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Goshen Public Library and Historical Society

Across the Reference Desk

by Janet Hamill

July 5, 2000

New to the fiction shelves at the Goshen Public Library and Historical Society is an interesting collaborative effort from Ireland. With each of it's chapters written by a different, unidentified author, Finbar's Hotel may be unprecedented in the history of English literature. Devised and edited by Dermot Bolger, Finbar's Hotel features the work of six of Ireland's finest contemporary writers - Rody Doyle, Anne Enright, Hugo Hamilton, Jennifer Johnston, Joseph O'Connor, Colm Toibin, and Mr. Bolger. The author's names are listed in alphabetical order at the outset of the book and it is left to the reader to fit author to chapter, each of which is cleverly assigned a room number. With the exception of Rody Doyle, who wrote the book that was made into the film "The Commitments," it's doubtful that American readers will be familiar with the names of these authors, let alone their writing styles. Not to worry. While the Irish figure out the literary puzzle, readers on this side of the Atlantic can enjoy the eccentric cast of characters who visit this Dublin hostelry on the eve of its destruction.

On the shelves of current non-fiction at the library is a beautifully illustrated impassioned plea to save the Siberian tiger. Tigers in the Snow by Peter Matthiessen, with an introduction and photographs by Maurice Hornocker, documents the field research of the Siberian Tiger Project. A joint effort of Russian tiger authorities and American wildlife biologists, the Siberian Tiger Project set out to discover as much as it could about the natural habitat of this endangered species, now primarily in the Russian far east. Once hunted relentlessly for its skin and body parts - highly valued in Asian folk medicine - Panthera tigris altaica had disappeared from most of its former range. Ironically, in the later half of the twentieth century, it was making a comeback under the closed borders of communism which put a limit on logging and poaching. But with the dissolution of the Soviet Union, and the opening of its borders, the tiger was again under siege. Tigers in the Snow reveals the details of the tiger's dilemma and lays out a clearly defined plan to protect the future of these magnificent cats, only a few thousand of which remain in the wild.

New to the library's collection of Shakespeare videos is Michael Hoffman's recent making of A Midsummer Night's Dream. This delightful tale of star-crossed lovers, woodland sprites, and magical potions has a stellar cast, headed by Kevin Kline and Michelle Pfeiffer.