David Cherry's blog

Elmore Leonard (1925 - 2013)

cover art 52 Pickup

I hate that in its obituary for Elmore Leonard, the New York Times felt the need to sniff down its long, blue-blooded corporate nose, and call him “a modern master of American genre writing” [italics mine]. I’m sure no offense was intended, and I suspect Leonard wouldn’t have objected, but still, the qualification is wholly unnecessary. He was a master. Period. And the fact is, he didn’t aspire to the literary pantheon. He preferred to be read, and his influence was not limited to other "genre" writers. There are a lot of people referred to as "writer's writers," Elmore Leonard was a writer's writer's writer. He was that good. He was not only the consummate craftsman, he was a bit of a visionary. Leonard was one of those people who come along when an art form has gone a little soft, become a little too reliant on convention and its practitioners a little too pleased with themselves, who strips the form down and re-imagines it, and in so doing revitalizes the art. Elmore Leonard did that twice, for the western and then crime fiction.

If you regularly write anything more complex than a grocery list and you haven’t memorized Leonard’s 10 Rules for Good Writing, do it now...

No, really. I'm serious. NOW

Stripes Presents Donation to Fairbanks Branch Library

Check presentation @ Stripes Convenience Store opening.

The Fairbanks Branch Library recently received a donation of $1000 from Stripes Convenience Stores in honor of the opening of their first location in Houston. The check was presented to Fairbanks' Children's Librarian Victor Schill at the store's grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony on July 26. Harris County Public Library thanks Stripes for their generosity and welcomes them to the community.

South Houston Branch Will Be Closed August 23 - 24 for Parking Lot Repair

La Biblioteca de South Houston estarán cerrada Viernes, 23 de agosto y Sábado, 24 de agosto para la reparación del estacionamiento.

SHOThe South Houston Branch Library will be closed Friday, August 23 and Saturday, August 24 for much-needed parking lot repaving. Please keep in mind that you will not have access to the library’s book drop during that time, but you are welcome to return any HCPL items to any of our locations.

We encourage you stock up on books, DVDs and music prior to the temporary closing, or visit one of the other nearby branches for internet access and all other library services. The locations nearest South Houston Branch are Galena Park Branch Library located at 1500 Keane Drive Galena Park TX 77547,
Parker Williams Branch Library at 10851 Scarsdale Blvd, Suite 510 Houston TX 77089.

South Houston Branch Library will reopen Monday, August 26 at 1:00 PM.

Have Book - Will You Triumph or Be Defeated? Amazing Read Challenge Week 8

Where did you travel for last week’s challenge? Wherever you went, I hope you met some new friends, saw some new sights, and plan to go back sometime soon.

After seven of these challenges, we figure your competitive juices should be flowing, so this week we want you to read books about sports or other competitions. For you fiction readers, how about Chad Harbach's bestselling The Art of Fielding, or Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain? If you like your competitions with somewhat higher stakes, you could try any one of The Hunger Games Trilogy. For you nonfiction folks, there are quite a few recent releases that might get your motors running. Try Dream Team by Jack McCallum, or Over Time, the memoir by the always thought (and argument)-provoking Frank Deford.

Have Book - Will Travel Somewhere New, Amazing Read Challenge Week 7

amazing read logoSo did you travel to the dark side for last week's challenge, or stay on the side of the angels? I tend to prefer heroes who straddle the line myself--like Dashiell Hammett's Sam Spade in The Maltese Falcon which I re-read on a plane ride.

Now on to this week's challenge! Most of us are creatures of habit. We find something we like and stick with it even though we’re pretty sure we could find a better cup of coffee, say, or a dentist with smaller hands, if we only bothered to look. The same can be said of our reading lives: we like what we like and see no reason to look elsewhere. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, but just for this week we are challenging you to step out of your comfort zone and  read something by an author you've never read before, or about a subject you don't know anything about

There are a lot of directions you can go with this one. Below are just a few suggestions.

If you're a mystery lover, why not slip over to the nonfiction aisles and try some true crime reads like Lost Girls by Robert Kolker or Deal with the Devil by Peter Lance.

