Search Results for: reading with mary

Book Briefs: New University of Nebraska Press Books at the Nebraska Publications Clearinghouse

The Nebraska Publications Clearinghouse receives documents every month from all Nebraska state agencies, including the University of Nebraska Press (UNP).  Each month we will be showcasing the UNP books that the Clearinghouse has received.

UNP books, as well as all Nebraska state documents, are available for checkout by libraries and librarians for their patrons.

Here are the UNP books the Clearinghouse received in April 2022:

The Comic Book Western : New Perspectives on a Global Genre, Edited by Christopher Conway and Antoinette Sol ; Series: Postwestern Horizons

One of the greatest untold stories about the globalization of the Western is the key role of comics. Few American cultural exports have been as successful globally as the Western, a phenomenon commonly attributed to the widespread circulation of fiction, film, and television. The Comic Book Western centers comics in the Western’s international success. Even as readers consumed translations of American comic book Westerns, they fell in love with local ones that became national or international sensations.

These essays reveal the unexpected cross-pollinations that allowed the Western to emerge from and speak to a wide range of historical and cultural contexts, including Spanish and Italian fascism, Polish historical memory, the ideology of shōjo manga from Japan, British post-apocalypticism and the gothic, race and identity in Canada, Mexican gender politics, French critiques of manifest destiny, and gaucho nationalism in Argentina. The vibrant themes uncovered in The Comic Book Western teach us that international comic book Westerns are not hollow imitations but complex and aesthetically powerful statements about identity, culture, and politics.

Feminist Formalism and Early Modern Women’s Writing. Edited and with an introduction by Lara Dodds and Michelle M. Dowd ; Series: Women and Gender in the Early Modern World 

Feminist Formalism and Early Modern Women’s Writing reexamines the relationship between gender and form in early modern women’s writing in essays that elaborate the specific literary strategies of women writers, that examine women’s debts to and appropriations of different literary genres, and that offer practical suggestions for the teaching of women’s texts in several different contexts. Contributors explore the possibility of feminist formalism, a methodology that both attends to the structural, rhetorical, and other formal techniques of a given text and takes gender as a central category of analysis. This collection contends that feminist formalism is a useful tool for scholars of the early modern period and for literary studies more broadly because it marries the traditional questions of formalism—including questions of style, genre, and literary history—with the political and cultural concerns of feminist inquiry.

Contributors reposition works by important women writers—such as Margaret Cavendish, Hester Pulter, Mary Wroth, and Katherine Philips—as central to the development of English literary tradition. By examining a variety of texts written by women, including recipes, emblems, exchanges, and poetry, Feminist Formalism and Early Modern Women’s Writing contributes to existing scholarship on early modern women’s writing while extending it in new and important directions.

History of Theory and Method in Anthropology. By Regna Darnell ; Series: Critical Studies in the History of Anthropology

Regna Darnell offers a critical reexamination of the theoretical orientation of the Americanist tradition, centered on the work of Franz Boas, and the professionalization of anthropology as an academic discipline in the United States in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. History of Theory and Method in Anthropology reveals the theory schools, institutions, and social networks of scholars and fieldworkers primarily interested in the ethnography of North American Indigenous peoples. Darnell’s fifty-year career entails foundational writings in the four fields of the discipline: cultural anthropology, ethnography, linguistics, and physical anthropology.

Leading researchers, theorists, and fieldwork subjects include Claude Lévi-Strauss, Franz Boas, Benjamin Lee Whorf, John Wesley Powell, Frederica de Laguna, Dell Hymes, George Stocking Jr., and Anthony F. C. Wallace, as well as nineteenth-century Native language classifications, ethnography, ethnohistory, social psychology, structuralism, rationalism, biologism, mentalism, race science, human nature and cultural relativism, ethnocentrism, standpoint-based epistemology, collaborative research, and applied anthropology. History of Theory and Method in Anthropology is an essential volume for scholars and undergraduate and graduate students to enter into the history of the inductive theory schools and methodologies of the Americanist tradition and its legacies.

Liverpool to Great Salt Lake : the 1851 Journal of Missionary George D. Watt. Edited by LaJean Purcell Carruth & Ronald G. Watt, Transcription by LaJean Purcell Carruth.

George Darling Watt was the first convert of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints baptized in the British Isles. He emigrated to Nauvoo, Illinois, in 1842. He returned to the British Isles in 1846 as a missionary, accompanied by his wife and young son. He remained there until 1851, when he led a group of emigrant converts to Salt Lake City, Utah. Watt recorded his journey from Liverpool to Chimney Rock in Pitman shorthand. Remarkably, his journal wasn’t discovered until 2001—and is transcribed and appearing for the first time in this book.

Watt’s journal provides an important glimpse into the transatlantic nature of Latter-day Saint migration to Salt Lake City. In 1850 there were more Latter-day Saints in England than in the United States, but by 1890 more than eighty-five thousand converts had crossed the Atlantic and made their way to Salt Lake City. Watt’s 1851 journal opens a window into those overseas, riverine, and overland journeys. His spirited accounts provide wide-ranging details about the births, marriages, deaths, Sunday sermons, interpersonal relations, weather, and food and water shortages of the journey, as well as the many logistical complexities.

Making the Marvelous : Marie-Catherine d’Aulnoy, Henriette-Julie Murat, and the Literary Representation of the Decorative Arts. By Rori Bloom ; Series: Early Modern Cultural Studies

At a moment when France was coming to new prominence in the production of furniture and fashion, the fairy tales of Marie-Catherine d’Aulnoy (1652–1705) and Henriette-Julie de Murat (1670–1716) gave pride of place to richly detailed descriptions of palaces, gardens, clothing, and toys. Through close readings of these authors’ descriptive prose, Rori Bloom shows how these practitioners of a supposedly minor genre made a major contribution as chroniclers and critics of the decorative arts in Old Regime France. Identifying these authors’ embrace of the pretty and the playful as a response to a frequent critique of fairy tales as childish and feminine, Making the Marvelous demonstrates their integration of artisan’s work, child’s play, and the lady’s toilette into a complex vision of creativity. D’Aulnoy and Murat changed the stakes of the fairy tale, Bloom argues: instead of inviting their readers to marvel at the magic that changes rags to riches, they enjoined them to acknowledge the skill that transforms raw materials into beautiful works of art.

Unconquerable : the Story of John Ross, Chief of the Cherokees, 1828-1866. Edited and with an introduction by Lionel Larre’.

Unconquerable is John Milton Oskison’s biography of John Ross, written in the 1930s but unpublished until now. John Ross was principal chief of the Cherokees from 1828 to his death in 1866. Through the story of John Ross, Oskison also tells the story of the Cherokee Nation through some of its most dramatic events in the nineteenth century: the nation’s difficult struggle against Georgia, its forced removal on the Trail of Tears, its internal factionalism, the Civil War, and the reconstruction of the nation in Indian Territory west of the Mississippi.

Ross remains one of the most celebrated Cherokee heroes: his story is an integral part not only of Cherokee history but also of the history of Indian Territory and of the United States. With a critical introduction by noted Oskison scholar Lionel Larré, Unconquerable sheds light on the critical work of an author who deserves more attention from both the public and scholars of Native American studies.

The Winning Ticket : Uncovering America’s Biggest Lottery Scam. By Rob Sand with Reid Forgrave.

