COVID-19 still prompts north coast residents to shelter at home. Cannon Beach Library remains closed, which keeps visitors away, library programs canceled, and others rescheduled until after Memorial Day weekend.

So, here’s the damage:

The library will remain closed until the end of May or until it can reopen safely, and library office manager Jen Dixon will continue working from home, where she can help patrons at 517-896-4278.

This year’s annual rare and old book sale, scheduled for Memorial Day weekend, has been canceled, as has this year’s quilt drawing.

Depending on the current Oregon ban on unnecessary travel and large public gatherings, the library may still be closed past the end of May. A shortened tourist season, resulting in fewer visitors, would limit quilt ticket sales, in any event.

The library’s traditional Fourth of July book sale remains tentatively scheduled for July 4-6, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. The library still accepts book donations. Donated books should be left on the library’s back porch near the back door. Call Jen Dixon at 517-896-4278 so the donated books can be moved inside the library. Leave a note with the donation if the library should mail or email a receipt.

In response to shelter-at-home orders and limits on meetings, the Northwest Authors Speaker Series has rescheduled events originally set for March, April and May.

Celebrating the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage, Marianne Monson will read from her new novel, “Her Quiet Revolution,” about America’s first female state senator, on Aug. 8 at 2 p.m. at the library.

Award-winning nature reporter Apricot Irving will discuss her novel, “A Gospel of Trees,” in October, with the date yet to be determined.

Seaside native Karl Marlantes will discuss his work on Nov. 28 at 2 p.m. at the library. Marlantes wrote about his wartime experiences in his award-winning “Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War” and in “What It Is Like to Go to War.” In his most recent novel, Marlantes describes the logging industry and life in small-town Oregon.

Again, Cannon Beach Reads won’t meet May 20 to discuss Mark Twain’s “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.”

Speaking of the plague, this columnist, sheltering in Haystack Heights, sought a new green-dot title to review last week - determined to avoid the plethora of commentary on President Trump - and found “Underground: A Human History of the Worlds Beneath Our Feet” by Will Hunt, a free-lance magazine writer who has spent most of his life exploring and researching tunnels, water systems, deep mines, catacombs, caves, caverns, wells, bomb shelters and other structures created by natural forces or human efforts through the past 100,000 years.

Hunt’s articles about his obsession with the underworld have appeared in “Discover,” “The Atlantic,” “Forbes,” “Archeology,” “Literary Hub,” “Popular Science,” “Literary Review,” “The Economist,” ”The Telegraph” and “The Observer.”

Hunt folded information from these and a few other articles published elsewhere into making “Underground” a masterfully crafted page-turner.

In the beginning of “Underground,”  Hunt attributes his early interest in the underworld to his boyhood reading - from his parents’ copy of Ingri d’Aulaire and Edgar Parin d’Aulaire’s “Book of Greek Myths” - about Odysseus, Hercules, Hermes, Orpheus and other heroes who slipped past three-headed Cerberus and crossed the river Styx on Charon’s ferry to Hades.

Finding and exploring, at 16, an abandoned train tunnel under his neighborhood in Providence, Rhode Island, confirmed what would become Hunt’s passion for exploring tunnels under New York City, Paris and other outcroppings of the underworld, as well as researching their prehistorical and historical use.

The descent into Hades or into the underworld has been used by authors of epic poems and fictional novels as a plot device for centuries. In “The Republic,” Plato has Socrates contrast the imperfection of shadows or images cast on the cave walls by flickering firelight, with the bright light of the sun outside the cave. Those in the cave remain confused; those who leave the cave can act on ideal knowledge.

Beowulf, king of Geatland, fatally wounds the monster Grendel, whose mother takes revenge on Beowulf’s followers. Beowulf ultimately follows Grendel’s dam to her sea cave and defeats her.

More contemporary uses of the underground as a fictional device are Lewis Carroll’s “The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland” and Mark Twain’s “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.”

In “Alice in Wonderland,” Alice drops down a rabbit hole into a world where all is confusing to her and directly opposite of her experience in Merry Olde England.

In “Tom Sawyer,” Twain places Tom and Becky Thatcher in McDougal’s Cave near Hannibal, Missouri, where they are lost and confused for three days in the labyrinthine caves.

Similarly, Hunt presents himself, from his discovery of an abandoned train tunnel under his Providence neighborhood, as moving ever deeper into the dark, desensitizing underground from his years exploring tunnels under New York City and catacombs under Paris, to his 24-hour stretch of total darkness at Martens Cave in West Virginia.

The deeper Hunt goes in his exploration of the underworld, the more he knows about the physical nature and spiritual and historical importance of major caves in Europe, Mesoamerica, New Mexico, NASA’s search for bacterial life a mile below South Dakota’s Black Hills, a red ochre mine in Western Australia’s Weld Range, burrowed underground cities in Turkey and, finally, Actun Tunichil Muknala, a cave in Belize associated with the dark-zone cult.

“Underground” might best be described as the thoughtful caver’s smart travel guide to the most popular openings to the underworld.


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