Student RECOMMENDATION: The stranger

By Bergen Grant, student work study assistant

  The Stranger, by Albert Camus, follows the life of a young Frenchman, Meursault, starting the day of, or the day after, his mother’s death. Opening with, “Maman died today. Or yesterday maybe, I don’t know.” Camus frames Meursault’s detachment from reality, from time, and from normal human expression, as a very evident and weighing aspect of his life, and his perception of the world. As he struggles to meet the expectations of others as to how he should react to an event such as the death of your own mother, Meursault continues to coast through his life, and allows the world to come to him as he sits in the passenger seat of his own existence. With this inability to acknowledge meaning in life when there is none, Meursault is outcasted by most. The few that like him see this lack of emotion and reluctance to strive for more as something admirable. Although it seems to be more for their gain than any true connection to him. This lack of ambition and desire allows him to be malleable, and to fit into their lives how they need him to. Meursault’s behavior and character lead him to show an honest side of himself, which turns on him in the end, forcing him to search for the meaning of his life. 

Although never claiming to be an existentialist himself, many of Camus’ views of the world align with such beliefs, specifically in life having no inherent meaning. In The Stranger, following what he termed “the nakedness of man faced with the absurd”, Camus uses Meursault as a vehicle to navigate the realm of meaning within human existence, and how non-traditional views of the world can be so terrifying to the general public, with some being punishable under law (or under a guillotine). With this, Camus offers a perspective on what life means to most, how this has shaped global communal views, and how dangerous it is to be a stranger.

This book can be found in the Greenfield Open Stacks at call # PQ2605 .A3734 E813 1989.

STUDENT RECOMMENDATION: Autobiography of Red

By Gabe Garcia-Leeds, student work study assistant

In Autobiography of Red, Anne Carson reconstructs an ancient Greek myth, Herakles’ murder of a winged red monster, into a vivid, dreamlike journey through youth, love, and the unease of existence. Surreal, tragic, and disarmingly intimate, Carson invites us into a world full of poetry and color, turbulent and brimming with volcanic energy.

        The original myth goes as follows: Greek hero Herakles, envious of the monster Geryon’s red cattle, travels to an island and slaughters Geryon and his small red dog. Carson refigures this myth into a deeply personal coming-of-age story, exploring trauma, depression, and the troubles of love. Geryon’s world is ripe with a very visceral darkness, alternating between moments of bitterness and profound beauty.

         This novel is composed entirely in poetic verse. Operating outside the confines of conventional literary style, Carson allows her writing to transcend language. Like a labor of mad alchemy, she transmutes words into something electric. In Autobiography of Red, Carson displays a masterful ability to coax images and emotions from mere words on a page. In Geryon’s world, one wakes up to “a soiled white Saturday morning in Lima,” surrounded by the “intolerable red assault of grass.” Autobiography of Red is a fascinating read not only because of the timeless story it tells, but also for its inventive poetic structure and the unique, singular voice of Anne Carson.

Autobiography of Red is available at the Greenfield Library, call number PS3553.A7667 A94 1999.

Student Recommendation: Tranny—Confessions of Punk Rock’s Most Infamous Anarchist Sellout

By Corinne Kite-Dean, student work study assistant

Laura Jane Grace is invariably a part of the conversation when talking about transgender musicians, and this autobiography takes the reader through her personal struggles as she was fronting the ever-evolving punk group “Against Me!”, fighting the system, dealing with addiction, adapting to success, and raising a family, all while losing friends, bandmates, and suffering with intense gender dysphoria for her entire life.

The book outlines all of Laura’s life that she can remember, from her childhood living on Army bases all the way up to her beginning her gender transition at 30 years old. As a teenager, she was repeatedly assaulted by police and beat up at school, fueling her anarchist politics and laying the groundwork for an angry rebellion in the form of music. Through her music career as an adult, she was manipulated by the elites that viewed her as nothing but a dollar sign. It seems as though from the beginning, the world was against her, and she just took the beatings and came out a successful inspiration to trans people and musicians alike. For trans musicians like myself, she’s an absolute goddess.

