A Christmas to break your heart

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O. Henry in 1909.

If you look up the word “pathos” in the dictionary, you’ll find The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry.

Not really. But we consider that an oversight to be corrected.

Some people consider the story comic, what with the twist and all: the married couple each giving up something cherished in an attempt to give one another a significant and meaningful gift — only to wind up weirdly missing the mark.

How is that funny? It’s not. It makes you cry. They’re poor as church mice and at the end of it all, what do they have to show one another? Bupkis. Except for the love between them, of course.

One of Columbus’ most famous temporary residents was the author of that story.  O. Henry, the best-known pen-name of short story William Sydney Porter, spent three years in the Ohio Penitentiary on a charge of embezzlement. He’d been on the run and  hiding in Honduras, but when he learned his wife was dying of consumption (tuberculosis), he came back to the United States and faced a jury. Some of his stories were even published while he was jailed. The Gift of the Magi wasn’t one of those, but it is unarguable the most famous story written by this popular and prolific writer.

Porter died young, and we’re not sure if ever came back to Ohio after leaving the penitentiary in Columbus. Some folks say that his pen name came from his time behind those walls: “O. H.” from Ohio, and then “enry” from “penitentiary.” We think that’s a bit of s stretch but we’ll also take it.

If the story makes you cry or makes you smile, it is truly about the spirit of giving and really giving until it hurts. May the spirit of the season grow large and bright within you.

Jennifer Chiaverini & Read a New Book Month

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Jennifer Chiaverini at December book-signing.

December is National Read a New Book Month, and there’s still plenty of month left if you haven’t started yet.

We’d like to suggest the latest from Jennifer Chiaverini. The Enchantress of Numbers is the story of Ada Byron Lovelace, the inventor of computer programming.

At a recent sold-out book signing event sponsored by Gramercy Books in Bexley, Jennifer answered questions and read from The Enchantress of Numbers, written as a first-person memoir of an unsung heroine of the modern era. While many in the computer world know about Ada, explained Jennifer, most people have never heard of her.

Born into wealth, privilege, and celebrity as the only legitimate child of nineteenth century super-star poet George Gordon, Lord Byron, Ada seemed to have it all. But despite the advantages, she was no more in control of her life than any other woman. And Ada, a mathematical prodigy, dearly wanted to make a contribution to the world.

Jennifer’s novel is written from the point of view of Ada, from her earliest memories of childhood to the always-looming shadow of the father with whom she never had any relationship. Ada’s mother, a wealthy woman with connections that extended to the royal family’s inner circle, believed in equality for women and directed her daughter’s rigorous education. However,  Ada was never allowed the opportunity to exercise her imagination. It was believed that the “mad, bad, and dangerous to know” Byron had bequeathed to his daughter an equally dangerous tendency towards  mental instability and against this specter, the young woman’s mother was always on guard.

At least Ada married someone who believed in her intellectual abilities, and she was able to work with the inventor of the Analytical Engine and the Difference Engine, Charles Babbage. The forerunners of the modern computer would change the world, of course, but it took Ada to create the means by which that would happen.

We hope you will consider this compelling and highly-readable book — and that you will participate in this reader-friendly way to celebrate the season!

 

Kind of like Christmas: December 5

posted in: David's Blog, History, Holidays | 0
King Gambrinus in Columbus, Ohio

He looks like a certain jolly old elf and he does bring gifts, but he’s not Santa. He’s King Gambrinus and he doesn’t have a special day, but maybe he should. We’d like to suggest December 5 because of its significance in United States History: it’s the day that Prohibition ended.

In 1933, after a less-than-successful run at being alcohol-free, America threw in the towel, effectively saying “Oh to heck with it,” and alcohol was again legal and could be sold, produced, transported, and generally enjoyed.

Our very own King Gambrinus statue in Columbus once adorned a brewery owned by August Wagner, a Bavarian brewer. The statue was saved even though the building is long gone, and his serene highness is now on display in Columbus’ Brewery District.

Beer is back in Columbus and all over Ohio with the rise of independent brewers. The later day beer barons and the fruits of their labors are celebrated in books like Ohio’s Craft Beers by Paul Gaston, published by Kent State University Press.  The latest addition to the genre of Ohio beer book includes Columbus Beer: Recent Brewing & Deep Roots by Curt Schieber.

King Gabrinus himself is less well-documented. He’s not exactly a god and certainly not a historic figure. He’s like Bacchus or any other merry reveler of myth; a personification of good times. With one leg up on a barrel and a foaming flagon held high, he reigns victorious over lesser beverages.

