Staff Recommendation: Sabrina by Nick Drnaso

“Remember Drew Peterson? That cop that killed his wives? It was a big news story in 2007. I was dating Emma that summer. We used to sit in her mom’s basement and watch movies all night. We were watching a TV special about Drew Peterson one night when we leaned in and kissed each other for the first time. Now whenever I see or hear anything about Drew Peterson, I feel like I’m eighteen in Emma’s basement again. Is it weird to feel nostalgic for stuff like that?”

New to the library: Sabrina is a graphic novel written and illustrated by Nick Drnaso, published in 2018. It is the first ever graphic novel to be longlisted for The Man Booker Prize. Deep and introspective with minimalistic illustrations, Drnaso tells the story of a young woman kidnapped in Chicago, and how the events that unfold from this affect everyone connected to her. At the same time, it is also a poignant commentary on the fast-paced dissemination of information in our digital age, how this numbs us to the continuous stories of violence bombarding us on our screens, and the confusion we feel in a “fake news” world. The above quote, spoken by character Calvin Wrobel, is a perfect example of this sense of disassociation. Instead of remembering the Drew Peterson case as a horrific event where women went missing and were found murdered, Wrobel only remembers kissing his girlfriend at the time, because the television story was simply background noise. Drnaso does a beautiful job reminding us that moments of tragedy and horror aren’t background noise, and that we need to realize there are individuals behind every story.

If you’d like to check out Sabrina, it is available in the Greenfield Library, call number PN6727 .D76 S25 2018.

Recommended by Lillian Kinney, Cataloger/Archivist

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: Princess Mononoke

Released in 1999 and holding a 94% audience approval rating, this Miyazaki film was hailed as “The ‘Star Wars’ of animated features!” by the New York Post. Princess Mononoke brings together the world of the spiritual and the realities of man. Similar to Pan’s Labyrinth, and Miyazaki’s later movie Spirited Away, this film exists in a world where fantasy and reality push against each other as humans seek to destroy the old ways to make way for new.

At the center of the story is a young man named Ashitaka, who makes his way to a mining village after being cursed by a dying animal god.  There he meets Lady Eboshi, whose desire to acquire more iron for the village has put her in direct conflict with the nature gods that inhabit the land nearby who are lead by Princess Mononoke, a human girl raised by the wolf god. As his curse spreads, Ashitaka seeks to find a balance between these two opposing forces before both are destroyed by their own short sightedness.

This incredible film asks the questions; ‘Can Man and Nature coexist?’ ‘Is it possible to stand in the middle of conflict, or must we choose sides?’ ‘Who is really the villain?’ ‘Is there a place for those who are different?’With beautiful animation and subtle storytelling, Hayao Miyazaki asks us to come to our own conclusions through the actions of Ashitaka, Lady Eboshi and Princess Mononoke.

You can find this DVD at the Greenfield Library, stop by the circulation desk and ask for call # GD1475

~ Recommended by Lauralee Martin, Greenfield Library Work Study Assistant

Staff Recommendation: Jazz Italian Style, from its Origins in New Orleans to Fascist Italy and Sinatra

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Taking readers on a transatlantic musical journey, Jazz Italian Style explores how jazz permeated Italian culture, both through Italian immigration to the USA, and through the post-WWI introduction of jazz to the peninsula itself.  Jazz, an African-American innovation in music, evolved a distinctive Italian offshoot by the 1930s, due to the works of Italian-Americans on one side of the Atlantic as well as mostly northern Italians on the other side. Italian jazz musicians on both sides of the Atlantic would then in turn influence one another. The resulting distinctive style of jazz  became associated with Italian fascism and was even supported by Mussolini as an expression of national pride. Despite this dark co-optation, the style lives on today and is cherished by many around the world. This book will give you an appreciation for names of musicians such as Nick LaRocca and Gorni Kramer, and a unique picture of how this particular Italian style of jazz influenced the world of music.

This book is available at the UArts Music Library, call # ML3509.I85 C44 2017.

Mike Romano – Circulation Assistant, UArts Libraries

Staff Recommendation – The Artists Way

Do you ever feel creatively blocked, a feeling like all the color and life is lost from your artwork or craft? The Artists Way, by Julia Cameron, is a guidebook designed as a course in creative artistic recovery. Each section of the book describes practices, mindsets, and techniques for creative people, all of which build upon each other, to guide the reader into a more authentic artistic expression. The course is 12 weeks long. The aims include overcoming creative blocks and self-destructive beliefs, while building creative relationships, gaining confidence, and re-connecting to what she believes are the spiritual underpinnings of the creative drive.

In my opinion, this book is a valuable read, even if one does not pursue the entire 12 week course. The various practices described within it encourage one to be more mindful and creative on a consistent basis. For example, the practice of writing a full page of thoughts every morning, described in one chapter early on, can have the effect of bringing one face to face with what is going on the their life, paving the way for action. I recommend this book to anyone with an open mind who feels the need to re-connect to their creative self, whether you want to dive into a full-on course, or could use a few well placed pointers.

The Artists Way is available in the Greenfield Library open stacks at BF408 .C175 1992.

Mike Romano, Music Library Circulation Assistant