At The Library: A successful fundraiser, remembering Art Buschwald and new titles | Community



It’s not even November and the library already has much to be grateful for. Thanks to the hard work of countless volunteers and the generosity of local merchants and hoteliers, the Library Fall Festival was a great success.

Fall festival committee members Rance Babb, Wanda Meyer Price, Roger Neugebauer and Linda Sugano lined up for hotel stays, asked local merchants to donate gift certificates and organized the many details of the event.

Twenty-four talented volunteers donated crafts, jewelry and artwork. The library’s pricing committee has facilitated the sale of cookbooks, how-to manuals and vacation passes. Dedicated volunteers set up the displays, worked as cashiers and baggers, and cleaned up at the end of the day. The library thanks all of these volunteers for their time and talents.

The library is also grateful to Hallmark Resort & Spa, Land’s End at Cannon Beach, Ocean Lodge, Stephanie Inn, Tolovana Inn, and 65 restaurants, cafes, art galleries, grocery stores, clothing stores, yoga studios and other companies for their generous support.

There’s good reason to be grateful for dedicated volunteers and generous local businesses, as they help provide entertaining and thought-provoking books, like a recently acquired biography of an American satirist who, in his wacky way, explained how Americans celebrate being grateful.

The satirist was Art Buchwald and the biography is “Funny Business: The Legendary Life and Political Satire of Art Buchwald” by Michael Hill.

While Buchwald was in Paris as a columnist for the Herald Tribune, he wrote one of his most popular columns: a tongue-in-cheek attempt to explain the origins of Thanksgiving Day to a French audience, complete with fractured French translations.

He explained that the “Pelegríns” (French for “coats”) landed in Plymouth (now a famous “American car” or American car). He told the unrequited love story of Miles Standish, whom he called Kilometrus Deboutish, which roughly translates to Straight Kilometers.

Amid the skewed historical facts and fractured French, Buchwald also injected sly references to the slaughter of Native Americans in the 1600s and American laws limiting immigration in the 20th century.

This blend of mild humor with pointed commentary was Buchwald’s approach to political satire. If he liked to make people laugh, he was above all a satirist, a job he described as having to wake people up so that they would wake up themselves.

Buchwald was proud not to be a “preacher”. Instead of preaching about the use of literacy tests in the South, Buchwald wrote a column about the experience of a fictional African-American scholar who translated three Chinese stories and deciphered the Rosetta Stone hieroglyphs, but was not allowed to register to vote because he made a mistake while reading one of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Meanwhile, Buchwald pointed out, a white contestant was praised when he spelled cat KAT.

Buchwald’s satirical approach worked. In the 1960s and 1970s, Buchwald’s column ran in 550 newspapers in 100 countries. He had his own radio show and a weekly spot on “60 Minutes”. He was a sought-after lecturer and lecturer who rubbed shoulders with politicians, movie stars, musicians and famous authors.

It was an unlikely life for a high school dropout whose childhood was spent in foster homes and who, at the age of 17, used false papers to join the Marines during World War II. After his military service, he used the GI Bill to study at USC and then, in 1948, in Paris, where he lied to land a job at the Herald Tribune.

After 14 years in Paris, Buchwald moved to Washington DC, where he wrote for The Washington Post until his death in 2006. Although Buchwald satirized presidents, congressmen, senators, lobbyists, bureaucrats and anyone else in need of satirization, he was a much-loved figure in Washington, with admirers on both sides of the aisle, from Ted Kennedy to Barry Goldwater.

Buchwald was loved because his humor, as Dave Barry noted in his eulogy, was “funny without being petty, without being vicious, without being hateful”.

In writing “Funny Business”, Michael Hill explains that he was not trying to write a definitive biography of Art Buchwald. Instead, he hoped to create “poignant scenes, vignettes, and comical hugs, all designed to capture the life and times of one of America’s greatest comedians” by weaving together correspondence, articles, Buchwald’s speeches and selections from his columns.

Hill is an independent researcher who has worked with figures such as Ken Burns, David McCullough, Jon Meacham and Michael Beschloss. He puts his research experiences and skills to use in this book to create a sometimes funny and often bittersweet picture of a gentle, amusing, intelligent, funny, decent man writing in simpler times. In today’s scorched-earth political climate, it’s hard not to feel a little nostalgia for Buchwald’s milder life and times.

In September, the library added the following seven fiction books: “Shrines of Gaiety” by Kate Atkinson, “The Winners” by Fredrik Backman, “Less is Lost” by Andrew Sean Greer, “Fairy Tale” by Stephen King, “The Secret Life of Sunflowers” by Marta Molnar, “The Marriage Portrait” by Maggie O’Farrell and “Lucy by the Sea” by Elizabeth Strout.

Seven mystery tracks added were “Treasure State” by CJ Box, “The Rising Tide” by Ann Cleeves, “The Bullet that Missed” by Richard Osman, “Killers of a Certain Age” by Deanna Raybourn, “Murder on the Vine” by Camilla Trinchieri, “Spells for Forgetting” by Adrienne Young and “Marple: Twelve New Mysteries 2022.

Six non-fiction books added were “American Psychosis: A Historical Investigation of How the Republican Party Went Crazy” by David Corn, “The Storm is Here: An American Crucible” by Luke Mogelson, “Fen, Bog and Swamp” by Annie Proulx, “Dinners with Ruth: A Memoir on the Power of Friendships” by Nina Totenberg, “Northern Paiutes of the Malheur” by David H. Wilson and “Solito” by Javier Zamora.

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