Give the Gift of Ohio Lit

posted in: Support | 0

Happy Giving Tuesday! Now that Thanksgiving is over (it’s OK if you don’t want to eat any more turkey) and we can stick a fork in the unofficial shopping holidays, it’s time to get back to basics: supporting the people, places, and things that we care about.

Giving Tuesday is a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration.! And we’re asking you to “Give the Gift of Ohio Lit” today by supporting the Ohioana Library.

Every day, because of you, Ohioana connects readers and writers, bringing the joy of literature and storytelling to so many people through our outreach, awards, collections, and publications.

We  want everyone to know about the great work done by so many dedicated artist and writers; creative individuals with a strong Ohio connection. We want everyone to know the stories of Ohio’s people and places. And when you give, you make it happen.

Please help to Give the Gift of Ohio Lit, and put Ohioana on your list for giving today!

Our attitude is one of gratitude!

posted in: Holidays | 0

Here at Ohioana, we have a lot to be thankful for. We’re thankful that we get to work with books and people who love them, just for starters. And on this day before Thanksgiving, we want to send a shout-out to some very special folks:

  • To the political leaders who approve our budget. Nonprofit organizations like ours need friends at the Statehouse. We promise to never let you down and to always live up to the trust you place in us to be good stewards of resources that form the backbone of Ohioana.
  • To the Ohio writers. You know how people use the word “literally” when they mean “figuratively”? This is not one of those times. We LITERALLY can’t do this without you and we just love you to pieces! Thank for your support as we strive to support you! And keep writing!

To the supporters, members, and volunteers. Because you subscribe to the Ohioana Quarterly, because you help out at the Book Festival, because you keep reading, we keep going. Thank you for all of your help in 2017!

To the Ohioana Board. Through thick, through thin, you folks are always there, moving us forward and getting into the nitty-gritty of what it takes to keep a nonprofit organization relevant and healthy. Thank you for all of the lunch meetings, suggestions, actions, and innovations.

To book publishing houses. Thank you for your generous gifts of books, promotional materials, author pictures and book cover images, books (we said books, right?) and cross-promotions. We love it when you follow us on social media, and we love to follow back.

To book sellers. Thank you for keeping the wheels of commerce rolling. We’re all in this together.

To the staff. What happens when you get a book-loving staff together with a bunch of political leaders, Ohio writers, supporters/members/volunteers, board members, publishers and books sellers? You get Ohioana.

Happy Thanksgiving!

A season of awards and recognition

posted in: Awards, News | 0

We’re not surprised that Ohio writers are named over and over again as award winners, but it is nice to see those recognitions flow in!

Amazon released its list of the best books of 2017, and of course the list includes many Ohioans!

Fiction:

#1, Best Book of the Year:  Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ng (Shaker Heights)

Children’s Books

#3: Dog Man: A Tale of Two Kitties, written and illustrated by Dav Pilkey (Cleveland)
Comics & Graphic Novels

#9: Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet, Book 2, written by Ta Neshesi Coates  and illustrated by Chris Sprouse (Columbus)
History

#15: Grant, by Ron Chernow. U.S. Grant was an Ohio native, so we count him as our talent!

 

Top 100 Print Books

#2:  Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ng (Shaker Heights)

#48: Savage Country: A Novel, by Robert Olmstead

 

Goodreads (which is now owned by Amazon) also has a competition going on, reader’s choice style:

Fiction:

Celeste Ng for Little Fires Everywhere.

Science Fiction:

John Scalzi for The Collapsing Empire

Graphic Novels:

Brian K. Vaughan for Saga v. 6 and Paper Girls v.1

History and Biography

Ron Chernow for Grant

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are you in? National Novel Writing Month

posted in: Nanowrimo, Writing | 0

 

 

Today is Day One of National Novel Writing Month, the writing sensation that’s been sweeping the nation every November since 1999. So let’s all party like it’s 1999, fuel up on the java, and get some writing done!

In 2016, 384,126 participants, including 71,229 students and educators in the Young Writers Program, started the month as auto mechanics, out-of-work actors, and middle school English teachers. They walked away novelists.

There are six official events here in Central Ohio today to help get things started including virtual write-alongs and coffee shop meetings. Then there are mentoring and encouragement sessions, and places and spaces to just hang out and work. If you sign up, go to the “Regions” tab on the drop down menu to find both new friends and great locations. Glorisky! There’s over 7,000 people in Columbus, more than 5,000 in Cleveland, and over 400 in Black Swamp (I want to go THERE and write, don’t you?)

