Book Review: The Goldfinch

The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt

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Winner of 2014 Pulitzer Prize, The Goldfinch tells the life story of Theo Decker. A New York resident with a beautiful mother and an absent father, Theo is just 13 when his mother dies in a terrorist attack on the Metropolitan Museum of Art during an exhibition of Dutch masterpieces, including Carel Fabritius’ The Goldfinch. In the confusion surrounding the attack, an elderly man implores Theo to take a family-heirloom ring and gives him an urgent message to deliver to his partner. Believing the old man was also pointing at The Goldfinch, Theo takes the painting as well. These three events: losing his mother, gaining the ring, and his theft of the painting, will influence the trajectory of his life.
Theo, narrating in the first-person over a period of about 15 years, takes the reader on his journey in the aftermath of that day. Many of his experiences seem to be directed by fate or left to chance. From being taken in by a school friend’s wealthy family, to falling in love with a mysterious red-headed girl who also survived the attack, to chance meetings with people who will become life-long friends and lovers, to welcoming his deadbeat dad back into his life only to have his heart broken again, a cycle of addiction and recovery, moving to Las Vegas, and his slow descent into international antique and art forgery and theft.

Without spoiling too much, every aspect of Theo’s life comes full circle in startlingly different ways. Theo finally reflects on his life, wondering how much of his experiences were unavoidable due to fate or due to his choices and character.

Donna Tartt is a master storyteller and took over a decade to write The Goldfinch. The book is long, with a few critics saying the book would have better been split into a trilogy but it is an epic, exciting, stay-up-all-night-reading book full of richly developed characters that also manages to reflect on sadness and survival, chance and fate, and the role of art in life. Tartt is a master at conveying emotion and describing experiences and telling a story where everything, no matter how small, is connected. Recommended for art lovers, anybody who has ever wondered about how much choice or chance shapes our lives, observers of human nature, and all lovers of literary fiction.

I also highly recommend Tartt’s previous two novels: The Secret History, an inverted mystery, and The Little Friend which is technically a mystery but also an incredible study of good vs evil. Both books are available through Summit.

- Christina Nofziger

Welcome back!

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Welcome back students, faculty, and staff! We are excited to begin a new academic year with you and help support you in any way we can.

Here is brief overview of some of the services we offer:

The SPU Collection
Books, journals, online articles, DVDs, and more – our general collection, reference collection, and special collections are home to an extensive number of resources that are readily available to you. Items are organized according to the Library of Congress system, which means they are shelved alphabetically based on their call number (the combination of numbers and letters located on the lower spine of an item). Call numbers A-J are located on the second floor and call numbers K-Z are located on the third floor. The Work and Faith collection is located in the graduate study room on the third floor, and the Popular Fiction Collection is located in the reading room on the main level – along with recent issues of magazines and newspapers. Locate any of our items by typing keywords, titles, or known call numbers in Primo – the online library catalog found at the top of the Library home page in the blue box.

Summit
An item that cannot be located in our collection can be ordered through Summit. Summit is a shared library system run by an alliance known as the Orbis Cascade Alliance, which includes 37 libraries from across Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. An item ordered through Summit (you may also discover items by searching Primo) will be delivered to SPU within five business days.

Liaison Librarians
Each Librarian at the SPU Library is affiliated with specific departments and schools, and is able to give students, and faculty, instructional and research assistance. The reference desk, is staffed by our librarians, is open daily and its hours can be found here.

Course Reserves
Books and DVDs that professors put on reserve for a class are located at the Circulation Desk. Look up the course in Primo, bring the call number to the Circulation Desk, and a staff member will locate the item for you. Most Reserve items need to stay in the library and have a time cap on them so that items will be available to other patrons.

Tech Desk
Located on the lower level of the Library, the Tech Desk offers laptops, cameras, video recorders, chargers, and tech help services among other things. The lower level is also home to the computer lab featuring computers equipped with double monitors, extensive software, and printing capabilities.

Printers
Printers are located on every floor of the Library. Log into a computer, open your document, send to print, log in to the printer with your SeaPac Pass, and select the documents you would like to have printed. More information on campus-wide printing can be found here.

Study Rooms
Study rooms are located throughout the building and provide private spaces for more effective individual and group study. They are equipped with tables, large monitors, and cables to connect these monitors to laptops. Rooms can be reserved through Room Finder (found on the Library home page). Library study rooms are not sound proof, so please be respectful of noise levels when using them.

Please contact us with any questions or concerns you may have – we are always happy to help. Have a wonderful Fall quarter!

