There’s always something new at the Lennoxville Library. Such as, you ask?
Such as Sushi For Beginners by Marian Keyes (2000), serving a delicious menu of chic-lit, complete with the hunt for a good man (and the discovery of a collection of men who don’t fit the bill), plus rivalry, depression, and bitchiness. The setting is Dublin, where Lisa, a woman who’s clawed her way to the top of the London fashion mag business, expects to be rewarded. Instead, she’s exiled by her bosses to Ireland, and tasked with
launching Colleen, a glossy that’s “young, feisty, funky, sexy, that’s how we see it. Especially sexy, Lisa. And nothing too clever. Forget downbeat features about female circumcision or women in Afghanistan with no freedom. That’s not our target readership.”
Her tiny staff of oddballs includes Ashling, a tediously practical singleton and worrywart. Lisa will also meet Ashling’s best friend Clodagh, a married and unhappy mom of two little monsters and a husband she long ago stopped noticing. Yet Clodagh is desperate for an adult conversation. Ok, man conversation.
Can Lisa the skinny fashionista make it out of tinytown? Will the plain Jane get the big boss into bed? And what about Clodagh’s wandering eye…
Not your cuppa? Just move a few inches over on the shelf and… voila! Tony Horwitz is an American who was completely embarrassed to realize that his idea of American history began with Columbus and then skipped more than 100 years to the Mayflower landing at Plymouth Rock. “I’d mislaid an entire century,” writes Horowitz in A Voyage Long And Strange: Rediscovering The New World (2008). And so he sets out to find his history, through travel, museums, interviews and digging through original documents. The result is a fascinating book that begins with Eirik The Red, the exiled Norwegian murderer who ended up in Newfoundland, at l’Anse aux Meadows (conveniently named after a mythological Greek killer).
Horowitz’s wanderings are quite entertaining (Newfoundland is an empty land of fog and moose): “I glanced at my watch. It had taken me 10 minutes to tour the remains of Norse America. The story here was bigger than the place.”
Then it’s a quest to follow in the footsteps of Columbus, who actually ended up in what is now the Caribbean. “Not once did he see or touch anything that later became U.S. soil.”
And then, in what Horowitz says is a shock for an American, he discovers the travels and conquests of the Spanish and those of the French, who fought Natives and each other for possession of swaths of the United States, until the English finally either conquered, were given, or bought what became the U.S.
This is a witty and entertaining travelogue and history lesson, which includes the surprising information that some conquistadores (encouraged with such verse as “with the compass and the sword,/ More and more and more and more,”) were actually threatened with execution for their barbaric treatment of Native peoples.
Check out the New Arrivals shelves at the very front of the Lennoxville Library to see what else is new!
– Eleanor Brown, September 23, 2011