Machines will fail

“Machines are gonna fail and the system’s gonna fail…then, survival. Who has the ability to survive? That’s the game – survive.”

Do you remember who said that?   That line came back to me over and over again throughout the month of January as our library struggled with a hacked webpage that took hours and hours of staff time and technical help from other libraries to restore.  No online catalog.  No patron accounts.  No blog.  It was not a fun time at the library.

Machines will fail.

Reading devices fail, too.  [Don’t get me wrong—I still love my Nook!]   But literature and the written word—well, those have done a pretty good job of surviving.

So, while I was “away” in the weeds of hacked webpages, here’s what I’ve been reading.

At the Virginia Library Association Council meeting in January, we introduced ourselves to each other by briefly reviewing what we were reading at the time.  I talked about Spirits of Just Men by Charles Thompson.  Thompson has spoken at our library before, and had just been the guest speaker at a  Pittsylvania Historical Society meeting.  He’s a professor at Duke University and a native of Franklin County, Virginia.  Spirits of Just Men is about moonshining, a pertinent topic now that our county has been made famous, or infamous, by virtue of Discovery Channel’s Moonshiners.  One of the points that Thompson makes so eloquently is that his nice office at Duke would not be possible had it not been for his grandfather’s involvement in moonshine.  Those who portray these people as backwoods hillbillies clearly do not have a full picture about the extraordinary survival skills they developed in order to provide a livelihood for their families.  Thompson is always an intelligent observer of the culture around him, and this book does not disappoint.

Elizabeth George has written seventeen installments in the Inspector Lynley series of mysteries.  Some of the more recent outings have not held my attention, but her newest, Believing the Lie, has a psychological element that I have found intriguing.

George’s books are lengthy—though in fact, I began reading her so long ago that I can remember that the first few were normal size.  This one tops the 600 page mark—20 cds in audio.  A typical George book weaves several plot lines, all related, and all tend to come together at the end. What captures my interest are her dense characterizations.  Those doing the investigating are often more interesting than the murder itself.  If you have a long weekend, this is the type of book that can absorb you for long periods in a satisfying way.

Oh, and the line at the beginning?  That comes out of Burt Reynold’s mouth in the movie Deliverance.  Talk about backwoods—I think I can hear the banjo.

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