Monday, March 31, 2014

Teen Space Rant

Last week, I had to politely ask a couple of senior citizens to leave the teen space area of my library. I have to do this a lot, but this particular incident made me mad because the adults became quite huffy about being asked to leave, asking rather rudely if they were disrupting the teens (who were using one of our gaming consoles).


Our teen space has the same rules as the children's department. If you do not have a teen with you, you cannot loiter in the teen space, much like the fact that you can't just hang out in the children's department unless you have a child with you. For some reason, patrons are okay with this rule in regard to the children's department but not with the teen space. Maybe, at some point kids get old enough that hanging out in their section as an adult makes you less of a creeper. Except that it doesn't.



Adults are allowed to browse the books in the teen space. A lot of adults love YA books (myself included) and the library wants to foster that love. But there's a difference between browsing the YA books and hanging out in the teen space to have a Bible study meeting while kids are trying to play video games. Especially if you have run of the whole rest of the library to do your business.



What really chaps my caboose is that this disregard for the teen space translates to a disregard for teens. Can teens be rowdy, disrespectful, noisy, and smelly? Hell yes they can. Are all of them? No. Do we still welcome the ones who are into the teen space? Yes we do. Teens are still learning how to be adults - social cues and deodorant included. My library wants to give them a space where they can do this with freedom from judgment. Yeah, they get told to be quiet if the noise gets to be too much and they're held to all the same rules as our adult patrons. But teens need their own space because so many adults would rather give them the stink eye than share theirs. And to relegate them to the children's department is telling them they're still little kids.

Were those ladies disrupting the teens who were playing video games? Not outwardly, no. But by plopping down in the teen space despite the signs that tell them they can't, they were sending the message that our space is our space and your space is also our space. To me, that's unacceptable.


Despite all this, I do feel awkward kicking adults out of the teen space, especially when there aren't any teens there. Explaining to a person that their very presence makes teens feel unwelcome, even if they're just sitting and reading, is uncomfortable at best no matter how you word it. I even had an argument with a patron once who claimed he had to sit in the teen space because he wouldn't fit in any of the other chairs in the library and I was discriminating against his disability. But I keep telling myself that if the tables were turned and we had a seniors only section where teens dared to enter, the seniors would be up in arms.

Not a whole lot of teens come into my library. When they do, a lot of them want to get on the computer or play video games. I'm just happy that they're coming in. Even if they never check out a book from this library, I'm a proud teen advocate and I'll do anything I can to make them feel welcome and keep them coming into my library.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Wrasslin'!

I don't think that many people would look at me and say, "That girl loves herself some professional wrestling."

Aside from the fact that I show up to work like this every day. Dress for the job you want, folks.
I haven't seriously kept up with wrestling lately, but ask me about the geopolitical landscape and personal backstabbing of late 80s, early 90s wrestling. Do it. What follows will be the most informative 7 hours of your life. I was obsessed as a tween and early teen. My dream job was to become an announcer for the WWF (which WWE will always be in my mind because fuck those pandas).



I recently read The Squared Circle: Life, Death, and Professional Wrestling by David Shoemaker. In my effort to follow my unofficial New Year's Resolution by reading more nonfiction, I read a nonfiction book about a fictional sport.


However, the one major piece of information I took away from this book is that even though the matches are scripted, the men and women involved in professional wrestling are real athletes. I knew that to some extent before reading this book, but Shoemaker spends enough time describing the physical trials and tribulations of wrestlers for there to be no doubt in my mind that their athleticism is very real.

I learned a lot from this book, like the fact that Macho Man was a real life crazy bastard or that Yokozuna was Samoan and not Japanese. I learned a lot about wrestling before the days of Vince McMahon, including the incredibly tragic saga of the Von Erich clan. In fact, I learned all about the most tragic wrestlers in the history of wrestling because this is a book about dead wrestlers.

This was a book all about the sometimes tragic reality of wrestling behind all the scripts and drama. Now, some of the drama was real. Jake "The Snake" Roberts really did have an issue with Macho Man because Macho Man didn't invite him to his bachelor party before he married Miss Elizabeth.

I want to renew my vows like this.
Many of wrestling's injuries were real. To me, the most tragic story is that of Owen Hart, who fell to his death during a live Pay Per View event in 1999. Because of the bombast of wrestling, it took folks more than a little bit of time to realize his fall wasn't part of his act. I had stopped watching wrestling by this time, but I had had a huge crush on Owen Hart when I was 14.

