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Goshen Public Library and Historical Society

Across the Reference Desk

by Janet Hamill

June 16, 1999

On the shelves of new fiction at the Goshen Public Library and Historic Society, patrons will find Canone Inverso by Paolo Maurensig. A fantastic tale, in the tradition of Borges and Calvino, Canone Inverso is a masterful telling of a story, within a story, fitted one within the other like a set of Russian dolls. The stone imbedded at the bottom of the stacked layers is a rare, 17th century Tyrolean violin, bought at the auction in London. At the top of the pegbox of the violin, where one would ordinarily find a scroll, is the cruel and threatening face of a man. Who the man is, and how his soul came to be imprisoned in the violin, is at the core of the intertwined lives of two boys who meet at an Austrian music school in the 1930s. Through the ile most violent decades of our century, the two become companions, musical rivals, and inevitably, lethal enemies whose personal, professional, and political cacophony leads to a devastating conclusion. Beautifully translated from the Italian by Jenny McPhee, into easy, luxuriant English, Canone Inverso is a highly imaginative story of obsession, history, and character.

On the shelves of current nonfiction, Midnight Dreary by John Evangelist Walsh is a wonderful contribution to the ever-growing body of Poe biographies. Subtitled The Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe, Midnight Dreary concentrates on the still-unsolved mystery of the death of the inventor of detective fiction. While traveling alone from Richmond, Virginia to New York City, Poe disappeared for nearly a week. When seen again he was terribly drunk and nearly dead in Baltimore. Four days later, after periods of raving delirium, he died, at the age of forty in a Baltimore hospital. Before he died, he was unable to tell where he'd been or who he'd been with. For one hundred and fifty years there has been speculation as to how the country's leading poet and most well-known writer could have gone missing from midnight, September 26, 1849 to the afternoon of October 3. Meticulously researched and documented, Prof. Walsh's Midnight Dreary is an exciting reconstruction of the lost days and the episode leading up to it. Once and for all he puts to rest the theories of death due to uncontrollable debauchery, blows to the head by lawless thugs, epilepsy, and diabetic comas. The "truth" that he exposes is highly plausible and reads like a piece of "The Raven's" own detection.

American History X is a ground-breaking, controversial drama now available on the new video shelves at the library. Starring Edward Norton, a remarkable young actor who received an Academy Award nomination for his performance in the film, American History X is the story of the consequences of racism, as seen through the eyes of a reformed white supremacist and his impressionable younger brother. Filmed in black and white and color, the film has a memorable supporting performance by Edward Furlong, Beverly D'Angelo, Elliot Gould, and Stacey Keach.

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