The Winning Ticket is an inside look at one of the most complicated yet seat-of-your-pants financial investigations and prosecutions in recent history. Rob Sand, the youngest attorney in his office, was assigned a new case by his boss, who was days away from retirement. Inside the thin accordion binder Sand received was meager evidence that had been gathered over the course of two years by Iowa authorities regarding a suspicious lottery ticket. No one expected the case to go anywhere. No dead body, no shots fired, and no money paid out. Why should they care? There was no certainty that a crime had even been committed. But a mysterious Belizean trust had attempted to claim the $16 million ticket, then decided to forgo the money and maintain anonymity when the State of Iowa demanded to know who had purchased the ticket. Who values anonymity over that much money?

Both a story of small-town America and a true-crime saga about the largest lottery-rigging scheme in American history, The Winning Ticket follows the investigation all the way down the rabbit hole to uncover how Eddie Tipton was able to cheat the system to win jackpots over $16 million and go more than a decade without being caught—until Sand inherited the case.

Just as remarkable as the crime are the real-life characters met along the way: an honest fireworks salesman, a hoodwinked FBI agent, a crooked Texas lawman, a shady attorney representing a Belizean trust, and, yes, Bigfoot hunters. While some of the characters are nearly unbelievable, the everyday themes of integrity and hard work resonate throughout the saga. As the case builds toward a reckoning, The Winning Ticket demonstrates how a new day has dawned in prosecuting complex technological crimes.

**Synopses courtesy of University of Nebraska Press.

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#BookFaceFriday “Portrait of an Unknown Lady” by María Gainza

This #BookFaceFriday is a work of art!

An air of mystery surrounds this week’s #BookFace. Dive into the world of counterfeit art and forgeries with “Portrait of an Unknown Lady: A Novel” by María Gainza, translated by Thomas Bunstead (Catapult, 2022.) It’s available as an eBook in Nebraska OverDrive Libraries; add it to your holds list today! One woman who is known by all of our book club kit users is this week’s model, Mary Geibel. She’s been staffing our front desk for years, but recently she’s taken a new position as our Library Development Office Specialist, helping our Library Development team with Accreditation and Certification, CE credits, grants, and more. If you get the chance, tell her congratulations!

“A mesmerizing deep dive into the art world through a neo-noir female detective’s quest to find a forger in Buenos Aires . . . Dreamy and atmospheric . . . Portrait of an Unknown Lady, eschewing structure and neat plot convention for vibrant language and a hypnotic voice, complicates rather than clarifies the stories that are told about enigmatic women.”

Shelf Awareness (starred review)

Find this title and many more through Nebraska OverDrive! Libraries participating in the Nebraska OverDrive Libraries Group currently have access to a shared and growing collection of digital downloadable audiobooks and eBooks. 188 libraries across the state share the Nebraska OverDrive collection of 21,696 audiobooks, 35,200 eBooks, and 3,964 magazines. As an added bonus it includes 130 podcasts that are always available with simultaneous use (SU), as well as SU ebooks and audiobook titles that publishers have made available for a limited time. If you’re a part of it, let your users know about this great title, and if you’re not a member yet, find more information about participating in Nebraska Overdrive Libraries!

Love this #BookFace & reading? Check out our past #BookFaceFriday photos on the Nebraska Library Commission’s Facebook page!

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Friday Reads: Celebrating Jolabokaflod

Jolabokaflod, or “Christmas Book Flood” in English, is the Icelandic tradition of giving books on Christmas Eve and reading into the night. Here are two books I am gifting my friends Vern and Jon for their Christmas Eve reading.

Vern was born the same day and year as Stanley Tucci and honestly, there are some passages in Taste that make me believe there could be something to birthday twins being similar. Vern’s husband Jon is a huge Foo Fighters fan, and all the press Dave Grohl’s book, The Storyteller, received made me curious to learn more about this musician’s life.  I think it is helpful (mandatory?) to read a book before you gift it because giving books can be a burden to the recipient — if you don’t believe in the book, why should they? I’m pretty certain I have a sure thing with both titles.

For those who aren’t familiar with Stanley Tucci, he became an internet sensation this past spring for his viral instructional video on mixing a negroni which is, incidentally, the very first recipe in his book. The recipe concludes with the following instructions: sit down, drink it, declaring, “the sun is now in your stomach.” Tucci’s book is a memoir through the lens of food. There are chapters on his Italian parents and their traditions; the family’s year spent living in Italy; restaurants and life in New York as a young actor; food on several film sets and locations; food with his wife, Kate; life in London with his wife, Felicity; and surviving tongue cancer. This book also complements the CNN Series Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy, which aired earlier this year and is still available for viewing on demand if you missed it the first time around. And good news, there is confirmation of season two!

I devoured this book, and knowing I would be sharing it with Vern I consumed it with anticipatory glee, imagining his reactions. And even though I listened to Tucci narrate the audio edition of his book, I used post it notes to mark certain passages in Vern’s print edition that I hoped would stand out. I predict the New York chapter and the Meryl Streep Julie and Julia chapter will be favorites. I read a review of this audiobook that said “listening to this memoir is not a completely successful experience,” but in my opinion that reviewer is simply wrong. While it’s nice to have the recipes in print, listening to Tucci speak Italian and curse makes the audio preferable to me.  During the pandemic, armchair travel was all many of us could do, and if Italy is on your list? Get Tucci’s book, watch his series, boil some pasta, and you’ll be halfway to celebrating la dolce vita!

As a former musician, I found Grohl’s process of coming to music as a vocation fascinating. Like the Beatles and my personal favorite, James Taylor, Grohl never learned to read music.  Dave taught himself to play by fastidiously listening to music and literally making the drum sounds with his teeth, leading his dentist to wonder what caused his early dental deterioration. Because he couldn’t rely on written music, there was a memorization that made the music a part of him. He does admit to taking one drum lesson where he was told he was holding his sticks wrong, but that was his only formal education. Grohl also described how he experienced music through synesthesia – a process when hearing music makes you see shapes or smell something specific. It is, quite literally, “a neurological condition in which information meant to stimulate one of your senses stimulates several of your senses.”

The relationship between Dave and his mom is also one to cherish. Her counsel and support to a son who was danger prone (a frequent visitor to the ER) and not driven to scholarly success was affirming to read, especially knowing that it all worked out in the end. As a single mom, he describes her as his best friend. This famous relationship is documented in a book written by Virginia Grohl: From Cradle to Stage: Stories from the Mothers Who Rocked and Raised Rock Stars .

After reading several memoirs and biographies, I have to comment that Dave’s attention to his relationships lacks details. Describing a particular recording session, he mentions his marriage was falling apart, and unless I missed it there was no prior mention of a marriage. He begins another paragraph with a phone conversation to his mom by saying, “Mom, we’re having a girl.”  It’s possible wives past and present wanted little mention in the book or maybe that’s just the way Dave rolls. The overall takeaway for me is that Dave is driven and deeply introspective in a way that has served him well. I admired his ability to make and maintain friends throughout his life and his tenacious optimism.

And – if you’re wondering what my neighbor Mary is reading? Once I found the very first book in the Mitford Series in her book stacks, she was completely engaged with these characters and the North Carolina setting. She read all of the books in a couple of months. She followed the series by reading the Stanley Tucci book I loaned her and has now started on the Louise Penny Inspector Gamach series.  I gave her a copy of Rosamund Pilcher’s Winter Solstice for her birthday in October and we read it together for the holiday, a book that I learned she had purchased years ago and I located recently, tucked away in her collection. I only brought back to her what she had already found but had forgotten about. Happy Jolabokaflod everyone!

