Books in the Park

suggestions from the Barbara S. Ponce Public Library at Pinellas Park


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Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris

* This suggestion is part of our Sweater Weather Reads series. On Twitter @BSPLibrary #sweaterweatherreads, we’ll be posting cool suggestions to snuggle up with all winter long. Got a frosty favorite? We’d love to hear from you. *

Holidays on IceHolidays on Ice is a hilarious collection of short stories, most previously published material, by David Sedaris.  Most of the stories are autobiographical in nature. “SantaLand Diaries”, which chronicles Sedaris’ stint as an elf at Macy’s department store, is often produced on stage during the holidays. In fact, the American Stage in St. Petersburg, Florida is putting on a production starring Brian Shea from December 22-28, 2014.

Other stories in the book help make light of the holidays and the stress that comes in tandem; in “Christmas Means Giving”, two neighbors fight over who has more holiday spirit, and “Front Row Center with Thaddeus Bristol” reviews a holiday play put on by a local school. Sedaris does a great job navigating family obligations, holiday hijinks, miscommunications, and bad weather while still keeping the holiday spirit close to the surface.

When you finish this collection of short stories you’ll wish you were a part of Sedaris’ family so you could spend the holidays with such a complicated and comedic group of people.

Check the PPLC Catalog for Holidays on Ice.


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Broom of the System by David Foster Wallace

broom of the systemDavid Foster Wallace wrote The Broom of the System as part of his MFA thesis when he was just twenty-four. Focusing on the philosophies of Wittgenstein, Wallace’s characters often deal with issues of existence and language. The book centers around Lenore Stonecipher Beadsman, a young woman working as a switchboard operator in Ohio. When the story begins, Lenore’s great grandmother, also named Lenore, has gone missing from her assisted living facility. While (young) Lenore unravels clues as to where her great grandmother and several other patients have disappeared to, the reader is introduced to Lenore’s obsessive and neurotic boyfriend/ boss, Rick Vigorous, her incredibly vocal and prophetic parakeet, Vlad the Impaler, as well as several other off-the-wall characters.

Told in fragments and from different character perspectives, The Broom of the System does not have the traditional story arc and progresses in a sideways manner. Often character details and progress are given to the reader through Rick Vigorous’ short stories that he reads aloud to Lenore or sometimes delivered through transcripts of Lenore’s psychiatrist visits. If you’re looking for a traditional, straightforward, easy read you might want to look elsewhere. The Broom of the System is hilarious, puzzling, critical, and character driven. I recommend this title to fans of Thomas Pynchon, Don DeLillo, and Adam Levin.

Check the PPLC Catalog for The Broom of the System.


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Death to Smoochy (2002)

death to smoochy coverWhen benign idealist Sheldon Mopes (Edward Norton) is given a chance to be the next big star of children’s entertainment, he is ecstatic. He envisions that his character, Smoochy the Rhino, will make the world a better place by educating children on the importance of love, friendship, and a balanced diet.

Little does he know, however, that his disgraced predecessor, Rainbow Randolph (Robin Williams), will stop at nothing to get his time-slot back.

A laugh-out-loud dark comedy that lightly satirizes the children’s entertainment industry, Death to Smoochy is my favorite Robin Williams movie. Many of the late actor’s lines are ad-libbed, and his characterization of the troubled Rainbow Randolf is masterful. Be warned that raunchy humor is the backbone of the plot (if you’ve seen some of Williams’ late career stand-up, then you know what I mean), but I don’t like raunchy humor and I love this movie nonetheless.

Also stars Danny DeVito and John Stewart.

Rated R.

Check the PPLC Catalog for Death to Smoochy.