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. The fall series opens on Thursday, October 17, at 2:00 p.m. with a discussion of the “One Book, One White Plains” selection, Everything I Never Told You, a novel by Celeste Ng that focuses on themes of identity, family, and motherhood. The readings that follow from October 31 through January 9, 2020, will be taken from the anthology, Stories of Motherhood (Everyman’s Pocket Classics, 2012, edited by Diana Secker Tesdell) and will be used again in the spring.
“Starting with the Ng novel exploring how the mother relates to her past and her own mother, and to her different offspring, the intriguing international tales reflect the diversity of the universal subject of motherhood with many variations,” explains Wenglin. “The short story selections range from the uncertainty of a young mother with an adopted newborn, to an estranged daughter and mother with issues of guilt and obligation, to the immigrant mother and her American child, and the heartfelt love, fear, and respect of a small black boy for his tough mother who suffers indignities in the segregated South.”
Included in the fall series are works from renowned authors, such as “The Burglar’s Christmas,” by Willa Cather (1873-1947), who is most acclaimed for My Antonia, and “My Mother’s Dream,” by Alice Munro (born in 1931), who received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2013. The flyer with dates and details is attached.
Wenglin traditionally ends each discussion by playing a popular song endemic to the subject. Last season, for example, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Cut-Glass Bowl” (part of the Secker Tesdell-edited Stories of Art and Artists) was complemented by Annie Lennox’s “Walking on Broken Glass.”
The theme of mother-child relationships intersects with the January 16, 2020, screening and discussion of the classic film noir murder mystery, Mildred Pierce (Warner Bros., 1945) that wraps the fall series. Nominated for six Academy Awards, the film stars Joan Crawford (winner Best Actress) as a hard-working divorcée who will do anything for her spoiled daughter, played by Ann Blyth. The stellar cast includes Jack Carson, Zachary Scott, and Eve Arden.
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 online calendar here. Call for a copy of the Ng book, and copies of the anthology are available for loan, with one also kept at the Hub Desk for reading in the Library.
For more information, email Wenglin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
–Steven Cohn & Barbara Wenglin