"You're the only girl for me, Carey."
Overall, I liked this book. Parts of it were a lot of fun, despite the fact that it was about dead wrestlers. My only problem with it was that I felt that by not including more information about living wrestlers, there were gaps in the dead wrestlers' stories. For example, I would have liked to know more about the relationship between Owen and Bret Hart. I would have liked to know more about how the dead wrestlers fit in with all the ones who are still alive. Shoemaker doesn't write about his subjects in the vacuum of their own lives, but the article style of his writing prevents the book from feeling like a cohesive whole.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is or was a fan of wrestling. Even if you aren't keeping up with it today, the nostalgia value of this book in regard to wrestling eras of yore is pretty epic.

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Flight of the Silvers by Daniel Price


I read a lot of books. If you follow me on Goodreads, you know that I can be harsh in my assessments. I don't give five stars to a lot of books and when I do, it's not always because the book stands on its own merit but because it was better than most other books. I love to read but I've become jaded. I've written other blog posts about book burnout. It's a thing.


This is a lot of genre fiction. Stale, stagnant, and kind of inbred.

Getting to the point of this post though, I finished The Flight of the Silvers by Daniel Price this weekend. As soon as I read about it, I knew I needed to have it. From the first chapter, I was enchanted. That's the only word I can use to describe my reading experience. It's been years since I'd read anything with such a sense of wonder. This book breaks all the rules of time and plot and I loved every second of it.

The world: Price's world building was like a breath of fresh air on a humid day. The book opens with our world coming to an end, for crying out loud. This isn't a government or societal collapse - this is the literal end of the world. The sky crashes down and kills everyone. Except for nine people, seven of whom we get to know pretty well. The survivors come to their senses in what is later called Altamerica, an America that diverged from the path of time that our America took. Altamerica is alternate history done right. Big and little things have changed. This isn't your standard "what if Hitler won WWII" or "what if Kennedy lived" alternate history. This new America comes from the introduction of time manipulation into the world. Not time travel - time manipulation. The difference is very distinct. Price has built a solid world with realistic consequences to supernatural actions complete with slang and proper societal attitude to events that I don't want to spoil. Suffice it to say, this is world building at its best and most natural. There are no info dumps here.



The characters: We travel through this Altamerica with the Silvers, seven people who were given silver bracelets that kept them safe during the end of the world. We meet Amanda, a nurse, a pragmatist, and a good Christian; her sister Hannah, a mentally fragile actress and attention junkie; Zach, a cartoonist and a cynic; Mia, a vulnerable teen who is devastated by the loss of her entire family; David... another teen... a really weird one; Theo, an alcoholic law school dropout; and Evan. I'm not going to spoil Evan. These characters are so very real. They're flawed and unlikeable at times. But they are all distinct, well thought out personalities. They're easy to love and hate because we know them in real life. I was Mia when I was a kid, I married a version of Zach, I have been and also hated Hannah, I've pitied Evan - all in real life. To know these characters is to both love and hate them. They do some dumb and cruel shit over the course of the book but I can't completely hate any of them (even Evan) because I also understand them.

 


The plot: I tried so hard to take my time with this book. It's almost 600 pages long so you would think that wouldn't be a problem. But the plot moves at such a breakneck pace at times that it was hard not to read 100 page chunks at a time. This is an adventure story. It's got all the mystery and "oh hell no that did not just happen" moments of Lost* without being a total tease. Don't take anything for granted with Silvers. Price takes risks with his characters and time manipulation makes certain events really, really weird. I will be reading the book a second time in the near future just to make sure I've connected all the dots. But don't misunderstand that - this book takes brainpower to follow properly but not so much that you'll throw it across the room in frustration. There's time manipulation - your brain will at times feel like a wet noodle. Roll with it - that's a good thing.

So, I just followed up a post claiming ain't nobody got time for long, drawn out book reviews with a long, drawn out book review. But. The Flight of the Silvers deserves it. I can't stress enough the freshness, the wonder, the uniqueness of this book or the delight and sometimes terror I felt in reading it (I might be afraid of the end of the world now). I am way excited for future installments. In the meantime, I have to go nurse my major book hangover. It hurts, but I like it.

*Maybe someday I will get through a post without mentioning Lost.

Except that Ben Linus knows I'm full of shit.