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Goshen Public Library and Historical Society

Across the Reference Desk

by Janet Hamill

April 26, 2000

If you're looking for something hard-boiled on the shelves of current fiction at the Goshen Public Library, Crime Wave by James Ellroy is just the ticket. This latest volume from the author of L.A. Confidential is a collection of reportage and short fiction previously published in GQ. Included here is My Mother's Killer, the magazine piece that expanded into Eliroy's best seller, My Dart Places, the true account of his mothers unsolved 1958 El Monte, CA murder. Also included here, among the reportage is Sex, Glitz, and Greed, The Seduction of O.J. Simpson, a scathing piece that skewers Simpson and the depraved Hollywood celebrity culture that spawned him. In Crime Wave, too, are three short fictions that continue where L.A. Confidential ended: Hollywood Shakedown, Hush-Hush, and Tijuana, Mon Amour. From fifty's Tinseltown dirt to this morning's real police blotters, Crime Wave is yet another irresistible sampling of L.A.'s smog-shrouded nether world, illuminated by Ellroy's savage, noir prose.

If you need some elevation alter a bout of Ellroy, you might try Lourdes: Body and Spirit in the Seculat Age by Ruth Harris. Currently on the shelves of new non-fiction at the Library, Lourdes is a meticulously researched history of the healing shrine in the foothills of the Pyrenees. Fellow and Tutor of Modem History New College, Oxford, Ruth Harris first became interested in Lourdes when she was writing a volume on 19th century French medicine. As she read through Parisian physician's accounts of their new age of medicine, she wondered at the religious phenomenon developing in provincial France at the same time. Like most secular scholars, Harris was skeptical of Bernadette Soubirous's Marian visions in 1858 and the devotion of the Catholic masses that they engendered. But her own personal struggles with an undiagnosed and barely treatable illness made her sympathetic to the millions of pilgrim: who have journeyed to Lourdes when science no longer had anything to offer them. Lourdes begins with the story of the young peasant girl's vision of the Virgin Mary in a grotto and progresses from that pivotal moment to address the role of women and children as visionaries, the debate on religion, science, and medicine, and the issue: of mysticism and non-orthodox faith that speak to our own era.

If you haven't yet seen it, or you're one of those people who like to see it again and again, Life is Beautiful is now part of the library's permanent collection of foreign language videos. Writtenm, directed, and starring Roberto Benigni, Life is Beautiful received three Oscars, including Best Actor and Best Foreign Language Film. A tale of the triumph of love and humor in the face of unthinkable adversity, Life is Beautiful is a tragic-comic Italian masterpiece in the great tradition of Federic Fellini.