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#BookFaceFriday “The Forest of Hands and Teeth” by Carrie Ryan

This #BookFaceFriday is something to write about!

It’s November, which means it’s time for #NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month! This annual challenge to write 50,000 words of a novel has resulted in hundreds of thousands of new books since 1999, including this week’s #BookFaceFriday, “The Forest of Hands and Teeth” by Carrie Ryan (Random House Children’s Books, 2009). It’s available as both an eBook and audiobook in the Nebraska OverDrive Libraries. Find it and other November-written novels in the #NaNoWriMo collection. Plus new titles, both nonfiction and fiction, are added daily to Nebraska Overdrive Libraries!

““Mary’s observant, careful narration pulls readers into a bleak but gripping story of survival and the endless capacity of humanity to persevere . . .Fresh and riveting.””

Publishers Weekly

Libraries participating in the Nebraska OverDrive Libraries Group currently have access to a shared and growing collection of digital downloadable audiobooks and eBooks. 186 libraries across the state share the Nebraska OverDrive collection of 26,554 audiobooks, 32,935 eBooks, and 3,940 magazines. As an added bonus it includes 130 podcasts that are always available with simultaneous use (SU), as well as SU ebooks and audiobook titles that publishers have made available for a limited time. If you’re a part of it, let your users know about this great title, and if you’re not a member yet, find more information about participating in Nebraska Overdrive Libraries!

Love this #BookFace & reading? Check out our past #BookFaceFriday photos on the Nebraska Library Commission’s Facebook page!

 
 

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Friday Reads: The Road by Cormac McCarthy

“He thought the month was October but he wasnt sure. He hadnt kept a calendar for years …
He lowered the glasses and pulled down the cotton mask from his face.”

This is how Cormac McCarthy’s The Road begins.  

It sounds familiar. It sounds relevant — timely; I was afraid, almost, that it would be too timely.

I’d read The Road before, years ago, and it easily became a favorite. Something about McCarthy’s prose is more akin to poetry, and that teetering, razor-edge brilliance of darkness not entirely lost to despair. This is a book whose memory of reading has haunted me through our own ever seeming dystopia; the world darkening through the corners like a vignette. And something beckoned me towards the book again; a glimmer of hope, survival.  

This time, I chose the audiobook. Because this time, I was thinking about stories, and what will come next, and what came before: how stories were told without paper, how simple it seems to carry something that weighs nothing more than the air in your lungs. How stories might ask to be told again, in the future (a clock, time, is a great circle).  

I’m a reluctant convert to audiobooks — my attention “span” is more of a blip these days, but I ended up listening while laying in bed, right before sleep. I’m sure this was partially responsible for some stressful dreams, but to be honest, they weren’t really any worse than normal. 

The other trouble I have with audiobooks — the primary reason for my hesitation — is that I am so very picky about narrators. When I first played the recording of The Road, courtesy of my public library’s hoopla service, I almost backed out.  

At first, hearing McCarthy’s words read instead of reading them was a jolt. McCarthy’s style is sparse — he eschews punctuation, dialogue tags, constructs sentences in short, sharp bursts. To hear it spoken out was so different than seeing it on the page; and yet, as I adjusted, listening ended up grounding the prose much more familiar terms. And, to be honest, it became enjoyable. When less engaged from the work of literature, I picked up on new dynamics of the story, new emotions; the narrator Tom Stechschulte, delineated the characters with excellent voices, and added a layer of closeness I don’t think I’d had to the story before. I’d originally enjoyed The Road because the language was gorgeous, and I like McCarthy’s style. I respected the human element, but I hadn’t connected to it. Having an actual person read the story — bring it to life, add dimension, did that for me in a way that hearing the story in the theater of my own mind wasn’t quite able to do. Near the midway point in the book, there’s a scene between the man and his wife — a terrible argument, about the horrors and reality of their future — that I felt was so well acted, and I was caught up in it, breathless.

The center of The Road is the man, and the boy — his son, his only son, and his legacy, and his only reason for living — unnamed and surviving the last gasps of a world ended on the road, trying to make it south, to the coast where the winter might be survived. On the surface, there’s really no reason to survive. Nothing is going to get better; in fact, in a world where cannibalism has become a fore-running dietary option, humanity made macabre ouroboros, it’s safe to say things are only going to get worse. Yet, call it foolish, call it stubbornness, call it humanity — the man and the boy keep going. Still they keep going, down the road.

I’ve always read that as the definition of hope, and now I’ve heard it, too.

McCarthy, Cormac. The Road. Narrated by Tom Stechschulte, Recorded Books, Inc., 2006. Audiobook.

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Book Briefs: New University of Nebraska Press Books at the Nebraska Publications Clearinghouse

The Nebraska Publications Clearinghouse receives documents every month from all Nebraska state agencies, including the University of Nebraska Press (UNP).  Each month we will be showcasing the UNP books that the Clearinghouse receives.  UNP books, as well as all Nebraska state documents, are available for checkout by libraries and librarians for their patrons.

Here are the University of Nebraska Press books received in May and June 2021:

Abstract Design in American Quilts at 50 : 1971-2021

Edited by Marin F. Hanson ; Contributing authors: Jonathan Holstein, Carolyn Ducey, Sandra Sider, Jonathan Gregory, Nao Nomura, and Marin F. Hanson

Fifty years after its debut, the exhibition Abstract Design in American Quilts is remembered as a pivotal moment in the intersecting histories of art, craft, and design. Installed at New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art in 1971, the exhibition presented traditional American pieced quilts on walls more commonly used to display modern art such as abstract expressionist paintings. The exhibition, curated by Jonathan Holstein and Gail van der Hoof from their own collection, unexpectedly struck a chord with museumgoers and art critics alike, breaking attendance records and subsequently traveling to museums across the United States, Europe, and Japan.

With Abstract Design in American Quilts at 50, an exhibition series that includes an installation of the original quilt group, the International Quilt Museum at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln reexamines the half-century impact of this watershed exhibition. In five essays, leading quilt scholars assess the areas upon which the exhibition, in its various iterations, had its greatest impact, most notably the growth of quiltmaking across the United States and in art circles. The essays also discuss broader cultural phenomena that produced an environment in which quilts and other forms of material culture could be viewed and valued in new ways.

Black Snake : Standing Rock, the Dakota Access Pipeline, and Environmental Justice

By Katherine Wiltenburg Todrys

The controversial Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) made headlines around the world in 2016. Supporters called the pipeline key to safely transporting American oil from the Bakken oil fields of the northern plains to markets nationwide, essential to both national security and prosperity. Native activists named it the “black snake,” referring to an ancient prophecy about a terrible snake that would one day devour the earth. Activists rallied near the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota for months in opposition to DAPL, winning an unprecedented but temporary victory before the federal government ultimately permitted the pipeline. Oil began flowing on June 1, 2017.

The water protector camps drew global support and united more than three hundred tribes in perhaps the largest Native alliance in U.S. history. While it faced violent opposition, the peaceful movement against DAPL has become one of the most crucial human rights movements of our time.

