Vol 7 # 11   August 15, 2023

At the Library

Acting Manager/Children's Librarian Shani Boyd

with our current staff.

Stem Program


Stay and Play

Friends meeting, Tuesday September 19th at the library, 6:30 pm

The next meeting will be Tuesday September 19th at the library, 6:30 pm; there will be no General Meeting in August.


At our September 19th meeting, Friends of PAL will kick off our 2023-24 series of talks with authors with a presentation from retired psychologist and Oakland resident Irene Sardanis discussing her memoir - Out of the Bronx, the story of a brave young woman who wants to stay connected with her roots while she tries to escape them. The memoir is a past winner of the Gold New York City Big Book Award. 


The Friends will have a table at the John Street Jumble, August 19th - making buttons, giving away children's books, and telling everyone about our library. Visit us at 4288 Montgomery St. 9 am - 1 pm.


On September 9th we will have a Book & Bake Sale at Key Route Plaza, from 11 am - 2 pm. We'll talk to our neighbors about the library and its future and raise money for our branch. If you can bring baked goods, please contact us at [email protected].

The Avid Reader by Louis Segal

I’ve been an avid reader since I could read. In high school I used to cut school to read in the Berkeley Public Library.  I’m writing this column to share some of the books I love. I hope, perhaps, you might grow to love a few of them. 

Patrick Radden Keefe’s

Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder & Memory in Northern Ireland [2019]


Journalist Keefe is on a roll. Following Say Nothing, he wrote in 2022 Empire of Pain, an exemplar of excellent muckraking, wherein he investigated Big Pharma, the marketing of  Oxycontin and the Sackler Family. In the same year he published Rogues: True Stories of Grifters, Killers, and Crooks; and, in the same spirit, he just published a long account of Larry Gagosian and his domination of the world art market [“Money on the Wall,” New Yorker, July 31, 2023]. I was so impressed by Empire of Pain I wanted to read his account of the murder of Jean McConville by the Provisional Irish Republican Army [IRA] in 1972. Disclosure: I had a dog in the fight, my maternal line was Irish American and over many generations hated British rule. And, for better or worse, I inherited that legacy.


Say Nothing, contains a complex interweaving of different lives, generations and communities in the north of Ireland in the time of The Troubles. We meet politicians, nationalists, loyalists, neighbors, informants and gunmen; victims, journalists, historians and archivists. Keefe has a keen ear and muscular prose, as he guides us from the ‘disappearance’ of McConville to the generations-deep anti-colonial indignation of the IRA soldiers Dolours and Marian Price, to the valor of Brendan Hughes, a street-fighter in Belfast and, beyond that, to the craftiness of Gerry Adams as he navigates from the IRA to Sinn Féin, from warrior to politician.  We learn of British counter-insurgent General Frank Kitson as he implements terrorist “anti-terror” tactics in the north of Ireland, and we meet Kitson’s troops, informants, and agent provocateurs. In this morass of agendas, of cycles of repression and resistance, and continued imperial tenacity, Keefe’s equanimity and compassion is remarkable.


But only to a degree. The central villains of the piece are the Price women, Gerry Adams, a few Provisional IRA bombers, and gunmen, on one hand, and Brigadier Kitson and his murderous provocateurs on the other. In the middle are the victims, Jean McConnville and her 10 orphaned children. Add a lonely priest, well intended journalists straddling the borderlands, and trepid and timid Boston College academics who leak their oral history archive of The Troubles to British intelligence. Add these up and you’ve got a tremendous story. But there is a problem to Keefe’s equivalency: Insufficient weight is given to the weight of British occupation of Ireland from the late twelfth century, to the Cromwellian slaughters of the Irish, to Britain’s cruel rule during the Great Famine, to the murderous policies in the wake of the Easter Rebellion and, after the birth of the Irish Republic, to the continued brutal rule by British and Northern Irish Protestants and their coercive use of police, military, and civilian terror to keep possession of the Six Counties. Alas, Keefe’s recent books seem more and more interested in villainy, rogues, and less and less about the solidarity of their victims. His book on Ireland is good but I think, in this regard, stands unbalanced.




By Louis Segal. Louis was born in Oakland, raised his family in Oakland, dropped out of school in 1968, worked many jobs over the decades, dropped back into school in the 80s, got a Ph.D. in history, taught as an adjunct professor from 1993 to 2015. Retired but not withdrawn. 

What's Happening at the Library

Tuesdays - Toddler Storytime, 10:15 am

819 - Growing a Perennial Herb Garden, 11 am

8/19 - John Street Jumble, 4288 Montgomery

9 am - 1 pm

8/19 - Pom Pom Jewelry Craft, 2 pm

8/26 - Fish Bowl Painting Craft, 2 pm

9/9 - Book & Bake Sale, Key Route Plaza, 11am

9/19 - Friends of PAL meeting & Author's Talk,

6:30 pm

Our library is open 6 days a week

Sunday Closed

Monday: 10 am – 5:30 pm

Tuesday: 10 am – 8 pm

Wednesday: 10 am – 8 pm

 Thursday: 10 pm – 5:30 pm

Friday: 12 pm – 5:30 pm

Saturday: 10 am – 5:30 pm

The Friends of the Piedmont Avenue Library is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Our tax ID is 84-4203055.
All contributions are tax deductible.

A direct and compelling headline