“Standing in the doorway of the newspaper’s office, he watched the streetcar continue on its eastward way, and he knew that if he lived to be a hundred, he would never be more in love than he was now.”

fellow travelersThe Brown Baggers met on June 20 to discuss Thomas Mallon’s Fellow Travelers. The historical novel takes place in Washington, D.C. in the early 1950s when Communism and homosexuality were considered “enemies of all things American.” At the center of the red and lavender scare is Tim Laughlin, a young devout Catholic and staunch anti-Communist, and Hawkins Fuller, an older, sophisticated State Department official. The men engage in a secret affair as Senator Joseph McCarthy leads a crusade to root out Communist sympathizers and homosexuals in the federal government and Army.

Many of the Brown Baggers found the novel was a lot different from what they expected. They were familiar with the anti-Communism movement–some remember watching the McCarthy hearings on television–but they had no idea the federal government, even President Eisenhower himself through an executive order, persecuted gays in the federal government. Although gay people still face discrimination and prejudice today, the fact that they were once barred from federal employment demonstrates the impact of activism in past decades, such as Stonewall, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

Some were overwhelmed by the staggering number of characters and names, while others were engrossed in the details. All agreed the novel taught them a lot about the time period and they were drawn to the love story at the heart of the novel. They were most sympathetic towards the character of Tim, who wrestled with an internal struggle between his Catholic faith and upbringing and the experience of his first love. Hawk, as his name suggests, preys on others and was an amoral and despicable character. For many, the most interesting character in the novel was Mary Johnson, Fuller’s co-worker, who was a revolutionary feminist figure for her time period. Overall the Brown Baggers thought the novel was an authentic portrait of human nature and appreciated the realistic ending that stayed true to the characters’ personalities.

Books Mentioned:

Advise and Consent by Allen Drury

More Information:

PBS Documentary, The Lavender Scare

Cincinnati Opera production of “Fellow Travelers”

Interview with Thomas Mallon

Interview with Thomas Mallon in George Washington Magazine

 

The Brown Baggers will meet again at the Central Library on Thursday, July 18 at noon to discuss Noah Trevor’s Born a Crime.

 

Competition heats up at Northside Library

Kick those painful childhood memories of Monopoly to the curb, there’s a new way to showcase your board gaming prowess!gamepiecesanddie_180407897

Grown-Up Game Night hosts adults for an evening of board games, refreshments, and socialization every fourth Monday at the Northside Library.

Games will range from classic standards to modern favorites, with tutorials to ensure participants are up-to-speed with the rules of each game.

The next session on June 24 from 6:30 – 8:45pm will feature Ticket to Ride and players will compete for control of the railways between cities across North America.

So don’t be shy, challenge your mind and bring a friend along to Grown-Up Game Night!

For a list of upcoming events, visit the JMRL website at http://www.jmrl.org.

Sunday Morning Wake-Up Call: JMRL’s Summer Reading Recommendations

Did you tune into the Memorial Day edition of 94.7’s Sunday Morning Wake-up Call on May 26? A few of us JMRLians had a chance to sit down and talk with host Rick Moore to talk about our summer reading recommendations – you can listen to the podcast of that episode here.

Sunday Morning Wake-up Call host Rick Moore looks for summer reading recommendations from Jefferson-Madison Regional Library librarians Lindsay Ideson, Hayley Tompkins and Megan England.

Lindsay Ideson, Northside Library Branch Manager Recommends:

Hayley Tompkins, Crozet Library Branch Manager recommends:

Megan England, Crozet Library Young Adult Librarian recommends: