In a bit of a jam

Cover of JamI always read the list of Fiction new titles that comes out each month. The librarian who creates this list puts enough information to whet the appetite and nicely indicates books that might appeal to all tastes. Jam by Jake Simons was a good example of this and made me curious:

A state of the nation novel about what happens when the flow of traffic halts on the M25 and lives combine unexpectedly.

Having been in a few traffic jams (especially in Christchurch at the moment) I have often wondered what people in other cars are thinking and doing. Do they use the time to catch up on work, apply their make-up, deal to ratty children or continue the argument they were involved in when the traffic came to a halt. We all assume that soon we will be on the move, but what happens when nothing happens, when there is no information and no cell phone coverage and night is approaching?

The M25 is a massive road stretching 188km around Greater London.  When it comes to a halt, thousands of vehicles have nowhere to go. Gradually people leave their cars, alliances are formed, enemies are made and all is set for a bumpy ride.

Our fiction selector is right when he says that this book is a state of the nation novel, all sorts of subjects are touched on via the people who inhabit their Peugeots, Chryslers and Vans. Why was the M25 needed in the first place, is it ok to have an affair and not tell your partner, how can you know anything if the smart phone won’t work, can insects save the world from starvation, and are the immigrants in the next car really responsible for the demise of England and the loss of work for the three National Front supporters parked nearby?

In the space of one night, lives are played out inside the microcosm of cars and roadsides. Time without the intrusion of the outside world enables some characters to make life changing decisions, others merely wait for their lives to start up along with their engines.  It’s an interesting premise for a book and one I thoroughly enjoyed.

 

Recent necrology, May 2014

Some well-known people who have died recently

  • Cover of I Know Why The Caged Bird SingsMaya Angelou, 1928-2014
    American poet, novelist and civil rights activist
  • Jack Brabham, 1926-2014
    Driver with an engineering flair who was the first man to win the Formula 1 title in a car of his own making
  • Lorraine Cohen, 1943-2014
    Woman at the centre of an infamous international drug case
  • Don Donovan, 1933-2014
    New Zealand writer and illustrator
  • Radu Florescu, 1925-2014
    Romanian historian who claimed Bram Stoker based Count Dracula on real-life Vlad the Impaler
  • Cover of A Daughter's TaleH. R. Giger, 1940-2014
    Swiss artist who brought his hellish, eroticised creatures to Hollywood, winning an Oscar for Alien
  • Antony Hopkins, 1921-2014
    Composer and conductor whose infectious enthusiasm animated his BBC broadcasts for four decades
  • Robert Masters, 1917-2014
    Violinist who played at the Coronation, taught Nigel Kennedy and created Yehudi Menuhin’s orchestra
  • Barbara Murray, 1929-2014
    Actress from the Rank Charm School who starred in Passport to Pimlico
  • Mary Soames, 1922-2014
    Last of Churchill’s children, who acted as ADC to her father and wrote an acclaimed life of her mother
  • Cover of Mary Stewart's Merlin TrilogyMary Stewart, 1916-2014
    Author of romantic thrillers who wrote for love not money, and had an intuitive feel for the past
  • Philip Sugden, 1947-2014.
    Historian who brought a new, much-needed scholastic rigour to Jack the Ripper’s crimes
  • Joe Wilder, 1922-2014
    Trumpeter noted for the beauty of his tone who played with Count Basie and the New York Philharmonic

Matariki

Matariki hunga nui 

This whakataukī can be translated as

Matariki has many admirers.

Matariki brochure
Download our Matariki brochure 2.7MB PDF

Māori New Year is here. We have come to the time of the year again when the constellation of stars known as Matariki reappears in our pre-dawn winter sky.  The rising of Matariki this year is on Piripi/June 28th.

Matariki refers to the small yet distinctive constellation of stars and the name itself is often translated as meaning “tiny eyes”, or “the eyes of God”.

This constellation of stars is celebrated and admired throughout the world and is called many different things: Subaru (Japan), Pleiades (Greece), Seven Sisters (Indigenous Peoples of the Americas), Mataliki (Tongan) and Mataali’i (Samoan) to name a few.

Matariki is celebrated and recognised in Christchurch City Libraries in many ways: special Matariki Wā Kōrero (Storytimes) are held, and community art activities, educational seminars and displays highlighting libraries’ resources are featured in all libraries.

This year , Christchurch City Libraries are focusing on Te Taiao ( the environment) and Rongoā Māori (traditional medicines). Visit your local library to learn about native plants and trees, their Te Reo Māori name and some traditional and contemporary uses of these plants.

The tukutuku panels which feature on our Matariki brochures this year demonstrate traditional and contemporary use of plant material for art, whakapapa and wānanga.  Find more information on this tukutuku project.
Matariki at the library

Matariki is all about:

  Whakapapa, Whānau,

Kai and Hākari,

Wānanga, Te Reo Māori

and Whakawhanaungatanga.

People who need people: Explore our biographical resources

Biography Reference CenterWe like to watch other people. We like to hear about other people. There are entire industries based around writing and photographing people who we will never need to meet. It is all probably based on an evolutionary need to distinguish friend from foe but it continues to this day in our everyday habits and the media we watch.

If your needs are for research – or pure evolutionary based interest – then we have the online resources for you in the form of:

Biography Reference Center: (new) What do Angelina Jolie, Confucius, Alexander Fleming and Roger Federer all have in common? They are all here in the Biography Reference Center along with 450,000 others.

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography: includes the ‘great and the good’ and the ‘bad and unusual’ people who are now dead having left their mark on the British empire.

Biography in Context: information about more than one million people ranging from George Clooney to Boudicca. There are stories of courage, malice and romance! Sort of an academic Mills and Boons.

All you need to quench your curiosity about people of note  you will find in these electronic resources accessible 24/7 from home or in libraries. All you need is your library card number and password/PIN. People watch and search away…

Happy gawking.