Tag Archives: humor

Ook

Sir Terry Pratchett has gone off arm in arm with his most interesting character. Sad librarians–and other fans–are sad.

meme generated by author

meme generated by author

Terry Pratchett is most famous for his Discworld novels, and with good reason, as there’s a great deal about them to love. One element that makes the Discworld series so darned appealing is that there’s no one right way to read them. While there’s technically a series order, groups of books can also be chunked into mini-series that follow particular characters. Also, there are so many different things going on in different parts of the Discworld, you can start anywhere and make your way around the planet at your leisure. Talk about a reader-friendly approach!

Another appeal factor is the fact that the Discworld is just plain ridiculous. The flat planet floats through space on the back of four elephants, who are themselves supported by a very large turtle. Its major city, Ankh-Morpork, is quite possibly the least livable place in the universe, and yet none of its citizens seem to mind…most likely because the majority of them are the most amoral, absurd characters in literature. The city’s ruler, Lord Vetinari, is the least likable leader you could imagine, and yet the city operates slightly better with him at the helm than it would without him (thanks largely to his own efforts to keep it that way).  Oh, and the head librarian at the local wizard school, Unseen University, is an orangutan whose vocabulary is limited to the words “Ook” and “Eek,” thanks to a wave of magic gone horribly wrong. Absolutely everyone and everything in Discworld is an object of potential ridicule, and often a satire/parody of our own world. Nothing is ever taken too seriously.

So, it’s kind of a zany place.

I’ve been reading Discworld novels since I was a kid, and while I haven’t pulled them off the shelf lately, there are a few I’d like to give another go, just for the sake of a proper farewell. These include:

Mort. Being Death is a pretty big job, so naturally he needs an apprentice. Mort likes the mortsound of Death’s recruitment pitch, and the benefits are terrific! But Mort is a bit of a bumbler, and so of course things go hilariously awry; also, dating becomes somewhat awkward. This was my first Discworld novel, and I found it highly amusing that Death ALWAYS SPOKE IN CAPITAL LETTERS. Several years later, when A Prayer for Owen Meany came out, I honestly thought Irving swiped that trick from Pratchett to render Owen’s unique voice in text; I’m sure now that he didn’t, but considering how Owen Meany turns out, that’s a little too spooky for words. Recommended for readers into gallows humor.

guards Guards! Guards!. Everybody knows dragons are extinct, so it’s a bit of a surprise when one swoops into Ankh-Morpork, breathes fire all over the place, and declares itself king. Coincidentally enough, a rare book on dragon-summoning has disappeared from the library at Unseen University. Hm.

It’s up to Sam Vimes, long-suffering Captain of the Watch, and his rag-tag group of guards to figure out what the heck is going on and how to set it right without getting burned to a crisp, magicked into something awkward, or otherwise killed/humiliated. Vimes and his men are hysterically inept; luckily, so is just about everybody else in the novel. Guards! Guards! is the beginning of the Watch mini-series, including–but not limited to–Men at Arms, Feet of Clay, and The Fifth Elephant. Recommended for Three Stooges fans, and anyone else who likes wacky, madcap bumbling in their fiction.

Hogfather. T’was the night before Hogswatch, and all through the Discworld there are a whole mess of problems. For starters, the Hogfather has disappeared and is unable to deliver his toys this year, something Susan hogfather(Death’s granddaughter) is going to have to remedy. To do so, she’ll have to deal with an assassin named Teatime, who’s been hired to eliminate the Hogfather. An action-packed adventure that also manages to be a poignant comment on the nature of childhood beliefs in particular, as well as myth and ritual in general. The perfect remedy for those who no longer believe in childish things, and very comforting to those who never stopped.

Going Postal. When con artist Moist Von Lipwig (yes, really) is finally caught, he’s given a choice: be hanged from the neck until he is dead, or be put in charge of the Ankh-Morpork post office. It sounds like a no-brainer for postalMoist…at least, until he starts the job and finds out just how much of a mess he’s gotten himself into.

