Sunday, April 13, 2014

Fun at the Library

Saturday has been library day for our household for decades. In February, I posted about the Mystery Date with a book at my local library and how the librarians there seem to be having fun. Here are a couple more examples of their inventiveness. Following those, a quick (sort of) look at the book I picked up this week.

From March 22, 2014
"I can't remember the title, but the cover was pink" display

From April 12, 2014
A display for National Poetry Month and Poem-in-Your-Pocket Day
(This year, Poem-in-Your-Pocket Day is April 24th. Here are my posts about it from 2012, 2012 again, and 2013.)

Poems in the basket are by poets featured at the Albany library.
The one I got is "Bird, are you still" by Jack Marshall.
There were also others from the Poem-in-Your-Pocket book, I think.

The book I picked up today on reserve was One-Way Street and Other Writings by Walter Benjamin, translated from the German by Edmund Jephcott. Somewhere I read that One-Way Street was an interesting mix of street signs and directions and words pulled from advertising, in addition to being a kind of collection of essays. It is possible there was a reference in Georges Perec's Thoughts of Sorts, last week's book, an amusing and interesting collection of essays by the Oulipian. (I seem to have returned that book too soon.)

This book of Benjamin's has an intro by Susan Sontag, as well as a Publisher's Note, so although I am on page 78 of 388 pages, I am not very far into it. The description (Perec's?) is proving a bit more interesting than the 59-page essay itself, but there are some gems within. Some of those section titles are: Filling Station, To the Public: Please Protect and Preserve These New Plantings, Germans, Drink German Beer!, and Halt Not for More Than Three Cabs, among others. 

One section, called "Construction Site" discusses how adults get themselves all worked up trying to invent educational toys and "visual aids" for children, when children are happy to scavenge from the leftovers generated by adult projects and create their own world from the abandoned parts. There's a bit more to it than that, but I think it is a fascinating premise. It was written in 1925-26 and even more relevant today. (Although he doesn't specifically say "cardboard box," that's probably what we are all thinking.)

There are a few misses for me, such as when he gets overly dramatic about love or revolution, but there are enough fresh thoughts and images to keep the reader engaged. The humorous titles create interesting contexts as well. 

And humor is why I'm enjoying the displays at our library. 

I will leave you with an extremely short, shaped note from Walter Benjamin about writing that taps into our senses, titled "CAUTION: STEPS":
Work on good prose has three steps: a musical stage when it is composed, an architectonic one when it is built, and a textile one when it is woven.

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