South Branch Staff Picks Category: Biography

Neruda

“Disappear? I’m not going to hide under a bed…This has to be a wild goose chase.”

More than 20 years before the election of Salvador Allende, and the coup d’etat that brought Pinochet to power, Pablo Neruda got a taste of the repression that was coming to Chile. The movie Neruda (2017) takes place in 1948, when Pablo Neruda (played by Luis Gnecco) was a popular poet and a beloved Chilean Senator, representing the Communist Party in Congress. When his political party is outlawed and Neruda speaks out against the president, he goes from days in the Senate and nights throwing raucous parties in his beautiful home, to reluctant fugitive. He finds himself pursued by the ambitious detective Óscar Peluchonneau (Gael Garcia Bernal). A writer himself, the young detective holds only contempt for the disgraced senator, inspiring him to dig deep into the details of Neruda’s life, and better understand his prey. As Peluchonneau circles closer and closer, the playful and irrepressible Neruda can’t pass up the opportunity for a good story, and starts leaving clues for the detective. You may lose sight of who is the pursuer and who the pursued, but never the weight of what is at stake. Will Neruda escape to exile in time, or will he be outplayed by the young man desperate to prove himself? Can the poetry that captured the hearts of people around the world reach this one detective in time to save his soul?

“¿Desaparece? Pero no me voy a esconder debajo de la cama….Eso tiene que ser una cacería salvaje.”

Más de 20 años antes de la elección de Salvador Allende y el golpe del estado que introdujo a Pinchet al poder, Pablo Neruda sintió en carne propia la represión que llegaba a Chile.  La película, Neruda (2017) tiene lugar en el 1948, cuando Pablo Neruda (el actor Luis Gnecco) era un poeta popular y un querido senador del partido comunista. Cuando se prohíbe su partido político y Neruda protesta contra el presidente, se convierte en fugitivo reacio, un cambio enorme de su vida anterior de senador celebrando noches de fiestas escandalosas. Se encuentra perseguido por un detective ambicioso, Óscar Peluchonneau (Gael García Bernal). El jóven detective, que también es escritor, desprecia al senador desgraciado, lo cual le inspira a profundizar más en los detalles de la vida de Neruda y mejor entender a su presa. A medida que Peluchonneau se acerca más y más, Neruda, siempre juguetón e incontenible, no puede dejar pasar la oportunidad de crear una buena historia y empieza a dejar pistas para el detective. Es posible que te despistes y no sepas quién persigue a quién pero no te perderás la importancia de lo que se juega. ¿Se escapará Neruda a tiempo o le ganará el joven con tantas ganas de demonstrar lo que vale? ¿Es posible que la poesía que capturó el corazón de todo el mundo llegue a este detective a tiempo de salvar su alma?

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Reviewed by: Allison S.

March Graphic Novel Series (March: Book One, March: Book Two, March: Book Three)

March Book OneMarch book twoMarch book three

As you hear about marches and movements—large and small—happening all over the country, do you wonder how you fit in, what role you might play, or what difference YOU could make? Or maybe you already know: you are active in your community, and online, and you know how to make your voice heard! In either case, you’ll want to pick up these books.  Any non-violent movement in this country today is a “child” of the Civil Rights Movement, and it’s vital to know where we came from if we want to know where we’re going.

The March books tell the story of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s principally through the eyes of John Lewis. Today he’s a congressman for Georgia in the House of Representatives, but in the 1960s he became an important leader in the Civil Rights Movement. These three graphic novels are an innovative collaboration between John Lewis and Andrew Aydin, along with Nate Powell as the artist.

In this immersive vision of storytelling, we bear witness to the late-night strategy meetings, tense phone calls and legendary conferences, as well as the beatings, bombings, and other brutalities suffered by protesters. We are with John Lewis as he grows from joining the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in college, to preaching sermons and leading marches in the South, and later finds himself elected as the Chairman of SNCC in 1963.  He shares his multiple imprisonments, his dedication to stay nonviolent in protests, and challenges to keeping the movement whole.  Through John Lewis you get to know other key figures you may not have heard about before, and learn about the complicated relationship between the different organizations that guided the Civil Rights Movement. The whole story is beautifully juxtaposed with President Barack Obama’s inaugural speech in January 2009, such that when he says “I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors,” your heart breaks with the weight of those sacrifices (March: Book Two, pg 176).

Maybe I’m taking on too much by grouping these three in a review together—there’s definitely more than enough to talk about in every single one—but after reading the first, you won’t be satisfied until you’ve read all three!

In case you needed any more motivation to pick these up today…Maybe you’ve already heard about all the awards March: Book Three has won? How about: the Coretta Scott King (Author) Book Award, the Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in young-adult literature, the Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award, and the YALSA Award for excellence in young-adult nonfiction!

What are you waiting for? Click on the links or pictures above and request a copy today!

Read-a-likes: Maus, Persepolis, V is for Vendetta

Written by: Allison

The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl

Misadventures of awkward black girlIntroverts rejoice! The self-proclaimed “awkward” Issa Rae is utterly charming and just as hilarious on the pages of  The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl as she is in her comedy YouTube videos (they won a Shorty Award for Best Web Show in 2012).  Looking around popular entertainment and not seeing a “respectable reflection” of herself, Issa Rae prepared to take on the world, one “misadventure” at a time.  Each humorous essay takes readers to a moment in her life that helped her hone her voice as a writer and performing artist.  It’s easy to laugh along with her during her growing pains: youthful forays onto online chat rooms, learning to love her “nap-tural” hair, her dancing abilities (or lack thereof), her love of men, her love affair with food, and so much more. 
Look ahead to Insecure, the new HBO show co-created by (and starring) Issa Rae set to air in October 2016.
(Read alikes Funny memoirs) Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson, Bossypants by Tina Fey, Tiny Ladies in Shiny Pants by Jill Soloway, Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris, Fresh Off the Boat by Eddie Huang.