catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 7, Num 14 :: 2008.07.11 — 2008.07.25


Kirstin’s recommendations 7.11.08

BOOK: Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy by Gary Schmidt

Lizzie Bright opens with the same vivid tales of early teen agony as Schmidt’s The Wednesday Wars.  As the son of the new minister in a coastal Maine town, Taylor Buckminster just can’t manage to connect with his peers and a series of public embarrassments don’t help any.  It’s in his outsider state, wandering along the coast, that he discovers the island of Malaga with its marginalized, colorful inhabitants.  Over the next few months, the tensions between the coastal town and the island become more apparent, along with the townspeople’s cruelty and the islanders’ powerlessness.  Schimdt doesn’t use the young adult fiction genre to hide from violence and tragedy.  Rather, he appeals to young imaginations in order to convict them that there’s still a lot of work to do in the world for justice and, though redemption might not look the way we hope it will, even 13-year-olds can creatively pursue what’s right and good.  The fortitude to persevere will often come from the unlikeliest places.


MUSIC: The Best of Louis Jordan by Louis Jordan

It was Easter 2008 and we were in the kitchen at the home of my husband’s sister, Kim, and brother-in-law, Chris.  A fan of big band music (and a trombone player himself), Chris put in The Best of Louis Jordan.  Something stirred in my collective cultural memory as my teen-aged nieces sang along to tunes like “Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chickens” and “Let the Good Times Roll.”  Part musician and part comedian, Jordan provided an appropriate, jubilant soundtrack for Easter preparations with raucous swing songs that sounded vaguely familiar.  It made me realize how much music is out there that we recognize, but don’t intentionally listen to; we can sing most of the words, but can’t name the artist.  Digging into Jordan’s story a bit, I found that he was influential not only as one of the early contributors to rock and roll, but as one of the first black artists to have major crossover hits in the segregated radio market of the 40s and 50s.  I wonder to what extent my perspective as a white person has allowed me to ignore such a major figure in African American culture.


MUSIC: 12 Greatest Hits by Patsy Cline

Another album in that “subconscious cultural memory” category for me lately has been Patsy Cline: 12 Greatest Hits.  I picked it up at the library because of her influence on other music I like and was amazed how much of her work I had heard in the background in various settings in spite of the tragic brevity of her career.  For my grandma, who was around when I was cooking to Patsy Cline the other night, her music summons a whole era—and indeed telling a much different story of the same time period than Louis Jordan’s music.  On the surface, Cline’s subdued longing is directed toward a nameless lover, set against classic 50s scenery including a backup choir and sensible electric guitar.  But perched next to Jordan in an evening’s listening, it’s nice to imagine that the subtext of her longing might be a desire for racial equality and reconciliation, rather than a cool façade of “peace.”

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