Somehow, though it’s recounting some terrible experiences, the book doesn’t feel like it’s all doom and gloom: it treads the line of being both upsetting enough to keep you interested and funny and hopeful enough to keep you entertained. Even if you didn’t grow up listening to Against Me! like I did, I think this book is sure to resonate with something in all of us, fan or not, trans or not, musician or not.

Tranny is available at the Music Library, call number ML420.G7835 A3 2016

STAFF RECOMMENDATION: How to Be Both

By Julia McGehean

I am always interested in reading books by authors who have an outside-of-the-box approach to writing. The kind who radically shake up the rules in a way that pushes my understanding of what a story can be into new territory. As soon as I picked up Ali Smith’s novel How to Be Both for the first time, I was immediately struck by her intriguing ability to format a novel in a way that I had never experienced before.

Beginning on the first page, it became evident that this Man Booker Prize shortlist finalist is highly ingenuitive and eloquently executed. There is a note in the very beginning explaining that the novel is broken up into two interchangeable sections. It is then up to the audience to decide which order to read first. Half of the books are published with George’s story as the first half, while the remaining copies begin with Francesco. If you prefer a strong personal narrative, I would suggest beginning with George’s half, a spunky 16-year-old coping with the sudden death of her mother. If you enjoy a historical mystery, begin with Francesco, a bold fifteenth-century Italian fresco painter navigating the afterlife.  

As a result of the twists and turns driven by a non-linear plot design, How to Be Both is tricky to describe without spoiling the mystery and marvel of it all. Main themes that are highlighted within the dueling narratives of Smith’s novel include the timeless importance of art and the artist in society, an honest interpretation of loss including the grief that follows, as well as the open exploration of gender and sexuality. With one half of the story set mainly in contemporary England, and the other in historic Italy, the main characters are separated by hundreds of years in two seemingly disparate worlds. As the pieces slowly come together in whatever order you choose to read, it becomes evident that their lives have been so cleverly intertwined without the reader initially having any idea how or why.

How to Be Both is located in the Greenfield Library, call number PR 6069 .M4213 H69 2015.

Looking forward to your thoughts,

Julia McGehean, Greenfield Library Circulation Assistant

New database: QWEST TV

QWEST TV:
Journey into jazz and beyond

The UArts Libraries is happy to announce we are a subscriber to Qwest TV, featuring streaming video of concerts and more!

What is qwest TV?

Qwest TV, co-founded by Quincy Jones and Reza Ackbaraly, was launched for individual subscriptions in December of 2017. As soon as institutional access became available, we signed up! The growing collection has 300+ streaming videos, including full-length concerts, documentaries, and archival footage. This resource houses exclusives and original programming, and is growing fast! Principally focused around jazz, you will also discover some pop music, world music, and more.

What can i find in qwest tv?

In the mood for a Count Basie performance? Check out their archives! Thelonious Monk? Yes! Ella Fitzgerald? Yes! Art Ensemble of Chicago? Ertha Kitt? Maceo Parker? Yes, yes, yes! All these musicians and more are represented.

Feel like watching Sun Ra at Estival Jazz ’85? Well you can. Are you feeling more contemporary? Check out London’s Morcheeba play a sold-out show at Jazz à Vienne in Vienna last year. Maybe stream the Charles Lloyd Quartet circa 2011, or check in on bassist Omer Avital at the 2013 Nice Jazz Festival.

A documentary on the Indian music of Benares? They have you covered. Docs on Ornette Coleman? Chick Corea? Blue Note? Check, check, check.

There is just far too much to list, so check out this site as soon as you have a minute and explore the wealth of amazing content!

And Qwest TV isn’t “just” streaming video. Explore articles, interviews, news updates, album reviews, and more.

To Access qwest tv:

Visit library.uarts.edu and click the link “Audio/Video Online” in the Online Resources section.

After you find and click on Qwest TV near the bottom of that page, you will be taken right in. You’ll know it worked when you see the UArts icon in the top right. Especially since this is a new subscription, please don’t hesitate to let me know if you have any problems.

If you have any questions about this or other UArts Libraries resources, just ask me:


Jim Cowen
Music Reference Librarian
jcowen@uarts.edu
215-717-6293