This is a very special evening and a very special award for me, partly because, like all of you, I love libraries and I believe in them and the work that they do. In giving my thanks today, I’d like to talk about the roles libraries have played in my life. I was born in 1977 and I tell you this so you can understand the culture of my generation. I am from the Reading Is Fundamental, One to Grow On, Captain OG Read More, Reading Rainbow Generation. I am a product of the after-school special and of School House Rock. Conjunction Junction? I know your function. I’m a member of the last generation to be pushed toward the library for hands-on learning via the encyclopedia, the reference desk, and the card catalog rather than pushed toward the internet.
I am originally from New York, and I grew up in a Brooklyn neighborhood known as Brownsville. I lived equidistant between two public libraries—one on Church Avenue and one on Mother Gaston Boulevard. Every Friday, my elementary school classmates and I walked together to the Church Avenue library to choose our weekend books for our book reports due Monday. I waited for every Friday to come so I could step into that space and roam and browse and lose myself and find myself once again. I waited for Friday so I could spin the racks that held the paperbacks, so I could find the books I wanted and bring back books for others. I was a short-order cook, taking requests, bringing back Agatha Christie mysteries for my great-aunt who could not make the long walk. Every Friday I always came back with more than I could carry. Just as it is for many of us, the library was my go-to place. It was the place where I was sent to “look it up.” The place I could hole up in on hot summer afternoons, using the cool space of the library to beat the summer heat. If I had a nickel for all of the libraries I’ve loved before, I’d be rich indeed.
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Screening Room: Rion Amilcar Scott on Big Bird, Writing, Adulthood, and the Unfairness of Death
From ELECTRIC LIT
I used to joke that between apparel, toys, books and DVDs, my family was, for a time, single-handedly funding Sesame Workshop, the non-profit that produces Sesame Street.
I had always been fascinated by Jim Henson’s gentle philosophical method and by the visionary Id-like wildness of his puppets. My toddler — himself an agent of chaos, akin to so many of Henson’s greatest creations — provided the perfect excuse to finally study at close range the antics of Henson’s Muppet characters. There was another reason of course, the great unpleasant present that often numbed me and left me cold: the low bank balances and high fees for existence; the sameness of each workday and fleetingness of each weekend; the damn maddening frustration of constantly having to be the disciplinarian — how bad I was at all of this. And the paperwork. No one tells you about the paperwork that adulthood involves.
Read the rest of the post here: Rion on Big Bird
When a Character Returns
Edward P. Jones connected recurring characters through his short stories, providing a blueprint for one writer.
Lost in the City,
All Aunt Hagar’s Children
Read the rest of the post here: Rion on Edward P. Jones