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Looking to start your own business? February 19, 2018

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At Rocky River Public Library we love providing a wide range of resources for our community. We get the chance to provide materials you can borrow (books, DVDs, audio books, CDs), access to research databases, and programs to attend. To provide additional resources for entrepreneurs interested in starting their own business this Thursday we will be hosting:

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Creating Effective Business Plans Part I

7:00 PM – 8:30 PM

If you are starting a business, proper planning is essential to assuring success. This session will help you determine the direction you want to go with your business, and discuss how to develop your marketing, financial and overall business plans.

“Our speaker is Greg Czarnecki, a certified public accountant and MBA, with years of experience as a controller, vice president for operations and finance, and chief financial officer.  He started and ran his own small business and has experienced all of the challenges and rewards of being in that position.   In addition to mentoring as a SCORE member, Greg is an adjunct professor, teaching business courses at a local university.”- SCORE Cleveland

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Unmasking Egyptian Religion February 15, 2018

Posted by Luke in Book Review, Non-Fiction, Outside the Lines, Thoughtful Ramblings.
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The Kemetic Tree of Life

My fascination with ancient Egypt goes back as far as I can remember.  Sculpture, temple ruins, pyramids, animal headed gods, and walls filled with hieroglyphs have always remained a fascination.  But it’s been my experience that most books on ancient Egypt scratch only a little below the surface of its cultural remains or long-held conventional conclusions.

The Kemetic Tree of Life is for the serious seeker after the symbolism and mysticism of ancient Egypt.  It is an exploration of the oldest of the several major religious systems to come out of ancient Egyptian culture.  These several systems were in no way opposed to each other.  Rather, each one focused on a different aspect of the Egyptians’ concept of Immanent Reality.  The Kemetic Tree discusses the tradition that arose in the city of Anu, or the “Anunian Theurgy.”

“Kemetic” is an anglicized form of the ancient Egyptians’ term for their own country, the land of Khem.

Popular nonfiction works on ancient Egypt tend to be academically guarded and unwilling to offer conclusive specifics concerning Egypt’s spiritual systems, or they talk about Egyptian spirituality with constant reminders – subtle or otherwise – about its superstitious and primitive nature.  The latter is simply modern arrogance.  Dr. Ashby’s depth is refreshingly different.  He doesn’t approach the remnants of ancient Egypt as an academic, but as a practitioner of its spiritual science.  He appears to have a command of hieroglyphic symbol and the ancient Egyptian language.  His text incorporates approximations of the Egyptian vocabulary – key words and phrases relevant to an understanding of the Anunian Theurgy specifically and Egyptian spirituality generally.  I had to start a file to keep them straight.  In this way, his book parallels many Western works on Eastern philosophy and religion, e.g. Hinduism, where ancient Sanskrit terms are incorporated throughout.  He also does not use the classic Hellenized names for Egypt’s gods – Osiris, Isis, Horus, Anubis, etc., but instead retains the Egyptian approximations – Asar, Aset, Heru, Anpu, etc.  The Kemetic Tree also includes many figures of hieroglyphic images and mythological scenes.  Essentially, the book is intended to initiate the reader into living this spiritual science.  Its chapters include lectures, questions and answers, and sections to promote meditative journaling.

A drawback to the text is that it’s poorly proofread, if at all.  The author writes in a very conversational style which often sets an enjoyable pace for reading.  But it lends itself to run-on sentences, strange phrasings, and numerous grammatical errors that can grind that enjoyable pace to a halt.  Since Dr. Ashby is in something of a class by himself in presenting such profound and sophisticated teachings in an easily readable and digestible way, I wish the text’s final grammatical form were in pristine condition.  It would make The Kemetic Tree even more enjoyable.

Even though the style of writing is non-academic, as a seeker I enjoy seeing sources for the information presented, especially when an author makes claims and presents information very few others have offered.  The information Ashby presents is in no way outlandish, although it may certainly seem so to someone reading him without the proper background in ancient religious systems and symbols – the very different mentality of antiquity relative to the present day.  But nonetheless, the boldness and intricacy of Ashby’s statements seems to demand numerous and varied sources for credibility.  Unfortunately, he does not offer many sources outside his own writings.  He’s written prolifically; and The Kemetic Tree is not the first book he’s written.  Perhaps sources outside his own research and intuitive recognition are given in some of his other works.

African American History Month- Resources at the Library February 13, 2018

Posted by gregoryhatch in Non-Fiction, Uncategorized.
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Below we have a selection of materials available here at Rocky River Public Library.

