Weekend Reading: Tom Wolfe Comes Up Short

ImageWe’ve been a fervent admirer of Tom Wolfe since years before we met him in our role as a member of the working press when we got in a few questions during the cocktail hour at the Niehoff Lecture in the long ago days when the Lectures were in the Library except in the case of Wolfe (Tom, not Nero) who was such a catch that drinks were in the ML but everybody had to move across the street where there was enough room for the big crowd for dinner.  We had read Tangerine Flake Streamline Baby when it came out and we were agog and starstruck and all, but Mr. Wolfe, possibly because he had reported plenty himself, set us at ease.  We’ve read everything of his ever since, enjoying it all hugely, but there’s something amiss with Back To Blood, Wolfe’s latest, around to which we just got this weekend.  What’s amiss is about half the book.  It’s his Wolfe job on Miami, and it’s minus a couple of limbs and a brain lobe.  What happened?  Did he just get tired in the middle and abandon the job?  Did Little Brown go out of the Big Book Business?  No kidding.  There’s all the Wolfe stuff – big cast – multiple plots – hilarious takes on puffed up plutocrats all racing along with not too much punctuation to get in the way and then halfway through it just stops.

-Nemo Wolfe


Congrats to the City’s Junior Library!

ImageThe Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County has earned a well-deserved National Medal for Museum and Library Service.  PLCHC’s Main Library was recently the busiest library in America.  In celebration, PLCHC is offering Fine Amnesty Day, tomorrow, May 15th.  Having served on a committee or two with Public Library folks and, most recently, watched in amazement as they have multiplied their services and digital offerings, while navigating the troubled waters that afflict libraries here  and elsewhere, it’s clear they’re some of the hardest working librarians in show business.

-Ed Scripsi

Viral Book-shop Sign

According to, Galleycat, this sign is “going viral”.  So in keeping with the good news that a book shop is opening off Fountain Square, we are acting as a vector.  -ed scripsi

On the Way to the Peak of Normal talks Preservation


Intrepid radio host Justin Patrick Moore works the mic

Mercantile member Justin Patrick Moore, who recently interviewed past Merc. President and author Dale Patrick Brown has just interviewed Cincinnati Preservation Association director Paul Muller about the challenges of preserving modern architecture.  This week, the CPA is having a symposium on preserving modern architecture in the Midwest.

Check out Justin’s interview with Muller here at peakofnormal.org and don’t forget to tune in on 88.3, WAIF, every Thursday night from 8-10 EST.

Ed Scripsi

Yeeee-HAAA: Texas will be home to first all-digital library system

digtexasTexas’ Bexar County Library system is getting rid of its printed books to become the world’s first all-digital library system.  Here’s the article in PCWorld, which places the decision in context.   Despite being himself an unabashed book lover, the driving force behind this transformation, county judge Nelson Wolff apparently had a flash of inspiration while reading the biography of Steve Jobs (was he reading it on an electronic device that somehow delivered an unexpected jolt?).  The news set off a flurry of conversations in the library community where, on a library listserve to which I belong, someone linked to a Thomas Friedman editorial in the New York Times about the radical changes the digital revolution 2.0 (or is it 3.0 now?) have wrought and what it all means for society and the economy.  Yet as this article helpfully points out, according to a Pew Internet and American Life Project most U.S. readers still prefer old-timey books.  Whatever the case, I hope that instead of emulating the Apple store, the libraries of the future will keep some bookshelves around as, if nothing else comforting, sound-deadening, cloister-creating décor.

-Ed Scripsi


A Burn’s Day Appeal: Save the Wild Haggis


A rare, threatened wild Haggis (Haggis Scotus) uses its powerful sense of smell to hunt drams, and evade club-wielding Haggis-thumpers.

Happy Burn’s Day!  While we at the Mercantile endorse all celebrations of a literary nature, we suggest that when you purchase your haggis, that you choose wisely.  While many claim that wild haggis (Haggis Scoticus) is superior in flavor the domesticated variety, the enlightened consumer ought to know that, due to hunting, habitat-loss, and predation by the hagglis’s only known enemy, the Hedgehog, populations are in decline.  Free range Haggis, is, to wild Haggis as  “Chilean Sea Bass” is to Patagonia Toothfish.  Burns, we’re confident, would approve, given his sensitive nature, and new revelations about the poet.

-Ed Scripsi

Published in: on January 25, 2013 at 1:00 pm  Comments (3)  
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eReaders at the Merc

ecomicWe’ve added a couple of eReades to our collection, and so far, patrons seem to like them.  We went with Barnes and Nobles’ “Nook Simple Glow” and so far, both devices are loaded with Killing Lincoln by  Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard (it should be noted that this book has come under fire for a number of historical inaccuracies that allegedly contribute to conspiracy theories), The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green, as well as January’s First Wednesday discussion book, The Enormous Room, by E.E. Cummingsalthough the edition we have loaded on our Nooks, from gutenberg.org, doesn’t include Cumming’s sketches, or translations of the French phrases that occur throughout the text.  We encourage you to come check out our Nooks and let us know what books you’d like to read on them.  -Ed Scripsi

eNiches, eBooks, and Nooks

ImageThis morning, your library ordered a pair of NOOK Simple Touches™.  We shelled out for the “glow” option, which means that library members who check out these devices will be able to read in bed–with the lights off.  That’s free literature and free electricity, compliments of the good old Merc.  We will require a  valid credit card number as collateral against loss or damage, but hope the devices will help provide our patrons with the materials they need, especially items not in the collection but needed on short notice.

Given the historic nature of the occasion–the leaping off into uncharted electronic territory of our venerable anachronism of a library–perhaps we should engage further in the dialogue over the pluses and minuses of this new way of reading.  The discussion is evidently taking place on television, a sometimes controversial medium of its own.  Whether you agree with Jonathan Safran Foer or Tim O’Reilly, the verdict is clear: Foer can definitely rock a beard.

-Ed Scripsi

Published in: on November 16, 2012 at 5:50 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Books and bloggers and writers, oh my

The 6th annual Cincinnati USA Books by the Banks Book Festival went swimmingly.   Attendance is estimated to have topped 5000 visitors who enjoyed mascot dance parties, cooking demos, kids corners, panel discussions, and some good old face-time with the people who write the books–and blogs–you love to read.   The variety of this festival is staggering:  from headliners with lines of adoring fans to authors with smaller, which is not to say less interested audiences.  The Petersiks of Young House Love fell into the former category, and and Michael Nye, editor of The Missouri Review and author of the short story collection Strategies Against Extinction, reflects on his blog on the meaning of long lines and  different forms in the book festival of today and tomorrow.   The Petersiks also offered their take on, as they put it, “Nerding it Up in the Nasty ‘Nati.”

I’m already looking forward to next year’s festival, with new Executive Director Margaret O’Gorman at a new venue: The Banks.

-Ed Scripsi


If ever there was an author whose oeuvre could stand to be rendered portable by conversion to weightless bits, Thomas Pynchon is it.   There will be less crying out from his fans’ spines now that the reclusive writer of unwieldy tomes has gone ahead and taken the plunge to eBook-dom.  Best of all, the symbol of Pynchon’s secret post office in The Crying of Lot 49 has been planted in 200 locations around the globe and you can use this shadow network to send messages of your own.

Perhaps you would like to use it to add to the growing mountain of commentary  being solicited by the Justice Department from You! a member of the Reading! Public! for its civil lawsuit on eBook price-fixing.  You have until June 25th to weigh in.  Here’s how.

-Ed Scripsi