Hindered at all turns by assassins trying to kill him, a rival communication system that’s threatening to make the post office obsolete, and the tormented cries of countless undelivered letters, Moist is determined to get the post office back up and running if it’s the last thing he does…which it just might be. Snarky commentary on competing technologies, lots of physical comedy, and a little love story to boot (Pratchett’s characters are often hopelessly crushing on unattainable people), this is a good pick for a reader who wouldn’t care for some of the more magical aspects of the Discworld, but would still appreciate the comedy.

Rest in peace, Sir Terry, and thank you for the many fine laughs you’ve given us, both in Discworld and elsewhere. Or, as your librarian might say, “Ook, eek, eek ook ook.”

–Leigh Anne

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Amusing, Whimsical, and Diverting Historical Romance

I started reading historical romance a little over two years ago because I was sick and tired of reading sad and depressing books that were highly touted in literary circles, The New York Times Book Review, and book clubs. I once derided the entire romance genre as frivolous until I actually read one.

I now only want happy endings, sparkling dialogue, and a passionate love story; even better: a book that can make me laugh and smile.

I thoroughly enjoy the witty works of Jane Austen, so historical romance is my favorite reading pleasure. I can always count on a lovely story and, with these three authors, laugh out loud humor.

wicked

The Wicked Wallflower (Wallflowers series) by Maya Rodale

We don’t own all of this author’s delightful books except for her Writing Girls series, about Regency era working women who write for the scandal sheet, The London Weekly–which, incidentally, makes a recurring appearance as it reports on scandals in almost all her novels.

Isn’t this a great cover?! In this story, the first in the series, Lady Emma Avery is a wallflower whose name is falsely linked with the handsome and rich Duke of Ashbrooke in The London Weekly. They decide to keep their pretend engagement so that he might redeem his debauched reputation and find investors to fund his invention and she, in turn, can raise her social standing in society. Of course, things don’t work out as planned. This book is part of an amusing concurrent historical/contemporary series–the contemporary part being a series of novellas called Bad Boyswith a similar theme of a pretend engagement–Rodale calls it a “fauxmance”–on Facebook and other social media. Fun fact: the heroine is a librarian at the New York Public Library.

“’It can’t be any more torturous than a wallflower’s fourth season on the marriage mart.’” (p52)

“It was official: she’d had more callers in this one hour than in four seasons combined. Behold: the power of Ashbrooke.” (p26)

heiress

In the Arms of the Heiress (Ladies Unlaced series) by Maggie Robinson

With her cheeky Courtesan Court series about the everyday lives of a group of mistresses on Jane Street to her London List series about a Regency-era scandal sheet of provocative personal ads spoofing today’s craigslist, to her most recent Edwardian-era series, Ladies Unlaced, which takes place around a slightly unorthodox employment agency, I can pretty much count on Maggie Robinson to always make me laugh.

A wacky, independent yet vulnerable heiress, Louisa Stratton hires Charles Cooper, a traumatized war veteran down on his luck, to pose as her fiancé on a visit home to her undeserving family. She hopes to display a veneer of successful independence with a loving, artistic husband while Charles just wants the cash.

“Louisa Stratton was a handful who would drive the average man to drink. Hemlock, if it was handy.” (p175)

”’If you were my wife, I’d rescue you. You could live just as you pleased—I wouldn’t interfere with whatever cork-brained scheme you dreamed up.’” (p240)

Any husband she’d have would risk being henpecked until he resembled a dartboard.” (p289)

secrets

The Secret Brides series by Valerie Bowman

Bowman is a newcomer to historical romance and her lighthearted and charming Regency era Secret Brides series is wonderfully entertaining and funny. Each title represents the scandals in the books, written in pamphlets–think of today’s zines–and are the same titles as the books:

  • Secrets of a Wedding Night is about what really happens on a wedding night as written by an unhappily married young widow.
  • Secrets of a Runaway Bride depicts the adventures of a young and impetuous debutante who tries to run away with a young man who does not requite her love.
  • Secrets of a Scandalous Marriage, the last in the series, is penned by a death-row duchess accused of murdering her husband. There are also two novellas that round out the series.

