Monthly Archives: August 2018

What’s New in the Local History Room?

 

SearchSmartOURWORLD

Fall programming is now upon us and the Winnipeg Public Library wants to invite you to come and learn about an exciting new resource now freely available to all Manitobans.

Our World on the Manitoba Research Gateway provides access for everyone within Manitoba to unique collections of millions of pages of digitized historical content including newspapers, maps, photos, pamphlets, manuscripts and more.  The library will offer two information sessions this September so you can learn how to navigate its collections of historical newspapers and periodicals, and resources related to LGBTQ history, slavery and anti-slavery movements, and Indigenous peoples.  Come and learn all about it!

With the last days of summer it’s time to see what new titles have arrived in the Local History Room.

Cover image for Margaret Laurence and Jack McClelland, letters

Margaret Laurence and Jack McClelland, Lettersoffers an intimate look at the professional relationship between two pillars of Canadian literature. Margaret Lawrence was at the height of her literary fame and Jack McClelland was one of Canada’s most important publishers – both of whom helped shape modern Canadian literature through their work. Over three decades of written correspondence found in this book, we eventually see a deep friendship developing through their shared passion and commitment to Canadian writing.  It’s interesting to see their initial formal writing evolve, growing in warmth and familiarity over the years.

Cover image for Drought & depression

The effects of the Great Depression in Canada has remained an under-studied aspect of Canadian history until recently, but we are now seeing renewed interest in it. Drought and Depression is the sixth volume of the excellent History of the Prairies Series and contains articles on a broad range of topics related to the “Dirty Thirties” in the prairie provinces. On the back cover of the book, one can read that “between 1929 and 1932, per capita incomes fell by 49% in Manitoba, 61% in Alberta and an astounding 72% in Saskatchewan. The result was enormous social and political upheaval that sent shockwaves through the rest of the country.” Familiar subjects like unemployment, ecology, strikes, and the new forces that arose in Canadian politics because of the Great Depression are covered, along with lesser known ones like soldier settlements for unemployed veterans, and the prairie novel.

Cover image for Threads in the sash : the story of the Métis people

In Threads in the Sash: The Story of the Métis People, historian Fred Shore draws on years of research and explores the history, culture and political development of Canadian Métis from the days of the fur trade to the present. The book is written in a approachable style and tackles questions such as: Where did the term Métis come from? Why are the Métis recognized as Indigenous people? How much of Manitoba did the Métis build? If you have ever wanted to know who the Métis are, this book is highly recommended.

Cover image for Farm boy to fly boy

This next title is a treat for fans of flying and Cold War history from the experience of a local man. Retired RCAF Colonel Gordon Brennand recently published his memoir Farm Boy to Fly Boy. It tells the story of his childhood in rural Manitoba during the Great Depression, his enlistment in the air force to become an accomplished jet fighter pilot in the decades following WWII, and his years being a base commander in Portage La Prairie.

Cover image for A fist around the heart

On the fictional side, we have received A Fist around the Heart by Heather Chisvin, a story of love and trauma between two sisters, Anna and Esther Grieve, that begins with them being sent to Winnipeg to escape the persecutions of Jews in Russia in the late 19th century. While Anna moves to New York and starts a new life for herself, Esther remains behind, slowly succumbing to mental illness despite living among the city’s wealthy. When Anna receives the unexpected news of Esther’s possible suicide on “If Day”, an unusual day in 1942 when a simulated Nazi attack took place in Winnipeg in order to raise funds for the war effort, she must return and find answers to what exactly happened to her sister.

 

Louis-Philippe

Which way the wind is blowing

India is drowning, western Canada is burning… it’s starting to feel a little bit like a disaster movie out here.

Climate change and its effects have been on my mind this summer and not just because of the heat here in Winnipeg. On a family vacation earlier this year, we visited New Orleans for the first time and also stayed in a small beachfront Mississippi town that had been devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. I always like to read about places I travel, so I’ve been seeking out books about New Orleans; unsurprisingly, several of them cover the storm and its aftermath.

Five Days at Memorial by Sheri Fink is a gripping, harrowing read that takes you inside Memorial Hospital in New Orleans as the floodwaters rose, the power failed, and its exhausted staff desperately tried to keep things under control. Fink discusses just how ill-prepared we are for large-scale disasters, and writes revealingly about human nature in crisis.

The Great Deluge by Douglas Brinkley (a New Orleans resident and professor of history at Tulane University) tells the story of Katrina from every angle. He covers how and why both the local and federal infrastructure was so ill-prepared for the storm everyone knew was coming, and shows how hard it struck not only the city, but the surrounding Gulf Coast.

If fiction is more your style, check out the titles below. Some of them are speculative fiction that extrapolates what a world riven by more destructive climate forces might look like; others are literary works that show the impact of this slow-moving disaster on ordinary people today.

New York 2140
The waters rose, submerging New York City–every street became a canal, every skyscraper an island–but the residents adapted and it remained the bustling, vibrant metropolis it had always been, though changed forever.

