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Suspense Writer Wendy Walker Will Be at the SE Library on Tuesday, February 7, to Read from Her Debut Suspense Novel, “All Is Not Forgotten,” a Psychological Drama Exploring the Use of Memory-altering Drugs to Alleviate a Traumatic Experience

2017 January 24
by marleen

wwalker 1Wendy Walker’s first suspense novel, All Is Not Forgotten, is set in the small town of Fairview, CT, one of those irresistible locations for writers to explore because it seems perfect but really isn’t. No one better to delve into this than an author who is a suburban dweller with a growing family herself, but who also happens to be a family-law attorney, likely to know more than many of us about some of the real-life complications simmering underneath the real or imagined American suburban dream. As William Landay (Defending Jacob), another  attorney-turned-suspense-author who read for South End Writes in 2014 noted, Walker’s novel displays a polished writing style in a novel that blends suspense and rich family drama, so chances are good you will have an enjoyable few hours with this psychological thriller wondering whodunnit and why.

The plot revolves around a young woman from a family with underlying and unresolved tensions that become sharply articulated and inflamed when a crisis  occurs, in this case, an attack during one of those parties with too much liquor, testosterone and drugs. She is given a drug to alleviate the trauma, but is left with the anger and despair over the assault, not addressed by the memory-altering drug, and of which she can’t remember the facts. As the plot twists and turns to an unexpected conclusion, the parents are divided over what matters most, revenge, justice or…staying in tune with country club mores. Walker published two novels with St. Martin’s Press and is currently writing her second thriller. She will be introduced by her colleague an FOSEL advisory-board member, Mari Passananti.

The South End Writes is sponsored by the Friends of the South End Library. All the events are free. Books by the speakers will be available for borrowing, sale and signing by the author. The branch is fully handicapped accessible. We serve refreshments. Seating is limited.

COMING UP NEXT AT THE SOUTH END WRITES:

skinzerLongtime South End resident and veteran foreign-policy journalist Stephen Kinzer has been hosted by the South End Writes series twice before, once to discuss his acclaimed book, The Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles and Their Secret World War and, last year, to talk about his weeks-long trip through Iran, just before the controversial international nuclear agreement with the ayatollahs was approved. This time, the former New York Times bureau chief and regular Boston Globe contributor’s new book, The True Flag: Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Twain and the Birth of American Empire, reframes the current question about America’s role abroad from the perspective of the same debate that raged here in Boston at the end of the 19th-century, whether to be an imperialist nation or take care of our own problems first.  Tuesday, March 14gjen

The celebrated author of Tiger Writing: Art, Culture and the Independent Self, Gish Jen (with her latest book, due out in February, The Girl at the Baggage Claim: Explaining the East West Culture Gap), Tuesday, March 28

jblumNew York Times bestselling author of Those Who Saved Us, Jenna Blum (with her novella, The Lucky One, part of Grand Central Station, a collection of tales by well-known women writers, all taking place on the same day in Manhattan’s iconic gateway), Tuesday, April 4sllightfoot

The acclaimed sociologist Sara Lawrence Lightfoot, another MacArthur Genius Fellow gracing the South End library, who will be the first African American to hold an endowed chair in her name at Harvard University upon her retirement (with her recent Growing Each Other Up: When Our Children Become Our Teachers) Tuesday, April 18mking

The iconic Mel King, former state legislator, school board member, community organizer, writer, poet, and the holder of perhaps the largest memory bank of South End’s turbulent history. Raised in the New York streets part of the South End by immigrant parents from Guyana and Barbados in the 1930s. Former adjunct professor in the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning and author of Chain of Change: Struggles for Black Community Development and collections of poetry, and founder of the South End’s Technology Center at Tent City. Tuesday, May 23sschorow

Stephanie Schorow, journalist, journalism teacher and author of many popular books about Boston’s amazing history, including The Crime of the Century: How the Brink’s Robbers Stole Millions and the Hearts of Boston and The Cocoanut Grove Fire. Tuesday, June 13

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The South End Library/ArtsEmerson’s Play-reading Book Group Resumes Saturday, January 28 at 10:30 AM with Unique Access to the Theatre and Viewing of the Acclaimed Play “Beauty Queen of Leenane” on February 8: Free to All