For more materials at Rocky River Public Library please click here.

Cover image for Black fortunes : the story of the first six African Americans who escaped slavery and became millionaires

“The astonishing untold history of America’s first black millionaires–former slaves who endured incredible challenges to amass and maintain their wealth for a century, from the Jacksonian period to the Roaring Twenties–self-made entrepreneurs whose unknown success mirrored that of American business heroes such as Henry Ford, John D. Rockefeller, and Thomas Edison.”

Cover image for An African American and Latinx history of the United States

 

“An intersectional history of the shared struggle for African American and Latinx civil rights. Spanning more than two hundred years, An African American and Latinx History of the United States is a revolutionary, politically charged narrative history arguing that the “Global South” was crucial to the development of America as we know it. Ortiz challenges the notion of westward progress, as exalted by widely taught formulations such as “manifest destiny” and “Jacksonian democracy,” and shows how placing African American, Latinx, and Indigenous voices unapologetically front and center transforms American history into the story of the working class organizing against imperialism.”

Cover image for The New Negro : the life of Alain Locke

“In The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke, Jeffrey C. Stewart offers the definitive biography of the father of the Harlem Renaissance, based on the extant primary sources of his life and on interviews with those who knew him personally. He narrates the education of Locke, including his becoming the first African American Rhodes Scholar and earning a PhD in philosophy at Harvard University, and his long career as a professor at Howard University. Locke also received a cosmopolitan, aesthetic education through his travels in continental Europe, where he came to appreciate the beauty of art and experienced a freedom unknown to him in the United States. And yet he became most closely associated with the flowering of Black culture in Jazz Age America and his promotion of the literary and artistic work of African Americans as the quintessential creations of American modernism. In the process he looked to Africa to find the proud and beautiful roots of the race. Shifting the discussion of race from politics and economics to the arts, he helped establish the idea that Black urban communities could be crucibles of creativity. Stewart explores both Locke’s professional and private life, including his relationships with his mother, his friends, and his white patrons, as well as his lifelong search for love as a gay man.”

Cover image for Smoketown : the untold story of the other great Black Renaissance

“The other great Renaissance of black culture, influence, and glamour burst forth joyfully in what may seem an unlikely place–Pittsburgh, PA–from the 1920s through the 1950s. Today black Pittsburgh is known as the setting for August Wilson’s famed plays about noble but doomed working-class strivers. But this community once had an impact on American history that rivaled the far larger black worlds of Harlem and Chicago. It published the most widely read black newspaper in the country, urging black voters to switch from the Republican to the Democratic Party and then rallying black support for World War II. It fielded two of the greatest baseball teams of the Negro Leagues and introduced Jackie Robinson to the Brooklyn Dodgers. Pittsburgh was the childhood home of jazz pioneers Billy Strayhorn, Billy Eckstine, Earl Hines, Mary Lou Williams, and Erroll Garner; Hall of Fame slugger Josh Gibson–and August Wilson himself. Some of the most glittering figures of the era were changed forever by the time they spent in the city, from Joe Louis and Satchel Paige to Duke Ellington and Lena Horne.”

“Master documentary filmmaker Raoul Peck envisions the book James Baldwin never finished. The result is a radical, up-to-the-minute examination of race in America, using Baldwin’s original words and a flood of rich archival material. A journey into black history that connects the past of the Civil Rights movement to the present of #BlackLivesMatter.”
Cover image for American experience. Freedom riders
“In 1961, the Civil Rights Movement in America was at a turning point — while the Supreme Court had ruled that racial segregation was illegal, in many parts of the South public facilities were still divided into areas for blacks and whites, and while president John F. Kennedy spoke out in favor of civil rights, his administration had done little to practically remedy the situation. So a group of student activists stepped forward to force the issue of desegregation — dozens of college students, both black and white, began traveling together by bus through the segregated South, and simply by sitting together, eating together and sharing motel rooms, they raised controversy (often followed by violence) for flouting conventions that had been held for generations. The young civil rights activists became known as “Freedom Riders,” and as their actions became national news, they played a vital role in finally putting an end to Jim Crow laws in the South and eliminating the “separate but equal” doctrine. Filmmaker Stanley Nelson combines newsreel footage, rare photos and new interviews with the activists who faced danger to fight prejudice in the documentary Freedom Riders, which was an official selection at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. “~ Mark Deming, Rovi

