What’s Happening at the Library: A charming letter and a fearful novel

Published 10:13 am Wednesday, October 3, 2018

The other day I was pleased and absolutely charmed when I found an envelope addressed in pencil in my Clark County Public Library mailbox. It’s unusual to get a piece of mail that doesn’t have a printed label. Here was an envelope, in all of its analog glory, printed in pencil.

The note inside the envelope was wonderful. It was from Asha Finke, a student at Latonia Elementary School in Covington. She wrote to say she read about the library’s seed program in Bill Best’s book “Kentucky Heirloom Seeds.” She hoped the Library would be willing to swap some seeds with the seed and garden program run by students at her school.

A few years ago, the Latonia tennis courts were removed and replaced with a garden students plant and maintain. The garden has been named the Latonia Elementary Herbmania and Urban Garden. Along with growing vegetable and fruits, the students save and swap seeds.

The seeds they swap have wonderful names: golden honeymoon melon, Ginger’s pride melon, Sakata’s sweet melon, apple melon, swan lake melon, Aunt Lou’s Underground Railroad tomato, Swan Lake melon and red Chinese noodle beans.

The library is sending seeds to Asha, along with a thank you card and best wishes for successful gardening. In a few years, with any luck, the library’s seed program could to offer Aunt Lou’s Underground Railroad tomato and Sakata’s sweet melon seeds.

One of the great satisfactions of growing heirloom plants is learning the histories of the seeds, where they came from, who saved them and passed them on. It’s swell to know the Clark County Public Library and Latonia Elementary School have entered into those plant genealogies.

With October here and Halloween on the horizon, it’s time to read some classic ghost and horror stories. In that spirit (pun intended), Tim Janes will be leading a special book discussion group about Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” on Tuesday, Oct. 9, at 6 p.m.

Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus, has been called the first science fiction novel because galvanism, electricity, not magic, supplies the power that animates Frankenstein’s being. Much more than a Gothic gore fest, Frankenstein is a compelling exploration of hubris, alienation, desire and what it means to be human. It is beautifully composed.

The movie with Boris Karloff, good as it is, hardly touches on themes that resonate through Mary Shelley’s novel.

Mary Shelley wrote “Frankenstein” in 1816 when she was 18 and living with her lover (and later husband), poet Percy Bysshe Shelley and infamous Lord Byron at the Villa Diodati by Lake Geneva in Switzerland. It was “The Year without a Summer,” a volcanic winter of torrential rains and tempestuous storms caused the eruption of Mount Tambora in 1815. (I kid you not.)

Compelled to remain indoors most of the summer, Mary, Shelley, Byron and Dr. John William Polidori (author of The Vampyre) entertained themselves by reading German ghost stories from a book entitled “Fantasmagoriana.” During one of these reading sessions, Byron suggested they all write a ghost story.

The rest, as they say, is bibliography.

There are copies of Frankenstein available at the circulation desk. What a perfect read for the beginning of October.

Other programs this week:

— Today at 2 p.m., Kentucky Picture Show presents a 2008 movie. The story of a bride-to-be trying to find her real father told using hit songs by the popular 1970s group ABBA. Rated PG-13.

— Today at 7 p.m., Twist your brain around the trivia challenges Jeff Gurnee serves up at the Engine House Pizza Pub.

— Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Outside the Lines Adult Coloring meets in the Alice P. Tucker Board Room. More colorful than a late October evening in Kentucky.

It’s going to be a boo-tiful month.

John Maruskin is director of adult services at the Clark County Public Library. He can be reached at john.clarkbooks@gmail.com.