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At the Library: Even if the white stuff is sand

By Staff | Nov 26, 2014

It does not snow at the Captiva Memorial Library, but at 3 p.m. Dec. 6 kids will celebrate December Holidays Florida Style, hear snow stories and make their own fake snow.

The Captiva Memorial Library has many books that chronicle creative journeys:

“Penelope Fitzgerald: A Life”

by Hermoine Lee

“The acclaimed biographer of Edith Wharton and Virginia Woolf gives us an intimate portrait of one of the most quietly brilliant novelists of the twentieth century. Penelope Fitzgerald was a great English writer whose career didn’t begin until she was nearly sixty. She would go on to win some of the most coveted awards in literature-the Booker Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award. Now, in an impeccable match of talent between biographer and subject, Hermione Lee, a master biographer and one of Fitzgerald’s greatest champions, gives us this remarkable writer’s story. Lee’s critical expertise is on dazzling display on every page, as it illuminates this extraordinary English life.

Fitzgerald, born into an accomplished intellectual family, the granddaughter of two bishops, led a life marked by dramatic twists of fate, moving from a bishop’s palace to a sinking houseboat to a last, late blaze of renown. We see Fitzgerald’s very English childhood in the village of Hampstead; her Oxford years, when she was known as the “blonde bombshell”; her impoverished adulthood as a struggling wife, mother and schoolteacher, raising a family in difficult circumstances; and the long-delayed start to her literary career. Fitzgerald’s early novels draw on her own experiences-working at the BBC in wartime, at a bookshop in Suffolk, at an eccentric stage school in the 1960s-while her later books open out into historical worlds that she, magically, seems to entirely possess: Russia before the Revolution, postwar Italy, Germany in the time of the Romantic writer Novalis. Fitzgerald’s novels are short, spare masterpieces, and Hermione Lee unfurls them here as works of genius…” *

“Becoming Richard Pryor”

by Scott Saul

“A major biography-intimate, gripping, revelatory-of an artist who revolutionized American comedy. Richard Pryor may have been the most unlikely star in Hollywood history. Raised in his family’s brothels, he grew up an outsider to privilege. He took to the stage, originally, to escape the hard-bitten realities of his childhood, but later came to a reverberating discovery: that by plunging into the depths of his experience, he could make stand-up comedy as exhilarating and harrowing as the life he’d known. He brought that trembling vitality to Hollywood, where his movie career- (co-writing) “Blazing Saddles,” the buddy comedies with Gene Wilder, (co-starring in) “Blue Collar”-flowed directly out of his spirit of creative improvisation. The major studios considered him dangerous. Audiences felt plugged directly into the socket of lifebrings the man and his comic genius into focus as never before.

Drawing upon a mountain of original research-interviews with family and friends, court transcripts, unpublished journals, screenplay drafts-Scott Saul traces Pryor’s rough journey to the heights of fame: from his heartbreaking childhood, his trials in the Army, and his apprentice days in Greenwich Village to his soul-searching interlude in Berkeley and his ascent in the ‘New Hollywood’ of the 1970s illuminates an entertainer who, by bringing together the spirits of the black freedom movement and the counterculture, forever altered the DNA of American comedy. It reveals that, while Pryor made himself a legend with his own account of his life onstage, the full truth of that life is more bracing still.” *

“Schubert’s Winter Journey: Anatomy of an Obsession”

by Ian Bostridge

“An exploration of the world’s most famous and challenging song cycle by one of the world’s most renowned singers, a leading interpreter of the work, who teases out the themes –literary, historical, psychological — that weave through the twenty-four songs comprising this legendary masterpiece. Written in 1828, in the last months of the young Schubert’s life, Winterreise (“Winter’s Journey”) has come to be considered the single greatest piece of music ever written for the male solo voice. Deceptively brief — the twenty-four short poems are performed uninterrupted in 70 minutes — it nonetheless has an emotional depth and power that no music of its kind has ever equaled.

Originally intended to be sung to an intimate gathering, performances of Winterreise now pack the greatest concert halls around the world. Drawing on his firsthand experience with this work (he has performed it more than one hundred times), on his musical knowledge, and on his training as a scholar, Ian Bostridge teases out the enigmas and subtle meanings of each song, exploring the world and the states of heart and mind in which Schubert created them, and the exquisite resonance and affinities that continue, even today, to move us so profoundly.”

“Behind the Scenes”

by Judi Dench

“From her first theatrical roles as a teenager in York to her scene-stealing performances as ‘M’ in the James Bond films, Dame Judi Dench’s professional life has consisted of nonstop acting, leading to numerous accolades, including an Academy Award for her performance as Queen Elizabeth I in ‘Shakespeare in Love.’ Behind the Scenes is a candid blend of reminiscences and photos, many of them never-before-seen from her personal collection. It’s a uniquely personal take on her life and brilliant career, showing her off-stage as well as on. Looking back, she provides her millions of fans with reflections and remembrances of those who have mattered to her most – her family, fellow actors, directors and writers – communicating them with the truth and insight that is the hallmark of her acting. ‘Behind the Scenes’ takes up where her New York Times bestselling memoir and furthermore left off. Dame Judi looks back on the last few years to talk about her role as “M” in the Bond films, the joy of ensemble acting in ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,’ the chance to tell the story of the heroic woman at the center of ‘Philomena,’ her joy in appearing with other great actresses in the MasterpieceTheatre Cranford and her return to the stage in ‘Peter and Alice.’ Tireless in her desire to perfect her craft, she says, ‘I simply want to go on acting. I suppose I could always be wheeled on stage if necessary. The great thing about acting is that it never ends.'” *

“Angry Optimist: the Life and Times of Jon Stewart”

by Lisa Rogak

“Since his arrival at The Daily Show in 1999, Jon Stewart has become one of the major players in comedy as well as one of the most significant liberal voices in the mediabiographer Lisa Rogak charts his unlikely rise to stardom. She follows him from his early days growing up in New Jersey, through his years as a struggling standup comic in New York and on to the short-lived but acclaimed The Jon Stewart Show. And she charts his humbling string of near-misses passed over as a replacement for shows hosted by Conan OBrien, Tom Snyder, and even the fictional Larry Sanders before landing on a half-hour comedy show that at the time was still finding its footing amidst roiling internal drama. Once there, Stewart transformed The Daily Show into one of the most influential news programs on television today.” *

* Book jacket/publisher description

-Senior Librarian Ann Bradley is branch manager Captiva Memorial Library