Brooklyn Public Library


'Life Is a War of Attrition'

Jul 30, 2010 1:24 PM | 1 comment

July has witnessed the passing of two irrepressible creators: Harvey Pekar and John Callahan. Their contrasting styles—one was writer and the other cartoonist, one pitiable and one incendiary—form a complimentary body of work that encapsulates the plight of the oppressed and diseased with dolorous humor and savage wit.


Harvey Pekar was the cantankerous, gloomy and essentially lovable creator of the comic book American Splendor. He introduced his gritty, autobiographical tales in 1976 after nearly 40 years spent as an anonymous filing clerk in a Veteran's Administration hospital. What started as one man's peripheral project, reflective of his insular world, has become an iconic and wry glimpse into everyday American life.

Unlike Pekar, John Callahan detested pity and proclaimed his life saved after he was left paralyzed from the chest down: already deeply sunk into alcoholism, the 21-year old Callahan would have most likely drunk himself into a far earlier grave. Instead, he learned how to grasp a pen and put it to good use on paper. The whimsically absurd and darkly humored cartoons poke fun at helplessness, debility and the disabled, and combat that special brand of sentimental condescension Callahan so loathed.

Visit BPL’s catalog to browse our extensive collection of Pekar-Callahan material. Titles include the acclaimed 2003 feature film American Splendor, which has Paul Giamatti playing Harvey Pekar and Hope Davis as his equally idiosyncratic wife Joyce. Callahan’s “quasi-memoir” Will the Real John Callahan Please Stand Up? has an introduction by fellow comic genius Robin Williams. 

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This Joint is Jumpin'

Jul 29, 2010 4:26 PM | 0 comments

It's not too late to get into the swing of things at Brooklyn Public Library. Come out tonight for another edition of our Plaza Swing series.

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Mouth as Lethal Weapon

Jul 22, 2010 9:50 AM | 1 comment

It’s been a bad week, brought on by a Year of Living Dangerously, for Mel Gibson. He might have reconsidered unleashing a verbal Apocalypto on former lover and mother to his daughter Oksana Grigorieva if he’d realized he was being taped.

I’m sure he regards the release of the tapes as a Conspiracy Theory against him—which would be the appropriate reaction of a narcissist. (David Brooks recently described Gibson as such in a New York Times editorial.) Whatever the diagnosis for Gibson’s maniacal behavior, it’s clear he doesn’t know What Women Want. The Signs are everywhere that his career might at last suffer from this latest round of abhorrent behavior. It’s conceivable that an actor who’s young and dysfunctional might spend some time in jail over a DUI and see her acting career survive—but a grown man with domestic abuse issues bent solely on Payback might want to choose another line of work. Or retire.

 Check out these Mel Gibson DVDs and others from your local library!

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An Actor Escapes

Jul 21, 2010 4:45 PM | 0 comments

The mercurial talents of John Ortiz

have beguiled followers of the stage and screen for nearly two decades. From his boyhood days spent in Bushwick, Brooklyn, Mr. Ortiz has emerged as one of the most versatile and adventurous actors working today, appearing (and disappearing) in the skins of icons (Che Guevara, Othello), henchmen (Public Enemies, Miami Vice), and, in his debut role, as the cousin of Al Pacino in Carlito’s Way. He has materialized on stages across the world as co-founder and member of New York’s LABryinth Theater Company, and will next be seen in the film adaptation of LAB’s Jack Goes Boating, directed by friend and fellow company member Philip Seymour Hoffman. While you wait for his resurfacing, here are some of Mr. Ortiz’s favorite escapes when in between roles and enjoying the summer back home in Bushwick:

For Children

1.  The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

2.  Everywhere Coquis! The Song of Puerto Rico by Nancy Hooper
3.  Way Down Deep in the Deep Blue Sea by Jan Peck
Owl Moon by Jane Yolen
5.  The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper


For Adults

1.  The Brief Wondrous Life if Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz

2.  The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

3.  One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

4.  On the Road by Jack Kerouac
5.  Clemente by David Maraniss

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Nia’s Love Jones

Jul 15, 2010 12:02 PM | 0 comments

Nia Long’s girl next-door personality and dashing good looks have graced both the big and small screen. Staring in hits such as Love Jones, Big Momma’s House and Boyz in the Hood, Long has been on the Hollywood scene for well over two decades.

When the Brooklyn native isn’t on set, she can be found enjoying a good book. Here are her favorites:



1. The Dream Keeper by Langston Hughes

2. Hot City by Barbara Joosse

3. The Big Field by Mike Lupica



1. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

2. The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz

3. The Great Controversy by Ellen G. White


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