It’s easy to join as well as free — although like all good and worthwhile things, a donation is much appreciated to pay for outreach and engagement.

Write on!

 

Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month.

Books by the Banks is here!

posted in: David's Blog | 0

One of the things I treasure about fall in Ohio is the number of events celebrating books and authors that happen around the state. Book fairs and festivals, poetry readings, writing workshops – there is something going on every week, and sometimes almost every day!

Tomorrow (Saturday, October 28) is one of the biggest and best of all: the 2017 Books by the Banks: Cincinnati Regional Book Festival, presented by Ohio Humanities at the Duke Energy Convention Center from 10 to 4. Free and open to the public, the event features national, regional, and local authors and illustrators; book signings; panel discussions; and activities for the entire family to enjoy.

Ohioana will be there, too – be sure to stop by our table and get a free copy of the Ohioana Quarterly and other goodies! For more info, visit: http://booksbythebanks.org/  We’ll see you in Cincinnati!

An Ohio Halloween

posted in: History, Holidays | 0

BOO! Did we scare you? Just a little?

It’s that time of year, when pumpkins get carved into jack-o-lanterns and everyone dresses up in great costumes to pretend to be someone (or something) else for a day. There’s plenty of scary stuff right here in Ohio, and fun stuff too — and serious stuff.

A recent article in the Columbus Dispatch, written by Nancy Gilson, featured the work of James Willis. James chases folklore, ghosts stories, and ghosts. He’s the author of three perfect Halloween books: Weird Ohio, The Big Book of Ohio Ghost Stories, and the most recent offering, Central Ohio Legends & Lore. You can follow him on Twitter at @GhostsofOhio to get all of the latest and greatest.

There’s plenty of book offerings in the category of cemeteries in Ohio as well, like Buried Beneath Cleveland: Lost Cemeteries of Cuyahoga County, by Wiliam Krejci. So if you are troubled by poltergeists, it could be that your house or your business is built over the top of a graves that didn’t get moved. Cemeteries that aren’t hidden  are spooky and creepy, for sure, and in older ones if you walk across the grave, the ground might sink under your feet a bit (so DON’T DO THAT! OMG!). But cemeteries  are also full of stories, and one of the few places that ordinary people can be memorialized for posterity.

So if you are looking for spooky thrills on the 31st, check the local paper and see if there’s still time to find a corn maze, a haunted tour, or that perfect pumpkin ready for carving!

 

The 76th Ohioana Awards

posted in: Awards | 0

 

Ohioana award winners, L to R:  Marisa Silver, Douglas Brinkley, Teri Ellen Cross Davis, C.F. Payne, Tiffany McDaniel, Ohioana Executive Director David Weaver, Ashley Bethard, and Sally Derby

What a great night! Food, friends, music, awards — and BOOKS! Once again, we gathered in the Atrium of the Ohio Statehouse to honor the recipients of one of the oldest state literary awards in the nation. We were only missing author and speaker J.D. Vance, who had a previous engagement, but he created a wonderful video for us.

There was a surprise video visit, however, from author and Governor John Kasich, who showed his appreciation for the authors and for the literary heritage of the state.

Here are our awardees and their books:

Juvenile Literature: C.F. Payne, Miss Mary Reporting. Sponsor: Margaret
W. Wong & Associates
Middle Grade/Young Adult Literature: Sally Derby, Jump Back, Paul
Reader’s Choice: Tiffany McDaniel, The Summer That Melted Everything
About Ohio or an Ohioan: J.D.Vance, Hillbilly Elegy. Sponsor:
Huntington Bank
Poetry: Terry Ellen Cross, Haint. Sponsor: Ohio Arts Council/Poetry Out
Loud
Fiction: Marisa Silver, Little Nothing. Sponsor: Vorys, Sater, Seymour &
Pease LLP
Nonfiction: Douglas Brinkley, Rightful Heritage. Sponsor: Porter Wright

Thanks to all who attended and THANK YOU to our wonderful sponsors:

Awards: 

The Columbus Foundation

Huntington

Ohio Arts Council

Vorys

Event:

Honda

Porter Wright

Table Sponsors:

Crabbe Brown James

Ice Miller

Margaret W. Wong & Associates

Media Associates and In-Kind:

Ohio Channel

Ohio Magazine

90.5 WCBE

PXP Ohio

 

 

 

 

 

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