Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Beyond Castle Rock

Well, what do we have here? The first two chapters of Stephen King's latest novel, "Cell," available online here.

I couldn't wait to dive in, but I wish someone had forewarned me. Stephen King seems to be done blowing up his fictional locale of Castle Rock, Maine, and now he's moved onto my neck of the woods: the Back Bay of Boston. By the end of chapter two, there's already been at least one murder on Boylston Street, a blood-curdling scream in the Boston Common, and a crash of one kind or another on Newbury Street.

Hey, Stephen, this time you're hitting a little bit too close to home. Okay, I'm still planning to buy your book and indulge in reading it from cover to cover at my earliest opportunity. But please, promise me you've left the Boston Public Library alone. Stephen, the BPL is just about a mile away from where the "incident" that launches the action in the rest of your novel takes place. Tell me that the BPL remains intact in your new novel. Please! Tell me. Some things are supposed to be sacred.

When a Library Rebuffs the FBI

Which is greater: the privacy that we enjoy at public libraries or the might of the Federal Bureau of Investigation? The former, if the latter fails to get a search warrant.

Here's the story, which you can read in full at the Boston Herald's Website. A "terrorist" threat was emailed to Brandeis University (in Waltham, Massachusetts) from a computer at the Newton Free Library (Newton, too, is a suburb of Boston).

So the FBI burst into the Newton Free Library and demanded access to the computers, and wanted to lock down the library. The library's director sent them packing until the FBI had obtained a search warrant. By that time, the library was closed for the day and, presumably, all the terrorists had long since gone home.

I'm not sure the library I frequented in my childhood would have dared to turn away a member of the local police department, let alone a Federal agent, for any reason. Then again, when I was a kid, most of the library's patrons were there to read books or periodicals. Computers, as far as I knew, hadn't been invented then, and neither had terrorists.

At least, that's the way it seemed to me.