Cover image for Against the odds the artists of the Harlem Renaissance

“Part social engineering, part artistic happening, the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s and 1930s brought the accomplishments of African-Americans to the forefront of popular culture. Against All Odds: The Artists of the Harlem Renaissance remembers the glory days of the New York neighborhood. Spurred by efforts from the NAACP and the Urban League, black Americans were urged to step up creatively after the 1919 race riots. The result was a blossoming of talent through theatre, music, dance, and art. Harlem became a place of intrigue as people recognized the heightened activity. This one-hour presentation traces the history of this important American movement. “~ Sarah Ing, Rovi

African American History Month-Art in Cleveland February 10, 2018

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Today we are featuring the rich history of the arts in Northeast Ohio. Below are different opportunities to see and support the arts within our community.

The Memory Project highlights the work of artists who were featured in:

Each in Their Own Voice: African-American Artists in Cleveland, 1970-2005

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An exhibition at Cleveland State University Art Gallery which ran from from January 23 to March 7, 2009.

HomeCurrent has on displayed

 On view November 24, 2017 – March 4, 2018.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2018
The GoogleDoodle celebrating the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. was created by Cleveland-based artist Cannaday Chapman in collaboration with the Black Googlers Network (BGN) and was featured on Cleveland.com.

 

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Looking for a local way “to celebrate, stimulate, and encourage the study of works created by African and African American artist”? Think about joining Friends of African and African American Art.

What we’re reading now.. February 9, 2018

Posted by SaraC in Book Discussion, Book Review, Fantasy, Fiction, Genre Book Discussion, Graphic Novel, Historical Fiction, New Books, Non-Fiction, Science Fiction, Thrillers, Uncategorized.
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Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson

Cover image for August, a worldly anthropologist, has returned to New York to bury her father, but after running into an old friend at the subway station, she is flooded with childhood memories. At a young age, August’s father has moved her & her younger brother from Tennessee to Brooklyn.  Once settled into Brooklyn,  August finds her best girlfriends in Angela, Gigi and Slyvia.  Angela and Gigi are from fractured families, and Sylvia has over bearing parents with high expectations. The four girls together navigate growing up in Brooklyn in the 1970’s.  The girls find comfort, happiness and security in their friendship within turbulent times nationally and in their own neighborhood.  The effects of the Vietnam war, white flight, drug abuse, poverty, absent mothers and predatory men are intertwined with their adolescent years. Tragedy ultimately pulls at their friendship.  A beautiful and poetic coming of age story about girlhood, friendship, dreams and loss.  Mary

His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman

Cover image for I’ve been listening to this trilogy on audiobook and really loving it.  The books are The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass.  Right now I’m near the end of The Subtle Knife.  Although the novels are often considered young adult literature, they can really appeal to young and old alike.  There’s a great blend in the books of realistic and fantastic elements, and the characters are compellingly and convincingly drawn.  The books are so absorbing!  Listening to them, and being entranced by them, reminds me of my experience reading books as a kid – the way you can really get pulled into the story and experience in a really intense way the magic of reading.  Andrew

Hellraiser Omnibus. Volume One by Clive Barker

Cover image for So one thing that may be coming very clear is I am a big fan of horror, specifically supernatural horror. This month I have decided to review a graphic novel I finished recently, Clive Barker’s Hellraiser Omnibus. Volume One. This volume contains  issues Hellraiser #1 to #20 and Hellraiser Annual #1 which seem to pick up years after the second film. (One note is that these comics were originally published between 1989-1993 so the comics contained don’t reference the films past those dates.) Pinhead is of course in this collection but the stories told here wildly expand the Hellraiser universe with new characters, cenobites, and new views of hell/horror. The best thing about this volume is it combines many out of print collections of comics into one handy volume. If you are a fan of horror and the Hellraiser world this is a don’t miss. Greg

Side Hustle: From Idea to Income in 27 Days  by Chris Guillebeau

Cover image for Chris Guillebeau provides a handbook for developing an effective alternative source of income in his book by giving  practical applications for finding extra income while pursuing a passion.  I found the example scenarios inspiring, and it has helped me to start searching for my side hustle opportunity hidden in my daily activities.  Beth

 

In the Miso Soup by Ryū Murakami (Ralph McCarthy, Translator)

Cover image for Kenji, an unlicensed guide for foreign tourists, makes his living providing tours for those looking to experience the seedier side of Tokyo nightlife.  So when his current client Frank’s behavior seems strange and troublesome, it isn’t because Kenji is naïve that he begins to wonder what Frank’s real intentions are.  An unnerving psychological thriller. Trent

