Sunday, June 22, 2008

Links & Reviews

- The latest news from Cedar Rapids is not good: between water damage and mold, losses at the Cedar Rapids Public Library are now estimated to exceed 2/3 of the collections [h/t LISNews]. More photos (horrifying as they are) here [h/t Library Preservation].

- Over at Exile Bibliophile, notice of a great event that I really wish I could make it to. Kevin J. Hayes, a leading American bibliographer, will discuss his forthcoming book The Mind of a Patriot: Patrick Henry and the World of Ideas at the Overholser Museum in Oklahoma City on 26 June (at 7 p.m.). Hosted by the Bibliophiles of Oklahoma.

- Paul Collins notes that his piece on the history of the semicolon is now live at Slate. Poe, it turns out, was not a fan of the point-virgule: Collins says Edgar "may have the distinction of being the last writer to complain of the semicolon's popularity," since with the rise of the telegraph, "Morse code is to the semicolon what weedkiller is to the dandelion." Fun and enlightening, as always.

- LT's added a new feature, member home pages. I like it so far. They've moved the menu tabs around a bit, which is confusing me, but I'll get used to that.

- Over at Free Range Librarian, Karen Schneider has an incredibly unnerving travel story (made more unnerving since I'll be taking a plane later this week for the first time in oh, five years).

- Robin McKie's got a fascinating essay in The Guardian on Darwin's race to publicize his theory of natural selection so as to ensure that Alfred Russel Wallace wouldn't get all the credit. The 150th anniversary of the public reading before the Linnean Society will be marked on 1 July.

- Chas Newkey-Burden's Guardian blog-post on why he refuses to buy second-hand books is barely deserving of a response, so I'll simply say that I buy the vast majority of my books secondhand now, and by avoiding the disgusting subset of those which seem to be all Newkey-Burden comes across, I've run into none of the problems he describes.


- In The Scotsman, Roderick Graham reviews Stephen Alford's Burghley: William Cecil at the Court of Elizabeth I. Graham writes "This is a scholarly, readable and affectionate biography of one of Britain's greatest politicians. Burghley would have put careful ticks in most of the margins."

- For The Telegraph, Frances Wilson reviews Ian Kelly's Casanova: Philosopher, Gambler, Lover, Priest [what, librarian doesn't warrant a mention?]. Wilson: "Casanova has baffled and thwarted many of those writers who, while trying to describe and evaluate his experiences, have succeeded only in repeating in edited form the events as he tells them, but in Ian Kelly he has at last found his Boswell ... Ian Kelly has taken on a tremendous challenge and produced a great blast of a book, packed with energy and information, marinated in sympathy and understanding, and rippling with enthusiasm right down to the final footnote."

- Jerome Charyn reviews Nicholas Delbanco's The Count of Concord in the Washington Post. This new novel from the Dalkey Archive treats the life of Benjamin Thompson, Count Rumford, a British spy during the early days of the Revolution before going to Europe. Charyn calls Delbanco's work "a disturbing, essential book that reaches back into our past with this strange ghost of a man who resides deep within the nation's history."

- Also in the WaPo, Mindy Aloff reviews Christopher Benfey's A Summer of Hummingbirds: Love, Art and Scandal in the Intersecting Worlds of Emily Dickinson, Mark Twain, Harriet Beecher Stowe and Martin Johnson Heade. Aloff calls the book a "tender, suspenseful and informed meditation on action and thought in the cultivated realms of East Coast America following the Civil War." Rather a more positive review for this book than Laura Miller gave it in the NYTimes.