Tax Time, James Patterson,

Tax Man
It's show time for SE, who orders and puts out on tables the most needed tax forms.  Printed tax forms, like lots of other printed government forms, are going away.  Uncle Sam wants you to file online.  And if you can't take the hint, the local IRS office has moved out of the convenient City Center building, (which houses local offices of Fed agencies across the street from the main library), to an obscure location on the east side, following the Social Security office, which did the same a couple of years ago.

Unfortunately, if you want to "e-file" at the library using the TurboTax program that the IRS links to, not all of our public access PC's meet TurboTax's system requirements.  Minimum requirements are Windows XP and Internet Explorer 6.  Many of the older public access PC's in Adult Services on the second floor still have Windows 2000, so we have to give e-filers who get one of them another session downstairs in Tech/Media, which has newer PC's.

The intrepid AARP volunteers will begin their tax help service on Monday, February 1st, filing returns online.

The NYT had a very interesting article about James Patterson in the Sunday Magazine.  Love him or hate him, Patterson seems to have found the sweet spot for popular fiction.  He has a huge following, and he has contracted with Little Brown to deliver an astonishing 17 titles, adult and juvenile, in the coming year.  He has an advertising background.  He has thought about what "ordinary" people like to read, people who otherwise find books intimidating.  And he's gotten rich writing for them.

The library has "new" shelves, where readers can browse fiction releases for the last twelve months.  In the past, bestseller authors typically released two titles per year, spring and fall.  Patterson has become an invasive species, whom we must prune aggressively, so that he will not grab too much "new" shelf space. 

Is there a problem here?  I don't think so.  We purchase and lease many copies of bestsellers to meet popular demand.  It is instrumental in ensuring popular support for the library.  That support translates into budget dollars to buy other, worthwhile titles that are not so much in demand.  And Patterson readers can grow into all around readers, as I have seen in the past with readers who started with Stephen King.

His books all share stylistic similarities. They are light on atmospherics and heavy on action, conveyed by simple, colloquial sentences.  “I don’t believe in showing off,” Patterson says of his writing. “Showing off can get in the way of a good story.”
 He avoids description, back story and scene setting whenever possible, preferring to hurl readers into the action and establish his characters with a minimum of telegraphic details.
Contrast this with a book like Christopher Koch's The Memory Room, which opens with pages of detailed, vivid description, and scarcely any action at all, apart from the memories that the setting evokes in the mind of the narrator.  This, to me, is nectar, and would probably be boring as hell for your Patterson reader.

Koch, an Australian writer, is practically unknown here except for The Year of Living Dangerously, which became a successful film.  A native Tasmanian of Irish Catholic descent, he is a rare bird.

I had to put The Memory Room aside, as the fourth volume of A. N. Wilson's Lampitt Chronicles, Hearing Voices, came in on interlibrary loan.

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