Black Snake is the story of four leaders—LaDonna Allard, Jasilyn Charger, Lisa DeVille, and Kandi White—and their fight against the pipeline. It is the story of Native nations combating environmental injustice and longtime discrimination and rebuilding their communities. It is the story of a new generation of environmental activists, galvanized at Standing Rock, becoming the protectors of America’s natural resources.

California & Hawai’i Bound : U.S. Settler Colonialism and the Pacific West, 1848-1959

By Henry Knight Lozano ; Series: Studies in Pacific Worlds

Beginning in the era of Manifest Destiny, U.S. settlers, writers, politicians, and boosters worked to bind California and Hawai‘i together in the American imagination, emphasizing white settlement and capitalist enterprise. In California and Hawai‘i Bound Henry Knight Lozano explores how these settlers and boosters promoted and imagined California and Hawai‘i as connected places and sites for U.S. settler colonialism, and how this relationship reveals the fraught constructions of an Americanized Pacific West from the 1840s to the 1950s.

The growing ties of promotion and development between the two places also fostered the promotion of “perils” over this transpacific relationship, from Native Hawaiians who opposed U.S. settler colonialism to many West Coast Americans who articulated social and racial dangers from closer bonds with Hawai‘i, illustrating how U.S. promotional expansionism in the Pacific existed alongside defensive peril in the complicated visions of Americanization that linked California and Hawai‘i.

California and Hawai‘i Bound demonstrates how the settler colonial discourses of Americanization that connected California and Hawai‘i evolved and refracted alongside socioeconomic developments and native resistance, during a time when U.S. territorial expansion, transoceanic settlement and tourism, and capitalist investment reconstructed both the American West and the eastern Pacific.

Cattle Country : Livestock in the Cultural Imagination

By Kathryn Cornell Dolan ; Series: At Table

As beef and cattle production progressed in nineteenth-century America, the cow emerged as the nation’s representative food animal and earned a culturally prominent role in the literature of the day. In Cattle Country Kathryn Cornell Dolan examines the role cattle played in narratives throughout the century to show how the struggles within U.S. food culture mapped onto society’s broader struggles with colonization, environmentalism, U.S. identity, ethnicity, and industrialization.

Dolan examines diverse texts from Native American, African American, Mexican American, and white authors that showcase the zeitgeist of anxiety surrounding U.S. identity as cattle gradually became an industrialized food source, altering the country’s culture while exacting a high cost to humans, animals, and the land. From Henry David Thoreau’s descriptions of indigenous cuisines as a challenge to the rising monoculture, to Washington Irving’s travel narratives that foreshadow cattle replacing American bison in the West, to María Amparo Ruiz de Burton’s use of cattle to connect race and imperialism in her work, authors’ preoccupations with cattle underscored their concern for resource depletion, habitat destruction, and the wasteful overproduction of a single breed of livestock.

Cattle Country offers a window into the ways authors worked to negotiate the consequences of the development of this food culture and, by excavating the history of U.S. settler colonialism through the figure of cattle, sheds new ecocritical light on nineteenth-century literature.

Engendering Islands : Sexuality, Reproduction, and Violence in the Early French Caribbean

By Ashley M. Williard ; Series: Women and Gender in the Early Modern World

In seventeenth-century Antilles the violence of dispossession and enslavement was mapped onto men’s and women’s bodies, bolstered by resignified tropes of gender, repurposed concepts of disability, and emerging racial discourses. As colonials and ecclesiastics developed local practices and institutions—particularly family formation and military force—they consolidated old notions into new categories that affected all social groups.

In Engendering Islands Ashley M. Williard argues that early Caribbean reconstructions of masculinity and femininity sustained occupation, slavery, and nascent ideas of race. In the face of historical silences, Williard’s close readings of archival and narrative texts reveals the words, images, and perspectives that reflected and produced new ideas of human difference. Juridical, religious, and medical discourses expose the interdependence of multiple conditions—male and female, enslaved and free, Black and white, Indigenous and displaced, normative and disabled—in the islands claimed for the French Crown.

In recent years scholars have interrogated key aspects of Atlantic slavery, but none have systematically approached the archive of gender, particularly as it intersects with race and disability, in the seventeenth-century French Caribbean. The constructions of masculinity and femininity embedded in this early colonial context help elucidate attendant notions of otherness and the systems of oppression they sustained. Williard shows the ways gender contributed to and complicated emerging notions of racial difference that justified slavery and colonial domination, thus setting the stage for centuries of French imperialism.

Everybody’s Jonesin’ For Something

By Indigo Moor ; Series: The Backwaters Prize in Poetry Honorable Mention

Turning an unflinching spotlight on the American Dream, Indigo Moor plunges headfirst into national—and personal—laments and desires. From Emmett Till to the fall of the Twin Towers and through the wildfires of Paradise, California, Moor weaves a thread through the hopes, sacrifices, and Sisyphean yearnings that make this country the beautiful trap that it is. Everybody’s Jonesin’ for Something takes an imagistic leap through the darker side of our search for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, perusing what we lose, what we leave behind, and what strange beauty we uncover.

French St. Louis : Landscape, Contexts, and Legacy

Edited by Jay Gitlin, Robert Michael Morrissey, and Peter J. Kastor ; Series: France Overseas: Studies in Empire and Decolonization

A gateway to the West and an outpost for eastern capital and culture, St. Louis straddled not only geographical and political divides but also cultural, racial, and sectional ones. At the same time, it connected a vast region as a gathering place of peoples, cultures, and goods. The essays in this collection contextualize St. Louis, exploring French-Native relations, the agency of empire in the Illinois Country, the role of women in “mapping” the French colonial world, fashion and identity, and commodities and exchange in St. Louis as part of a broader politics of consumption in colonial America. The collection also provides a comparative perspective on America’s two great Creole cities, St. Louis and New Orleans. Lastly, it looks at the Frenchness of St. Louis in the nineteenth century and the present.

French St. Louis recasts the history of St. Louis and reimagines regional development in the early American republic, shedding light on its francophone history.

The Greater Plains : Rethinking a Region’s Environmental Histories

Edited by Brian Frehner & Kathleen A Brosnan

The Greater Plains tells a new story of a region, stretching from the state of Texas to the province of Alberta, where the environments are as varied as the myriad ways people have inhabited them. These innovative essays document a complicated history of human interactions with a sometimes plentiful and sometimes foreboding landscape, from the Native Americans who first shaped the prairies with fire to twentieth-century oil regimes whose pipelines linked the region to the world.

The Greater Plains moves beyond the narrative of ecological desperation that too often defines the region in scholarly works and in popular imagination. Using the lenses of grasses, animals, water, and energy, the contributors reveal tales of human adaptation through technologies ranging from the travois to bookkeeping systems and hybrid wheat. Transnational in its focus and interdisciplinary in its scholarship, The Greater Plains brings together leading historians, geographers, anthropologists, and archaeologists to chronicle a past rich with paradoxical successes and failures, conflicts and cooperation, but also continual adaptation to the challenging and ever-shifting environmental conditions of the North American heartland.

