Staff Picks: Right Now, Wrong Then

Reviewed by Dean M., Materials Handler

Right Now, Wrong Then directed by Hong Sang-Soo is also available to stream on Hoopla.

Integrity

This autobiographically inspired story is about a Korean film director, Han Chun-su, who meets Hee-jung, a young painter, while on a business trip. He arrives a day ahead of schedule and has time to waste as he walks around and looks at buildings and structures. The two characters meet randomly at a temple-like structure and agree to have coffee, talk about life, art and other things. Hee-jung says she knows about the Han's work and that she enjoys his films. Hee-jung allows Han to follow her around the city and they grow fonder of each other as the film moves on.

The film is shot in two parts. The first part is what is "wrong", and the second part is what is "right". It is essentially the same story told twice, but with subtle yet profound variations in each part. This works somewhat like a butterfly effect for how each of the two parallel parts end. For example, in part one Han fails to admit that he is married until the end of the night. This leads the Hee-jung to completely reject the romantic feelings that were building, obviously. In part two, Han discloses that he is married earlier on in the narrative, causing the two characters to have a nice ending to their adventures. 

In the second part of the film, Han values moral integrity by being honest with the Hee-jung. The value of integrity and honesty is a major difference between the second and first parts. This film shows how it can be beneficial to have moral integrity as a value and to practice it. Right Now, Wrong Then was directed by Hong Sang-Soo, a Korean filmmaker who often writes his screenplays autobiographically. He is a professor of film and his film crews consist largely of pupils who are more willing to help than to get reimbursed. The Library owns several of Sang-Soo's other films, which are also recommended.

This is review is part of the Finding Value series, inspired by the eleven core values central to the Library's mission. Tune in as Library staff review books and movies that highlight the values accessibility, civil discourse, inclusiveness, integrity, intellectual freedom, lifelong learning, literacy, respect, safety, service, and stewardship.

Staff Picks: The Haunting of Hill House

Reviewed by Anna M., Materials Handler

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson is also available as a CloudLibrary ebook.

Lifelong Learning

The Haunting of Hill House, written by Shirley Jackson in 1959, is one of the most critically acclaimed haunted house stories. I first read the novel during my freshman year of college for an English course, and it quickly became my favorite book of all time. Searching through CloudLibrary, I was excited to see that Jackson’s debut novel was available. Rereading The Haunting of Hill House has given me a newfound appreciation and perspective for the story, and I hope others will take advantage of the library’s online resources and read Jackson’s novel.

Exploring the misadventures of four strangers who come together at the notoriously haunted Hill House, The Haunting of Hill House delves deep into human relationships and how fear influences the mind. Dr. Montague, an anthropologist who is fascinated by the occult, sought out three strangers who had been touched by the paranormal. His mission was to prove whether or not the paranormal was real, and he hoped adding three people who previously had supernatural experiences would heighten his chances of experiencing unearthly activity. He amassed three adults: Theo, a witty go-getter who stayed at Hill House as a means to escape from a fight with her roommate; Luke, the spoiled and future owner of Hill House; and Eleanor, a fearful dreamer who finds magic and happiness in unlikely places. Together, Dr. Montague, Theo, Luke, and Eleanor’s relationships with each other and their understanding of reality is tested and put to their breaking point. The Haunting of Hill House is more than a ghost story. Instead, it’s a story about relationships, the human mind and will, and the desire to belong and be loved.

Jackson’s beautiful prose and ability to build meaningful character development while also blurring the lines between the paranormal and the psychological creates a one-of-a-kind thriller that has inspired multiple adaptations, including a Netflix series that is praised for its cinematography and storyline. Her work also influenced a plethora of gothic horror writers who, after reading Jackson’s novel, began to focus on the terror aspect of ghost stories instead of relying solely on horror to evoke a variety of emotions in the readers. To this day, The Haunting of Hill House remains one of the best literary ghost stories and continues to prove its status as a must-read. 

This is review is part of the Finding Value series, inspired by the eleven core values central to the Library's mission. Tune in as Library staff review books and movies that highlight the values accessibility, civil discourse, inclusiveness, integrity, intellectual freedom, lifelong learning, literacy, respect, safety, service, and stewardship.

Staff Picks: Fagin the Jew

Reviewed by Bill K., Materials Handler

Fagin the Jew by Will Eisner is instantly available as an ebook on Hoopla.

Respect

Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens is certainly a classic of literature. Whether one has read the book or merely seen one of the dozens of adaptations, the title character’s story and the image of him asking for more endures in the cultural consciousness even 180 years since it was published.

It was another character, however, that stuck in the mind of Will Eisner, the comics legend long-considered the creator of the “graphic novel”: Fagin, the leader of the gang of thieves who take Oliver in, notorious from the book’s initial publishing as a horrifically antisemitic caricature. Despite some later depictions de-emphasizing his Jewish ancestry, the antisemitic sting of the character has never really gone away.

