Erin Kernohan-Berning, Branch Services Librarian: Hello, I’m Erin Kernohan-Berning from the Haliburton County Public Library and this is Library Moments. Once a week some of us from the library will come and talk about books, upcoming events, or the services we offer at the library.
In 1984 the third Sunday in July was designated as National Ice Cream Day, and the entire month of July as National Ice Cream month in the United States. Signed into law by President Ronald Reagan, this homage to one of our favourite frosty summer treats was only ever meant to be celebrated in 1984. But whether because of our obsession with ice cream or some smart marketing by ice cream manufacturers, the holiday much like the remnants of a dribbling ice cream cone in July on our fingers has stuck and continues to be celebrated by ice cream lovers on either side of the border.
Today on Library Moments Sherrill Sherwood and I will each talk about a novel that features ice cream – whether as a metaphor or a tasty treat.
Sherrill Sherwood, Collections Development Coordinator: In 1914 a British soldier in East Africa said “The war here will only last two months. It is far too hot for sustained fighting; we will all melt like ice-cream in the sun!” William Boyd used that quote to title his 1982 Booker nominated novel An Ice-Cream War and centered his story around the American, German and British lives in Eastern Africa turned upside down by World War I. The background of the novel is the fascinating and little-known history of the amazing success of a German lieutenant colonel who commanded Germany’s tiny, undersupplied African force. He inflicted embarrassing losses on British forces at Tanga and tied down Allied forces that outnumbered his own by at least 10 to 1 for the duration of the war. The book follows three main characters – Walter Smith, who finds his farm near Mount Kilimanjaro is one of the first casualties of war, seized and burned by his apparently friendly neighbor Erich von Bishop. Walter signs up with the British Army for revenge, and four years of total chaos ensue. Felix Cobb is a serious Oxford student, champagne socialist and greatest of disappointments to his military father. When his strapping brother Gabriel abandons his honeymoon to sign up and is posted to Africa, Felix develops a strange and dangerous closeness with his sister-in-law. As for Gabriel – relieved of the curious and unfamiliar pressures of his new marriage, he finds himself similarly unsuited to the poorly-managed combat and soon becomes a prisoner of war, tended by a married woman with whom he becomes obsessed in a way that he has never felt with his wife. An Ice-Cream War is a novel of war, love and revenge.
Erin: In The Country of Ice Cream Star it is the not so distant future, and a plague has wiped out most of America. Generations later, in the remnants of civilization, we meet Ice Cream Fifteen Star. She is one of the Sengles, a tribe of thieves who live off the leavings of society ducking in and out of the homes evacuated in the face of an unstoppable disease. Ice Cream’s world consists of an uneasy alliance with other survivors, the Christings and the Lowells, and a fear of the mysterious Roo, beings which are said to steal children for slaves.
When Ice Cream’s brother, and the Sengles’ leader, Driver Eighteen starts to show signs of posies, the remnants of the disease that wiped out their ancestors, and now takes everyone before they reach the age of twenty, she dreads his death and leadership falling to the more volatile and mean spirited next in line. But then they capture a Roo who has lived long enough to get wrinkles around his eyes and lets on that there may be a cure. Now Ice Cream is determined to find it.
Sandra Newman’s The Country of Ice Cream Star is an epic dystopian fiction. At 600 pages, and written entirely in a patois-like dialect, it is a captivating but slow read that will immerse you into a frightening world where life is dangerous and short, yet where the main character can still find beauty and wonder.
Anyone can participate in Haliburton County Public Library’s Online Book Club by choosing to read one or more of four books selected each month. You don’t even have to read from a particular month’s selection you can just go online and make comments about books and reading in general.
To join the online book club, look for the Social Media links on our homepage at www.haliburtonlibrary.ca. Click on the “g” for Goodreads and it’ll take you right to the Online Book Club page. That’s it for this week’s Library Moments where we think books and ice cream are possibly the most perfect summer combination, thanks for listening here on 100.9 Canoe FM.
*Originally aired on 100.9 CANOE FM July 24th – 30th, 2016.