and destroyed records rather than have to reveal to thought police the names of persons who have checked out those titles.

So the America I loved still exists, if not in the White House, the Supreme Court, the Senate, the House of Representatives, or the media. The America I loved still exists at the front desks of our public libraries.”

Turn It Up!: Cambodian Cassette Archives

cca.jpgUnless you were living in Phnom Penh in the 1960s, you’ve probably never heard anything quite like Cambodian Cassette Archives: Khmer Folk & Pop Music, Vol. 1  (Various Artists, 2004) before. Painstakingly compiled from over 150 cassettes found in the Asian branch of the Oakland Public Library (by folks at Seattle’s own Sublime Frequencies label), this album is an eclectic collection of rock, dance, new wave, ballads, and other pop songs made in Cambodia and the United States (by Cambodian expatriates) from the 1960s to the 1990s. Little is known about many of these artists, many of whom may have perished under Pol Pot’s despotic regime; indeed, many tracks have neither titles nor artist names.

Yet the lack of information about these songs doesn’t make this collection any less fun to listen to. Fusing operatic Cambodian vocals with psychedelic guitar noodlings, synth-driven beats, and funky horns, these tunes will startle and delight new listeners with their Continue reading “Turn It Up!: Cambodian Cassette Archives”

The Arrival: power without words

arrivalThe Arrival, by Shaun Tan, is the wordless story of a man who leaves his home and emigrates to a new country. So simple, so universal, but the reader wonders: is it history? Science fiction? Fantasy? Fable? What are these strange machines and bizarre creatures? How will the man survive in this weird new world, and how do the stories of other immigrants weave with his?

This book will take you maybe 20 minutes to read, but you will want to go back and reread it a few more times to really appreciate the artwork. And if you know anyone who’s new to this country, this would make the perfect gift.

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Tesla in the air!

image of nikola tesla grafittiEvery so often, someone will approach me at the library and ask for information about Nikola Tesla, often in the kind of knowing way that people ask about Bigfoot or aliens, rather than a scientist and inventor. Occasionally they’ll bend close and add in hushed tones that they want the straight dope about his death ray, earthquake machine or some other wildly fantastical top secret gadget. So just who is this mythic modern Prometheus whose wild inventions, preternatural genius and poignant life have proved so fascinating to so many?

 Tesla in Fiction: