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Austin, TX 78701
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Faulk Central Library’s most recent meeting of The Graphic Novel Book Club included a discussion of Frank Miller’s Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. Miller’s Batman books are considered classic comics/graphic novels so I was looking forward to see what they hype was about. Frankly though, I struggled to get through it and couldn’t help thinking, “What’s the big whoop?” (I have a really cool internal monologue.) I thought the artwork was cramped and sometimes hard to make out; there was a ton of text on each page and it was sometimes difficult to follow; and there are parts that really rely on background knowledge of this particular universe which I lacked.
Part of this lack of enthusiasm comes from, I’m sure, my general lack of enthusiasm about “comics” in general. But really, I just couldn’t figure out why this particular version of Batman was a big deal. Luckily, my fellow graphic novel book clubbers are a well read and thoughtful bunch of people who were able to point out to me that 30 years ago, when The Dark Knight was published, it was a statement that comics, and books that use a comic format, could be for adults. Suddenly, the comics world wasn’t all Archie comics and cutesy superheroes. In the early to mid-1980s, adult readers were given The Watchmen, Dark Knight and Maus and suddenly the genre’s appeal widened significantly.
As an English major, this is something I probably should have figured out on my own but, as many graphic novels as I’ve read, I still sometimes struggle to think of them in the same terms as novels. So, although I hope to never read this particular book again, I’m thankful that it helped paved the way for books like Strangers in Paradise, Saga, and Fun Home. Maybe I’ll even muster the energy to give Batman: Year One a try. Or maybe I’ll just wait until book club and let someone summarize it for me.
Anyone who saw the recent article about Hennepin County Library destroying thousands of books probably had a visceral reaction to the story. As we pointed out in our recent training videos about green weeding practices, not all books are created equal. While we would like to believe that all books are as glorious as those that Sonny Idecker, “That Rare Book Guy”, has showcased at the recent Texas Bookseller’s Association show here in Austin, we know better. Every week, Recycled Reads receives trunks and truckloads of old encyclopedias, travel guides, decades old text books and the like. Many are water damaged, bug infested, fuzzy with dog hair and cracking from age. There is no resale value in such castoffs, but that does not mean they belong in the landfill. Reuse and repurpose is the preferred alternative here in Austin. Austin Public Library has distinguished itself as a national model because we do not throw books in the trash. What we can’t sell may end up as book art, as the mainstay for papier-mâché piñatas or pulped into slurry for construction projects. While more readers are turning to print alternatives, which can be found in APL’s virtual library, many readers still prefer print. Print is not going away any time soon, but the distribution model may change and just in time printing becomes the norm. Eric Kampmann’s book The Insider’s Guide to Book Publishing Success may shed some light on the subject, which is a contrast to a book from just ten years ago entitled The Book Publishing Industry by Albert N. Greco, which ironically is an ebook.
Are you tired of giving the same old store bought Valentine’s Day cards every year? Well, change it up this year and head over to our February 4 Night Crafters program! Make a Lucky in Love Scratch Off Card or a tiny Message in a Bottle Valentine. Each are simple to create and definitely fun to share. As always, all supplies are provided.
WHAT: Night Crafters - Valentine's Day
WHERE: Manchaca Road Branch
WHEN: Wednesday, February 4, 6 - 8 PM
WHO: Adults interested in crafting.
Arthur Russell wielded a remarkably unique and heterogeneous body of work. He was an artist ahead of his time, a playful and poignant poet; an inimitable cellist; a cassette and tape echo experimentalist; a vital contributor to LGBTQ disco culture; and for a time, the director of The Kitchen, the notorious New York multidisciplinary art space, which housed the likes of John Cage, Allen Ginsberg, Pauline Oliveros and Brian Eno. Yet In 1992, at the height of his genius, like too many prolific artists, Arthur Russell died after battling AIDS.
Falling in love with Russell’s sound is effortless; it’s one that suspends distinctively across spaces inhabiting both pop and avant forms, lending to an intimate magnetism that is both capricious and wraithlike, eerie and charming. Steve D'Acquisto, one of Arthur Russell's close peers, described the allure of his art "like you've broken up with somebody, but you still love them" (Lawrence, T. (2009). Preface. In Hold On to Your Dreams (p. Xvi). Durham, NC: Duke University Press). Russell's output is so varied that you can hear a fourth-world disco banger and an emotive lo-fi ode to the sea in the same record. Miscellaneous projects spurred numerous monikers, Russell also released material as Dinosaur L, Loose Joints, Indian Ocean and Killer Whale.
The Austin Public Library carries two of Russell’s paramount compilations, World of Echo and Calling out of Context, in addition to the biography Hold on to your Dreams: Arthur Russell and the Downtown Music Scene, 1973-1992.
Chickens are a popular topic of conversation these days. Chicken varieties and unusual egg colors have become quite trendy of late. And it's no wonder; chickens are so fun to watch with their non-stop antics and their curious, busy, and sometimes cocky behavior.
"But wait! Where do I find chickens in the city?" Surprise, you're in just the right place! So many people around here think chickens are great that we have chicken coops all over town, and even a tour every spring!
You can also turn on your imagination about chickens at the library. Come on in and cluck your way through the life cycle of chickens and some very fun chicken stories. From classic tales like Chicken Little to sillier versions like Austin author Keith Graves's chicken BIG, you'll find lots to learn and enjoy.
Speaking of Keith Graves, right now you can visit Keith's crazy coop with Literature LIVE! Our production of Chicken Big travels January through April to library branches near you. You can even meet Keith in person on March 11 at 3:30 p.m. at our show at Hampton Branch at Oak Hill. If that isn't enough chickens for you, then come see the show plus lots of real, live chickens at the free grand finale of Austin's own Funky Chicken Coop Tour on April 4 at 12 noon at Sunshine Gardens.
Are your crafting fingers itching? Make a chicken hat and bawk your way through some chicken tales!
Need more? Here are some books and resources to help you have a great time making up your own stories about chickens:
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