Literary Passings: VS Naipaul, Anglo-Indian Novelist

Our VS Naipaul books here

From this obituary:

Over the years, I have kept coming back to an image: a young writer, a twenty-six-year-old Indian man, sits at a desk in a small flat in Streatham Hill, a modest area of South London. It is 1958, and he is working on a long book that will become, in time, one of the great novels of the twentieth century. The young writer is unimaginably confident and unimaginably vulnerable: privileged in some respects (he went to Oxford, and he knows that he is more talented than his literary peers), utterly powerless in others (he is an Indian at work in the old, disdainful imperial metropolis, but he is not even from India—he grew up in Trinidad, where his grandfather was brought over as an indentured laborer to work on the sugarcane plantations).

This is the first extraordinary fact about “A House for Mr. Biswas,” the masterwork by V. S. Naipaul, who died on Saturday, at eighty-five. This book, so full of comedy and pathos, uncanny wisdom and painful compassion, containing a comprehension both of human motive and of a society’s dynamic that might take most writers a lifetime to achieve, was written by a man in his mid- to late twenties. (The only comparable achievement that comes to mind is “Buddenbrooks,” published when Thomas Mann was twenty-six; Cervantes was probably around fifty-five when the first part of “Don Quixote” appeared.) The young Vidia Naipaul’s compassion—a quality that apparently dried up as he aged—was brought to bear on the life of his father, Seepersad Naipaul, the model for Mohun Biswas. Seepersad, like Mr. Biswas, lived a short life (he died at the age of forty-six) that was both an astonishing achievement and a relative failure, and it is this stereoscopic vision that gives “A House for Mr. Biswas” such shattering power. The achievement was to have raised himself up, from very modest origins, in a tiny society of fiercely limited opportunity, to become a writer, or a kind of writer: Mr. Biswas, like Seepersad Naipaul, became a journalist for the Trinidad Guardian (renamed, in the novel, the Sentinel). But, in the larger scheme of things, Mr. Biswas’s life amounted to little: the Trinidad Guardian was just a local island paper (Seepersad Naipaul complained to his son about the tedious unimportance of most of his assignments); and, though Seepersad, like Mr. Biswas, would live vicariously through his clever children, who won scholarships and left the island to study in England, he himself never left. He ended his brief, circumscribed life in a small house in Port of Spain that, to many people, would resemble a shack—“a box,” writes Naipaul’s biographer, Patrick French. “A hot, rickety, partitioned building near the end of the street, around 7 square metres on two floors with an external wooden staircase and a corrugated iron roof.”

 

Book Review: The Presentation Secrets Of Steve Jobs

I can recommend wholeheartedly The Presentation Secrets Of Steve Jobs.

This book pretty much sums up the current cutting edge approach to presentations – honesty, passion and preparation.  External appearance doesn’t matter so much as authenticity.

There are also tips on how to organize a presentation. For example, define an enemy or problem and show the audience how your idea overcomes the problem.  Also create an a-ha moment that the audience can take home with them mentally.

Along the way, the book also discusses the correct use of slide images and text behind you and the correct use of props. Lots more in this one – check it out.

How to Find Primary Sources

Primary sources are documents that are direct records of an event, raw data, documents, magazines or newspapers from the time, photos or other material created at the time of an event. Even audio recordings, buildings, or just about anything could be considered primary sources.

Our historical primary source databases are located here.

Again, if you’re working in the field of history, you can search our catalog for published collections of primary sources.

Our history maven Margaret Vavarek suggests the searching the following key words in the catalog: Correspondence, Description and Travel, Diaries, Interviews, Personal Narratives, Sources, Letters or Speeches

Another way to identify primary sources is to go to Dissertation Theses Full Text, find relevant dissertations (they are fulltext online) and read their bibliographies.  You could then search to see if we our other libraries have the primary sources mentioned in these bibliographies.

Primary sources in other disciplines can mean studies, experiment results or original research. These can be found by searching the appropriate databases and finding articles that contain primary research results.

The Internet Wayback Machine Archives The Web

The Internet changes constantly. Ever wonder what happens to content that’s taken down?

