Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Mah Jongg Class

The library will offer an “Introduction to Mah Jongg” class in February, taught by trustee Eleanor Ingbretson. The class will meet at the library on the four Saturdays in February from noon to 2:00 PM (February 6, 13, 20, and 27).

Participation is limited to eight people and the registration fee of $40 per person will benefit the library.

Mah Jongg is a game for four people played with tiles. Similar to rummy, it is played by drawing and discarding tiles to form hands. Mah Jongg originated in China, where it probably evolved from a card game in the nineteenth century, and traveled to the United State in the 1920s, where it enjoyed an initial fad and has remained popular ever since. This class will teach the American version of the game.

One of the distinguishing characteristics of Mah Jongg is the use of tiles, most commonly one hundred forty-four. These are often colorful and are organized into “simples,” “honor,” and “bonus” groups. The simples are numbered tiles in three suits (Bamboos, Circles, Characters); the honor tiles are the Winds and Dragons; the bonus tiles are the Flowers and Seasons. American sets also include Joker tiles.

A match consists of four rounds, each of which represents a “prevailing wind,” beginning in the East. The dealer is always East, and each player takes a turn as dealer. Points are scored according to the hands that players construct by drawing and discarding tiles.

Mah Jongg is a game of skill, strategy, and calculation that also involves a degree of chance. In China, the game is deeply ingrained in the culture; many restaurants keep Mah Jongg sets available for customers, and it is often referenced in popular culture such as songs and movies. The game is also popular throughout East Asia, often with regional variations; it has been said to be the most popular table game in Japan. In the United States, two different governing bodies, the National Mah Jongg League and the American Mah-Jongg Association, sponsor tournaments and other events.

To register for the class, call the library at 603-989-557.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Book Club for Writers

The library will hold its next Book Club for Writers discussion on Thursday, January 28, featuring short stories by Tony Earley, Barry Hannah, and Tim O’Brien.

Copies of “Here We Are in Paradise” by Tony Earley, “Water Liars” by Barry Hannah, and “On the Rainy River” by Tim O’Brien will be available to pick up in advance. The discussion will begin at 7:00 PM and will be free and open to the public.

Tony Earley is the Samuel Milton Fleming Professor of English at Vanderbilt University. His stories have appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s, Esquire, and other magazines, and early in his career, he was named one of the “twenty best young fiction writers in America” by The New Yorker. He grew up in North Carolina, and many of his stories are set there.

Barry Hannah taught creative writing at the University of Mississippi for twenty-five years. He was a recipient of the Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Robert Penn Warren Lifetime Achievement Award, and the PEN / Bernard Malamud Award for excellence in the art of the short story. “Water Liars” was the opening story of one of Hannah’s best-known books, the collection Airships. He died in 2010.

Tim O’Brien is best known for his fiction drawing on his experiences in the Vietnam War, including the novel Going After Cacciato and the story collection The Things They Carried, which includes “On the Rainy River.” Going After Cacciato won the National Book Award. His other works include In the Lake of the Woods and Tomcat in Love. He teaches at the Texas State University in San Marcos.

Book Club for Writers is a fiction discussion program that meets four times a year. Discussions are open to all, and focus particularly on questions of craft and technique that will interest writers and aspiring writers. Created by the New Hampshire Writers’ Project, Book Club for Writers is sponsored locally by a fiction writing group that meets weekly at the Haverhill Corner Library.

The next Book Club for Writers discussion will be held in April and will feature “Slow Sculpture” by Theodore Sturgeon and “Love is the Plan the Plan is Death” by James Tiptree, Jr.