Graduation season means parties, tearful goodbyes, future plans, and speeches. Many graduates may not pay much attention to the content of their commencement address, but some speeches do attract notice. These days a graduation speech that is admired can be easily shared with a wide audience. Occasionally so much interest is generated that a speech is published in book form.
David Foster Wallace spoke to the 2005 graduating class of Kenyon College. "This is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life" is a beautiful brief book about the challenges of everyday life. Wallace focuses not on the difficulties of achieving greatness, but on the difficulties of remaining attentive and present through the routine frustrations of life. "It is unimaginably hard to do this - to live consciously, adultly, day in and day out."
"Good-bye, Chunky Rice" by Craig Thompson is a bittersweet graphic novel of love and longing. The main character, Chunky Rice, leaves his love Dandel to find out where he belongs. Chunky is a shy turtle and Dandel is a mouse deer. They are sweetly drawn, and Craig Thompson communicates the piquancy of the situation from the perspective of the one leaving and from the one left behind.
Chunky travels by boat and a cast of unforgettable characters are also aboard. There's Ruth and Livonia, the conjoined twins who have had to learn to get along with each other. Conjoined though they are, the twins are individuals and their moods and desires often conflict. Also on board is Captain Chuck, a scheming thief whose only redeeming quality is his seamanship.
I try to peruse the New Releases (look for the books with the green dots) every week or so because that is where I usually find the interesting, lesser-known fiction. Another find for me is "Errantry" by Elizabeth Hand. The subtitle for this collection is "Strange Stories" and it is fitting. This collection of 10 stories is full of tidbits of weirdness.
Does your book group tend to get "stuck" in a certain country or time period or genre? If your group has, you know exactly what I mean. St. Louis County Library's Book Discussion Kit program has a wide selection of titles and can help you get out of your rut.
"Silken Prey" by John Sandford enters the world of dirty politics. The book opens with an investigation into the disappearance of a political fixer. There are lots of questions about the disappearance but no real clues.
Don DeLillo has been chosen to receive the first Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction. The award was established to honor a writer whose distinguished work offers a unique perspective on the American experience. The Library of Congress has previously awarded Lifetime Achievement Awards and Creative Achievement Awards for fiction. This new prize will be presented during the 2013 National Book Festival in September. In a press release from the Library of Congress, DeLillo recalled his Italian immigrant parents, citing this award as the culmination of their efforts to adapt to a new culture.
It was with a tinge of sadness that I finished reading "Dead Ever After" by Charlaine Harris. It is her thirteenth book to feature Sookie Stackhouse. Readers will either love or hate the book depending on which supernatural being they were wishing Sookie would choose. Don't worry...I won't spoil the novel for you.
St. Louis County Library's popular summer reading clubs will kick-off early this year starting May 13 and running through August 3. The library offers clubs for all ages: babies, kids, teens and adults, with fun programs and great prizes for each age group. Participation is free, and as an added incentive, preschool children through those entering 12th grade will have their fines waived when they sign up for a summer reading club (some restrictions apply). Registration begins May 13; simply stop by any St. Louis County Library branch to sign-up. Click here to learn more.