The Carteret County Public Library in Beaufort and the Western Carteret Public Library in Cape Carteret are gearing up for another “Let’s Talk About It!” book discussion series.
For the Beaufort location, the discussion series starts at 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 27. The sessions are held from 7-8:45 p.m. alternating Mondays through March 23.
Over at Western Carteret, the discussion series starts Tuesday, Jan. 28 and is held from 7-8:45 p.m. alternating Tuesdays through March 24.
During “Let’s Talk About It,” participants read from a selection of books on a specific theme. Guests scholars come to discuss the books.
The programs are free, open to the public and made possible through funding from the N.C. Humanities Council, which is a statewide nonprofit organization and an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
The Friends organizations of both libraries provide matching funds for the “Let’s Talk About It” series.
Listed are the topics for each of the library’s discussion series.
Carteret County Public Library in Beaufort
The topic for the Beaufort library’s “Let’s Talk About It” is “Voices of Latin America and Latino Literature.”
According to the library’s brochure description, “In the Mid-Twentieth century, both Latin American and Latino writers began to attract wide audiences in countries throughout the world. This series allows us to hear voices that speak in several different languages, introducing us to cultures that are in some cases new to us, and in some cases new to them. How we ‘call’ their literatures is also a complex matter requiring some basic definitions.”
On Jan. 27, guest scholar Susan Schmidt, an independent scholar, will discuss In the Time of Butterflies by Julia Alvarez. The book is a historical novel that recreates the circumstances ending in the murder of the Mirabel sisters, revolutionaries in the Dominican Republic during the dictatorship of Raphael Trujillo.
According to the book description, the sisters, who were active in the resistance movement, were killed by Mr. Trujillo’s henchmen in 1960.
“Their commitment to freeing the Dominican Republic from his reign of terror inspired their countrymen, who named them ‘the mariposas’ or the butterflies, for their beauty and bravery,” the description reads.
Monday, Feb. 10, guest scholar Nick Halpern from N.C. State University will discuss Dreaming in Cuban by Cristina Garcia. The book is told through several different voices, but mainly a Cuban grandmother, Abuela Celia, her daughters, Felicia and Lourdes, and her granddaughter, Pilar.
According to the book description, “After Fidel Castro comes to power, Lourdes insists that she, her husband, and Pilar must move to America. Felicia, her children, and Celia remain in Cuba where their experiences reflect Cuba’s diversity of race and religion.
“Matriarch Celia mourns her children’s unsettled lives and relives her own adventures in letters to an early lover (Gustavo) that are interspersed through the novel,” it concludes.
Ms. Schmidt will return to the library Feb. 24 to discuss Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende. The novel tells the story of Eliza Sommers, an orphan supposedly “left on the doorstep” of an upper-class British brother and sister living in the Chilean city of Valparaiso.
The book description reads, “In spite of a strict upbringing, at fifteen a pregnant Eliza runs away to find her lover, who has left to gain his fortune in California. His ‘gold fever’ is connected to one of many meanings of the word ‘Fortune’ – wealth, luck, opportunity, or destiny – all of which are important to the novel’s main characters. Eliza’s mysterious parentage means that she embodies a ‘mixing’ of identities that will complicate her ‘fortune’ wherever she goes.”
Joseph Gomez, with NCSU, will discuss Of Love and Other Demons by Gabriel Garcia Marquez March 9.
“Of Love and other Demons tells a story of mythic dimensions about a young girl imprisoned in a convent, the sympathetic priest who becomes erotically obsessed with her, and the tormented love that grows between them. Twelve-year-old Sierva Maria is forced to undergo a horrifying exorcism only because she does not become ill after being bitten by a rabid dog. Her childhood has already been split between her parents, whose decadence creates another form of imprisonment, and her slave caregivers, who in spite of their own suffering, nurture and protect her.”
Bill DiNome with the University of North Carolina Wilmington will present the final discussion March 23. He will discuss When I was Puerto Rican by Esmeralda Santiago. The book is an autobiography, which begins with Ms. Santiago’s memory of a favorite food associated with her childhood in rural Puerto Rico.
According to the book description, “As an immigrant in Brooklyn, she remembers her youthful freedom to explore the tropical wilderness and to feel secure with a loving, if explosive, family. During school years in more urban neighborhoods, she endured the teasing of other children as well as the force of ‘Yankee’ dominance. Still, she remained loyal to the customs and stories that held her family together and became a very ‘un-girly’ fighter when challenged. When her parents’ volatile relationship finally ends, Esmeralda’s ‘Mami’ takes her children to join her mother and a burgeoning Latino community in Brooklyn.
Western Carteret Public Library
The theme for the Western Carteret Public Library’s discussion series is “Mad Women in the Attic.”
According to the library’s description on the series, “In the western literary tradition, the mad woman in the attic is a symbol for unconventional women who resisted the patriarchal system. The ‘mad’ woman was contained indoors – often in the attic – as treatment for her ‘disease,’ often driving her to madness.
“Alternative readings offer revisions with positive implications. Some of the books themselves are ‘revisions’ of this traditional concept. In contemporary literature, the ‘mad women in the attic’ is questing to discover her identity, claim her place and find her voice outside of confining walls.
“Regardless of the of the space she inhabits or the identity she constructs, the mad woman represents the struggles of women throughout the ages confronting the constricting roles assigned to them by society,” it concludes.
On Jan. 28, guest scholar Billy Yeargin will discuss Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.
According to the description provided by the library, “Bertha, the mad woman who is literally locked in the attic in Charlotte Bronte’s classic novel, has been read by critics as Jane’s alter ego, the repressed ‘dark side’ of her personality. Bertha represents the ultimate result of Jane’s suffering and oppression.
“Jane Eyre, which is often read simply as a romance novel, may be re-read as a novel about Jane’s struggle to come to terms with the various roles she is expected to or allowed to fulfill: orphan, governess, servant, teacher, and wife.”
Michelle Manning, with the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, will discuss Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys Feb. 11.
“Revising Bronte’s limited perspective of Bertha in Jane Eyre as less than human, living as a caged animal, Jean Rhys wrote a radical response to the characterization of the mad woman in the attic,” the description reads.
On Feb. 25, Anne Baker, with N.C. State University, will discuss The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman.
According to the description, “A thinly-veiled account of her own experience with post-partum depression, Gilman’s own doctor declared her as hysterical and prescribed locking her away for a complete ‘rest.’ He even attributed her illness to her writing and refused her pen and paper. Unlike her heroine, Gilman escaped these oppressive conditions, eventually leaving her husband and child.”
Sue Ross will discuss Surfacing by Margaret Atwood March 10.
The description reads, “Searching for her father, the protagonist quests for her identity. Leaving the city for her childhood island cabin, the nameless heroine confronts multiple dichotomies: wilderness and civilization, sanity and insanity, life and death, freedom and entrapment and gender roles.”
Finally, on March 24, Rebecca Goodwin will discuss Sula by Toni Morrison.
According to the book description, “Sula is a rich and moving story that traces the lives of Nel and Sula, from a small Ohio town, through their divergent paths to womanhood, to their ultimate confrontation and reconciliation.
“The themes of race, gender, history, and love intertwine in the beliefs and actions of these characters. Choosing drastically different life paths, both women suffer the consequences of their choices. Together Nel and Sula represent what it meant to survive as black women in post-Civil War America.”