From Secrets of a Scandalous Marriage:

Since coming in the back door, she was already warming up, and she hadn’t had a proper bath in over a fortnight. No doubt she smelled like a foot. A very dirty foot.” (p44)

‘If you’re going to be a scandal, darling, be a complete scandal.’” (p318)

From Secrets of a Runaway Bride:

“First of all, you should not have been eavesdropping. It’s unspeakably rude, and second, what would you know about a marital bed? You’re not married!” (p59)

“Arthur isn’t here now to see, is he? If you’re heaven’s gift to the fairer sex, why don’t you prove it?” (p61)

-Maria, who is done with sad books forever

Note: This post is the third in a series highlighting historical romance novels I’ve greatly enjoyed.

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Somewhat Obsessed With Canada

I think about Canada a lot. Not constantly, mind you, but more often than on those occasions when somebody gets upset about something that’s happened in U.S. politics/culture and threatens to move there.  It stymies me that Canada simply isn’t on most Americans’ radar. I mean, it’s right there, but it hardly ever crosses our minds. Nor do we learn about it in school. At least, I didn’t. Kudos to you and your teachers if you spent longer than one day in social studies pondering a Canadian curriculum. All I know about Canada is that it has trees, maple syrup, and hockey and that Margaret Atwood‘s visions of the future are Somewhat Bleak. I can also name a handful of random celebrities who hail from there, but this doesn’t exactly make me Jeopardy champion material.

Clearly, this ignorance will not do, especially since Alice Munro recently won the Nobel Prize in Literature, thus forcing me, you, and every red-blooded American citizen with even a drop of conscience to learn a thing or two about our neighbors to the immediate north. Let’s get cracking!

Quick Facts

Make the Government of Canada portal your first stop, to get information directly from the folks who live and govern there. Contains sections on culture and the arts, individual provinces and territories, history/genealogy and much more.

The CIA World Factbook is a nifty website to know about if you need fast, credible data on a specific country. Did you know that Canada became a self-governing dominion in 1867, has an area of 9,984,670 square kilometers (making it the world’s largest country that only borders one country) and maintains 3.2 hospital beds and 2.069 physicians for every 1,000 people (last measured in 2010)? Très intéressant!*

Canadian Geographic, a publication of the Royal Canadian Geographic Society, is a great all-purpose journal for initial leisure reading/research about Canada. For other national publications, as well as province-specific journals, click here.

Non-fiction/Reference

For a quick peek at the Carnegie Library’s research holdings, grab your library card and search for Canada in our digital general reference resources. The Gale Virtual Reference Library, in particular, is a smashing way to learn more about a given topic without leaving the comfort of your home (which is key for getting smart in spite of snowfall). If you can make it in for a visit, search Reference Universe, too, which will allow you to search inside all those books on the shelves and only open the ones that will be truly useful to you. Kids (and parents!) should test-drive the Grolier encyclopedias, as well as the World Book Almanac for Kids.

If you’d rather take something home, you’ll be happy to know that Main library alone holds over 2,600 books on Canada. Here are a few collection highlights:

folkloreFolklore of Canada, Edith Fowke. You can tell a lot about a nation from its mythologies, fairy tales, customs, and other folkways. Fowke’s collection includes tales from tribal/aboriginal cultures, as well as those of French and British origin.

A History of Canadian Culture, Jonathan Franklin William Vance. Vance’s work, which won the Lela Common Award culturefor Canadian History, covers quite a bit of ground, from Inuit clothing design to the Barenaked Ladies. That’s a lot to swallow, but Vance also explores themes and concerns common across eras: what does it mean to be Canadian, how should the arts be funded, what role does/should copyright and other forms of artist recognition/compensation play? A roller-coaster romp of a history book.

illustratedThe Illustrated History of Canada, Craig Brown, ed. A popular book that has been released in several editions, Brown’s work includes engravings, lithographs, cartoons, maps and posters, as well as photographs, taking this text to the full extent of what “illustrated” can mean. Though it only contains six chapters, each one is written by a prominent historian or geographer, which efficiently augments your knowledge of, say, native cultures or the history of U.S./Canadian relations.