How about a first novel by an up-and-coming author like The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton DiSclafani, or The Marlowe Papers by Ros Barber,

Have Book - Will Explode, Amazing Read Challenge Week 5

I hope you picked a savoAmazing Read Logory read for last week’s challenge. Myself, I fairly devoured Daniel Vaughn’s The Prophets of Smoked Meat: A Journey through Texas Barbecue. For hardcore ‘cue geeks like me, the pictures can only be described as salacious.

That brings us to this week's challenge: Have Book - Will Explode. By now you're probably making preparations for your 4th of July festivities (don't forget to swing by your local HCPL branch beforehand to pick up some books, videos and music!), we have great books for kids about this most American of holidays, like Karma Wilson’s How to Bake an American Pie, or What Is the 4th of July by Elaine Landau. For grownups, there is 1776, David McCollough’s highly readable look at the Founding Fathers who, it turns out, were just Above-Average Joes you might hang out with at the icehouse (when they weren’t busy forging the Nation and raising the ire or bewigged (and wiggy) British monarchs, that is).

Teen Summer Writing Contest!

monkey typing

Whether you have worn the letters off your keyboard trying to get all the stories and poems out of your head and on paper, or you just like to write and wouldn’t mind winning a prize for doing it, you are invited to enter the Teen Summer Writing Contest presented by Barbara Bush Branch Library and LSC – Tomball Community Library.

All participants will receive a certificate and are invited to an awards reception hosted by noted YA author Mary Lindsey (Shattered Souls) on August 13 at LSC-Tomball.

If you're a teen, 12 - 18 years-old and a current student in grades 6 - 12, and live...well...anywhere you can enter. Past entries have come from as far away as England. You don't even have to come to the reception to pick up your prize.

Congratulations to the Winner of Our First ASRP Drawing!

ASRP 2013 Kindle Paperwhite Winner, Dawn Woytek

HCPL would like to congratulate Katy Branch Library customer Dawn Woytek. She is the winner of the first random drawing of Adult Summer Reading Fun 2013. Here she is receiving her brand new Kindle Paperwhite from Katy Assistant Branch Librarian Donatta Clarke.

Don't miss out on your chance to win. We will be holding system-wide, random drawings throughout the summer. All you have to do is register for Summer Reading Fun. Additionally, at the conclusion of Summer Reading, all HCPL branches will hold drawings for $30 bookstore gift cards. For complete rules and to register, please visit our Summer Reading Fun page!

Congratulations again to Dawn. Here's wishing you a great summer of reading!

Family Curses: When Writers Beget Writers

I am the luckiest of fathers and have been since the beginning. If any newborn can be said to be calm, it would have been our daughter. Even factoring in a big honkin' dollop of paternal bias, she was pretty much perfect. She didn’t even cry much, and the crying she did seemed almost perfunctory, as if she only wanted to assure us she had a superior set of lungs. Her personality hasn’t changed much since those first moments of life. She has grown up to be a remarkably poised and intelligent young woman. It seems like all my wife and I had to do was remind her of the basics: 1). Treat everyone with respect and kindness, and if, for whatever reason that proves impossible, then at least be polite, 2). Don’t cheat or lie, 3). Boredom is for losers, 4). Be open to new experiences, and 5). Don’t put things up your nose.  That’s about it.

Have Book - Will Travel! Summer Reading Fun @ HCPL

SRP posters
Ah, summer! The kids are out of school, the mosquitoes are out in force, and before you know it, you’ll be out of ideas for things to do that don’t involve long hours sitting on car seats you could fry bacon on, getting sand in your bathing suit, and/or adding more negative numbers to your bank statement.

Harris County Public Library’s Summer Reading Fun is your answer.

This year’s theme is Have Book – Will Travel, and HCPL wants to encourage everyone—from infants to seniors--to explore the worlds that reading open up. Starting Monday, June 3, register online at www.hcpl.net and join your friends and neighbors in traveling the world through the pages of a book.

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