2017 January 24
by marleen
The Beauty Queen of Leenane

The Beauty Queen of Leenane

The collaborative effort of the Play-reading Book Club between ArtsEmerson and the South End library will resume this Saturday at 10:30 AM at the South End branch when a group of local library patrons and ArtsEmerson organizers will begin to read and discuss the script of award-winning play by Irish playwright Martin McDonagh, Beauty Queen of Leeann.   The Friends of the South End Library (FOSEL) is funding the three-play program, which promotes access to the theatre and community building, free to all. There are five sessions, including attending the play itself on February 8, and a final get-together on February during which the participants share their experiences with friends and family on Thursday, February 16. The first play was Mala, by acclaimed local playwright Melinda Lopez; the final play in the program will be 17 Border Crossings by Thaddeus Phillips, for which the sessions take place during April, and going to the play will be on April 19 at 5:30 PM..

17 Border Crossings

17 Border Crossings

If you would like to participate in the Play-reading Book Club for The Beauty Queen of Leenane starting this Saturday, January 28 at 10:30 AM, please get in touch with Anne Smart at the South End library at 617 536-8241, or by email at asmart@bpl.org. You can also contact Akiba Abaka at ArtsEmerson at 617 824-3071, or by email at akiba@artsemerson.org. Tickets to the play are at a vastly reduced $15. However, if you can’t afford it, the tickets will be complimentary.

 

 

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Celebrated Author Junot Diaz, Drawing a Record Crowd, Praises Libraries, Cajoles the Audience to Become Actively Engaged Citizens, and Reads a Vivid Passage from “Nilda,” a Story in His Latest Collection, “This Is How You Lose Her”

2017 January 23
by marleen
Author Junot Diaz talking about the importance of libraries at the beginning of his talk on January 10/17

Author Junot Diaz talking about the importance of libraries at the beginning of his talk on January 10/17

The audience coming to hear Junot Diaz, the award-winning writer of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Drown and This Is How You Lose Her, had filled every seat 45 minutes before the program started, yet more people kept streaming through the South End library’s Tremont Street doors. The South End Writes author series fielded large crowds before,  (Jack Beattie, Jamaica Kincaid, Chris Kimbal, Police Officer John Sacco, Dennis Lehane, Joanne Chang, Edith Pearlman, Bessel Van Der Kolk and Steve Kurkjian) but this January 10 event felt different. More as if a prophet had arrived who also happened to be a literary icon, someone who might speak to the sense of political  foreboding many in the audience expressed, days removed from a controversial new President’s inauguration. “Are you worried?” asked Diaz, holding a cup of coffee mid-drink, scanning the audience that stood layers deep in the stairwell, moving into the middle of the community room so all could hear him. Many affirmative sounds and groans ensued.

Junot Diaz reading a passage from Nilda, a story in This Is How You Lose Her

Junot Diaz reading a passage from Nilda, a story in This Is How You Lose Her

Before launching into audience existential anxiety, Diaz eloquently expressed his deep gratitude for libraries. “I am a creature of the library,” he said. It gives you access to everything poverty strips you of. Poverty is profoundly undemocratic. It narrows your world. The library’s ethos is fundamentally democratic, fundamentally contemplative, a place that itself is concerned with citizenship and civic good–everything that poverty tends to strip from people’s minds,” he suggested. “I wonder if it had not been for libraries, would there have been anything left from the childhoods some of us have had?” Diaz, who reportedly often walked four miles to his public library to borrow books when he was growing up in a poor immigrant family in New Jersey, emphasized that “we are born in these places and certainly the part of me that led me here to this moment was born in my public library under the tutelage of my librarian.”

Junot Diaz speaking to a long line of admirers

Junot Diaz speaking to a long line of admirers

Introduced by author and poet Pablo Medina (Cubob City Blues), Diaz was described as one of the very few writers who use a particular voice to distinguish themselves from everyone else, much like Mark Twain, Toni Morrison and Faulkner did. “He opened a voice and way of life that had not been explored before and brought Latino life into the mainstream,” Medina said. Diaz, winner of numerous awards and honors including the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award and a MacArthur Genius Fellowship, commented that the strange thing about being known as a writer in any way is that you are “standing in for better artists who haven’t been given the acclaim they deserve,” and thanked Medina and his contemporaries for the enormous influence and genius he received from them.