 

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

Cover image for The positive buzz and awards earned by this book are amazing. However, it is the dramatic historical fiction story, which reminds me a bit of the multigenerational miniseries Roots, and the “what if” aspect of the Underground Railroad in this telling being a real subterranean train that made me add it to my reading list. When Colson Whitehead appeared at a marketing conference in Cleveland last year giving a talk about storytelling, I picked up a copy of this book. I have high expectations for it and so far it is not disappointing. The humanity and lack of humanity in the slave experience comes across powerfully through Whitehead’s language. Byron

Carnegie’s Maid by Marie Benedict

Cover image for A recent immigrant from Ireland, Clara Kelley, assumes the identity of a fellow passenger who died during the voyage. She secures a position as lady’s maid to Margaret Carnegie, Andrew Carnegie’s mother. Clara’s goal is to send money back to her struggling family in Ireland. Andrew is attracted to Clara, and they secretly spend time together. Andrew shares some of his business expertise with Clara and welcomes her suggestions until Clara disappears when Mrs. Carnegie learns of her deceptions. For lovers of historical fiction. Emma

Big Girl: How I Gave Up Dieting and Got a Life by Kelsey Miller

Cover image for This book is an extension of a column Kelsey has been putting out every Monday since November 2013 called “The Anti Diet Project.” In the column—and, to a greater extent, in the book—Kelsey commits to unlearning disordered eating and distorted body image. With the help of an Intuitive Eating coach, she figures out how to eat based on her body’s instincts and how to exercise rationally and sustainably. All throughout this process, she examines how her relationship with food and her body was impacted by family, friends, and significant others. I am listening to the audiobook, and Kelsey is hilarious, sharp-as-a-whip, and wholly relatable. I highly recommend this book for any person who has been made to feel shame for their body shape or food choices. It is a liberating and empowering read (or listen). Lyndsey

Force of Nature by Jane Harper

Cover image for This novel by author of The Dry takes us once again to a remote area of Australia as Federal Agent Aaron Falk investigates the disappearance of an important whistleblower in one of his cases.  Five colleagues from a family-owned business are forced to take a “team-building” nature excursion as part of  a corporate retreat, but when one doesn’t return, Agent Falk suspects that some of her co-workers know more than they are telling. This book gives a look into the complex relationships between co-workers, lovers, friends and family.  Sara

The Red Clocks by Leni Zuma

Cover image for The Red Clocks is The Handmaid’s Tale for a new generation. Four women in a small Oregon town struggle with new laws that grant personhood to embryos and make IVF and abortions illegal. Ro is a single woman in her forties desperately trying to get pregnant. Susan is an unhappy housewife and mother. Mattie, one of Ro’s best students, is facing an unwanted pregnancy. Their lives intersect when Gin, a reclusive homeopath with connections to all three, is arrested. The Red Clocks is an audacious and unapologetic cautionary tale. Megan

 

 

 

 

-The African American History Archives of the Western Reserve Historical Society- African-American History Month February 7, 2018

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Our next featured local resource is the African American Archives of the Western Reserve Historical Society.

Western Reserve Historical Society

Established in 1970, the archives mission is to “collect, preserve and make accessible historic documents, photographs, memorabilia, art, and artifacts pertaining to African American life, history and culture in Northeast Ohio.” Online you can browse through their catalog to see the archive’s holdings and its location within the Historical Society. Additionally they offer an useful subjects tab that lets you narrow your search results. It should be noted that there are materials that cover national history as well.

For information on the African American Archives Auxiliary or to find out how to support its work, contact:

Sherlynn Allen-Harris
African American Archives Auxiliary, Acting President
Western Reserve Historical Society, Board of Directors, Ex-Officio Member
sallenharris@ameritech.net

Additional programs at the Western Reserve Historical Society:

 

-Cleveland Historical- African-American History Month February 5, 2018

Posted by gregoryhatch in Uncategorized, Non-Fiction, Library Program.
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Our first featured local resource is Cleveland Historical: “Developed by the Center for Public History + Digital Humanities at Cleveland State University, Cleveland Historical lets you explore the people, places, and moments that have shaped the city’s history.”

There is an amazing wealth of information on landmarks and events telling the story of life in Cleveland. This site offers pictures, recorded oral history, news clippings, and cited sources to continue your own research. They organize topics by “Tours” which is centered around a single topic and the different  Below is a link to African Americans in Cleveland, a Tour spanning over a 100 years of  public and personal accounts.

