SALISBURY — Are you a traveler or are you a tourist? Paul Theroux, author of “The Pillars of Hercules” and other travel books, is a committed traveler. His trip around the coast of the Mediterranean by land and sea (never, never by air) resembles more the voyage of Odysseus, buffeted from shore to shore, rather than the measured progress of a modern-day traveler following an itinerary, with ticket and reservations in hand (and choices at a minimum).
Theroux’s travel plan is kept simple: begin the journey at Gibraltar, stay as close to the coastline as possible, and end up in Morocco, at Ceuta, at the southern Pillar of Hercules. His mode of transportation depends on what is available (train, bus, ferry, car, boat), and the circumstances — an American traveling alone through sometimes “rough” country, geographically or politically. As a Syrian in the Aleppo bazaar put it, the “best” way to Latakia? Did he mean the quickest, safest, most comfortable, or the cheapest?
Theroux is interested in confronting both his and other people’s expectations and then discovering the reality of a country. His description is the truth as he experiences it. It is surprising that most famous monuments along this well-traveled shoreline are given short shrift (the “theme park culture” of Greece, “that land of preposterous myths and sensational litter”). Surprising but logical. For Theroux, the setting matters less than the experience, just as the arrival matters less than the journey. Place becomes a backdrop for the dramatic or the ordinary: for example, his description of the vandalism of Albania by its people, or the tattered laundry hanging from the nave of a Crusader church in Tartus.
Another surprise occurs in the middle of the book, not quite the midpoint of Theroux’s travels. He needs an “antidote” to Albania and the tourists on Corfu. He takes a break and joins a luxury cruise from Nice to Istanbul — a first-time experience for Theroux but not without literary precedent. Evelyn Waugh, who hated foreign travel, was offered a free cruise. His account was published in 1930, titled “Labels: A Mediterranean Journal,” a parody of the Grand Tour. Theroux takes up that book and others to point out the characteristics of the good travel book: “The fairest way of judging travel books is by their truth and their wit.”
Summer movie series — Headquarters, all Tuesdays, 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, “Holes” (PG); June 25, “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” (PG-13). Movies are free and all ages are welcome. Children should be accompanied by an adult. Movies run through Aug. 20. Free popcorn and lemonade.
Computer classes: Blogging for beginners — Monday, 7 p.m., South; Tuesday, 1 p.m., East (registration required, call 704-216-8229); June 20, 9:30 a.m., Headquarters. Learn to how to set up a free blog, post photos and keep notes on all your travels this summer. Classes are free. Sessions are about 90 minutes. Class size is limited and on a first come, first serve basis. Dates and times are subject to change without notice.
Children’s summer reading program — Rowan Public Library’s “Dig Into Reading” weekly programs run June 17 through Aug. 1 for children ages 12 months to rising fifth-graders. Children will be able to earn prizes by reading throughout the summer. Reading has begun and continues through Aug. 10. Those who complete their Treasure Map can pick out a free book.
Tiny Treasures: 12-24 month-olds, each program lasts about 30 minutes and runs for four weeks. Headquarters, Wednesdays, 10 a.m.; East Branch, Mondays, 10 a.m.; South Branch, Thursdays, 10:30 a.m.
Little Diggers: 2-year-olds, Each program lasts about 30 minutes and runs for four weeks. Headquarters, Thursdays, 10:30 a.m.; East, Tuesdays, 10:30 a.m.; South, Wednesday, 10:30 a.m.
Fossil Finders: 3- to 5-year-olds, each program lasts 30-45 minutes and runs for seven weeks. Headquarters, Tuesdays, 10:30 a.m.; East, Thursdays, 10:30 a.m.; South, Mondays, 10:30 a.m.
Paleontologists: Rising first- through fifth-graders, programs last about 45 minutes and runs for seven weeks. Headquarters, Wednesdays, 2 p.m.; East, Wednesdays, 10:30 a.m.; South, Tuesdays, 10:30 a.m. Cleveland Town Hall, Thursdays, 10:30 a.m.
June 17-20: Pint Sized Polka, musical fun.
June 24-27: Captain Jim, Magical Pirate.
July 1-5: Due to the 4th of July holiday on Thursday, the program will be held on Friday, July 5. Ro & Mo, Stories, Songs and Silliness.
July 8-11: Flows Circus, variety show.
July 22-25: Discovery Place Science Reach, A Matter of Science.
July 29-Aug. 1: Blue Moon Puppets, Pea Pickin’ Tales.
A Parent Literacy Workshop will be offered for parents of children ages 0-5 on Monday, June 17, at 6:30 p.m. at Headquarters only. Registration is required and space is limited. Parents can register at any RPL location.
Beneath the Surface teen summer reading: Teens can look forward to participating in the Beneath the Surface Summer Reading Program at RPL. Rising sixth- through 12th-graders will explore the underground through fun events, activities and reading.
All teen programs are June 18-July 2 for sixth- through 12th-graders. Programs will be 3:30-5 p.m. at all locations: Tuesday, Headquarters; Wednesday, East; Thursday, South.
Each week events will focus on exploring the underground world including mummies, gems and cities below the surface. After registering, each teen will receive a booklet to keep track of the library dollars they earn. Those dollars are then used to enter various raffles for great prizes provided by the Friends of RPL and other local sponsors. Winners will be announced at the end-of-summer Masked Ball at South Branch on Aug. 1, 3:30-5 p.m.
Upcoming programs include:
Fossils and Gems: June 18-20. Gem panning and creating fossils.
Inside Out: June 25-27. Crafts from the inside out.
Game Show Challenge: July 2-3, 5. How much do you know about bugs, mummies and all things housed “Beneath the Surface”?
Skill Toys Workshop: July 9-11. Learn how to use flower sticks, a Chinese yo-yo and more.
Scratch the Surface: July 16-18. Scratch crafts and more.
Beneath Your Feet: July 24-26. Underground cities and tunnels.
For more information, check the library website at www.rowanpubliclibrary.org or call your closest RPL location — Headquarters, 704-216-8234; South, 704-216-7728; East, 704-216-7842.
Book Bites Club: South (only), June 25, 6:30 p.m., “Montana Sky” by Nora Roberts. Book discussion groups for adults and children meet the last Tuesday of each month. The group is open to the public and anyone is free to join at any time. There is a discussion of the book, as well as light refreshments at each meeting. For more information, please call 704-216-8229.
Displays for June: headquarters, Fiber Guild; South, art by Ed Hudson; East, Winnie the Pooh by Kim Davis.
Literacy: Call the Rowan County Literacy Council at 704-216-8266 for more information on teaching or receiving literacy tutoring for English speakers or for those for whom English is a second language.
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