Canada’s Fifty Years in Space, G.G. Shepherd. Wait, what? If, like me, you did not know Canada had a space program, pick spaceup this volume and prepare to be amazed. Just one of the many niche history books you’ll find in our collection, Shepherd’s chronicle tells the story of the Canadian Space Agency, the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR), Canada’s involvement with the NASA Phoenix mission, the ISIS-II satellite and much more. What does that mean? It means science, my friends. Loads of space-tastic science. A keen read for space geeks.

Fiction/Literature/Culture

Want to read books by Canadian authors? Here are some writers and titles you should try on for size, recommended by actual Canadians!**

Robertson Davies. One of Canada’s best known and most popular authors, and a distinguished man of letters known for his work as a playwright, journalist and critic, to boot. Start with The Depford Trilogy, then take a side trip into criticism to ponder The Merry Heart: Reflections on Reading, Writing, and the World of Books.

Will Ferguson. Best known for his witty observations on Canadian history and culture, Ferguson frequently takes on an outsider’s point of view to paint a more robust picture of his subjects. Try Beauty Tips From Moose Jaw.

Margaret Lawrence. Not only one of Canada’s most prominent novelists/short story creators, but also a founder of the Writers’ Trust of Canada. Make sure to seek out The Stone Angel and The Diviners.

Stuart McLean. This host of CBC Radio‘s “Vinyl Cafe” has been described as “the Canadian Garrison Keilor.”  Although he has written serious pieces as well, he’s best known for his humor. Take a gander at Secrets From the Vinyl Cafe.

Louise Penny. If you’ve met Armand Gamache, well, then, you already know. If you haven’t completely fallen in love with the man–or with the bucolic town of Three Pines–start with Still Life.

Gordon Korman. This Canadian-American author writes for children and young adults. The first book in his well-liked “Bruno and Boots” series, This Can’t Be Happening at Macdonald Hall, grew out of an assignment written for English class when he was just twelve (!) and was published in 1978, when Korman was only fourteen (!!). Since then he has written over 75 books, so you’d best get started with “Bruno and Boots” right now!

Tanya Huff. A sci-fi / fantasy author with seven series under her belt,  a handful of stand-alone novels and a solid handful of short story collections as well. Because it was adapted for television, some people may be familiar with the Blood Books series, which pairs private detective Vicki Nelson with vampire/author Henry Fitzroy for crime-solving shenanigans. Start with Blood Price.

There: I feel somewhat smarter already. Obviously there’s more to learn, and I’m sure plenty of you could take me to school on the subject. So, spill: what should I know about Canada? What do you know about Canada?

–Leigh Anne

currently jamming to Moxy Früvous

* Very interesting. French is one of Canada’s official languages, and is spoken primarily in Quebec, with a smattering of usage in New Brunswick, Ontario, and in smaller indigenous communities throughout the country. Click here for details.

**Many thanks to my Canadian Facebook contingent, who graciously contributed authors and titles to this blog post!

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The Tangled Knot: Women’s Fiction, Summer 2013

Autumn is officially here, but let’s take one last look at the books of summer, shall we?

My usual reading agenda of popular fiction consists of regency and contemporary romance and mystery/thrillers. I usually toss in a book or two that is classified as “women’s fiction.” Typically, while there may be elements of romance involved, the focus is on the personal transformation of the main female character and how she responds to the trials and tribulations of life. Publishers target the marketing of these stories to women readers. Some of these tales are funny while others take a more serious look at problems and relationships. This summer, marriage at its various stages formed the common theme of all of these books.

Andrews, Mary Kay. Ladies’ Night.

ladiesWhen lifestyle blogger Grace Stanton discovers her husband in a compromising position with her personal assistant, she drives his cherished sports car into their pool. The divorce judge declares she must attend expensive anger management sessions. There, Grace meets other women and a man in similar straits. Their post-therapy cocktails reveal they have much in common, including a need for friends, suspicion of the methods of the wacky therapist assigned to them, and distrust of the no-nonsense judge who was put them all in this odd, court-mandated situation. Andrews’ stories always have a light touch, and her characters are just like someone you know.

