firstname.lastname@example.org The Record Page 2 Friday, September 25, 2020 Review by Vincent Cuddihy I f you are reading this column, you are probably interested in Libraries. If so, Susan Orlean’s (2018) should be right up your alley. In fact, it is as much about fire as it is about libraries. In that respect, it is strikingly reminiscent of John Berendt’s City of Falling Angels (2005) which is also about the burning of an important cultural landmark, La Fenice opera house in Venice. Orlean is a long-time staff writer for The New Yorker, perhaps best known as the author of (1999), which provided the basis for the film Adaptation, in which Chris Cooper won the best supporting actor Oscar in 2003. In 2011, Susan Orlean’s husband got a job in Los Angeles, so the family moved to California. Her son was given an assignment to interview a city employee, and he chose a librarian. That visit rekindled Orlean’s childhood fascination with libraries. When Ken Brecher, the boss of the Los Angeles Libraries Foundation, offered to give her a tour of Central Library, she jumped at the opportunity. She was surprised to see Brecher taking books off the shelves at random, opening them and sniffing them. “You can still smell the smoke in some of them,” he said, almost to himself. I wasn’t quite sure what he meant, so I tried this. “They smell like smoke because the library used to let patrons smoke?” “No!” Brecher said. “Smoke from the fire!” “The fire?” “The fire!” “The fire? What fire?” “The fire,” he said. “The big fire. The one that shut the library down.” The fire in question had occurred 25 years before. Orlean, like most of the rest of us, had never heard of it, because The Library Book The Orchid Thief Weather TODAY: MIX OF SUN AND CLOUD HIGH 20 LOW 11 SATURDAY: SUNNY HIGH 25 LOW 14 SUNDAY: MIX OF SUN AND CLOUD HIGH 25 LOW 16 MONDAY: 70 PER CENT CHANCE OF SHOWERS HIGH 23 LOW 15 TUESDAY: PERIODS OF RAIN HIGH 21 LOW 14
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