Hostages of Empire : Colonial Prisoners of War in Vichy France

By Sarah Ann Frank ; Series: France Overseas: Studies in Empire and Decolonization

Hostages of Empire combines a social history of colonial prisoner-of-war experiences with a broader analysis of their role in Vichy’s political tensions with the country’s German occupiers. The colonial prisoners of war came from across the French Empire, they fought in the Battle for France in 1940, and they were captured by the German Army. Unlike their French counterparts, who were taken to Germany, the colonial POWs were interned in camps called Frontstalags throughout occupied France. This decision to keep colonial POWs in France defined not only their experience of captivity but also how the French and German authorities reacted to them.

Hostages of Empire examines how the entanglement of French national pride after the 1940 defeat and the need for increased imperial control shaped the experiences of 85,000 soldiers in German captivity. Sarah Ann Frank analyzes the nature of Vichy’s imperial commitments and collaboration with its German occupiers and argues that the Vichy regime actively improved conditions of captivity for colonial prisoners in an attempt to secure their present and future loyalty. This French “magnanimity” toward the colonial prisoners was part of a broader framework of racial difference and hierarchy. As such, the relatively dignified treatment of colonial prisoners must be viewed as a paradox in light of Vichy and Free French racism in the colonies and the Vichy regime’s complicity in the Holocaust. Hostages of Empire seeks to reconcile two previously rather distinct histories: that of metropolitan France and that of the French colonies during World War II.

Indian Soldiers in World War I : Race and Representation in an Imperial War

By Andrew T. Jarboe ; Series: Studies in War, Society, and the Military

More than one million Indian soldiers were deployed during World War I, serving in the Indian Army as part of Britain’s imperial war effort. These men fought in France and Belgium, Egypt and East Africa, and Gallipoli, Palestine, and Mesopotamia. 

In Indian Soldiers in World War I Andrew T. Jarboe  follows these Indian soldiers—or sepoys—across the battlefields, examining the contested representations British and Indian audiences drew from the soldiers’ wartime experiences and the impacts these representations had on the British Empire’s racial politics. Presenting overlooked or forgotten connections, Jarboe argues that Indian soldiers’ presence on battlefields across three continents contributed decisively to the British Empire’s final victory in the war. While the war and Indian soldiers’ involvement led to a hardening of the British Empire’s prewar racist ideologies and governing policies, the battlefield contributions of Indian soldiers fueled Indian national aspirations and calls for racial equality. When Indian soldiers participated in the brutal suppression of anti-government demonstrations in India at war’s end, they set the stage for the eventual end of British rule in South Asia.

Indigenous Languages and the Promise of Archives

Edited by Adrianna Link, Abigail Shelton, and Patrick Spero ; Series: New Visions in Native American and Indigenous Studies

Indigenous Languages and the Promise of Archives captures the energy and optimism that many feel about the future of community-based scholarship, which involves the collaboration of archives, scholars, and Native American communities. The American Philosophical Society is exploring new applications of materials in its library to partner on collaborative projects that assist the cultural and linguistic revitalization movements within Native communities. A paradigm shift is driving researchers to reckon with questionable practices used by scholars and libraries in the past to pursue documents relating to Native Americans, practices that are often embedded in the content of the collections themselves.

The Center for Native American and Indigenous Research at the American Philosophical Society brought together this volume of historical and contemporary case studies highlighting the importance of archival materials for the revitalization of Indigenous languages. Essays written by archivists, historians, anthropologists, knowledge-keepers, and museum professionals, cover topics critical to language revitalization work; they tackle long-standing debates about ownership, access, and control of Indigenous materials stored in repositories; and they suggest strategies for how to decolonize collections in the service of community-based priorities. Together these essays reveal the power of collaboration for breathing new life into historical documents.

The JPS Jewish Heritage Torah Commentary

By Rabbi Eli L. Garfinkel ; Series: JPS Study Bible

The JPS Jewish Heritage Torah Commentary shows Jews of all ages and backgrounds that the Jewish people’s most significant book is not dusty and irrelevant but an eternally sacred text wholly pertinent to our modern lives. Designed to keep the attention of all readers, each lively essay is both brief enough to be read in minutes and deep and substantive enough to deliver abundant food for thought.

Its cornerstone is its unique four-part meditation on the Jewish heritage. After briefly summarizing a Torah portion, the commentary orbits that portion through four central pillars of Jewish life—the Torah (Torat Yisrael), the land of Israel (Eretz Yisrael), the Jewish people (Am Yisrael), and Jewish thought (Mahshevet Yisrael)—illuminating how the four intersect and enrich one another. Furthering the Jewish thought motif, every essay ends with two questions for thought well suited for discussion settings. Each commentary can be used as the launchpad for a lesson, a sermon, a d’var Torah, or a discussion.

Readers from beginners to experts will come away with new understandings of our Jewish heritage—and be inspired to draw closer to its four dimensions.

Maestro : André Tchelistcheff and the Rebirth of Napa Valley

By James O. Gump ; Series: At Table

Wine insiders called André Tchelistcheff the “winemaker’s winemaker,” the “wine doctor,” and simply “maestro.” After Prohibition brought Napa Valley and its wine industry to the brink of catastrophe, Tchelistcheff (1901–94) proved essential in its revitalization.

Tchelistcheff’s unique background—a sickly child, a Russian émigré forced from his homeland during the Bolshevik Revolution, a White Army lieutenant who fought in the Crimea, a physical laborer in a Bulgarian coal mine, a Czechoslovakian-trained agronomist, and a French-schooled viticulturist and enologist—prepared him for a remarkable winemaking career. He spent thirty-five years in Napa Valley’s Beaulieu Vineyard and nearly two “post-retirement” decades doing freelance consulting work for more than thirty wineries.

His early struggles forged his principal character traits, which he passed on to an entire generation of winemakers. His students, including some of the most accomplished winemakers of the post-Prohibition period, marveled over their mentor’s sense of authority, profound insight, humble presence, and abundant wisdom.

This inspiring account of Tchelistcheff’s life includes interviews with friends, family, and mentees, which reveal how one man used his passion and knowledge to help save a community on the edge of disaster. In Maestro James O. Gump preserves the memory of a fascinating individual and one of the most influential winemakers of the modern era.

The Melancholy Void : Lyric and Masculinity in the Age of Góngora

By Felipe Valencia ; Series: New Hispanisms

At the turn of the seventeenth century, Spanish lyric underwent a notable development. Several Spanish poets reinvented lyric as a melancholy and masculinist discourse that sang of and perpetrated symbolic violence against the female beloved. This shift emerged in response to the rising prestige and commercial success of the epic and was enabled by the rich discourse on the link between melancholy and creativity in men.

In The Melancholy Void Felipe Valencia examines this reconstruction of the lyric in key texts of Spanish poetry from 1580 to 1620. Through a study of canonical and influential texts, such as the major poems by Luis de Góngora and the epic of Alonso de Ercilla, but also lesser-known texts, such as the lyrics by Miguel de Cervantes, The Melancholy Void addresses four understudied problems in the scholarship of early modern Spanish poetry: the use of gender violence in love poetry as a way to construct the masculinity of the poetic speaker; the exploration in Spanish poetry of the link between melancholy and male creativity; the impact of epic on Spanish lyric; and the Spanish contribution to the fledgling theory of the lyric.

The Melancholy Void brings poetry and lyric theory to the conversation in full force and develops a distinct argument about the integral role of gender violence in a prominent strand of early modern Spanish lyric that ran from Garcilaso to Góngora and beyond.

More in Time : A Tribute to Ted Kooser

Edited by Jessica Poli, Marco Abel, and Timothy Schaffert

More in Time is a celebration and tribute to Ted Kooser, two-time U.S. Poet Laureate, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, and Presidential Professor of the University of Nebraska. Through personal reflections, essays, and creative works both inspired by and dedicated to Kooser, this collection shines a light on the many ways the midwestern poet has affected others as a teacher, mentor, colleague, and friend, as well as a fellow writer and observer-of-the-world. The creative responses included in this volume are reflective of the impact Kooser has had in his connections to other writers, while also revealing glimpses of his distinct way of seeing.

The New White Race : Settler Colonialism and the Press in French Algeria, 1860-1914

By Charlotte Ann Legg ; Series: France Overseas: Studies in Empire and Decolonization

The New White Race traces the development of the press in Algeria between 1860 and 1914, examining the particular role of journalists in shaping the power dynamics of settler colonialism. Constrained in different ways by the limitations imposed on free expression in a colonial context, diverse groups of European settlers, Algerian Muslims, and Algerian Jews nevertheless turned to the press to articulate their hopes and fears for the future of the land they inhabited and to imagine forms of community which would continue to influence political debates until the Algerian War. The frontiers of these imagined communities did not necessarily correlate with those of the nation—either French or Algerian—but framed processes of identification that were at once local, national, and transnational.

The New White Race explores these processes of cultural and political identification, highlighting the production practices, professional networks, and strategic-linguistic choices mobilized by journalists as they sought to influence the sentiments of their readers and the decisions of the French state. Announcing the creation of a “new white race” among the mixed European population of Algeria, settler journalists hoped to increase the autonomy of the settler colony without forgoing the protections afforded by their French rulers. Their ambivalent expressions of “French” belonging, however, reflected tensions among the colonizers; these tensions were ably exploited by those who sought to transform or contest French imperial rule.

Not a Big Deal : Narrating to Unsettle

By Paul Ardoin ; Series: Frontiers of Narrative

Not a Big Deal asks how texts might work to unsettle readers at a moment when unwelcome information is rejected as fake news or rebutted with alternative facts. When readers already recognize “defamiliarizing texts” as a category, how might texts still work toward the goals of defamiliarization? When readers refuse to grapple with texts that might shock them or disrupt their extant views about politics, race, or even narrative itself, how can texts elicit real engagement?

This study draws from philosophy, narratology, social neuroscience, critical theory, and numerous other disciplines to read texts ranging from novels and short stories to graphic novels, films, and fiction broadcasted and podcasted—all of which enact curious strategies of disruption while insisting that they do no such thing.

Following a model traceable to Toni Morrison’s criticism and short fiction, texts by Kyle Baker, Scott Brown, Percival Everett, Daniel Handler, David Robert Mitchell, Jordan Peele, and Colson Whitehead suggest new strategies for unsettling the category-based perceptions behind what Everett calls “the insidious colonialist reader’s eye which infects America.” Not a Big Deal examines problems in our perception of the world and of texts and insists we do the same.

On the Sidelines : Gendered Neoliberalism and the American Female Sportscaster

By Guy Harrison ; Series: Sports, Media, and Society

When sports fans turn on the television or radio today, they undoubtedly find more women on the air than ever before. Nevertheless, women sportscasters are still subjected to gendered and racialized mistreatment in the workplace and online and are largely confined to anchor and sideline reporter positions in coverage of high-profile men’s sports. In On the Sidelines Guy Harrison weaves in-depth interviews with women sportscasters, focus groups with sports fans, and a collection of media products to argue that gendered neoliberalism—a cluster of exclusionary twenty-first-century feminisms—maintains this status quo.

Spinning a cohesive narrative, Harrison shows how sportscasting’s dependence on gendered neoliberalism broadly places the onus on women for their own success despite systemic sexism and racism. As a result, women in the industry are left to their own devices to navigate double standards, bias in hiring and development for certain on-air positions, harassment, and emotional labor. Through the lens of gendered neoliberalism, On the Sidelines examines each of these challenges and analyzes how they have been reshaped and maintained to construct a narrow portrait of the ideal neoliberal female sportscaster. Consequently, these challenges are taken for granted as “natural,” sustaining women’s marginalization in the sportscasting industry.

Pseudo-Memoirs : Life and Its Imitation in Modern Fiction

By Rochelle Tobias ; Series: Frontiers of Narrative

Pseudo-Memoirs redefines the notion of fiction itself, a form that has all too often been understood in terms of its capacity to produce a seeming reality. Rochelle Tobias argues that the verisimilitude of the novel derives not from its object but from the subjectivity at its base. What generates the plausibility of fiction is not the referentiality of its depictions but the intentionality of consciousness.

Edmund Husserl developed the idea that consciousness is always intentional in the sense that it is directed outside itself toward something that it does not find so much as it constitutes as an object. Pseudo-memoirs reveal the full implications of this position in their double structure as the tale of their own telling or the fiction of life-writing. In so doing they reveal how the world of fiction is constructed, but more important they bring to the fore the idealist premises that fuel the novel and guarantee its truth, even when it remains an invention of the imagination.

Rochelle Tobias explores novels by Thomas Mann, Robert Walser, Thomas Bernhard, and W. G. Sebald in conjunction with philosophical and theoretical texts by René Descartes, Husserl, Friedrich Nietzsche, György Łukács, Roland Barthes, and Maurice Blanchot.

Tenacious of Life : The Quadruped Essays of John James Audubon and John Bachman

By John James Audubon and John Bachman, Edited and with original commentary by Daniel Patterson and Eric Russell

Daniel Patterson and Eric Russell present a groundbreaking case for considering John James Audubon’s and John Bachman’s quadruped essays as worthy of literary analysis and redefine the role of Bachman, the perpetually overlooked coauthor of the essays. After completing The Birds of America (1826–38), Audubon began developing his work on the mammals. The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America volumes show an antebellum view of nature as fundamentally dynamic and simultaneously grotesque and awe-inspiring. The quadruped essays are rich with good stories about these mammals and the humans who observe, pursue, and admire them.

For help with the science and the essays, Audubon enlisted the Reverend John Bachman of Charleston, South Carolina. While he has been acknowledged as coauthor of the essays, Bachman has received little attention as an American nature writer. While almost all works that describe the history of American nature writing include Audubon, Bachman shows up only in a subordinate clause or two. Tenacious of Life strives to restore Bachman’s status as an important American nature writer.

Patterson and Russell analyze the coauthorial dance between the voices of Audubon, an experienced naturalist telling adventurous hunting stories tinged often by sentiment, romanticism, and bombast, and of Bachman, the courteous gentleman naturalist, scientific detective, moralist, sometimes cruel experimenter, and humorist. Drawing on all the primary and secondary evidence, Patterson and Russell tell the story of the coauthors’ fascinating, conflicted relationship. This collection offers windows onto the early United States and much forgotten lore, often in the form of travel writing, natural history, and unique anecdotes, all told in the compelling voices of Antebellum America’s two leading naturalists.

Thinking About Good and Evil : Jewish Views from Antiquity to Modernity

By Rabbi Wayne Allen ; Series: JPS Essential Judaism

The most comprehensive book on the topic, Thinking about Good and Evil traces the most salient Jewish ideas about why innocent people seem to suffer, why evil individuals seem to prosper, and God’s role in such matters of (in)justice, from antiquity to the present.