Cook, Claire. Time Flies.

When Melanie’s husband of many years hooks up with a younger woman, she becomes more and more reclusive. Her grown boys keep fliesin touch, but are focused on their own lives. Melanie has a paralyzing fear of driving on highways. She’d rather dance with a mop than face dating after all the years of marriage. Her welded junk sculptures are cathartic and meaningful to her creative side, but she wallows in her isolation. Then her friend BJ nags her into attending their high school reunion. As they journey down memory lane with an oldies soundtrack, catching up with each other in that way only best friends can after being parted for a long time, Melanie comes to understand that looking forward is better than looking back. Cook’s breezy, personal writing style engages and satisfies as her funny observations about people and life make Melanie’s trip a satisfying experience for the reader as well.

Delinsky, Barbara. Sweet Salt Air.

sweetsaltair Friends from childhood, food blogger Nicole invites Charlotte, a professional travel writer, to visit for the summer and help her prepare a cookbook based on the cuisine of her family’s Maine island summer retreat. As the weeks pass, and Nicole’s surgeon husband faces a medical crisis of his own, the friends reconnect, share and uncover secrets that can pull them back as close as they once were…or drive them forever apart. Delinsky never fails to provide a thoughtful look at life’s problems and the choices we make.

Hilderbrand, Elin. Beautiful Day.

Could a Nantucket wedding be anything less than perfect? Following the wedding planning advice left behind by her deceased motherbeautiful in a “Notebook,” Jenna, the bride, and her groom’s families gather for a dream wedding. However, their complex, intertwined, and often dysfunctional interactions make for a funny, sad, satisfying read, even if you need a spreadsheet to keep track of all the family members.

Kinsella, Sophie. Wedding Night.

weddingHa! Told from the alternating points of view of two British sisters, this comedy of errors almost meets the high expectations for laugh-aloud humor of other Kinsella stories. Disappointed when her long-time beau presents vacation tickets instead of an engagement ring, frustrated Lottie drops him and runs directly into a whirlwind relationship with an old boyfriend, Ben. Within days the couple hie off to Greece to get married! Lottie’s practical older sister, Fliss–recently and bitterly divorced–feels she must step in to thwart Lottie’s impulsive rebound wedding. Hilarity ensues.

Porter, Jane. The Good Daughter (A Brennan Sisters novel).

Life is becoming complicated for Kit Brennan. She’s pushing 40, single, teaches school, and is a middle sister among four, all of whom daughterare coping with the reality of their mother being in the last stages of cancer. Kit is fresh from a long-term relationship with a man who just would not get married. She has a student facing dangerous family issues at home, a new house, a loudly ticking biological clock, and she’s just met a new guy who could be “the one”…except that he doesn’t quite meet her family’s high expectations to be a suitable match for the “good” daughter of the family.

Wiggs, Susan. Apple Orchard.

apple Who knew that there are apple orchards in Sonoma wine country? Not antiques expert Tess Delaney, who also discovers the family she never knew she had there. A workaholic, totally focused on her career, Tess has the shock of her life when an attorney appears out of the blue to tell her she may soon inherit a business she knows nothing about–growing apples. As she begins to unravel her own life story, Tess learns about the perils and sufferings of WWII on resistance fighters, and the impact of that experience as they began life afresh in America. Why did her parents separate? Why didn’t she know she had a half-sister? Wiggs can spin a family tale like few others–her Lakeshore Chronicles series is top-notch. Check them out too!

Weisberger, Lauren. Revenge Wears Prada.

Ten years have passed since Andrea Sachs worked for demanding editor Miranda Priestly at Runway magazine. Andrea and formerrevenge enemy/colleague Emily become reacquainted and start their own successful bridal magazine, The Plunge. After a few years, its commercial popularity has drawn the attention of Miranda’s magazine publisher. So, the partners face a dilemma: should they sell out for big bucks and be affiliated with Miranda’s controlling editorial influence, or remain their own women? This conflict has the potential of splitting up the partners, and what impact will coping with marriage,  in-laws, babies, and lost friendships have on this weighty decision for Andy? This is a satisfying sequel to the popular novel The Devil Wears Prada.