African Americans in Cleveland

Curated by The Cleveland Historical Team

Cleveland Historical
Euclid-East 105th Area, 1946 
Adonees Sarrouh and J. Mark Souther, “Cleveland’s Second Downtown,” Cleveland Historical, accessed February 5, 2018, https://clevelandhistorical.org/items/show/49.

African-American History Month February 2, 2018

Posted by gregoryhatch in Library Program, Non-Fiction, Uncategorized.
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In observance of African-American History Month we will be highlighting local African-American history and research from the Cleveland and the Northeast Ohio area. To start off we have an article from two years ago by the Plain Dealer which was the source material for the text I used in the display in our library.

43 notable African-Americans with ties to Cleveland:

Celebrating

Black History Month

blackhistory month

-Greg

The Important Experience of Rereading Books January 27, 2018

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Crime and Punishment (Pevear / Volokhonsky Translation)

While it’s probably a truism that books don’t change, we do, I’ve been experiencing that in a weird and interesting way as I read Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment.  I read the book when I was an undergraduate, and to this day my memory of reading the book is bound up with the place where I read it, a coffeehouse in Ann Arbor, where I sat in the back at a large table and became immersed in the book.  I remember the coffee smell of the place and the hard wooden table, I remember the cover of the book, and I remember being fascinated by the character of Raskolnikov, but that’s about it.  Our memories are so idiosyncratic and sometimes unreliable, though it seems so strange that I would forget pretty much the entire book, whole plot elements and groups of characters.

But recently, in preparation for a book club I’m hoping to start this summer on the classics, I bought a copy of Crime and Punishment (since I work at a library I rarely buy books now, though I wanted to mark up my copy), and I’m starting to wonder, in a weird way, how I read the book, meaning did I just hurry through it?  Did I savor the characterizations, the manic and frenzied energy, the strange oscillation between horror and laughter?  Why don’t I remember more of it?  What did I read?  I’m also taken aback by this fact because there is so much to think about and remember about the book, and I wonder how or why I wasn’t as sensitive to this.  I wonder that if I were to have been more sensitive to Raskolnikov’s guilt, more empathetic to Marmeladov’s suffering, but also more horrified by Raskolnivkov’s murders and plight, I would have remembered more.

I had an interesting experience as an undergraduate in a creative writing class that I think could shed some light on this conundrum.  I had a great teacher, who was very incisive and penetrating in his comments on our stories, and I remember I wrote a story that had to do with the fraternity where I was living then, and the debauched life that came then with living in the fraternity (the drinking, the uncleanliness, etc.).  I wrote a story that looked upon this material as comic, and I remember the class seemed to like it and let me know during the workshop that they thought it was funny.  But when I met with my creative writing teacher, he said something that made me pause and rethink the whole piece, and in doing so, pretty much rethink my life.  And what he said was something along the lines of, “What about the more tragic elements of this lifestyle in the story?  Aspects that are not funny but are more sad, even depressing?  Have you thought about that?”  And I hadn’t!  And I came away with a shock from the meeting – I felt suddenly more self-aware, and a bit nauseated by the callow lifestyle I had been leading.  It was an about-face, a turn-around, and it left me with a different, better, more humane and human perspective.

When I read Crime and Punishment for the first time I was still living the debauched fraternity life, and it never occurred to me that my life could affect how I perceived the book.  But I wonder if I read it somewhat superficially (and again, I wonder – how can you read Dostoevsky superficially?  He almost compels your attention, it’s that good), and that I didn’t take in certain elements because that wasn’t where my mind and heart were.

Flash forward more than a decade, and the book is a revelation.  It’s terrifying and sad and tragic and funny, all sometimes on one page, and I’m so happy to be reading it.  But the truism does hold true – the book hasn’t changed.  It’s the same translation, the same words, the same plot, the same characters.  But I’ve changed.  I’ve grown older, and hopefully less superficial, and I’m taking more of the novel in and appreciating it.  Sometimes rereading a book can have that effect on you – it calls attention to where you were at during your first reading, and reflects back to you how far you’ve come.  It’s a kind of mirror, where you can look at your old readings and, in a healthy and productive way, question your beliefs and values – it facilitates the process of self-examination.  And since, as Socrates said, “the unexamined life is not worth living,” rereading books is a necessity.

