Short Story Discussion Fall 2018

White Plains librarian Barbara Wenglin’s Short Story Discussion series has been a popular fixture for years, as the selections and their interpretations have produced a riveting give-and-take among the attendees.  This season, Wenglin has chosen selections from editor Diana Secker Tesdell’s 2014 anthology Stories of Art and Artists (Everyman’s Pocket Classics) for the fall series that opens on Thursday, October 11, at 2:00 p.m. in our second-floor auditorium.  The anthology will be used again in the spring.

“The intriguing international tales collected here reflect the diversity of the creative spirit and the challenges, struggles and pleasures of the artistic endeavor,” explains Wenglin.  “The stories range from haunting fables about the meaning of art, to vivid portraits of those who create, along with the interactions of artists and their subjects. The fictional artists are sometimes tortured souls like some real-life counterparts such as van Gogh, Picasso and Warhol, Kahlo and O’Keeffe, whose off-canvas lives were often as compelling as their on-canvas work, a theme also explored here.”

Opening the fall series are the synonymous titles “The Limner,” by Julian Barnes, and “The Painter,” by the late Hermann Hesse.  Barnes is a contemporary British writer and activist, and “The Limner” (published in The New Yorker in 2009) portrays the unique challenges faced by a deaf artist.  “The Painter” was Hesse’s 1918 “fairy-tale” paean to art, a passion of his and perhaps an influence on the 1946 Nobel Prize literature recipient’s great novels Steppenwolf and Siddhartha.

The themes of art and love intersect in Frida, the 2002 film biography of the Mexican surrealist painter Frida Kahlo (Salma Hayek) that wraps the fall series on January 10, 2019.  Kahlo’s tempestuous relationship with artist-husband Diego Rivera (Alfred Molina) is the centerpiece of the film that won two Academy Awards and earned Hayek a best-actress nomination.

The films–begun last season with When a Man Loves a Woman and The Swimmer–are a tradition in the series, as is what Wenglin calls “a relevant musical selection” that ends each discussion.  Her past choices–including The Righteous Brothers’ “Unchained Melody,” Neil Diamond’s “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” and Frank Sinatra’s boozy “One For My Baby and One More for the Road”–were among what Wenglin described as “eclectic selections that sometimes reflect allusions to music in the story itself, or selections from the American Songbook, classic rock-and-roll, nostalgic cabaret and show tunes, with a bit of country thrown in.”

    The free program is made possible with the support of the Friends of the White Plains Public Library. You may register once for the series by calling (914) 422-1480 or through the calendar on our website.  Copies of the anthology are available to borrow in the fiction collection (under “Stories…”), with a copy also kept at the Hub Desk for reading in the Library. For more information email Barbara at

Here is the fall schedule.  All are on Thursdays from 2-4:15 p.m., except for the Frida screening, which extends to 4:30 p.m.:

♦ October 11: “The Limner,” by Julian Barnes and “The Painter,” by Hermann Hesse

♦ October 25:  “Jonas, or The Artist at Work,” by Albert Camus

♦ November 15: “A Brush,” by John Berger and “A Lamina in the Cévennes,” by A. S. Byatt

♦ December 6: “The Red-Haired Girl” by Penelope Fitzgerald, and “Varengeville,” by William Boyd

♦ January 3, 2019: “His Blue Period, ” by Valerie Martin and “The Oval Portrait,” by Edgar Allan Poe

♦ January 10, 2019: Frida, Rated R, (film screening and discussion)

Steven Cohn

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