A handful (but growing) number of organizations archive web content. A “picture” is taken every few days and stored.

The main Internet archive is called the Wayback Machine.

From The Economist:

The Wayback Machine’s inventor, Brewster Kahle, is an internet entrepreneur, philanthropist and computer whizz who helped design Mr Hillis’s ground-breaking Connection Machine in the 1980s. In 1996 he founded a non-profit organisation, the Internet Archive, to create a free internet library capable of storing a copy of every web page of every website ever to go online. The Wayback Machine allows users to view the library’s archived web pages as they appeared when published. Today the Internet Archive also includes texts, audio, moving images and software. At the last count, its collection contained more than 150 billion items.

Search The Wayback Machine Here

Even though we have the Wayback Machine, it is not a perfect solution and does not capture all of the web. Here’s a critique of our current storage methods of the web. 

Dressing For A Job Interview

Do you know how to mix and match different patterns?  If your jacket has a wide check pattern and you want to wear a tie with dots, what is the correct call? Can you wear a jacket with a check pattern with a tie with a check pattern?

Check out this timeless advice from men’s clothing legend Alan Flusser.

(This book is located in the oversized section on floor 7.)

Enlighten us, Mr. Flusser:

If using different patterns in jacket and tie, keep the size close.
If same pattern in jacket and tie, vary size of pattern.

The main female professional dress category is here but here are some good titles:

Examples: What to Wear, Where: The How-To Handbook for any Style Situation

Work It: Visual Therapy’s Guide to Your Ultimate Career Wardrobe.

Featured Author: Barbara Ehrenreich, Social Journalist (Nickel and Dimed)

Barbara Ehrenreich Is a journalist and writer who is willing to tackle some very tough subjects.  You may have heard of her book Nickel And Dimed: On Not Getting By In America. The author took a series of low paying jobs to see if you could actually make ends meet.  It makes for some pretty interesting reading!

My other favorite book by this author is Bright-Sided.  This book has a very interesting idea: that Americans mistake critical analysis for pessimism and this inability to address our problems damages social discourse.

Recommended for anyone who wants a good read and people interested in current affairs.

Link to review of Nickel and Dimed in Dissent Magazine

Five jobs and three cities later, Ehrenreich concludes that many of today’s jobs don’t pay enough to support one person—much less a whole family. She works two jobs at a time andeats “chopped meat, beans, cheese and noodles.” But in all three cities, rent gets the
better of her economy. “You don’t need a degree in economics,” she writes, “to see that
wages are too low and rents too high.” But this is a mathematical conclusion, which could
have been made with the aid of a calculator. By taking these jobs herself, Ehrenreich is able to capture the material details of workplace indignity.”

Read Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain

Anthony Bourdain material here.

The world lost a great foodie and educator in Anthony Bourdain.

We knew Anthony Bourdain first as the host of No Reservations, but before that TV gig, he was a multidecade veteran of the restaurant biz.

Kitchen Confidential ocuses on his initiation into the restaurant industry – both as a worker and later as an owner. It is invaluable reading for anyone thinking – like some of my entrepreneur students – of opening a restaurant or bar.

This is how it goes down – the rhythm of work, your inevitably dysfunctional staff, how the kitchen is run, how to pay for food and secure supplies, etc…

A lot of hilarious and insightful information.

Literary Passings: Sci-Fi Master Harlan Ellison

Harlan Ellison works here.

From this obituary:

Ellison produced more than 1,800 pieces of writing, beginning in 1949 when his hometown Cleveland News gave him his first byline when he was 15.

His best-known published works include his 1959 debut novel, Web of the City; the novellas Mefisto in Onyx and A Boy and his Dog — which was turned into a 1975 post-apocalyptic feature starring Don Johnson; and the short story “I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream.”

Stephen King, in Danse Macabre, his 1981 homage to horror fiction, praised Ellison’s Strange Wine collection of short stories for being among the best published between 1950-80.

Television beckoned throughout his long career, and Ellison wrote scripts for incarnations of The Outer Limits decades apart. He lent his expertise to The Twilight Zone revival in the 1980s and to Babylon 5 in the 1990s. In