Thursday, March 31, 2016

DON'T MISS OUT: Next week, along with Lego Club and the Great Big Dollhouse Project, we will be having the first in a 2 part workshop on MAKING TOY MOVIES in stop-motion animation! Check out the flyer for details.

Costume Kit Photo Booth!

Adult Fiction Book Review for our featured book of the month: Purity by Jonathan Franzen

The featured adult fiction book of the month is Purity by Jonathan Franzen. Find it on the new arrivals bookshelf AND the audiobook shelf at Johnson Public Library!

In choosing to feature Purity, the newest novel by the American writer Jonathan Franzen, I have, curiously, chosen to put myself in quite a bind. You see, Franzen is not merely brilliant, and this novel is not merely great: his insight into the vast (and often hidden) emotional landscape of his characters has an almost scientific intellectual precision, while remaining entirely luminous. Purity exceeds greatness, and by choosing to review it I am saddled with the task of doing it justice in my description- an impossible endeavor. I can only hope that you will choose to read the book (and all of Franzen’s work) for yourselves.

Any review of Jonathan Franzen’s novels will mention his blazing intelligence, as it is truly a marvel to behold, but I would like to interject a thought regarding this. Sometimes, particularly clever writers are too enamored of their own talents to remember that their readers are, in a sense, collaborators as well as audience. They can seem stuck inside a self-congratulatory bubble, enjoying their own cleverness too much to notice that the storyline is stuck in the mud.  Jonathan Franzen is not one of these writers. The swift current of his plots will carry you along through the twists and turns of great storytelling even though much of the drama will occur inside the minds and hearts of his characters.

Purity is told in seven sections, using alternating perspectives on a shared history to illuminate the story (and backstories and secrets) of the characters in their present day predicaments. The primary character, Pip Tyler, is a recent college grad who is in the midst of a literal and moral identity crisis. Due to her neurotic mother’s secretive reclusiveness, Pip has no idea who her father- or, in fact- her mother truly are. Buried beneath $130,000 in student debt and squatting with anarchists in Oakland, Pip is navigating the edges of her moral boundaries while searching for her father.

Through a bizarre encounter with a German peace activist, Pip finds herself suddenly in South America interning at The Sunlight Project, an organization/cult akin to WikiLeaks in the jungle of Bolivia, led by the dangerously charismatic and famous German fugitive Andreas Wolf.  Andreas is drawn to Pip for reasons she cannot fathom, and their connection not only seems to blur the lines between right and wrong, but also embodies a murkiness of secret motives and half-truths.

The theme of this novel is (unsurprisingly) purity, and it turns out that not a single character escapes being soiled by their own sordid secrets. In characteristic Franzen style, you must first loathe the characters in his novels before, at last, you come to understand them and have profound- if not conflicted- empathy and love for them. He does not spare a one from being shackled by their own humanness, and Franzen, with judicious care and a knack for merciless honesty, casts an unflinching gaze upon each complicated character in this book. 

Purity is an epic story of moral quandaries, the battle between idealism and cynicism, the burden of love, and murder. Jonathan Franzen has imagined a cast of scrupulously genuine characters portrayed will all of their merits and faults still attached, and he constructs a story of their intersecting paths through their own histories and a strikingly familiar contemporary world.

Thursday, March 3, 2016



There are so very many fabulously fun activities planned for the late winter/spring session! Please check out the calendars below, and pop into the library to pick up a copy for your fridge. ***NOTE: A few of the programs have limited space, so don't wait till the last minute to sign your child up if they want a spot!