Eisner takes the opposite approach in his 2003 graphic novel Fagin the Jew, making the character an unabashed and proud Jew. The book frames its story with Fagin awaiting his execution after the events of Oliver Twist, speaking directly to Dickens and sharing his life story and his side of the story.

The reader sees Fagin, a poor Ashkenazi Jew in England, forced into crime at a young age to survive, and seeking a better life not just to better himself, but to do his community proud. In these early pages, Eisner gives a look at Jewish life in pre-Victorian England, both the squalor of the poor as well as the upper class, politicking their way to something close to acceptance in English high society. Close to, but never fully; even though they were tolerated in Britain more than much of Europe at the time, Jews were still othered and never fully equal.

It almost seems like a Dickens tale itself, with Fagin’s boyhood reflecting Oliver’s story. Except every time Dickens might give his protagonist a joyful reprieve or happy ending, Eisner offers no such comforts. Try as he might, Fagin can never escape the prejudices against his race, both personal and structural. It is an ultimately tragic story, even with a somewhat positive postscript.

Eventually, Fagin meets and partners with the vicious criminal Sikes, leading into a retelling of the story everyone knows but from his viewpoint. Eisner depicts all the tragedies in Oliver Twist’s final act and climax as tragic misunderstandings on Fagin’s part. Truth be told, this section of the narrative is not quite as interesting as Eisner’s fully original anti-Dickensian tale. Still, it is ultimately fitting to the whole, showing how prejudices and assumptions can make simple villains out of complicated situations and imperfect people.

The theme, and value, of Fagin the Jew is respect. Fagin’s quest for respect in a society which will never give it to him, and his—and by extension, Eisner’s—demand of respect for the Jewish people. Indeed, in one scene, the author seems to speak through the title character, in a soapbox moment giving a passionate defense of his people and lashing out at the stereotypes in his depiction (Dickens himself doesn’t come off so positively).

Eisner’s artwork is charming, warmly evoking classic literature illustrations. And the story they’re telling is an impassioned, proudly Jewish story that’s as readable and investing as the type of timeless classic literature it deconstructs.

This is review is part of the Finding Value series, inspired by the eleven core values central to the Library's mission. Tune in as Library staff review books and movies that highlight the values accessibility, civil discourse, inclusiveness, integrity, intellectual freedom, lifelong learning, literacy, respect, safety, service, and stewardship. 

Staff Picks: Frankie Frog and the Throaty Croakers

In this 60 Second Review, Librarian Kim shares the picture book Frankie Frog and the Throaty Croakers by Freya Hartas. For more video reviews subscribe to our YouTube Channel and check the Finding Value: 60 Second Reviews playlist

This review is part of the Finding Value series, inspired by the eleven core values central to our mission. Tune in as Library staff review books and movies that highlight the values accessibility, civil discourse, inclusiveness, integrity, intellectual freedom, lifelong learning, literacy, respect, safety, service, and stewardship. 

Phone-in Fun at the Library!

The Library is going old-school with two new phone-in programs! Add (812) 349-3208 to your contact list, then call in regularly to hear Dial-A-Book stories and Laugh Line jokes shared by Library staff. 

A throwback to pre-internet days when people would call their libraries to hear a recording of a story, Dial-A-Book is perfect for fans of audiobooks, podcasts, or anyone who loves storytelling. Call the line each week to hear a Library staff member read a chapter from a classic book or short story. New recordings will be added on Mondays! Books and stories are chosen with teen and adult listeners in mind. 

Laugh Line

What’s an astronaut’s favorite part of a computer?...The space bar.

A good joke is always appreciated, especially these days. Now you can add some laughter to your weekday routine! Call the Library’s Laugh Line and listen as a familiar voice shares a kid-friendly joke, Monday through Friday. Jokes will change around 5 PM each weekday! 

Call (812) 349-3208 then choose Dial-A-Book or Laugh Line. Listen day or night, no internet required!

 

Staff Picks: Prairie Lotus

Reviewed by Dana B., Community Engagement Librarian

Inclusiveness

Hanna has moved to the Dakota Territory from San Francisco with her father. It's 1880, and she dreams of becoming a dressmaker in her father's new fabric shop. Her mother was an expert dressmaker and taught Hanna all she knew before she died. Hanna also wants to go to school. This turns out to be problematic, as Hanna's mother was Chinese and her father is white. It's 1880 and Chinese people are viewed with suspicion by most of the white people in town. One by one the children are withdrawn from the school by their parents, and there is growing talk about the fabric shop's white father and half-Chinese daughter. Hanna is confronted with racism and stereotyping, and her future looks grim in this small town. She is a quiet and obedient daughter, but her future is important to her. She thinks it is worth fighting for.

