Monday, November 30, 2009

THE ROAD to Cormac McCarthy

When No Country For Old Men won the Best Picture Academy Award in 2007 I told myself, "I must read Cormac McCarthy."
I didn't get around to it, however, until recently. I knew that All the Pretty Horses, volume one of "The Border Trilogy", had received both the 1992 National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. Then The Road was awarded the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.
Last week I picked up The Road, thumbed through it, and noted the absence of quotation marks to indicate dialogue. Finding this somewhat distracting, I laid the book aside and turned to a different novel. Yesterday I picked up McCarthy's book again----and finished it this morning.
A man and his son, both unnamed, struggle to survive in a post-apocalyptic world. Possessed of meager provisions and a pistol with two bullets, the man convinces the boy that some kind of salvation exists near the sea. Through a blighted landscape of gray ash, dead trees, and chilling temperatures, the reader joins them on the road, encountering harrowing instances of debased humanity, cannibalism, and despair. The boy, who has never known any other life, seems, at times, touched by God, for he is ever aware of the fact that he and his father are the "good guys" who "carry the fire". Eventually the man succumbs to disease, starvation, and exposure---yet remains convinced that "Goodness will find the little boy. It always has. It will again."
The Road has been called both "a masterpiece" by Booklist and "a novel of horrific beauty" by Kirkus Reviews. I agree. The book, deceptively simple and straightforward, is devastating and reminds us that the world teeters on the edge of the abyss.
On June 5, 2007, McCarthy sat down with Oprah Winfrey for his first and only television interview. When asked about his writing, McCarthy said he prefers simple, direct sentences and refuses to muddy up his text with "weird little marks" (quotation marks). The video can viewed on Oprah's site: Just enter his name in the "Search" field on the upper right of the screen.
Directed by John Hillcoat, the film adaptation has just been released in theatres and is receiving generally favorable reviews. Viggo Mortensen, whom many will remember as Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, plays the man.
East Central Regional Library owns all of McCarthy's works in various formats: regular print, large print, audio, VHS, and DVD. Access our homepage at and click on "ECRL Catalog" if you'd like to request a specific item. Remember that library staff are a quick phone call away if you need assistance.

Bob Gray
Reference and Interlibrary Loan Librarian

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

ECRL College Sweepstakes Winner

Six year old Danielle Cavallin of Pine City was selected as a winner in this summer’s “Get Creative @ Saving for College” sweepstakes, sponsored by the Minnesota Department of Education, State Library Services and the Minnesota College Savings Plan. Jeff and Jaclyn Cavallin, parents of Danielle, were awarded a $1,000 cash prize that can be invested in a Minnesota College Savings Plan account for the benefit of Danielle. The sweepstakes, which received over 4,000 entries statewide this summer, was a component of this year’s Minnesota Library Summer Reading Program, held at public libraries throughout the state. The Pine City Public Library branch of ECRL where Danielle participated in the Summer Reading Program, also won a $500 cash prize. In total, 15 $1,000 cash prizes were awarded to summer reading program participants in Minnesota. The 15 libraries where the winners participated in the summer reading program also won $500 towards future reading programs.

Danielle received her "big" check at the 50th Anniversary Celebration at the Pine City Public Library on Thursday, November 19. Danielle's entire family was there to help her celebrate.

The Minnesota Library summer reading program is offered through local libraries to encourage children to read during the summer and has over 60,000 children participating every year. “This is the first time that we’ve offered a college savings sweepstakes through the annual Summer Reading Program,” said Suzanne Miller, Director of Minnesota’s State Library Services. “We are pleased with our partnership with the Minnesota College Savings Plan and the response from the children, their parents and the libraries. It was a good opportunity to encourage children to read while school was out for the summer, and to emphasize saving for college with Minnesota’s 529 College Savings Plan.”

The Minnesota College Savings Plan (the “Plan”) is a state-sponsored, tax-advantaged 529 college savings plan to help parents and grandparents invest in a child’s future college education. The Plan is implemented and administered by the Minnesota Office of Higher Education and managed by TIAA-CREF Tuition Financing, Inc.

