Lots of our audio book-loving patrons have been enjoying OverDrive, the Wisconsin Public Library Consortium's audio download service. Great news--OverDrive's capability for VIDEO downloads is live as of this week. A quick browse shows all sorts of interesting offerings.
Users download a bit of software and are then enabled to download videos. It works much the same as the audio download setup.
Is there a more universally beloved American novel than To Kill a Mockingbird? Some class it as the definitive Great American Novel, embodying drama, strength, redemption, and the ultimate triumph of good and truth over ignorance and evil. It invites re-reading, and re-reading again. Many of us read it in high school and would derive a lot from revisiting it as adults.
And the movie version of To Kill a Mockingbird--wasn't it just about flawless too? Gregory Peck was the perfect Atticus Finch: strong, principled, protective. The whole movie is a snapshot of small-town America. Our DVD version is always checked out, despite this movie's having been made in 1962.
But the author of To Kill a Mockingbird: what of her? Harper Lee has remained one of the great enigmas of American letters. Despite her promise of more books, To Kill a Mockingbird remains her only published novel. There's a new unauthorized biography of Harper Lee, Mockingbird, by Charles J. Shields, that might cast light on a few of the questions and mysteries that continue to swirl around Harper Lee.
Why are there writers who stop writing? Writers of remarkable ability who claim depletion of talent, or desertion by the muse, or even -- incredibly -- that they would just like to try something else? Their refusal or inability to follow up on their successes provokes forsaken readers into demanding explanations, the more fantastic the better. Failing for decades to publish a novel after Call It Sleep, Henry Roth came up with a variety of excuses, including sore elbow, anti-Semitism, and laziness. Nothing satisfied until he offered an explanation so hideous it had to be true: he was essentially an autobiographical writer, and, unable to write about the sexual abuse he had inflicted on his sister, he could not write at all. The professor in Paul Auster's novel The Book of Illusions is the author of a "meditation on silence," a book on Rimbaud, Dashiell Hammett, Laura Riding, and J.D. Salinger, "poets and novelists of uncommon brilliance who, for one reason or another, had stopped." Their silence is simultaneously maddening and appealing. Having created hits, they would not publish worse. To some of their readers, their silence only makes them more powerful, gods refusing to show their faces, too good for the world.
In their company must surely reside Harper Lee. That she wrote only one book, nearly universally beloved, is perhaps the best-known biographical fact about her; for some of her readers, it is the only fact. Charles J. Shields has now produced the first biography of the novelist, who, unsurprisingly, refused to approve of the project, or avail herself for any interviews, or sanction Shields to quote from her writing. Yet Shields is unstinting in his admiration for Lee -- the biography oozes love -- and his justification for writing an unauthorized life is persuasive: "I believe it is important to record Lee's story while there are still a few people alive who were part of it and can remember."
Looking for some great family entertainment for the upcoming weekend? We still have a few tickets left for this Saturday's showing of the new Disney movie version of Narnia.
Alice Baker Library is sponsoring this special event at the Theaters of Whitewater in Whitewater, Wisconsin, at 10:00 a.m., Saturday, December 10. Tickets are priced at $4 each. The theater will be offering popcorn and soda at special prices too.
Please see us at the library for tickets. A very limited amount are still available.
Ron Howard is filming the movie version of The Da Vinci Code this summer, using locations in Paris and Rome. Movie trailers are already whipping up interest in theaters. As if a book described as the biggest bestseller since the Bible needs much more buzz to whip up interest...
And now come the religious groups, stung by their depiction in the novel, wanting to guarantee their favorable representation in the movie. You wouldn't have needed a crystal ball to predict this development. Will Ron Haward cave to their demands?
Sounds like The filming of The Da Vinci Code might prove to be quite a story itself...
But "Da Vinci," set for release in May, is shaping up as one of the movie world's more complicated exercises - so much so that Sony has dropped a scrim of secrecy over the affair, refusing to discuss anything but the barest details. The script has been closely controlled. Outsiders have been banned from the set. And those associated with the film have had to sign confidentiality agreements.
"There isn't a hidden agenda, there isn't any secrecy, it's just because it's so well known," said Geoffrey Ammer, Sony's president of worldwide marketing, explaining the low profile. "They've got a job to do to make the movie. It was easier for everybody to just go make the movie."
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The new Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has been recently released to great reviews. It only underscores the reputation of Tim Burton as a filmmaker who injects wit, originality, vision, and more than a touch of darkness into his films. The Tim Burton Collective is the most comprehensive website on this most original filmmaker. There are images galore, biographical information, news, links to film reviews, and much more.