–Sheila

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Life After Life, After Life After Life

Neither U.S. nor UK copyright law protects titles of books. This means  that someday I can call my memoirs In the Pleasure Groove: Love, Death and Duran Duran without fear of legal reprisal (though I’d gladly entertain a hand-delivered cease and desist request). On a more practical note for you, the Eleventh Stack reader, however, it means that every now and again you’ll run into multiple books with the same title, which can prove a wee bit confusing when it’s time to make a catalog reservation.

Dear John: call me, maybe?

Dear John: call me, maybe?

Exhibit A: two novels called Life After Life, released just six days apart. What could have been a marketing nightmare turned out to be a boon for both novelists and their publishers, as the coincidence has piqued interest in both books. That means longer library waiting lists, though, so here’s a quick-and-dirty overview of each novel, to help you decide which one you’d like better, or if you’d be happy to  read both.

Jill McCorkle

mccorkleThe residents, staff, and visitors of Pine Haven Retirement Center are the focus of Jill McCorkle’s novel about the sweet memories and painful regrets that can rise to the surface as life winds down. A hospice volunteer dutifully records her charges’ dying moments, to teach herself about living well. Another staff member does her best to care for the residents while pondering how own difficult history and uncertain future. A once-powerful man fakes dementia to avoid meaningful conversations with his combative son. As the narrative point of view shifts from character to character, the reader sees how each person affects, and is affected by, the rest of the community, and how much power a single kindness–or cruelty–can have. Although the subject matter is unavoidably heavy–we all have to die sometime–it is also laced with what I can only describe as “realistic hope,” the notion that one person’s voice can be heard, that a single life is precious. On the whole, McCorkle’s given us an honest look at what it means to live well and die well, one that will resonate with anyone who’s ever pondered her/his own mortality or otherwise dealt with hospice/end-of-life issues.

Reserve this if: you enjoyed The Secret Life of Bees or The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (originally published as These Foolish Things); you like fiction set in the American South (think Sarah Addison Allen, but with more realism and less magic); you’re looking for fiction that strikes a balance somewhere between “literary” and “beach-read”; you don’t mind the uncomfortable looks people give you when they ask what the book is about and you say “death.”

Kate Atkinson

If anything that doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, what happens to you when things kill you over and over? This far-fetched atkinsonrhetorical question is no joke for Ursula Todd, who dies–sometimes quite horribly–and is reborn again and again, always into the same family. Atkinson–whose Jackson Brodie mysteries already have quite a following–will earn plenty of new fans with this speculative twist on the historical novel, which focuses heavily on England’s participation in WWII. Atkinson’s ambitious premise is that the life of one person can mirror the life of a nation, and as Ursula rises, falls, and rises again, so does England. The tone is decidedly British, which includes not only the loving descriptions of everyday objects Anglophiles adore in their fiction, but also the pluck and dry wit that embody the national sense of humor.

Reserve this if: you enjoyed Code Name Verity or Downtown Abbey; your television set is perpetually tuned to BBC America; you’ve ever spent far too much time contemplating the Hitler Murder Paradox.

See why you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover? If both of these titles were in your hands right now, which one would you check out first, and why?

Leigh Anne

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Our Friend Behn

File:Aphra Behn by Peter Lely R.jpg

“One hour of right-down love is worth an age of dully living on.” Aphra Behn

 

Aphra Behn was the first woman to make a living by writing in the English language.  As it is Women’s History Month, and this is a library blog, it’s only right that we salute the saucy and enigmatic mother of English writing.