Head librarian Anne Smart and one of her admirers

Head librarian Anne Smart and one of her admirers

Turning back to the moment of political gloom, Diaz asked what people in the audience themselves were doing about it. “I wanna know what are you gonna do,” said Diaz, who is active in the Dominican American community.“I’ve been doing my community work forever. If you feel you’ve been hit by a Mac truck, you can appreciate the life that many of us artists have been reporting, and the diabolical forces in American society that have plagued us and made us miserable for so long.” He said he is “intentionally activist”  and not interested in his work as an artist taking the place of his civic responsibility. “Being an artist doesn’t excuse you from your civic responsibility,“ he said, observing that artists are “more inclined to the febrile excuse of ‘my art is my politics.’ Investment bankers,” he added, “not so much. You see them volunteering in soup kitchens.”

Junot Diaz receives the traditional FOSEL gift of a FOSEL library bag and copies of his event poster

Junot Diaz receives the traditional FOSEL gift of a FOSEL library bag and copies of his event poster designed by Mary Owens

Answering several questions about his writing, Diaz, who is the Rudge and Nancy Allen Professor of Writing at MIT, described himself as a very slow writer, very ‘avoidant,’ ‘wildly rewarded,’ and having come of age reading giants of African-American literature like Alice Walker, Gloria Naylor, Toni Morrison, and Ishmael Reed as well as Sandra Cisneros, Scott Momaday, Oscar Hijuelos, Ralph Ellison, and James Baldwin. Families are great inspiration “for the spectrum of behavior,” he said but cautioned that stories have minds of their own. “You can have wild ideas about stories,” he said, “but the stories themselves have other ideas. They happen at the levels of the unconscious. The story is the boss. It is an enormous amount of work to decipher what the unconscious wants. Every draft brings you closer and closer to the mysterious story. Every version sucks.”

With that, he picked up a copy of This Is How You Lose Her, and read a richly descriptive passage from the story Nilda.  When he was done, he patiently listened to, and talked with, his admirers waiting in a long line to be photographed with him and, with a cursive flair, signed all of their books. Within days, he and four other authors –Zadie Smith, Dave Eggers, Colson Whitehead and Barbara Kingsolver– would have lunch with then-President Obama, who admired them and described the writers as having helped him shape his presidency.

 

 

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The 2017 South End Writes Program Will Resume Tuesday, January 10, with the Acclaimed Junot Diaz, Author of the Award-winning Works of Fiction “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao,” “Drown” and “This Is How You Lose Her”

2017 January 2
by marleen

junot-1A talk by the award-winning author and MIT Professor of Writing, Junot Diaz, will launch  the 2017-18 South End Writes series on Tuesday, January 10 at 6:30 PM. Born in the Dominican Republic in 1968 but raised in New Jersey since he was six, Díaz’s emotionally convincing prose is a seamless, powerful blend of his native language’s descriptive richness and the high-energy, raw lingo of the American urban environment he grew up in. Add to that Diaz’s passion for What Came Before (he was trained as a historian), in the form of many annotations in his work, further illuminating and contextualizing the lives of his unforgettable characters and the places they so vividly inhabit. The result is the full explanation for the dozens of high-octane prizes and honors Diaz has received for his work since stories from his first collection, Drown (1996), were published by The New Yorker in the early 1990s.junot-2

In addition to a 2012 MacArthur “Genius” fellowship, they include –but are not limited to– the Pen/Malamud Award; the Eugene McDermott Award; a Lila Wallace Reader’s Digest Writers Award, a fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation; a US-Japan Creative Artist Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, and a fellowship at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University. Then there are the Los Angeles Times Book Prize; the Fellow of the American Academy Rome Prize; and the Norman Mailer Prize, among others. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award. The short-story collection This Is How You Lose Her (2012) was a finalist for the National Book Award. A  New York Times bestseller, it came out in paperback this year.junot-3

junot-4A graduate of New Jersey’s Rutgers College and the MFA program at Cornell University, Díaz is the fiction editor at Boston Review and the Rudge and Nancy Allen Professor of Writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  He has been active in a number of community organizations in New York City, and is an outspoken critic of the illegal deportation of Haitians and Haitian Dominicans by the Dominican government. He is a member of the board of advisers for Freedom University, a volunteer organization in Georgia that provides post-secondary instruction to undocumented immigrants. He is the honorary chairman of the DREAM Project, a non-profit education involvement program in the Dominican Republic.  On January 10, he will be introduced by his friend and colleague, author and poet Pablo Medina, who read at the South End library in May 2014 from his novel, CuBop City Blues.