 

Cli-fi: Canadian tales of climate change
These stories of climate fiction (“cli-fi”) feature perspectives by diverse Canadian writers of short fiction, science fiction, fantasy, and futurist works.

Loosed upon the world
An anthology of twenty-six short stories exploring the future of climate change and its effects on life on Earth that includes contributions from Margaret Atwood, Paolo Bacigalupi, and Kim Stanley Robinson.

South Pole station
Cooper Gosling is adrift at thirty, unmoored by a family tragedy and floundering in her career as a painter. So she applies to the National Science Foundation Artists & Writers Program and flees to Antarctica — the bottom of the Earth — where she encounters a group of misfits motivated by desires as ambiguous as her own.

The floating world
When a fragile young woman refuses to leave New Orleans as Hurricane Katrina approaches, her parents are forced to go without her, setting off a chain of events that leaves their marriage in shambles and their daughter catatonic, the victim or perpetrator of some unknown violent act.

Danielle

Lisbeth for the Win

girldragon2      girlfire     girlhornet

The Millennium series is Sweden’s most important export. No doubt the Swedes have contributed to the culinary arts, music and fine arts – but the novels (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest) written by Stieg Larsson are brilliant. These books bring one of literature’s most important heroines to life.

Drawing from his experiences as a journalist Larsson creates Mikael Blomkvist, a journalist who works for Millennium magazine. A charming womanizer, Mikael is devoted to his craft and as such in the midst of a story he loses touch with everyone around him. Erika Berger is the editor-in-chief of Millennium as well as Mikael’s friend and lover. Erika is a tough, no-nonsense editor who fights for the survival of the magazine and its employees. Then there’s Lisbeth Salander. A force unto her own, Lisbeth does not shy away from danger. Criminals, bikers, corrupt government officials – it doesn’t matter. Once you cross a line she will put you down.

A former ward of the state, Lisbeth is a victim of government negligence. Institutionalized as a youth she was drugged and forced to undergo psychiatric evaluation. No one cared to listen to her, neither did anyone care to investigate the reason why she was institutionalized. After her release, Lisbeth remained under the care of the Swedish state and a guardian was appointed to look over her and manage her finances. While another person may have been crushed from this kind of experience Lisbeth survived and she fought back. Unbeknownst to anyone she also has another life, online she is known as Wasp – a legend within the hacker community. Wasp is cunning and ruthless. Armed with a computer she can look into your finances, or uncover your darkest secrets.

At the beginning of the series, the story revolves around Mikael Blomkvist. The well-known journalist is sued for libel and sentenced to three months in prison. Meanwhile, Lisbeth is hired to investigate Mikael’s background. After he discovers that his computer was hacked, Mikael tracks down and hires Lisbeth to assist him in a murder investigation. As the series progresses, Lisbeth becomes more important to the overall plot. I was pleased to see Larsson’s development of both Lisbeth and Erika’s character. At first, both characters seemed rather simple; Lisbeth has tattoos and is emotionally withdrawn, while Erika is Millennium’s editor and Mikael’s lover. Fortunately, Larsson doesn’t write simple characters. Over the course of The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, Larsson gives both characters more depth. Both Lisbeth and Erika have important roles to play and despite their initial appearances neither should be underestimated.

The Millennium series explores organized crime, the sex trade and violence against women. It is the story of one woman’s quest for revenge against men who abuse their positions of power. Lisbeth isn’t a damsel in distress, she is empowered, a fighter that isn’t willing to compromise. She is out to destroy her enemies. At a time when misogynistic men continue to exert their influence over the world – Lisbeth Salander is the protagonist we desperately need.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest – are available at a bookstore and library near you.

 

– Daniel Bohémier

It’s Time to Read: Son of a Trickster

It’s podcast day! This month the panel increases to 5 as we invite Monique from Information Services at Millennium to join in on the discussion for Son of a Trickster.

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You can find the latest episode, along with all of our previous episodes in your favourite podcast app, iTunes, Stitcher, or at our website at wpl-podcast.winnipeg.ca.

This month the discussion includes favourite pet stories, whether we think MAGIC IS REAL (or not), and how much vomit is too much vomit in a story. We even get around to discussing Governor General Awards Finalist Eden Robinson’s novel for a bit too.

We hope you enjoy it. Please give us a rate and review on iTunes. A good rating and review really helps to make future readers and listeners find our podcast in the ocean of info out there.

Now’s the perfect time to get a jump on next month’s book. It’s Walkaway by Cory Doctorow. Doctorow writes about a dystopian near future where “Walkaways” are people who leave the default world of tech behind, and live and create in a frontier-like makerspace world where objects are created through 3D printers and group-wiki style decisions. With the recent opening of the ideaMILL on the 3rd Floor of the Millennium Library and the issue of “ghost guns” and 3D printers in the news, Doctorow’s world isn’t that far away from our own.

We’ll send out some discussion questions before we record our next episode at the end of August, but feel free to email, tweet or facebook us your thoughts ahead of time. We love hearing from you and will include your comments as part of the discussion on the show.

Until then, happy reading!

Trevor and the Time to Read gang.