Starting with the Bible and Apocrypha, Rabbi Wayne Allen takes us through the Talmud; medieval Jewish philosophers and Jewish mystical sources; the Ba’al Shem Tov and his disciples; early modern thinkers such as Spinoza, Mendelssohn, and Luzzatto; and, finally, modern thinkers such as Cohen, Buber, Kaplan, and Plaskow. Each chapter analyzes individual thinkers’ arguments and synthesizes their collective ideas on the nature of good and evil and questions of justice. Allen also exposes vastly divergent Jewish thinking about the Holocaust: traditionalist (e.g., Ehrenreich), revisionist (e.g., Rubenstein, Jonas), and deflective (e.g., Soloveitchik, Wiesel).

Rabbi Allen’s engaging, accessible volume illuminates well-known, obscure, and novel Jewish solutions to the problem of good and evil.

Transmovimientos : Latinx Queer Migrations, Bodies, and Spaces

Edited by Ellie D. Hernández, Eddy Francisco Alvarez Jr., and Magda García

Within a trans-embodied framework, this anthology identifies transmovimientos as the creative force or social mechanism through which queer, trans, and gender nonconforming Latinx communities navigate their location and calibrate their consciousness. This anthology unveils a critical perspective with the emphasis on queer, trans, and gender nonconforming communities of immigrants and social dissidents who reflect on and write about diaspora and migratory movements while navigating geographical and embodied spaces across gendered and racialized contexts, all crucial elements of the trans-movements taking place in the United States.

This collection forms a nuanced conversation between scholarship and social activism that speaks in concrete ways about diasporic and migratory LGBTQ communities who suffer from immoral immigration policies and political discourses that produce untenable living situations. The focal point of analysis throughout Transmovimientos examines migratory movements and anti-immigrant sentiment, homophobia, and stigma toward people who are transgender, immigrants, and refugees. These deliberate consciousness-based expressions are designed to realign awareness about the body in transit and the diasporic experience of relocating and emerging into new possibilities.

Unholy Heart : New and Selected Poems

By Grace Bauer

Unholy Heart includes generous selections from each of Grace Bauer’s previous books of poetry, plus a sampling of new poems. Bauer has long been known for the wide range of both her subject matter and poetic styles, from the biblical persona poems of The Women at the Well, to the explorations of visual art in Beholding Eye, to the intersections of personal history and pop culture in Retreats and Recognitions and Nowhere All At Once, and to the postmodern fragmentations in MEAN/TIME. Along with these selections, Bauer incorporates her most elegiac work yet.


 A Warning for Fair Women : Adultery and Murder in Shakespeare’s Theater

Edited by Ann C. Christensen ; Series: Early Modern Cultural Studies

A Warning for Fair Women is a 1599 true-crime drama from the repertory of Shakespeare’s acting company. While important to literary scholars and theater historians, it is also readable, relevant, and stage-worthy today. Dramatizing the murder of London merchant George Saunders by his wife’s lover, and the trials and executions of the murderer and accomplices, it also sheds light on neighborhood and domestic life and crime and punishment.

This edition of A Warning for Fair Women is fully updated, featuring a lively and extensive introduction and covering topics from authorship and staging to the 2018 world revival of the play in the United States. It includes a section with discussion and research questions along with resources on topics raised by the play, from beauty and women’s friendship to the occult. Ann C. Christensen presents a freshly edited text for today’s readers, with in-depth explanatory notes, scene summaries, a gallery of period images, and full scholarly apparatus.

Willa Cather’s Pittsburgh

Edited by Timothy W. Bintrim, James A. Jaap, and Kimberly Vanderlaan ; Series: Volume 13, Cather Studies

Willa Cather wrote about the places she knew, including Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, and Virginia. Often forgotten among these essential locations has been Pittsburgh. During the ten years Pittsburgh was her home (1896–1906), Cather worked as an editor, journalist, teacher, and freelance writer. She mixed with all sorts of people and formed friendships both ephemeral and lasting. She published extensively—and not just profiles and reviews but also a collection of poetry, April Twilights, and more than thirty short stories, including several collected in The Troll Garden that are now considered masterpieces: “A Death in the Desert,” “The Sculptor’s Funeral,” “A Wagner Matinee,” and “Paul’s Case.” During extended working vacations through 1916, she finished four novels in Pittsburgh.

Writing Anthropologists, Sounding Primitives : The Poetry & Scholarship of Edward Sapir, Margaret Mead & Ruth Benedict

By A. Elisabeth Reichel : Critical Studies in the History of Anthropology

Writing Anthropologists, Sounding Primitives re-examines the poetry and scholarship of three of the foremost figures in the twentieth-century history of U.S.-American anthropology: Edward Sapir, Margaret Mead, and Ruth Benedict. While they are widely renowned for their contributions to Franz Boas’s early twentieth-century school of cultural relativism, what is far less known is their shared interest in probing the representational potential of different media and forms of writing. This dimension of their work is manifest in Sapir’s critical writing on music and literature and Mead’s groundbreaking work with photography and film. Sapir, Mead, and Benedict together also wrote more than one thousand poems, which in turn negotiate their own media status and rivalry with other forms of representation.

A. Elisabeth Reichel presents the first sustained study of the published and unpublished poetry of Sapir, Mead, and Benedict, charting this largely unexplored body of work and relevant selections of the writers’ scholarship. In addition to its expansion of early twentieth-century literary canons, Writing Anthropologists, Sounding Primitives contributes to current debates about the relations between different media, sign systems, and modes of sense perception in literature and other media. Reichel offers a unique contribution to the history of anthropology by synthesizing and applying insights from the history of writing, sound studies, and intermediality studies to poetry and scholarship produced by noted early twentieth-century U.S.-American cultural anthropologists.

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Friday Reads: The Long Way To A Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

Science fiction titles have been popping up more and more in my reading list over this past year, perhaps as an escape from our current reality. A list of the some of the best new science fiction from the last 15 years led me to some fantastic escapes, including:

  • Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (2014)
  • Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor (2014)
  • The Lesson by Cadwell Turnbull (2019)
  • The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu (2014)
  • The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers (2014)

The last one on that list, The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers is the first in the Wayfarers trilogy. Described as a “light-hearted space opera”, the story follows a ragtag group of wormhole tunnelers as they cruise through space. New ship accountant Rosemary is adjusting to life off-planet and to her new crew mates. But when the team is offered the tunneling job of a lifetime, Rosemary must decide if she can trust them with a secret about her past.

I don’t often associate “cozy” with “sci-fi” but this is an apt descriptor of this novel. Quirky, likeable characters and a heartwarming tone would make this a perfect read for fans of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Chambers, Becky. The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet. New York: Harper Voyager 2016. (Originally self-published, 2014).

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#BookFaceFriday – “Maria Czaplicka: Gender, Shamanism, Race” by Grażyna Kubica

We tip our hat to this week’s #BookFaceFriday.

If expanding your worldview or knowledge through reading was on your list of New Year’s goals, check out “Maria Czaplicka: Gender, Shamanism, Race (Critical Studies in the History of Anthropology)” written by Grażyna Kubica, translated by Ben Koschalka (University of Nebraska Press; Illustrated Edition, 2020.) The Nebraska Library Commission’s Collection is always growing, the Nebraska Publications Clearinghouse receives documents every month from all Nebraska state agencies, including the University of Nebraska Press (UNP). UNP books, as well as all Nebraska state documents, are available for checkout by libraries and librarians for their patrons.

