Friday, July 21, 2006


I'll be leaving soon for my (hopefully!) final research trip to visit California libraries for my book project. The trips are simply a lot of work and I usually return home tired, even though I have seen many wonderful and amazing things. This trip will include visits to the San Francisco Public Library - Main Library, Berkeley's Doe Library, Flora Lamson Hewlett Library at the Graduate Theological Union, Coast Community Library in Point Arena, and the Mendocino Community Library.

I'm looking forward to being back in Berkeley, which is my first stop on this next trip. I hope to arrive in the late afternoon, so I will have time that evening to look around a bit before my work starts early the next morning.

I can already taste the mocha bianca at Caffe Strada; smell the musty, intoxicating scents of my favorite bookstore Moe's; and imagine myself biting into a delicious slice of pizza from Caffe Giovanni. One sad note is the closing of Cody's on Telegraph, which was always one of my first stops. My husband hopes the Bancroft is continuing their tradition of brandy & biscotti in the afternoon.

On to Berkeley...

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Jamaica Kincaid

This summer, I have worked with my colleagues on a huge weeding project. We are moving many books from the Reference area to the stacks. While weeding an area in the literature section, I found several books that were shelved incorrectly, including some novels and critical essays. I located one particular book, Jamaica Kincaid's My Brother, this way.

Before taking the book over to where it could be shelved correctly, I thought I would read a few lines. I was already familiar with Kincaid. I read her The Autobiography of My Mother when it was first published in 1996. I can't remember the details of the book, but my memory can be horrible at times.

My Brother never made it over to its proper place in the stacks that day. I couldn't put it down, so I checked it out and took it home. I read it in a few days. The autobiographical work tells the story of her brother's passing from AIDS. Kincaid did not know her brother well; she moved to the U. S. when he was still young. It was brilliant, poetic, sad, beautiful. She has developed a mastery of the English language. Is it poetry or prose? Both!

I have since checked out two more of her works: the semi-autobiographical Lucy, following a young girl from the West Indies who comes to the U.S. to be the nanny to a wealthy family, and Mr. Potter, a story of Kincaid's father.

I am close to the end of Lucy. The writing is not at the level of mastery as I found in My Brother, but it is amazing nevertheless. It is a struggle to put it down.

I leave for my final large research trip on Sunday to visit libraries in San Francisco, Berkeley, and the Northern Coast. I plan on taking Mr. Potter along.