Wednesday, November 21, 2012

eBooks from EBSCOhost

A new database of digital books has been added to the EBSCO family of services. EBSCO bought Netlibrary and has created the eBook Collection (EBSCOhost). You can search the database separately for ebooks through the Databases page or by using Quick Search on the library's homepage. 

Noteworthy eBook features include:
  • Search and view eBooks on the EBSCOhost platform
  • Browse eBooks by subject area and by latest added to your library's collection
  • View eBook Table of Contents from search Result List
  • Navigate to eBook chapters or sections directly from Result List and Detail Record
  • Search within an eBook for specific terms, yielding a list of hyperlinked pages
  • Create notes that are associated to eBook pages
  • Download capabilities to a variety of portable devices

Monday, November 5, 2012

Book Review- In Sunlight and in Shadow

Mark Helprin (2012)

PS3558.E4775 I5 2012

Of course, I’ll read it again – if only to luxuriate in his use of language and to feel the pull of the story. The feeling of re-reading was no different than after the first reading one of the great novels of the 20th century, his A Soldier of the Great War (PS3558.E4775 S65 1996).

In First Russian Summer, a short story in the collection entitled, A Dove of the East: And Other Stories (PS3558.E4775 D68 1990), so acute are an old man’s memories of his grandfather and the vast forests of central Russia that a reader has the rare privilege of creating a vivid and intense memory that is somehow shared with the narrator. How old must author Mark Helprin be to have lived through those years in czarist Russia before the revolution? An author’s sleight of hand? Helprin has the rare gift of being able to evoke a time and place as if he lived in that era, so finely tuned is he to the nuance, rhythm, sights, sounds, smells and particulars of daily life in those years.

Helprin is on home turf In Sunlight and in Shadow as the story centers around New York City (as it was known then rather than the shorthand New York, New York) just after the end of the Second World War, though in the story we visit many times and places around the world from Tunisia, to the Ardennes (in an extraordinary chapter), London, California (both San Francisco and the Central Valley) as well as many other stops, times and places along the way – all of which, as described, feel as if we are experiencing them contemporaneously. To read Helprin is always a bit unsettling as his writings lead readers to self-examination as their thoughts and feelings are tested even as the novel unfolds.

In Citizen Kane, Mr. Bernstein (Kane’s factotum) shares a memory of crossing over to New Jersey on a ferry and seeing, on a departing ferry, a girl in a white dress carrying a white parasol…”I only saw her for one second. She didn't see me at all, but I'll bet a month hasn't gone by since that I haven't thought of that girl.” In Sunlight and in Shadow Harry Copeland doesn’t let the woman he sees on the ferry become a memory, so moved by her that he rearranges his day to ensure that he’ll not only see her again but will also meet her. One of the many pleasures of In Sunlight are the coincidences of contact and close proximity because unbeknownst to Harry and Catherine (the woman on the ferry) they had seen each other earlier as children.  They do meet again and they fall in love.

Helprin’s latest novel owes much to both A Soldier of the Great War and a Winter’s Tale (PS3558.E4775 W5 1995) for the sweep and accuracy of history and the stories of great romantic love. But, the promise implicit in the short chapter in a Winter’s Tale entitled, Nothing is Random is the promise kept In Sunlight and in Shadow and, at the risk of a long quotation from that short chapter bears repeating:

“…time was invented because we cannot comprehend in one glance the enormous and detailed canvas that we have been given - so we track it, in linear fashion piece by piece. Time however can be easily overcome; not by chasing the light, but by standing back far enough to see it all at once. The universe is still and complete. Everything that ever was is; everything that ever will be is - and so on, in all possible combinations. Though in perceiving it we image that it is in motion, and unfinished, it is quite finished and quite astonishingly beautiful. In the end, or rather, as things really are, any event, no matter how small, is intimately and sensibly tied to all others. All rivers run full to the sea; those who are apart are brought together; the lost ones are redeemed; the dead come back to life; the perfectly blue days that have begun and ended in golden dimness continue, immobile and accessible; and, when all is perceived in such a way as to obviate time, justice becomes apparent not as something that will be, but something that is."

That Helprin believes this is so is what powers In Sunlight and in Shadow. Once we return from the New York City of 1947 and the lives of the people touched in the book we are changed as all great novelists change their readers…and we know that “…all rivers run full to the sea; those who are apart are brought together; the lost ones are redeemed; the dead come back to life; the perfectly blue days that have begun and ended in golden dimness continue, immobile and accessible…”