Take this PBS quiz to find out.
South Dakota is listed as having 38 total booksellers—18 indies, 2 chain stores, and 18 big box retailers that also sell books. Couple that with a relatively small population, and we land smack dab in the middle of the country in more ways than one. Montana and Vermont are the best places to find bookstores, per capita. North Dakota didn’t fare too well. I won’t shame them by printing their ranking.
Eighteen independent book stores? In Sioux Falls, that would include Zandbroz, Child’s Play Toys, Crossroads, and the Book Shop. Three out of the four are downtown. Does that mean we have a book district??
All right, so we’re only in the middle. Let’s celebrate anyway. Anyone care to buy a new book today, locally? While you’re there, thank your local bookseller for doing their part to hold up the sky.
I was writing a review of the new picture book “Sing!” this week, and, naturally, I got distracted looking up YouTube videos of the people over the years who have performed the Joe Raposo classic song on “Sesame Street.” Maya Angelou, Doug E. Doug, R.E.M. and Nathan Lane have all taken turns, along with other stars, but my favorite version was of “Sesame Street” regulars Bob and Luis singing along with Susan (is that Susan?) and some children. Bob sings in English, and then Luis sings in Spanish. Luis plays the guitar. Bob pushes a kid on a tire swing, which seems like a pretty sweet acting gig to me when you’re six years old.
And, I actually remember watching that moment on television when I was a child and thinking that Luis was so much more fabulous than Bob because he could sing in English AND Spanish AND he could play the guitar at the same time. I loved Luis, and by that I don’t mean I had a crush on him. I think I wanted him to be my father (no offense, Dad) because he was so musical and so kind, and I imagined he would tuck me into bed at night with a story and a song. Plus he had really awesome hair.
I’d love to provide a link to the YouTube video, but the video I watched had comments posted that included swearing. And with one video I had to sit through a beer commercial to get to the “Sesame Street” clip, which provided me with a very post-post-modern Holden Caulfield moment. Why would anyone add vulgarity to a “Sesame Street” link? <sigh>
On a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein
by Jennifer Berne / illustrated by Vladimir Radunsky
Chronicle Books April 23, 2013 / 56 pages / $17.99
Kick off the contemplative days of summer with Jennifer Berne’s affectionate tribute to wonder. Told in poetic prose (and often in lovely, rule-defying incomplete sentences) this Albert Einstein portrait succeeds as a children’s picture book because it celebrates not simply Einstein’s brilliance, but his endless curiosity.
Einstein as a beautiful mind can intimidate children; he morphs into the ultimate gifted student or prodigy, and kids tend to clutch an early disappointment of what they suppose they might never become. But Einstein as a daydreamer and quirky ice-cream devotee catches a more joyful beam of light, and readers can begin to appreciate his true gifts to us all—His insistence on remaining his authentic self, down to what he put (or wouldn’t put) on his feet. His willingness to grant an inordinate amount of time to imagination. His determination to pursue thoughtfulness and ambiguity in a culture bursting with noise and feigned certainty. And, ultimately, his willingness to change the world with his own daydreams.
Happy summer, Einstein says, as he pedals around on his bicycle. Enjoy the ice cream.
The South Dakota Humanities Councils has been honored with the Award of Merit from the American Association for State & Local History (AASLH) for the anthology “What Makes a South Dakotan.” The book was launched last year in Sioux Falls at the South Dakota Festival of Books and features stories and essays from dozens of writers with connections to the state.
The book was a signature offering of the Humanities Council’s 40th anniversary celebration and was made possible by the South Dakota Community Foundation’s 25th anniversary partnership.
So, even though we knew the folks around here who carry the banner of history, literature, music, and culture are pretty amazing, it was nice to see that the Leadership in History awards committee of the AASLH thought so too.
Congratulations South Dakotans.
In spite of the hype about the costumes, paired with a few disturbingly sexualized movie trailers, the new film adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s masterpiece turns out to be a fairly faithful retelling of the book. There’s enough manic flash to produce dizzy spells for sure, but, at its heart, the story still spins around Daisy, Nick and Gatsby, perhaps because no amount of amped modernization could dominate the power of Fitzgerald’s nuanced characterization.
Leonardo DiCaprio nails Gatsby’s vulnerability and verbal absurdities and Toby Maguire isn’t afraid to hold the camera as the reluctant writer caught up in the Jazz Age’s decadence and splendor.
For me, this has always been Nick Carraway’s story, so Maquire was the one to watch on screen. If he floundered in his portrayal, the whole film would unravel and spill into disappointment. It took about 20 minutes of visual invitation before I adjusted to seeing the wide-eyed actor embody one of my most beloved literary characters. His affection, confused disengagement, and rage finally won me over.
The Siouxland Libraries staff helped build excitement for the premiere with good-natured reminders to movie-goers that Gatsby also happens to be a singular experience as a novel. Theater-goers were invited to tackle trivia at a library booth set up in the Century 14 lobby in Sioux Falls, and the librarians organized a seriously fun Charleston flash mob to celebrate opening weekend.
Of course, many in the packed house had never read the book. And as the movie raced to its inevitable tragedy, I leaned in to the tension of those around me who didn’t know what to expect. Was this a love story? A mystery? An extended celebration of sumptuous parties and excess? In the end, they were left with Nick Carraway’s words sweeping across the screen regarding careless people retreating into their money wrapped in his thoughts on glitter and light and struggling toward a future beyond the spectacle of the moment.
I went home and cracked the cover once again, and there was Gatsby preserved on the page, just as richly painted and confounding and enigmatic as I remember him to be. He was without a Jay Z soundtrack for sure, but that was a very good thing in the settling darkness of a Friday night. Nick and Daisy and Jordan were gloomy and quietly good-natured on page one, oppressed by the heat of Long Island and all that lay ahead of them, white curtains billowing in the glimmer of a breeze.