Brooklyn Public Library


Literary Lowdown with Morris Dickstein

Apr 13, 2010 9:30 AM | 0 comments

No Shush Zone asked Mr. Dickstein to share some of his thoughts and strategies in organizing his Disrupted Lives reading group held at Central Library. The third installment meets this Wednesday to discuss Saul Bellow’s Seize the Day.


No Shush Zone: How did you decide on the theme for your book discussion series?

Morris Dickstein: Fiction is very good at dramatizing the turning points in people's lives. I wanted to look closely at lives disrupted either by large historical events, such as the Depression or the Holocaust, or by serious personal problems, including depression, marital conflict, and economic reverses. One criterion was to find brief works, under 120 pages, that we could really cover in a two-hour discussion. The books I chose are as tightly written as poetry.


NSZ: Do you have a favorite book from your selections?

MD: Actually, they're all favorites of mine. That's why I singled them out.


NSZ: What do you find unique or interesting about fiction written between the 1930s and 1970s?

MD: Not only do the personalities change, especially after the war, but the cultural influences on them change from decade to decade. Economic problems before the war give way to moral and psychological problems after the war. But of course the Holocaust remains a unique event, something so extreme that no literary models could prepare a writer for dealing with it.


NSZ: Are there aspects to these five authors’ writing and/or lives that connect them to each other?

MD: Because of the theme of crisis or disruption, I was afraid the books are too similar to each other, despite having been written under different circumstances by very different people. In fact, I was worried that they might seem like all the same book. But the discussion so far shows how unlike they are, and that was something I wanted to stress--the variety of human response to crisis.


NSZ: Do you have a strategy for directing the conversation in a reading group?

MD: I try to offer background information and lay down questions rather than answers. My goal is to encourage the participants to talk to each other, not to me, and especially not to seek the answers from me. I want us to move further along in that direction. I hope to serve as a catalyst, low-key and almost invisible. We haven't gotten there yet but I'll keep trying.


So, seize the day, and join this week’s or one of the next two book discussions in the series!


May 5: Night by Elie Wiesel

May 26: The Ghost Writer by Philip Roth

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Celebrate Brooklyn!

Apr 12, 2010 9:34 AM | 0 comments

Did you know that 40% of the 2.6 million people living in Brooklyn speak a language other than English at home? To celebrate the melting pot that is our borough, learn about other cultures, or discuss your own background, join BPL for events in honor of Immigrant Heritage Week, April 15-21.


Some highlights include:

-          One City, Many Poems* programs at over 20 locations

-          An Immigrant Heritage Health Series in Spanish

-          Author Talks with Chinese and Ukranian guests


For more events, and further information on the above events, visit our Immigrant Heritage Week page.


And if you’d like to learn a new language or take out books in other languages, visit out Multilingual Center.


*One City, Many Poems is made possible by a grant from the Brooklyn Community Foundation and in partnership with Poet's House  

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Weekend 101

Apr 9, 2010 10:26 AM | 0 comments

It’s Friday, you just got paid, but already you’re broke. Between paying your mortgage and other household bills (and that random impulse purchase) you find yourself bored with no money left for entertainment.

This weekend, put your debit card away, as your local library has wholesome fun on the cheap. From Saturday’s tango workshop to Sunday’s silent film series, BPL has a host of programs that are guaranteed to keep you entertained out the poor house.

While you’re here, earn some extra cash by testing for a job with the U.S. Census.

For more information about these or our other free events, be sure to visit our online calendar of events.

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A Taxing Time

Apr 7, 2010 9:38 AM | 0 comments

Did you forget to do something? Need a hint? You’ll need to do it by April 15. Need another hint? Well, if you do, then you’ll definitely need to come to one of our final tax return assistance programs. The AARP will offer this assistance at various library locations over the next week. Visit our website for the exact dates and times.  

You can also visit our website to learn how to download your tax forms and how to find even more resources to help you prepare your returns. Happy number crunching! 

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Take Me Out to the Ballgame

Apr 5, 2010 10:30 AM | 0 comments

Opening day is upon us, and whether you’re a Yanks or Mets fan (or a fan of the 2008 World Series champs, let’s say) it’s batter up for America’s favorite pastime.


But for those Brooklyn Dodgers fans, opening day can be bittersweet. So relive their glory days with historic photographs from the Brooklyn Collection.


Or if you want to learn about other local teams, or read about baseball, BPL can direct you to the info you need to score a home run this baseball season.






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