Image result for Dostoevsky

Dostoevsky

Why Criticism Matters January 21, 2018

Posted by andrewfieldlibrarian in Uncategorized.
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Image result for literary criticism

I love reading book and movie reviews.  Sometimes I see a movie, or read a book, and I’m completely bowled over by it.  I am moved to my very foundation, my core, I am shaken…but I don’t know exactly why sometimes, and sometimes I lack the ability to put into words just why exactly I’ve been so touched (or so disappointed, for that matter).  That’s why I love reading book and movie reviews of films and books I’ve just experienced – they put into words, in an often artful, intelligent, and helpful way, just what I’ve been struggling to say or express.  Ralph Waldo Emerson, one of our great American writers and thinkers, wrote, “In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts; they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty.”  I’ve always loved that quote – what a great way of describing the way in which artists and writers and thinkers help us to say what we want to say – but I think the quote also applies to book and movie reviewers, (even if they’re not exactly a work of genius!).  We see a movie, we like it, we don’t know why, we read a movie review, and suddenly our own feelings and thoughts come back to us “with a certain alienated majesty.”  It’s a great, wonderful feeling.

I’m writing about book and movie reviews, but what I really wanted to talk about in this blog post is literary criticism, and let me explain why.  In the same way in which a book review deepens our appreciation of something, (or for that matter deepens our understanding of why we didn’t like something), literary criticism can do the same thing, and often does.  In a sense, we can think of a work of literary criticism as an extended treatment of something we care about, by someone who also cares an inordinate amount about this thing, and also most likely knows and has thought a great deal about this thing.  When you read a book and really enjoy it, but don’t understand as much as you’d like about why you enjoyed it, finding a work of literary criticism that talks about that book can be edifying.  But more than that – it can really deepen your understanding of the work, it can augment what you were intuiting but not exactly saying, and it can therefore extend your appreciation of the work to deeper levels.  (It can also, it should be said, question your own beliefs about the object, and make you think anew about the work in question.)

As I talked about in my last blog post about Tolstoy, I finished one of Tolstoy’s novels, Anna Karenina, and loved every page.  But I left with some unanswered questions.  How was I to think about Anna, her fate, her character, her life?  Or for that matter, what was I to make of Stiva Oblonsky, or Levin, or Kitty?  These characters made a deep impression on me – I felt like I really got to know them, in a way that real life makes it hard to do – but in a way what I felt after finishing the novel was that I wanted to know more.  The book had finished, but I wasn’t finished with the book.  I wondered about how Tolstoy himself intended for us to think and feel about his characters.  I wanted my understanding to be enriched and made more complex.  So for that reason, I found a book through CLEVNET called Anna Karenina in Our Time: Seeing More Wisely by Gary Saul Morson, a professor of Arts and Humanities and Slavic Languages at Northwestern University.

And I haven’t been disappointed.  I’m about sixty pages into the book, and can already say that Morson has made me rethink my original take on Anna Karenina.  He makes a very compelling and convincing argument, for example, that one character in particular embodies evil for Tolstoy – an argument that has changed the way I thought about the character, who is mostly a good-natured socialite who everyone in the novel seems to like.  Now I’m reading a chapter about Anna – the character I was most curious about learning more – and am coming to terms with a lot of traditional interpretations of her character, as well as Morson’s more heterodox interpretation.  It has been such a thrilling experience!  It feels like this perennially interesting book club or conversation, where I am able to converse and commune with an expert on something we both share and care about and even love.

That’s what good criticism can do (and not just for books, of course, but movies, art, television, theater, dance, music, etc.).  It enables there to be a deep conversation about a shared object that elicits strong feelings for those involved.  It shows us new angles, new directions in our thought, new perceptions that we hadn’t considered and wouldn’t have considered had we not found the work of criticism.  And although much criticism, at least for my taste, can be way too abstruse and theoretical, that is not true for all criticism, not in the least.  So let me end by encouraging you, reader, to find a piece of criticism that helps you to understand a work on a deeper level.  A good place to start is the New Yorker, which has three good film critics (David Denby, Anthony Lane, and Richard Brody), as well as a stellar book critic named James Wood and a wonderful theater critic named Hilton Als.  (They also have great music and art critics.)  The New York Times also has excellent film critics, as does the Los Angeles Times.  Each critic has their own taste, and they go out of their way to make an argument, to start a conversation, to convince you that their interpretation is right.  You might agree or disagree with them, but you should come away with an enriched understanding of the work in question, and maybe even a deeper appreciation of life itself.