Tag Archives: One Island One Book

The train has left the station

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One Island One Book, the Key West Library’s program now in its third year, is well underway. This year we’re reading “Last Train to Paradise,” Les Standiford’s book chronicling the construction of the Over-Sea Railroad, completed 100 years ago. The book also covers the railroad’s destruction in the harrowing Labor Day hurricane of 1935.

We’re in the final week of the online readalong on the One Island One Book blog— but you’re welcome to jump in at any point; the beauty of this is it can stay up there forever for anyone reading the book and we can continue the conversation as long as we want.

Next week things really pick up when the author himself, Les Standiford, arrives in town. He’ll be signing books at Key West Island Books, 513 Fleming St., at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 26.

Then at 3 p.m. Monday, Feb. 27, he’ll be at the Key West Library, 700 Fleming St., to talk about Last Train to Paradise. Later that day, at 6 p.m., he’ll be speaking at the Friends of the Library Lecture Series at The Studios of Key West, 600 White St. Both those events are free and open to all.

We’ve already had a couple great events — a presentation about how the old bridges went from rail to trail (many of them are now part of the Overseas Heritage Trail) and a guided tour of the Speedway to Sunshine exhibit at the Custom House. There’s another tour planned for 2 p.m. this Friday, Feb. 24 — the tour is free but you need to sign up; just stop by the library or call 305-292-3595.  And if that weren’t enough, the Art & Historical Society has generously offered free admission to the Custom House to anyone with a Monroe County Library card, until March 15.

Lots to do — and still plenty of time to read the book. They have them on sale at Key West Island Books and we have many, many copies in the library collection (still a couple available on the special exhibit shelf last time I checked). So please stop by, in person or online, and help make this really One Island One Book.

Most of the action, thus far, as taken place online in our first online readalong but the live events have started, wtih a presentation on how the original railroad bridges went from rail to trail (many of them are now part of a state park called the Overseas Heritage Trail) and a special guided tour of the Speedway to Sunshine exhibit at the Custom House (there’s another this Friday — you can still sign up by coming into the library or calling there at 305-292-3595).

About those images: One of the most fun parts of this year’s One Island One Book program, for me, has been spending time with our fabulous online archive of photographs. These are scanned, identified and uploaded by Monroe County Historian Tom Hambright and his team of dedicated volunteers. There are more than 11,000 images in the whole collection and 700 just related to the railroad. The slideshow above is a small sample of my favorites but I recommend checking this site out to anyone interested in Keys history. Another favorite from the same era I can’t resist revisiting: the waterfront passes that were required of workers in that area during World War I. The photographs are haunting and beautiful and the information provides a time capsule of Key West life in that era.


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Filed under book groups, Key West, Key West Library, nonfiction, recommended reading

Mostly local

Key West writers are in the news, folks. First of all, there’s James Gleick, the esteemed science writer who has recently published his book about information called The Information. And so far it’s getting boffo reviews, in Big Important Publications like The New York Times and the New York Review of Books and coverage on NPR’s All Things Considered. I only hope future generations of library and information science students get to read this book instead of the … stuff I’m having to read for my current course. But the less side about that on a public forum the better. Another interesting read is Gleick’s blog, Bits in the Ether. I’m told he’ll be doing a reading and signing at Voltaire Books some time this month; I’ll update here when I learn more.

The other item of local interest which I cannot resist posting is this video of our own Meg Cabot, promoting her forthcoming young adult novel Abandon, a modern take on the myth of Hades and Persephone. I like this because it’s shot in one of my favorite places in our tiny town, the Cemetery — which, by the way, is now open to access at the Frances Street gate again. Thank you, City Commission!

Finally, on the subject of local authors, please keep in mind that this week is the final week of One Island One Book, which will wrap up on Thursday morning with the library’s Cafe Con Libros program — featuring a talk by Alison Lurie herself about her novel set in Key West, The Last Resort.

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Filed under book groups, fiction, Key West Library, nonfiction, recommended reading, YA

One Island One Book, Volume 2

Last year at the Key West Library we held our first One Island One Book program — and if I do say so, as a member of the staff, it was a great success. We chose Ernest Hemingway’s To Have and Have Not, a novel set in Key West in the 1930s, and had lots of rousing discussions, presentations, a screening of the film (even though its plot bore almost no resemblance to that of the novel) and, as a capper, the designation of the Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum in Key West as a National Literary Landmark.

This year, we’ve decided to do it all over again — with a different book, of course. We’ve chosen another novel set in Key West, this one more contemporary and with an author who is still alive, still in Key West — and who will appear at the Library for our Cafe Con Libros group to discuss the novel as the progam’s finale. Our choice is The Last Resort by Alison Lurie.

Lurie is a longtime Key Wester and this is actually her second novel set here — the first was The Truth About Lorin Jones and when people ask me for a Key West novel, that’s always the first one I recommend. The Last Resort is more recent and tells the story of a woman married to a much older, successful man who has basically made serving him her life’s work. Until he gets depressed and withdrawn one winter, and she suggests they repair to Key West and … well, you should read the book to find out what happens.

To find out more about Lurie, check her website — which, I was extremely touched to see, suggests finding her books at your local library, even before it suggests purchase, which is an extremely generous and civic-minded gesture on the part of a writer.

We have lots of copies of The Last Resort in the Library’s collection — as of this writing most if not all are checked out but it’s a quick read so if you request a copy, you shouldn’t have to wait long. I have it on good authority, too, that they have a good supply of them at a good price at Key West Island Books, so that’s another option.

The program starts March 9 with a discussion of the book by Cynthia Crossen, who writes the Dear Book Lover column for the Wall Street Journal, lives in Key West and is vice president of our own Friends of the Library. We are blessed indeed with our literary community on this little island. For more information on events, keep an eye on the Library website’s Key West page or check the One Island One Book blog. You do not need to have a Monroe County Library card to attend events at the Library.

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Filed under book groups, fiction, Key West, Key West Library, recommended reading

To have and to … whatever

Imagine our delight here at the Key West library when we saw that our inaugural One Island One Book program , featuring Ernest Hemingway’s Key West novel To Have and Have Not, had made the pages of American Libraries, one of the premiere professional journals of libraryland! And it was the issue with library god Neil Gaiman on the cover, even. How cool is that!

Until … we turned to page 12 and saw the nice write-up that explained our book of choice was Ernest Hemingway’s … To Have and To Hold. Huh?

Having written for publication for many years I understand how this sort of mistake happens. Once in awhile your brain just takes a little timeout — and next thing you know, the action of your misfired synapse is set in type. If you’re lucky, you have a smart editor whose brain is working better than yours that day and she catches the goof. If not … it’s mortifying. One of my favorite things about blogging is that you can go back and fix these kinds of screw-ups as soon as you, or someone else, notices them.

Unfortunately for the good folks at the American Library Association, and for us, you can’t do that with print. So there we are, for eternity, with Hemingway’s To Have and To Hold.

By the way, there is a novel with that title in our collection — we came across it the other day while moving the large print novels. It’s by Fern Michaels, the prolific romance writer. It’s probably a fine piece of entertainment — but it’s unlikely to be chosen as a One Book One Island title. (And not to be confused with To Have and To Hold by Jane Green, which it looks like we used to have in the collection but no longer do.)

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