Friday, May 25, 2018

Kicking off Invisible Man!

Sloan and Reneise helping one of our awesome readers!
We had a great crowd for our Big Book Challenge Kickoff event on Wednesday!  If you weren't able to make it, don't worry - all books that were on hold before the event are now on the hold shelf waiting for you.  And if you're still waiting for a copy, we've got more on order and they'll be in very soon.  Still interested in signing up?  Just fill out our RSVP survey.

If you missed our kickoff lecture by WashU's Dr. William Maxwell, please take a look at it by clicking the links below.  It was an incredibly informative and motivating discussion, with lots of audience participation.

Dr. William Maxwell Lecture, 1

  • The novel is full of dialogue, full of interruption, music interfering with high-falutin' conversation.
  • The novel deals with the very bottom of American racism, but it wants to envision a way out.
  • This is a book that wants its length, its density.  It's a book of the world.
  • It was a representative text of the black world (mid-century).
  • It has a habit of winning prizes...the National Book Award, 1953, the first African-American author to win the prize.
  • Ellison is one of the most willfully American authors.

 Dr. William Maxwell Lecture, 2

  • It is not only the representative African-American text of 20th century, it is perhaps the American novel of the long 20th century, at the period of America's greatest cultural, economic, and political influence.
  • For a long time, this was the earliest introduction to many Americans of the complexities of the African-American experience.
  • Ellison did not have a dramatic life, no paparazzi.
  • The Great Migration - a huge, voluntary movement - 7 million Americans, eventually
  • Ellison is from Oklahoma City, not part of the Great Migration - ironic, because Invisible Man is a great novel of the Migration
  • Oklahoma City has an important African-American community, but it's more southwestern, not part of the south-to-north story
  • Ellison almost sees himself as a cowboy
  • Attracted to ideas of individual character and strength
  • Ellison didn't believe he should talk about his own experience of suffering
  • He wanted to talk about racism with a sense of the highest artistic potential
  • Importance of Ellison's essay "The World and the Jug"
  • Proponent of the necessary mixing of groups
  • Ellison was looking for plurality

Dr. William Maxwell Lecture, 3

  • Ellison grew up in difficult circumstances
  • His mother, widowed, was a Socialist
  • Wins a music scholarship to Tuskegee
  • Arrives at Tuskegee and is beaten at the rail station by two white policeman
  • Still, Ellison's work emphasizes transcendence, culturally you can build something better
  • Ellison's second novel, Juneteenth, was never finished - it haunted him
  • Ellison was very technologically adept - assembled his own stereo, an early adopter of word processing for his writing

Dr. William Maxwell Lecture, 4

  • First paragraph of the prologue: what kind of person speaks this way?  he's educated (choice of vocabulary), he's a fan of American popular culture, elite reference to Edgar Allan Poe, someone who can move between levels of culture and discourse
  • Ellison desires to create a highly intellectualized hero, a thinker

Apologies - the last part of the lecture didn't record properly...

Dr. William Maxwell Lecture, 5

  • Importance of Louis Armstrong, reference to the song "What Did I Do to Be so Black and Blue?"
  • Why is Invisible Man's favorite dessert vanilla ice cream with sloe gin?

Friday, May 11, 2018

FAQs: Summer Reading and Invisible Man

  •  How soon may I pick up my book so I can get started?
We are hard at work getting the books and supporting materials ready to go for you.  Everything will be available at the kickoff May 23; if you have signed up through our online survey and are unable to attend the kickoff, your materials will be waiting for you on the hold shelf Thursday, May 24.

  •   Do I need to have a University City card to participate?
Absolutely not!  You can check out Invisible Man with a card from any of the libraries in the Municipal Library Consortium. If you don’t have one yet, or you’re not sure, we can sign you up for a UCPL card at the kickoff.
  •   Is there any cost to participate?
Never!  All programs are free for everyone, and there is no charge to check out materials.
  •   Must I commit to a particular discussion meeting time?
No, you may come to any discussions you wish, or even attend more than one per month if you are available.  If you can’t attend every month, that is perfectly fine.

  •  What do I win if I participate and finish the readings?
  Bragging rights: You’ll receive a specially designed Invisible Man button for your tote bag showing the number of pages completed, as well as a one-of-a-kind homemade bookmark.
  That all-important sense of accomplishment: We’re all working together to tackle a challenge and stretch our horizons!
  New friends: You’ll meet new people from your neighborhood and beyond.
  The best things in life aren’t things, right?

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Say YES to the Challenge!

Are you ready to join the best readers in town for a new reading adventure?

RSVP yes today!