This is review is part of the Finding Value series, inspired by the eleven core values central to the Library's mission. Tune in as Library staff review books and movies that highlight the values accessibility, civil discourse, inclusiveness, integrity, intellectual freedom, lifelong learning, literacy, respect, safety, service, and stewardship.

Sherwood Forest Digital Zine Library

Sherwood Forset Virtual Zine Library

Looking to read more online zines? The Sherwood Forest Zine Library, based in Austin, Texas, has a truly amazing and updated collection of free digital zines. The collection ranges from topics on self care, food and music zines, to an updated collection of state policing and protesting zines. Updated frequently, polished, and easy to use, this zine archive is definitely worth checking out.

They are also adding to their zine collection actively, so if you have a pdf of a zine you’d like to submit, you can be published on their website!

Sapphics in Lockdown

Sapphics in Lockdown

The first zine from the Sapphic Writers Collective, this anthology is written by and for lesbians and bisexual womxn. A mix between poetry, prose, and photos, this beautiful compilation of “Lockdown” and “Pride” themes resonates strongly in this time of isolation.

 

Together We Can Break These Chains

Together We Can Break These Chains<br />

As stated in the zine, Welcome to ‘Together We Can Break These Chains’, a zine composed for and by trans and gender-variant people currently incarcerated in the Texas prison system. This project is a response to the anticipated second annual Trans Prisoner Day of Action, which calls for a greater effort to raise awareness around prisoner’s struggles, to connect people inside and outside of prisons, and to promote non-criminalized identities and personal expressions.”

Composed of essays, letters, poetry, and art, this anthology of prisoner writings is heartbreaking and beautiful. While this is written for other prisoners, it can give anyone some insight into daily prison life, the struggles of prisoners, and their persistent hope to live a life out of bars.

 

Stuck in Isolation With You

Stuck in Isolation With You

A short and sweet comic about being in isolation with a loved one.

 

Ken Chronicles #49

Ken Chronicles #49

This long-running zine isn’t written by what many consider to be your typical young zinester, instead, it's written by a retiree. He’s been putting a perzine out quarterly for more than a decade, filled with updates about his life, and reviews of other zines people trade him. He’s up to issue 53 at the time of this writing, and you can see more of his zines on his blog.

 

A Hastily Assembled Guide to Being Alone

A Hastily Assembled Guide to Being Alone

The latest entry in Toronto based artist Nicole Little’s ongoing minizine project this little printable zine is a good guide to a situation many people find themselves in these days: being by themselves. Beautifully illustrated, it is a great little morsel for the alone.

 

Girls + Comics

Girls + Comics

A resource for teachers, this zine explores how they integrate comics into their classrooms and lessons. It specifically focuses on how to engage girls with comics, and encourage them to make their own. but this resource can apply to anyone. There is also a great recommendation list of comics by women authors.

 

Making Zines for Tweens

Zines for Tweens

Have you ever wanted to publish your own story, comic, or other writing? If so, then you may be interested in making zines!

What Are Zines?

Zines are self-published books. If you think about a zine as being a “mini-magazine” you’ll have a clue as to what they are and a cool trick to help you remember that “zine” is pronounced the same way as the letters “zine” at the end of the word “magazine.” 

Zines come in lots of different shapes and sizes––so even though we can think about them as “mini-magazines,” they could actually be bigger than a common magazine. 

Similar to magazines, zines are meant to be shared. Magazines are printed on equipment created to mass-produce thousands of printed materials like magazines. Zines are typically reproduced on a copy machine like the ones you can find in your school’s office or at the Library.

What Are Zines About?

Well, that’s the really fun part, because they can be about anything you like! 

They can be about yourself, your hobbies, the world around you, DIY instructions, whatever you like! Here are some prompts to help you imagine the possibilities:

  • Write about your favorite books, comics, or TV show
  • Create your own story or comic
  • Write about your favorite sport, game, or toys
  • Make a How-To guide for a craft, a special LEGO build, or a science experiment
  • Write about the special things you do with your family or friends
  • Record what life has been like for you since the pandemic broke out
  • Write about the environment, politics, or other news that interests you
  • Write about what makes you unique

Zines really can be about anything!

Another really great thing about zines is that you can write them by yourself, or you can collaborate with friends or other people in your community to create one! 

Take a look at the program calendar for zine programs you can participate in!

How Do I Make Them?

The most basic supplies you need to create a zine are paper and a pencil or pen, but there are a lot of other materials you could use to make your zine just the way you like it. 

Here are some other ideas: markers or colored pencils, stamps, stickers, washi tape, cut-outs from magazines—and anything else that you like!

