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Modern Mexico's Greatest Novelist, Carlos Fuentes

The Crystal FrontierCarlos Fuentes (November 11, 1928 – May 15, 2012), Mexico's famed novelist and prolific writer, died on the 15th May aged 83 years. He is regarded by many as the father of modern Latin American literature. Aside from his career as a novelist, Fuentes was an essayist and commentator on matters political and cultural, a playwright and screenwriter and an ambassador for his country. Born in Panama (his father was also a diplomat), he spent much of the latter half of his life living in either Europe or the United States, and was fluent in English from an early age. He was the winner of numerous literary prizes, most notably the Cervantes Prize in 1987, the most prestigious Spanish-language literary award.

Sixteen Blooming Years

UlysseesSixteen years ago (1996) I began to research references to songs in the works of James Joyce. This was for a production entitled “doublin babble on” (an evening of theatre & music in Newman House). I started reading and re-reading Joyce’s works with a view to cataloguing all the song references therein. This was an enjoyable but also a daunting task. Consequently I was delighted to discover the existence of 'The James Joyce Songbook' (a scholarly work edited by Ruth Bauerle, reference-only copy available). She had completed precisely what I was only embarking upon. The result of my (Bauerle assisted) research was the James Joyce music room where three other singers and myself, together with musical director and accompanist, Margot Doherty, performed a selection of songs from Joyce’s works. The James Joyce song repertoire is a treasure trove of varied musical genres: opera, operetta, parlour songs, music hall numbers, traditional Irish melodies and all the songs that Joyce himself liked to sing (Joyce was a fine tenor who, before he devoted himself to literature contemplated a career in music). This performance developed into "Bloomsongs" which Margot Doherty and I (under the name Winedark Productions) have performed regularly since then.

If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need. ~Cicero

Outdoor Living

I'm staying optimistic that Summer will arrive and we can look forward to long sunny evenings. So while we all come down from the land of soggy books, dripping umbrellas and cloudy skies we can start to get in the mood and think about the outdoor living that lies ahead of us. You can prepare now by checking out the many titles in the library that will inspire you to tidy up and prepare the garden so you’ll be ready to sit back after a long day and relax when the sun does come out.

Here are some titles to get you in the mood! 

What Podcasts are Available?

Headphones and iPodYou may well ask - what podcasts are available from Dublin City Public Libraries, and how can you access them? Well, let's answer those questions and hopefully put you on the road to many hours of gainful listening!

While we organise and host many talks in our branch libraries throughout the year, only a handful of you are in a position to attend, plus our venues can only accommodate so many. So while you may wish to attend and listen to a speaker on a topic of interest, it can often be the case that you are unable to, or that we cannot accommodate the demand for places. And isn't it often the case that you only learn of a talk after it has taken place? But don't despair! We endeavour to record a good selection of our talks, readings and workshops as they happen and make them available online soon after.

Arthur Rubinstein

The legendary RubinsteinArthur Rubinstein was seven years old in 1894, when he played the piano in public for the first time. By the time his career ended, eighty-two years later, he had performed with phenomenal success in most countries of the world.

He was born in Lodz, Poland (part of the Russian Empire at that time) to Jewish parents. By the age of 4, Rubinstein was recognised as a child prodigy. He studied piano in Warsaw, later moving to Berlin to continue his studies while playing with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.

Rubinstein travelled to several countries and made his home at various times in Poland, Germany, France, England and the United States  playing at many concerts throughout.

Information and Advice in the Business Information Centre

Remember the elderly!

The Bealtaine Festival is running  from 1st May - 31st May this year, and running concurrently is Social Inclusion Week (14th May - 19th May) and European Year for Active Ageing.  With this in mind we have focused our Information & Advice stands this month on the elderly and the unemployed! Our Information and Advice stands involve representatives from various organisations coming here to the library, and interacting with the general public.  Any questions / queries that the public may have about the organisation in question are answered.

Dublin Bookbinding Styles

Ornate bookcoverWhat design features come to mind when we think of 18th-century Dublin? Terraces and squares of classical houses with individual fanlights over each hall door, ornate plasterwork ceilings created by Italian stucco workers, elaborately chased Dublin silverware? Certainly, but perhaps not so well known is one of the quintessential and recognizably “Dublin” elements of design, which can be seen in the fine bookbindings carried out by master craftsmen throughout the century.

Utilitarian sheep and calf bindings were surpassed as the century progressed and gilt ornamentation was given free rein. Fine morocco or goatskin was used in rich deep colours of dark red, crimson, green and sometimes, but more rarely, blue, often with cream leather inlays. However, it was the variety and sophistication of the gold tooling that was characteristic of the finest bindings.

Let the Wild Rumpus Start!

Where the Wild Things areMy daughter texted me yesterday...'Maurice Sendak died!'. If she had been at home we would probably have re-read Sendak's classic 'Where the Wild Things Are' and acted out a 'Wild Rumpus' for old times sake. She might even have donned a variation of a wolf suit (as a child she dressed for half a year as Robin Hood and another half a year as Batman, so she has form). Instead, we made do with watching YouTube clips and following #wildrumpus on Twitter.

English Exam Materials at the Open Learning Centre

IELTS 1Are you studying for your IELTS exams or maybe for the Cambridge First Certificate or Advanced exams? If so, you can avail of study materials available here at the Open Learning Centre. We have books, CD-Roms and audio CDs for use here in the library.

For example, regarding the IELTS exam, we have a series of books designed to support students of this Cambridge examination. The series Cambridge IELTS 1 to 7 is very useful as it contains practice tests for each module of the exam, ie. Listening, Academic Reading, General Reading, Academic Writing, General Writing and Speaking. Other titles include IELTS Practice tests with key and IELTS Testbuilder 1. Similar books are offered for the Cambridge First Certificate and Advanced Certificate. For example, FCE1, 2 and 3 and CAE 1, 2 and 3. We also have books and CDs for the TOEIC and TOEFL exams.

These materials are for reference only in the Open Learning Centre. If you want to use the Cds, you can reserve a session on a computer here and practice your skills.

Information on all the English as a Second Official Language (ESOL) Exams is available from the Exam English website.

Stephen King is King

11.22.63Recent winner in the mystery/thriller category of the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes for his novel '11.22.63', Stephen King is a name so well known that little introduction is needed; think The Shining, Carrie, It, Misery, Christine, Pet Sematary, Salem's Lot, Insomnia, to name just a few. I think it interesting that he has won this award insofar as I have seen it said that in the past critics have not viewed him as a serious writer. But whatever the views of the critics past or present, such a view if it is held has never detracted from his popularity with the reader.

As an aside, also nominated in this category was Irish author Eoin Colfer for his book, 'Plugged', and the subject of a previous post here on our blog.

'11.22.63' is the story of a time traveller from 2011, a young teacher from Lisbon Falls, Maine, who gets the chance to prevent the assassination of John F. Kennedy by Lee Harvey Oswald. 

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