Top Ten Reasons Why Aphra Behn Pretty Much Rules

  1. She was a spy!  Aphra’s early life is unknown, but we do know that she spent some years in her 20s as a spy for Charles II in Antwerp.  What a great way to inform your writing!  Another great way to inform your writing is to find yourself in debtors’ prison, because you paid your spy expenses out of pocket, on promise from the king that he would repay you.  The king never repaid Aphra, and indeed she was imprisoned.  Way to look out for a lady patriot, Charles II!
  2. She was practical!  Like many other notable women (consider J.K. Rowling),  Aphra Behn’s road to legendary status began by simply trying to pay her bills.  She started writing to dig herself out of debt.
  3. She remains mysterious! Little is known about Aphra Behn’s origins, and many details of her life are intriguingly uncertain.  Was she Catholic?  Yikes!  It’s no fun to be Catholic in Restoration England.  Did she live in Venezuela for a time?  Or did she just fake it so she could write Oroonoko?   We can’t know for sure.  It is also believed that she may have even faked a marriage, to earn herself some credibility.
  4. She was scandalous!  Madonna wasn’t the first female artist accused of lasciviousness.  This Restoration writer had to take jabs from her male contemporaries, but she didn’t let that stop her!  Alexander Pope wrote: “The stage how loosely does Astræea (Aprha’s pen name) tread/Who fairly puts all characters to bed.” Essentially, Pope called Ms. Behn a loose woman.
  5. She was open about sex! Despite such insults from Pope, Aphra Behn wrote poems, plays, and proto-novels that directly addressed sexuality from a women’s perspective.  For example,  in “The Disappointment,” she quite candidly describes a particular encounter that left much to be desired for the woman in question. 
  6. She was really open about sex! Behn even went beyond the hetero-normative norm. The poem, “To the Fair Clarinda,” is one such example, and the meaning  has been debated to death in academia.  Is it about lesbian love?  Gender-bending?  Decide for yourself.
  7. Other writers loved her too! Virginia Woolf extolled her virtues. “All women together ought to let flowers fall upon the tomb of Aphra Behn, which is, most scandalously but rather appropriately, in Westminster Abbey, for it was she who earned them the right to speak their minds” — Virigina Woolf, A Room of One’s Own.
  8. She was a comic!  You’re welcome, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler!  Aphra Behn was most successful when writing light comedies such as The Rover.  Her plays contained such zingers as :”patience is a flatterer, sir, and an ass, sir,” and “there is no sinner like a young saint.”
  9. Despite all the controversy in her life, she went and got herself a proper burial!  Aphra is buried in Westminster Abbey, with the epitaph: “Here lies proof that wit can never be defense enough against morality.”  Who wouldn’t want that on their gravestone?
  10. She was a woman who wrote women as complex beings.  When we talk about literature, or art, we often bemoan that fact that representations of women are incomplete.  Aphra Behn is proof that there are definitely (fun!) exceptions to this rule.

Happy Women’s History Month!

Holly

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Oh Dear, Richard III

Proving once again that truth is frequently stranger than fiction, the bones of King Richard III, of England (1452-1485), were recently found beneath a car park in Leicester. The internet greeted this news with the amusing memes it richly deserves. For example:

hideseek

Spotted on actress Dawn French‘s Facebook page.

See also:

Spotted on the Blackadder Facebook fan page.

Spotted on the Blackadder Facebook fan page.

(If you are not familiar with Rowan Atkinson’s comedic turns as Edmund Blackadder, you have some DVDs to request. Click here.)

Good fun all around! However, it would be a pity if the only thing we knew about history were that it’s often subject to creative hilarity. Therefore, I give you a short list of resources for learning more about Richard III.

Biography

Useful Websites

Cool Stuff We Keep Locked Up

(To see any of these nifty items up close, ask a librarian.)

Digital Resources Even Your Teacher Will Love

Working on an assignment? Not allowed to use “web resources”? We can get you behind the paywall for those journal articles. Visit our electronic history resources and browse through:

  • Biography in Context
  • Salem History
  • World History in Context

See also our electronic reference books–I’d suggest the Gale Virtual Reference Library.

That should be enough to get you started on your journey to understand a misunderstood monarch. I sincerely hope you’ve enjoyed this little bit of…

Oh, you wacky internet. Spotted here

Oh, you wacky internet. Spotted here

Or would that be anti-Tudoring?  Hm.

Leigh Anne

who, admittedly, doesn’t know much about history, but knows where to look (and dearly loves to laugh).

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