Tuesday, May 6, 2008

A couple of treasures in our collections

I have been enjoying Jhumpa Lahiri's new collection of stories Unaccustomed Earth. I have been a fan of Ms. Lahiri's work since the debut of her first collection of stories The Interpreter of Maladies. With considerate, measured prose, she explores the lives of first-generation Indian Americans and their immigrant parents... the choices they make in their careers, their efforts to balance their connections to two different cultures, and the basic human experience of trying to honor all of one's familial commitments. Indeed, in this new collection, I have been very grateful to have a window into these characacters' lives which are pretty different from mind, but I have also been struck by the universality of these stories in depicting the complexities of family life. I guess that's always the mark of a good writer, right?

The other recent addition to our collection that I want to highlight is the DVD of Tanner '88, a TV series made by Robert Altman and Gary Trudeau during the Democratic primaries of 1988. I am a huge fan of both Altman and Trudeau, so I was pleased when one of our patrons donated his copy of Tanner to our library. I watched the entire series (11 episodes) in three sittings, and it is a remarkable project. They created a fictional presidential candidate (Congressman Jack Tanner played by Michael Murphy) who interacted with real political figures... Bob Dole, Kitty Dukakis, Jessie Jackson and many more. Although the whole thing does feel a bit dated in the present political context, I'm still glad to have had the chance to watch this piece from two of my favorites, and it couldn't be more timely. I'll put it on my Staff Picks shelf if you want to come check it out.

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