Joseph Bernt

Joseph Bernt

New Office Manager, July Fourth Book Sale and Discussion of Albright’s “Fascism”

New faces have been greeting library members, volunteers and patrons this summer … and contributing to successful events and programs at the Cannon Beach Library.

For two weeks, Jennifer Dixon — newly hired office manager and the library’s only paid employee — is learning how volunteers staff the front desk, check out and reshelve books, organize events, catalog new acquisitions, provide community information to new residents and visitors, and maintain computer services for their use.

Dixon is learning whom to ask for information and how to support the work of library members and volunteers. A 2005 Michigan State graduate, she brings 15 years of professional experience in nonprofit public service, tourism, museums and restaurants.

A resident of Cannon Beach since 2015 and lead bartender at The Bistro, she appreciates our community and knows many of its residents and second-home owners.

Before moving to Cannon Beach, Dixon — as curator and museum director for the Yellowstone Historic Center in West Yellowstone, Montana — she developed skills applicable to activities at the Cannon Beach Library.

Dixon works Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Be sure to meet her when next in the library.

July 4 Book Sale

The library’s traditional “July Fourth Book Sale” has become a major fundraising event. This past holiday sale earned nearly $10,000, a record amount for funding the purchase of new books, newspaper subscriptions and video materials.

Even though several veterans of past “July Fourth Book Sales” were out of town or recuperating from recent health problems, this year’s record success occurred because 60 library volunteers donated 476 hours of service during the sale’s four days.

Several members of the library board worked for weeks planning this sale, and organizing and moving books from storage.

This event proved so successful because Karen French agreed to serve as interim treasurer and unofficial office and promotions manager for the sale.

Success also came because Janet Bates applied her past experience to recruiting volunteers and sweating the details of the sale, with logistical help from Amy Jones.

And Coaster Construction again donated employees and a large truck to move tons of books to the library the afternoon before the sale.

And let’s not forget Sandi Lundy, who again supplied volunteers with gourmet sandwiches.

Through all this sale preparation, Claire Landrum managed to recruit volunteers to staff the front desk, keeping the library functioning before and after this successful fundraiser.

Also amazing are the hundreds of residents and visitors to the North Coast who donate the essential ingredient — thousands of gently read books that attract ever more readers to this July 4 event.

Talking About Books

Every third Wednesday evening each month Cannon Beach Reads draws eight to 20 readers together at the library to discuss important books: current bestsellers and classic titles, fiction and nonfiction, and memoirs and biographies.

On Aug. 21, members of Cannon Beach Reads, led by Arthur Broten, will discuss “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man,” James Joyce’s revolutionary autobiographical novel, published in 1916.

What made “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” revolutionary and placed Joyce in the forefront of 20th-century literature was his development of “stream of consciousness” as a realistic narrative technique that allowed jumbled inner thoughts, sensitivities and reactions to reveal a character without an all-knowing author’s intrusive description, judgment or evaluation.

Stream-of-consciousness narration brought hyper-realism to what 19th-century novelists considered naturalistic fiction, and remains a mainstay of contemporary fiction and new journalism since the 1960s.

Think William Faulkner’s “The Sound and the Fury,” Ken Kesey’s “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” Marcel Proust’s “Remembrances of Things Past,” Hunter Thompson’s “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road,” William Burroughs’s “Naked Lunch,” J. D. Salinger’s “The Catcher in the Rye,” Virginia Woolf’s “To the Lighthouse,” Truman Capote’s “In Cold Blood,” or Tom Wolfe’s “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.”

If you haven’t participated in Cannon Beach Reads discussions, I assure you these are hardly dull academic gatherings. Each participant discusses the book from his or her experience. Discussions move among comic, tearful, admiring and dismissive comments, but always are based in personal experience.

At July’s discussion of Madeleine Albright’s “Fascism: A Warning,” Marjorie MacQueen, who led the discussion, and I argued whether this first woman to serve as U.S. secretary of state appreciated why people living in fly-over zones of rural America could reasonably support a presidential candidate who exhibited fascistic attitudes.

To me, every aspect of Albright’s elite family, educational and professional backgrounds distanced her from the views and experiences of working-class Americans living in small towns with closed mills, plants offshored in response to free-trade agreements, and tax incentives advocated by Republican and Democratic administrations since the 1960s.

Marjorie MacQueen clearly admires Albright, and we both felt she had published a well-written, readable analysis of fascism based on her diplomatic experience during the Clinton administration.

My point was that Albright wasn’t capable, because of her life experience, of understanding the support rural Democrats provided The Donald.

Neither of us changed the other’s viewpoint, but our differing views of Albright’s critique went some distance in explaining why extreme economic inequalities have so divided our politics, country and world.

Discussions based on personal reactions to important books offer opportunities to appreciate our differences through civil discourse.

Consider sampling conversations … and Sandi Lundy’s cookies … as Cannon Beach Reads finishes this year’s readings and selects books for next year’s discussion.

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