The South End Writes is sponsored by the Friends of the South End Library. All the events are free. Books by the speakers will be available for borrowing, sale and signing by the author. The branch is fully handicapped accessible. We serve refreshments. Seating is limited.

+++++++++++++++++++++

Also booked for the 2017/18 season are the following exciting authors:

wendy-wSuspense writer and family law attorney Wendy Walker with her debut thriller that delves into the enigma of memory and the dilemmas of using memory-altering drugs to alleviate trauma ( All Is Not Forgotten) on Tuesday, February 7;skinzer

The outstanding foreign-policy journalist Stephen Kinzer (with his new book, The True Flag: Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Twain and the Birth of American Empire) Tuesday, March 14;

gjenThe celebrated author of Tiger Writing: Art, Culture and the Independent Self, Gish Jen (with her latest book, due out in February, The Girl at the Baggage Claim: Explaining the East West Culture Gap), Tuesday, March 28;jblum

New York Times bestselling author of Those Who Saved Us, Jenna Blum (with her novella, The Lucky One, part of Grand Central Station, a collection of tales by well-known women writers, all taking place on the same day in Manhattan’s iconic gateway), Tuesday, April 4;

sllightfootThe acclaimed sociologist Sara Lawrence Lightfoot, another MacArthur Genius fellow gracing the South End library, who will be the first African American to hold an endowed chair in her name at Harvard University upon her retirement (with her recent Growing Each Other Up: When Our Children Become Our Teachers) Tuesday, April 18.mking

The iconic Mel King, former state legislator, school board member, community organizer, writer, poet, and the holder of perhaps the largest memory bank of South End’s turbulent history. Raised in the New York streets part of the South End by immigrant parents from Guyana and Barbados in the 1930s. Former adjunct professor in the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning and author of Chain of Change: Struggles for Black Community Development and collections of poetry, and founder of the South End’s Technology Center at Tent City. Tuesday, May 23;

sschorowStephanie Schorow,  journalist, journalism teacher and author of many popular books about Boston’s amazing history, including The Crime of the Century: How the Brink’s Robbers Stole Millions and the Hearts of Boston and The Cocoanut Grove Fire. Tuesday, June 13.

 

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South End Library’s Holiday Party Offered Home-cooked Dinner by John Hampton, Great Jazz Holiday Music by Pat Loomis and Friends and a Long Line of Celebrants Who Came to Enjoy Food, Friends, Music and Cheer

2016 December 26
by marleen

xmas-sel-6Each year, the lines are longer, the holiday meal more tasty, and the music better than ever. That’s the story of the annual holiday party sponsored by the staff of the South End library to celebrate religious and secular good cheer between the book stacks, with the long library tables pushed aside to accommodate the musicians and instruments of Pat Loomis and his Friends, instead lined up to offer a delicious array of Southern-style dishes.

“Next year, it’ll have to be someone else,” announced John Hampton, the husband of library staffer Carol Glass who has valiantly manned the stove for many years to produce the feast. His health is not what it used to be, so this year’s meal for the library’s party was his last. A long line of expectant diners stretched all the way into the Children’s Department, and included several reporters for local papers.

Pat Loomis (from the back) watching drummer Zeke Martin throw himself into it

Pat Loomis (from the back) watching drummer Zeke Martin throw himself into spirit of it

Chef John Hampton's last supper prepared for the SE library's holiday party

Chef John Hampton’s last supper prepared for the SE library’s holiday party

Loomis’s band outperformed itself with what otherwise would have been old standards of the holiday season but, instead, offered the appreciative audience their fine jazz and blues versions of it. Drummer Zeke Martin did a spectacular job, as did Loomis himself on the alto-sax, his son Antonio on guitar and Daniel Day on bass.

Happy holidays to all.

 

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