Vickie Sorn, ECRL Youth & Community Services Librarian

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veterans Day, November 11th

Today is Veterans Day, and the East Central Regional Library Headquarters and branches are all closed. Veterans Day is a national holiday, first proclaimed as Armistice Day by President Woodrow Wilson in 1919 with the following words: To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…

Armistice Day commemorated the end of World War I – known at the time as “The Great War.” The War officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, in the Palace of Versailles outside the town of Versailles, France. However, fighting had ceased seven months earlier when an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. November 11, 1918, was regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars.”

Armistice Day became a legal holiday through congressional action on May 13, 1938. (52 Stat. 351; 5 U. S. Code, Sec. 87a). Armistice Day was a day dedicated to world peace and to honor veterans of World War I. In 1954 the 83rd Congress amended the Act of 1938 by changing the word "Armistice" to "Veterans" following World War II and the Korean Conflict. With the approval of this legislation (Public Law 380) on June 1, 1954, November 11th became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.

The observance of Veterans Day moved to Monday, along with Washington's Birthday, Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and Columbus Day, when the Uniform Holiday Bill (Public Law 90-363 (82 Stat. 250)) was signed on June 28, 1968. This was unpopular with many states, who continued to observe Veterans Day on November 11th, and ignored the legislation. In response to the desires of the the majority of state legislatures, all veterans service organizations, and the American people, Gerald R. Ford signed Public Law 94-97 (89 Stat. 479) on September 20, 1975, which returned the annual observance of Veterans Day to its original date of November 11, beginning in 1978.

Veterans Day Salute Source of information, Department of Veterans Affairs
See also,

Barbara Misselt, Director

Monday, November 9, 2009

Berlin Wall Anniversary

Today is the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. For over 25 years a city existed within the confines of a wall that encircled it, keeping its residents in and everyone else out. Travel to and from West Berlin was only permitted through applications and documents. The Wall was a symbol of the Cold War

Following World War II, the defeated country of Germany was divided into four sections and governed by the Allied Control Council or Allied Control Authority, the Alliierter Kontrollrat, a military governing authority. The members were the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union. France was later added with one vote, but no duties. As was the country divided, so too was the capitol city, Berlin. Berlin was well within the Soviet controlled section known later as East Germany.

When the Soviets and East Germans erected a wall around the portions of Berlin governed by the Americans, Brits, and French, West Berlin was isolated from West Germany. Armed guards patrolled the wall and the checkpoints going in and out of West Berlin.

I lived in West Berlin from 1983 to 1987, while my husband served with the Air Force. While we lived a relatively normal lifestyle there, getting "Flag Orders" every time we wanted to travel outside the city was an inconvenience. While I lived there, the political climate was relatively calm and we traveled back and forth into East Berlin fairly often. One very tragic incident in 1985 affected us personally, when Major Arthur Nicholson was killed in the line of duty. His daughter Jennifer was in my son's class. We were also there when President Reagan cried "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall" at the Brandenburg Gate.

The cold gray wall served as a grim reminder of the differences in lifestyle from East to West. Bus drivers who drove through Checkpoint Charlie often played "God Bless the USA" or "Born in the USA" -- with the windows open.
Shortly after we moved from Berlin to Maine, I was overwhelmed with emotion as I watched throngs of East Berliners pour through the torn down wall. I feel that way yet.

This website about the Berlin Wall has some good information:

Also, check for books about the Berlin Wall under the number 943.155
Barbara Misselt, Director

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Department of Interior waives fees November 11th

Here's a low-cost way to enjoy the Veterans Day Holiday on Wednesday.

From the National Park Service website:

To honor America’s service men and women, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar has announced that areas managed by the department will not charge entrance fees on Wednesday, November 11th.

Visitors to public recreation lands managed by the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Reclamation are invited to take a day to honor and reflect on what our service men and women have done to maintain our freedom and keep peace around the world, Salazar said.

“The Department of the Interior is honored to offer this fee free day to thank our nation’s service men and women,” said Salazar said “The sacrifices and achievements of the brave men and women of our armed forces can never be understated. We invite all of our visitors to enjoy this fee free day and take time out on this national holiday to remember our service men and women who are currently serving overseas in harm's way. ”

The Department of Agriculture also is waiving entrance fees at its national forests.

Barbara Misselt, Director