Special Collections: Luther Bibles

img_2023Special Collections Exhibit 2014:

Bibles and Bible commentary:

Endter Luther Bible no. 1 (Monroe)

SPU possess three of the Luther Bibles published by Wolfgang Endter and descendants between 1629 to 1788.  The Luther Bibles published by the Endter clan came in three basic forms:  the octavo-sized Saubert (from 1726 the Mörl) Bible (1629-1822), and the small and large folio-sized Weimar (1641-1768) and Dilherr (1656-1788) Bibles.  All three of the copies owned by SPU lack a firm date of publication, and the first two, an opening title page.  For this reason I refer to them by the donor-names Monroe, Marston, and Frost.  Monroe, the one featured here, is clearly the earliest.  Though it bears internal (and copperplate-based) title pages dated 1643 (not to mention a faint penciled inscription to that effect on a blank—and detached—opening page), this information may not be trustworthy, if only because all three of the copies owned by SPU may be Dilherr (1656-1788) rather than Weimar (1641-1768) Bibles.  They appear to be Dilherr Bibles because each meets the three Dilherr criteria specified by Oertel:

1) They are all folio-sized, and they all contain both 2) Johann Dilherr’s “Vorrede an den gottseligen Leser” (only partially still there in Monroe); and 3) Salomon Glassius’ notes (or Nutzen, embedded in the text in Monroe, but marginalized in Marston and Frost).  For these reasons (and because the first of the many editions of the Dilherr Bible appeared in 1656), I am inclined to wonder whether those three internal title pages (located at the onset of the Historical books, the New Testament, and the Epistles), though clearly authentic, would match the title page proper, did we have it.  (Indeed an excessively suspicious person might suspect that there are signs that the former may have been tipped in.  Yet it should also be noted that (and here I contradict myself), the second edition of the Weimar bore 1644 “auf dem gedruckten Haupttitel” (“on its printed main title [page]”), but 1643 “Auf dem in Kupfer gestochenen Titel” (“on the title [page] engraved on copper”) (Panzer, Geschichte (1778), 197).)  A further clue may be the fact that, except for the copperplate-based title pages, 4) Monroe is dominated (as an early Dilherr would be) by woodcuts.  (Were there two-column woodcuts in the early Weimar editions?)

But there are also reasons to think that, if a Dilherr, it may not post-date 1679:  the fact that, possessing only a Register of Sunday Gospel and Epistle readings, 5) it lacks the traditional four Registers transferred over from the Weimar Bible from 1720, the fact that 6) it sports no engraving of Luther and his family, and the fact that 7) it appears to lack a feature characteristic of Weimar Bibles and also many Dilherr Bibles from 1679, namely the copperplate engravings of the eleven Saxon Herzöge.

So though it is entirely possible that Monroe could date from 1643, or even be a second (i.e. 1644) edition of the Weimar rather than a Dilherr, I would place it for the time being tentatively somewhere between 1656 and 1674 (which is the date of the last Dilherr edition before the one dated 1679) inclusive.

Nonetheless, because a lot has been published on these Bibles, a great deal of additional progress could, given time, be made.  (So for my latest thoughts on this, see the exhibit notes themselves.)

This Endter Dilherr (?) Luther Bible was a gift of SPU Instructor of Nursing Heidi Monroe, who says that it would have come over from Germany with her paternal great grandfather Hermann Robert Baum, who was a druggist and the proprietor of the former Baum’s Pharmacy in San Francisco.

Possible fuller title:  [Biblia, das ist, die gantze heilige Schrifft dess alten und neuen Testaments.  Wie solche von Hernn Doctor Martin Luther Seel. im Jahr Christi 1522 in unsere Teutsche Mutter-Sprach zu übersetzen angefangen anno 1554 zu End gebracht. . . .]

- Steve Perisho

Sources:

African American History Month Display

The book display currently features an array of work celebrating and remembering some of the important people and events in the history of the African American diaspora. It highlights the work and words of Martin Luther King Jr. who won a Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, for his work in advancing civil rights through nonviolent means. It highlights African American poetry, music, and history as we seek to honor those people who fought for justice, never lost faith, and took the steps needed to march our nation on to a brighter state. We honor and remember them so that we may keep marching, keep striving for equality and justice.

Every American can draw strength from the story of hard-won progress, which not only defines the African-American experience, but also lies at the heart of our Nation as a whole. This story affirms that freedom is a gift from God, but it must be secured by His people here on earth. It inspires a new generation of leaders, and it teaches us all that when we come together in common purpose, we can right the wrongs of history and make our world anew.

– Barack Obama, Presidential Proclamation, 2014

Library Staff Christmas Picks

imagesCA5EXDCRThe first advent candle has been lit, twinkle lights are starting to grace houses and trees, and temperatures are continuing to plummet. It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. After our successful Halloween book round-up, we knew we had to follow up with the Library staff’s favorite Christmas volumes as well. Pick up something to read for your travels home, or where ever you may be going this holiday season.  These books and films will also be on display on the main floor of the Library for your festive reading (and viewing) pleasure.

Liz Gruchala-Gilbert:

It’s a Wonderful Life, directed by Frank Capra

Amahl and the Night Visitors, by Gian Carlo Menotti

Kaitlyn Straton:

The Legend of the Poinsettia, by Tomie DePaola

Maryann Shaw:

Nine Days to Christmas, by Marie Hall Ets

Christina Nofziger:

The Polar Express, by Chris Van Allsburg  fcl

The Father Christmas Letters, by JRR Tolkien

Carrie Fry:

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, by Barbara Robinson

The Oxford Book of Carols, edited by Percy Dearmer

The Legend of the Christmas Rose, by Ellin Greene

Michael Paulus:

For the Time Being: A Christmas Oratorio, by W.H. Auden

Johanna Staman:

The Tomten, by Astrid Lindgren

Stephanie Rubesh:

O Holy Night: Masterworks of Christmas Poetry, by Johann Moser

A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens

Other favorite books and movies including Love Actually, Elf, and Jingle All The Way, are available through Summit and ILL.

Merry Christmas!

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