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What is Storytelling and What Makes a Good Storyteller?: My Name is Red

20 Jun

MyNameisRed

There’s something so refreshing about perspective. It nods to the juxtaposition between one’s heart and mind: both the reader’s and the writer’s. This is one of the many reason why I find My Name is Red so beautifully fascinating – especially since in its original form it was not written in English.

My Name Is Red is a 1998 Turkish novel by Orhan Pamuk which was translated into English in 2001. You can borrow My Name is Red from BCCLS libraries in English or Korean translations.  It is also available as an unabridged audiobook on CD.  You can check it out as an ebook or a digital audiobook from eBCCLS.

Whilst the “main” layer of Pamuk’s novel leans toward a genre of mystery, it also seamlessly blends romance and philosophical puzzles, causing one to think twice about the true narration within each chapter. The main characters in the novel are miniaturists in the Ottoman Empire, one of whom is murdered in the first chapter. In order to figure out whom is the killer, each chapter of the novel has a different narrator, giving way a different perspective and truth that gets you closer to finding the murderer. Since each chapter leads the way to a deeper and more detailed truth, there are thematic and chronological connections between chapters and because of this, unexpected voices are used. It is these chapters told by different voices, character’s, and “things” that nod to such a question that goes deeper than mind and heart: “what is a storyteller?” We are immediately thrown into a new wave of storytelling when the table of contents reveals each narrator within this novel starting from the corpse of the murdered, to a coin, to then Satan, and curiously even the color red.

The figure of the storyteller and the art of storytelling in My Name Is Red by Orhan Pamuk opens up new ground to the reality that is a storyteller – which also sparks this question “can a color tell a story?” Allowing you to look at things through a more colorful light, it both challenges and excites the reader to experiment with the connection one would have with the narrator.

The book plays with this idea of voice, but every voice is invented. Referencing the title, we are introduced to Red as an actual chapter and narrator in the book as it brags “The truth is I can be found everywhere”. Suggesting a small truth in this story within a story within a story, as this color can be seen everywhere. It is this impossible voice that sparked quite a kindred reaction within me. Not only is red my favorite color, it also gave me this glimpse into the child’s wonder we are initially born with. A creativity that has no bounds – an impossible voice.

Even the thought of being narrated by a color and being introduced as “My Name Is Red” is mind boggling and makes me giggle from the pure genius of the writer. Why can’t colors be storytellers? Its hues are found everywhere and probably know more about what is the truth than any living organism.

So, even though the mystery is solved in the end, it’s the colorful words and creative ways of storytelling that made this one of the most memorable books I have ever read. I am personally not a huge fan of mystery novels, but this particular one is deserving of a chance even for nonmystery fans. The way it was written and how each chapter is broken down, beautifully expands your mind and allows you to think twice about your own opinions.

If you enjoy My Name is Red you can check out several of Pamuk’s other works from the Hoboken Public Library including The Red-Haired Woman, Silent House, and The Museum of Innocence.

Written By:
Sherissa Hernandez
Adult Programming Assistant

A Nose for Mystery and Murder: The Essence of Malice, The Sniffer, The Emperor of Scent, The Secret of Chanel No. 5, and Perfume: The Story of a Murder

16 May

Break out the blood hounds this week, the library picks blog is tracking works with the scent of mystery.

The Essence of Malice
by Ashley Weaver

essence_of_malice

The Essence of Malice is Ashley Weaver’s fourth book in her Amory Ames Mystery series starring a wealthy British Amateur detective who solves crimes in Europe in the 1930’s.  In The Essence of Malice, Amory tries to unravel a mystery when something smells suspicious in the death of a famous Parisian perfumer and learns that all is not what it seems amongst his family, who are struggling over the control of his perfume empire.  I especially enjoyed the twist ending.  Amory’s husband is a bit of a cad and this, like the other novels, deals with the suspicions and strife that occasionally pop up in their relationship; although this made me mildly dislike Miles, I found it refreshing to see a less than perfect spouse since so often in cozy mysteries the detective’s partner is a paragon of virtue. You can also check out the earlier books in the series Murder at the Brightwell, Death Wears a Mask, and A Most Novel Revenge.  The fifth book in the series, An Act of Villainy will be available September 4 and revolves around a mystery at a theater.

The Sniffer – Season 1
sniffer

The Sniffer is a Russian mystery series that Hoboken Library Resident Card Holders can stream from Hoopla.  “The Sniffer” is both blessed and cursed with an extraordinary sense of smell which helps him solve mystery and thwart crimes, but also plagues him in his private life.  If like me, you enjoyed Hugh Laurie’s portrayal of the brilliant, but irritable protagonist in the series House, than The Sniffer’s prickly detective should appeal.  There are eight episodes in season one so it is perfect for a long rainy weekend binge.

The Emperor of Scent: A Story of Perfume, Obsession, and the Last Mystery of the Senses
by Chandler Burr
emperor_of_scent
The Emperor of Scent is about a scientist, Dr. Luca Turin, who sought to unravel the mystery of what allows us to smell.  Dr. Turin believes that it isn’t the shape of molecules that allows us to smell, but the way the molecules vibrate that allow us to distinguish odors, but he is thwarted in pursuit to publish and promote his theory.

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer
by Patrick Süskind
Perfume_Murderer
Perfume: The Story of a Murderer is a historical fantasy novel which was originally published in German as Das Parfum.  The book follows a boy that though born without a scent himself, can perfectly smell the world around him.  This leads him on a quest for the perfect scent, which results in an obsession that leads to murder in order to distill the most pristine of odors.  You can also checkout the film adaptation from BCCLS libraries.

The Secret of Chanel No. 5: The Intimate History of the World’s Most Famous Perfume
by Tilar J. Mazzeo
ChanelNo5
Everyone has their favorite scents; I love Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab’s Aunt Caroline’s Joy Mojo, which never fails to brighten my day.  Tilar J. Mazzeo unbottles the mystery of one of the most beloved fragrances of so many in The Secret of Chanel No. 5.  The work moves from Coco Chanel’s success as a fashion icon, through the years to the scents increasing acclaim, and continued popularity even today when shelves are packed with celebrity endorsed perfumes.  It is available in print, but Hoboken Library Patron can check it out right now as an ebook or digital audiobook from Hoopla!

Written by: Aimee Harris, Head of Reference

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