Zines come in lots of different sizes. Even if you only have one piece of paper you can make a multi-page zine if you fold it the right way. Here are a couple of ways to make multi-page zines from one piece of paper:

4-Page Zine: To make a small four-page zine, you will need to take a regular piece of paper and fold it hamburger style (fold the short ends together), then fold the short ends together again. You will have a small four-page zine. 

4 page zine

8-Page Mini Zine: This is a trickier fold to make and may require practice to get it exactly right. To make a mini eight-page zine, you will need to take a regular piece of paper. Fold it hot dog style (fold the long edges together). Then fold it hamburger style and open it up. Your paper should be fully opened with a horizontal and vertical crease line. Next, fold the two shorter sides into the middle to meet the crease. Unfold the entire piece of paper and fold it again hamburger style. You should see a crease marking the halfway point on your half-size paper. Starting at the fold, cut the crease only to the middle of the paper. Finally, after making your cut, unfold the paper again and fold it to form a small 8-page book. Note: you may need to refold some of your crease lines in the opposite direction to make the booklet work.

8 page mini zine

Staff Picks: Best of Enemies

Reviewed by Craig C., Senior Materials Handler

Best of Enemies is available on DVD and streamable on Hoopla and Kanopy.

Civil DiscourseOne of the Library’s core values is the promotion of civil discourse. The 2015 documentary Best of Enemies provides an interesting counterexample for this since it covers the historic debates between Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley, Jr. that aired on ABC News during its coverage of the Republican and Democratic National Conventions in 1968. More than just a conflict between public intellectuals with diametrically opposed ideologies, it was a harbinger of the stark divisions we’re seeing along racial, socioeconomic, and political lines today. What’s especially bracing about it is that while Buckley and Vidal start out relatively calm and measured, they quickly deviate from the issues at hand and begin attacking each other personally, more interested in scoring points than listening to what the other has to say. This reaches its climax with the indelible moment in their penultimate debate where Vidal calls Buckley a “crypto-fascist” and Buckley responds by calling Vidal a “queer” and threatening to punch him in the face. So much for civility.

Note: Best of Enemies is age-restricted on Kanopy because it includes clips from the X-rated Myra Breckenridge and Caligula, both of which were based on works by Vidal. The film itself is rated R.

This is review is part of the Finding Value series, inspired by the eleven core values central to the Library's mission. Tune in as Library staff review books and movies that highlight the values accessibility, civil discourse, inclusiveness, integrity, intellectual freedom, lifelong learning, literacy, respect, safety, service, and stewardship. 

Staff Picks: Reaching for the Moon

Reviewed by Cassie R., Materials Handler

Reaching for the Moon is available to check out as a DVD and to stream on Kanopy.

Lifelong LearningReaching For the Moon is a 2013 biographical drama directed by Bruno Barreto, based on the book Flores Raras e Banalíssimas (Rare and Commonplace Flowers) by Carmem Lucia de Oliveira. The story focuses on the iconic American poet, Elizabeth Bishop, and one of her romantic affairs with Brazilian architect, Lota de Macedo Soares between 1951 and 1967. Set largely in Petrópolis, the film recounts Bishop's passion for writing, her apprehensive take on love, and her dramatic life, while in Brazil with Lota.

The story begins with Elizabeth in New York with her friend and fellow writer Robert Lowell, editing her poem “One Art.” Elizabeth is played frigidly, appearing to us as a desolate and uninspired writer in desperate need for change. This sense of monotony is what ultimately leads Elizabeth to visit her former classmate, Mary and her girlfriend at the time, Lota! Initially, Elizabeth is reserved and callous to the locals in Rio, and Lota herself. She felt out of place, judgmental, somehow fierce & fragile, all at the same time. As a longtime fan of Elizabeth, it surprised me to see someone I love depicted so cruelly, but even in the film, Elizabeth says “maybe this is why people shouldn’t meet authors.” 

As the movie continues viewers see Elizabeth soften, and begin integrating into life in Brazil, a life of partnership, and success as she wins the Pulitzer Prize. The movie flashes back to scenes of Elizabeth’s childhood, highlighting her fear of rejection and abandonment, and enlightening the audience to some of her more rigid characteristics and heavy alcoholism that plagues her and her relationship throughout the film. The film also briefly explores Lota and her work as an architect designing Flamengo Park and her struggles with mental health that eventually resulted in her suicide. The film is a cinematic memoir that beautifully combines the poetry of Bishop and her unique voice with a raw display of humanity, sexuality, and grief. 

This is review is part of the Finding Value series, inspired by the eleven core values central to the Library's mission. Tune in as Library staff review books and movies that highlight the values accessibility, civil discourse, inclusiveness, integrity, intellectual freedom, lifelong learning, literacy, respect, safety, service, and stewardship.

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