If you are a fan of graphic novels or comic book histories, Joe Sacco’s incredibly detailed book about the battle of the Somme is a keeper. The accordion style of the book imparted a narrative push to this graphic history that has no text.
The folded-over 24 foot long drawing also gave Sacco a large expanse of space to record the planning for the war on the ramparts of Montreuil-sur-Mer, the gathering of horses, laden carts and howitzers before the battle, and the trenches, explosions and destruction of the battle itself.
The artist also vividly captured the digging of graves and the field of white crosses after the bloodshed ended. Sacco’s drawings are very accurate, expertly rendered, and they convey emotion. To get the full effect of this book, you should spread it out across a long table or even two tables.
The one-day battle had 60,000 British casualties—the largest of any battle Britain has been involved in before or since. Included in a separate booklet is Adam Hochschild’s narrative essay that places the art in context. Read more about The Great War
This is an interesting book detailing the rise of what the author terms the "Third Golden Age of Television". He provides in-depth details on the development, reaction, and impact of several critically acclaimed television shows (The Sopranos, The Wire, Deadwood, Mad Men) and touches on others more peripherally (The Shield, Six Feet Under, Breaking Bad and various others). [Note: The Library may not, and probably will not, have the entirety of some of these shows, so check the catalog if you are inclined to (re-)watch any of them]. The author provides a context for how these new shows developed (going back to briefly recap the first two 'ages' on network television) and traces how this third Age was able to come about only on premium and basic cable stations. Read more about Difficult Men
I’m not much of a purist about most things but Beatles’ songs are an exception. The idea of a movie that used the songs of The Beatles to tell a story did not really appeal to me. That the songs were not the original recordings made the idea seem even worse. However after re-reading Roger Ebert’s review of the movie “Across the Universe” I felt I had to at least give the film a shot. Jude (Jim Sturgess) has come to the United States to find his father and make his way as an artist. While here he meets Max Carrigon and his sister Lucy. From here the film follows Jude and Lucy through the turbulent sixties while capturing their up and down relationship. This happens to the beat of the accompanying background of Beatles tunes. Read more about Across the Universe
I’m not one for war novels, but this little gem hooked me from the start. The writing is stellar and the characters speak and act with a naturalness that only comes from actual combat experience.
Kevin Powers, the author, is an Iraq War veteran. The story he has written about his experiences is heart-breaking. The narrator, 21 year old Private Bartle, had literary aspirations in school and received a lot of taunting from his friends, so he decided to prove his manhood by becoming a soldier. This mirrored the author’s life who enlisted at age seventeen. At basic training, he meets, the pimple-faced newbie, Murph, whose mother begs Bartle to promise to bring him back from Iraq unharmed.
Of course, no experienced soldier would ever make such a promise but something about the woman reminds the private of his own mother, so he readily agrees. Big mistake. They soon get sent to Al Tafir where a series of bloody battles, including civilian deaths, jade both men. Read more about The Yellow Birds
If you like haiku or are merely curious about the art, dive into this book. It traces the origin of the form in English from Ezra Pound’s “In a Station at the Metro” through the effusive Beats (Kerouac, Gary Snyder, and Allen Ginsburg) to contemporary masters of these powerful small poems. In the introduction, Billy Collins describes his love for these small gems and unlike many of the other artists included here, he writes in the familiar 5-7-5 syllabic pattern.
Here are a few of my favorite haiku included in the collection. But alas, there were so many good ones, it was hard to choose a small sample:
What would your life be like if every day you lived the same day over and over again? Perhaps a better question would be; what would it be like for those around you who continue to move ahead in time while you continue to live the same day over and over again? This is the problem faced by Lucy (Drew Barrymore), her family and her friends in their small town after an accident causes Lucy to forget everything that has happened to her since just before her accident. Her family and the town around her try to keep her from realizing that time has moved on. Read more about 50 First Dates