Staff Recommendation: Parable of the Sower

Butler, Octavia E. Parable of the Sower.

Greenfield Open Stacks PS3552 .U827 P37 2016

Science fiction makes us aware of our sight’s present limitations, highlighting the gap between what is and what could be. Octavia E. Butler’s sci-fi centers around survival as a result of dark radical shifts in future society. Parable of the Sower, published in 1993 but set in 2020s America, forces reflection onto its readers—especially when read in 2018.

The book is composed of journal entries by protagonist Lauren Olamina, a teenager born with hyperempathy, sharing the physical pain of others she witnesses. The world around Lauren is collapsing due to corporate greed, climate change, racism, hostile police presence, gun violence, and walls. Following the brutal loss of her family and neighborhood, she is forced to navigate an altered world on her own in an attempt to walk north from California with no true destination, excruciatingly hindered by her hyperempathy.

Lauren’s beam of hope in this dystopia is her development of a new belief system called “Earthseed.” Its ultimate mantra is to accept Change in order to grow—the idea that Change is the lasting truth no matter how extreme. “God is Change; Embrace diversity or be destroyed.”

Butler wrote the ideas behind Earthseed out of the American fear of the unknown, and the potential for history to repeat itself over time. As a Black writer in a world that washes over people of color and racial politics in sci-fi, Butler’s books embed race into the narrative, just as it is embedded into reality. Parable of the Sower makes us reconsider the current state of our country, placing us in a state of anxiety alongside an acceptance to move forward with empathy and power.

I absolutely recommend picking up and checking out this book at the Greenfield Library Open Stacks (call # PS3552 .U827 .P37 2016.) There is also a graphic novel adaptation of Butler’s awesome book Kindred, which can be found as an eBook through EBSCOHost. Happy reading and reflecting!

~ Recommended by Victoria Schenck, Greenfield Library Circulation Assistant 

Student Recommendation: Cop Rock

Cop Rock: The Complete Series

Music Library MD962

Cop Rock, a true gift from the 90s. Steven Bochco and William M. Finkelstein have created a gritty police drama that also happens to be an American musical.

To give you an idea, the pilot opens with the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) bursting into a home during a drug raid. Once all suspects have been apprehended and are being put into handcuffs, a beat drops and the ensemble of suspects break into a song expressing to the LAPD the amount of power they hold on the streets.

Being a product of its time, Cop Rock is very self-aware of tensions around police brutality, racial profiling, and analyzing the line of right and wrong. It touches on issues and conversations that we are still having to this day. Thematically, the show is a true drama, but the absurdism seeps in through the songs leading Cop Rock to float closer to a dark comedy. The pilot episode gives us a courtroom scene where the jury breaks into a gospel number to deliver their verdict.

In 2002 TV Guide ranked this show as #8 on their list of “50 Worst TV Shows of All Time”. After 11 episodes ABC canceled the show due to its critical and commercial failure. Cop Rock is infamous for being one of TV’s biggest failures in the 90s, but, thanks to a faculty request, we have it at UArts, ready to be checked out of the Music Library.

Cop Rock is a true gem in my book.  If you’re into films such as The Room, or Rocky Horror Picture Show, then Cop Rock is for you. Find it in the UArts Music Library, call # MD962.

~ Recommended by Briana Gause, UArts Music Library Work Study Assistant

New @ the UArts Libraries: LIBRARIZINE

LIBRARIZINE is a new zine created by + about the UArts Libraries. The first issue was introduced at the libraries’ open house in August, and features an interview with Lillian Kinney, the University Libraries Archivist. The library plans to put out a new issue 2-3 times a year, at the start of the fall, spring, and possibly summer semester. Our goal is to help promote the libraries and all of the interesting things going on here, as well as the libraries’ zine collection.

 

You can pick up a copy of LIBRARIZINE at the circulation desk of the Greenfield Library or the Visual Resources and Special Collections.

If you are interested in submitting items (or suggestions) to LIBRARIZINE, or in using the libraries’ zine collection, please contact Laura Grutzeck, the Visual Resources & Special Collections Librarian at lgrutzeck@uarts.edu.

Student Recommendation: Black Lives, Black Words

“I started Black Lives, Black Words because I felt there needed to be an opportunity for me as a playwright to speak out against the sins committed in this world inflicted upon black bodies: Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Rekia Boyd, Sandra Bland, Tamir Rice, and the countless many others.” ~ Reginald Edmund

Reginald Edmund started a project that asked black playwrights, visual artist, and poets from the US, UK, and Canada to create a ten minute play answering the question, “Do Black Lives Matter?” This anthology is product of the project.

Cover of Black Lives Black Words

Black Lives Black Words takes its opportunity to use art as activism and places its reader and audience members in situations where they may feel comfortable until there is no room for the word even exist. There is humor, songs, and a diverse community all ready to be explored within these pages. Each play gives life to voices who we haven’t heard from and to voices we will never hear again. There is an endless stream of names that get lost, forgotten, and/or dragged through the mud in the BLM movement. Reginald and his team of incredibly gifted artist have done their part in making sure we never forget that these names are more than just names. The lives and words of these selected black people are consciously shared in a way that has left a lasting impact on myself.

I highly recommend heading over to the Greenfield Library and checking out Black Lives, Black Words (call #:  PN6119.7 .B53 2017 ) This title is also available in eBook format through EbscoHost’s Academic eBook collection.

~ Recommended by Briana Gause, UArts Music Library Work Study Assistant

 

Staff Recommendation: Tin House



I recently discovered the pleasure of reading professional literary magazines. In particular, the magazine Tin House which is carried by the Greenfield Library. At a glance, the magazine’s eye catching cover illustrations stand out on the periodical shelf. The journal even includes the artist’s interpretation of the illustration at the back of the book. But mostly it is filled to the brim with beautifully crafted short stories and poems in a format that is pleasant to hold and to read.

A literary magazine is the perfect option for my attention span and life obligations when I just want to get a little creative refresher in the middle of the day. Tin House’s selection recently featured a beautiful atmospheric short story by Ursula K. Le Guin called Pity and Shame that took me right out of my obligations and into a quiet interpersonal exploration between a mine examiner and his nurse. They offer this story as well as a selection of other work on their website at http://tinhouse.com/read-the-latest/

Tin House is also a great way of staying up to date with contemporary authors and to sample works before committing. It’s a little bit like a Spotify recommended playlist: it helps to identify artists you might enjoy delving into so you can look up their album (or in this case their poetry collection) and dig in even deeper.

I recommend just a glance at this literary magazine, you can always find the latest issue at the Greenfield Library. Maybe even at one of their previous issues like Candy because much like the sweets on the cover you may find yourself delectably hooked. 

~ Recommended by Jo Dutilloy, Greenfield Library Circulation Assistant