“Grazyna Kubica examines Maria Czaplicka’s unfinished scientific legacy in this page-turner history of anthropology during wartime Britain. One review of Czaplicka’s account of her 1915 Siberian expedition proclaimed that she ‘could not be dull if she tried.’ Kubica offers a full and fitting tribute to Czaplicka’s indomitable spirit, her contributions to continuing debates, and the meaning of a truncated life in anthropology.”Sally Cole, professor of sociology and anthropology at Concordia College and author of Ruth Landes: A Life in Anthropology

This week’s #BookFace model is Mary Sauers, NLC’s Government Information Services Librarian. Mary writes the monthly Book Briefs blog post showcasing the latest UNP books that the Clearinghouse has received.

Love this #BookFace & reading? Check out our past #BookFaceFriday photos on the Nebraska Library Commission’s Facebook page!

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Friday Reads: Eat the Buddha: Life and Death in a Tibetan Town, by Barbara Demick

Barbara Demick’s 2009 book, Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea, blew me away with the eye-opening window it provided into everyday life in North Korea. In Eat the Buddha: Life and Death in a Tibetan Town, published this past July, Demick offers similar insight into Tibet by profiling a handful of individuals whose lived experiences paint a representative picture of life in a little-known land.

I’m guessing I’m not alone in my limited knowledge of Tibet. I associate it with the Dalai Lama, living in exile in India; Mount Everest, located on the border between Nepal and Tibet; and conflicts with the Chinese government, which claims sovereignty over it. After reading Demick’s book, I’ve definitely expanded my knowledge of the issues Tibetans have faced, particularly since 1950 when the Chinese army “liberated” them on behalf of Mao Zedong’s Communist Party.

Demick’s subjects tell tales of property seizure and struggle sessions. They also suffered from famine–a result of collectivization coordinated by cadres who ignored the delicate balance Tibetans had previously maintained between herding and high-altitude farming. Perhaps the biggest affront, however, was the Chinese government’s effort to suppress Tibetan’s religion, culture, and language through attacks on monks, monasteries, and the Dalai Lama:

Seeing the monks humiliated, statues smashed, and paintings burned shook Tibetans to the core. Buddhism provided the rituals through which the seasons were measured, births celebrated, and deaths grieved. . . . The attacks on religion alienated Tibetans who might otherwise have supported the Communist Party’s efforts to stamp out feudalism and create social equality. (48)

Not surprisingly, monasteries have become primary sites of contemporary Tibetan resistance. Initially demolished or repurposed in the late 1950s, monasteries started reopening in 1980. By 1994, however, the Communist Party had started cracking down on them again to “rein in Tibetan religious life” (144). Since then conflicts have escalated until, in 2009, a young monk set himself on fire, triggering a wave of self-immolations over subsequent years. (The 156th occurred on November 26, 2019.)

Due to the shocking nature of this means of political protest, self-immolations have received international media coverage. If you are like me, this may be the primary reason you have even the slightest inkling of what’s been happening in Tibet. If you’d like to learn more, however, you now have a book recommendation: Barbara Demick’s Eat the Buddha!

Demick, Barbara. Eat the Buddha: Life and Death in a Tibetan Town. New York: Random House, 2020.

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#BookFaceFriday – “No Truth Without Ruth”

Dissent is patriotic, and so is this #BookFaceFriday.

In honor of the notorious R.B.G. we wanted to highlight this throwback #BookFace. May your storytimes be filled with heroes that inspire us as much as Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Check out “No Truth Without Ruth: The Life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg” written by Kathleen Krull and illustrated by Nancy Zhang (Quill Tree Books, 2018.) This title comes from our large collection of children’s and young adult books sent to us as review copies from book publishers. When our Children and Young Adult Library Services Coordinator, Sally Snyder, is done with them, the review copies are available for the Library System Directors to distribute to school and public libraries in their systems. Public and school library staff are also welcome to stop by and select some titles for their library collections. We think this one would be a great addition to any library. Contact Sally Snyder for more information.

“Large, colorful illustrations complement and highlight the text. Zhang captures the look and style of each era in Ginsburg’s life. Employing a strongly admiring tone and accessible language, the author emphasizes Ginsburg’s struggles, strengths, and triumphs. Informative, well-told biography.” (Kirkus Reviews)

More R.B.G. Children’s Books:

  • A Is for Awesome: 23 Iconic Women Who Changed the World, by Eva Chen
  • I Look Up to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, by Anna Membrino
  • My Little Golden Book About Ruth Bader Ginsburg, by Shana Corey
  • When Ruth Bader Ginsburg Chewed 100 Sticks of Gum, by Mark Andrew Weakland
  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg: The Case of R.B.G. vs. Inequality, by Jonah Winter
  • I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark, by Debbie Levy
  • Who Is Ruth Bader Ginsburg, by Patricia Brennan Demuth
  • Notorious RBG: The Life & Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Young Readers Edition, by Irin Carmon & Shana Knizhnick

This week’s #BookFace model is Mary Geibel, our Information Services Technician!

Love this #BookFace & reading? We suggest checking out all the titles available in our Book Club collection, permanent collection, and Nebraska OverDrive Libraries. Check out our past #BookFaceFriday photos on the Nebraska Library Commission’s Facebook page!

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#BookFaceFriday “The Bookshop at Water’s End” by Patti Callahan Henry

Take a dip with #BookFaceFriday!

Life’s a balancing act just like this week’s #BookFace. Check out “The Bookshop at Water’s End: A Novel” by Patti Callahan Henry (Penguin Publishing Group, 2017) it’s available to all Nebraska OverDrive Libraries in eBook format. 173 libraries across the state share this collection of 17,165 audiobooks and 28,972 eBooks. As an added bonus it includes 130 podcasts that are always available with simultaneous use (SU), as well as SU ebooks and audiobook titles that publishers have made available for a limited time due to the pandemic or Black Lives Matter.

If you’re a part of it, let your users know about this great title, and if you’re not a member yet, find more information about participating in Nebraska Overdrive Libraries!

“The Bookshop at Water’s End carries us along the graceful curves and outwardly serene story line of two childhood friends returning to their summer riverside home. But like the river she writes about, Patti’s plot roils with strong undercurrents of murky secrets, tragedy and the pulsing tides of self-discovery. No one writes about the power of family and friends like Patti Callahan Henry. The Bookshop at Water’s End is a must-read for your summer!”Mary Alice Monroe, New York Times bestselling author of Beach House for Rent

Love this #BookFace & reading? Check out our past #BookFaceFriday photos on the Nebraska Library Commission’s Facebook page!

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Results From COVID/Cares Act Survey

As of this week, we have received 163 responses to the COVID/Cares Act survey sent to libraries, representing a 65% response rate. The input of libraries has been valuable to NLC planning for Cares Act funding. Stay tuned for more information about that, but for now, it might be helpful to summarize the survey results.

The survey asked what libraries are doing to prepare for re-opening, and what the concerns are upon re-opening. This bar chart at the top illustrates the results, and note that libraries could choose more than one response. Cleaning, handling of materials, and programming topped the list. However, it is important to note that many libraries are concerned about the proximity of patrons in various areas of the library (e.g. meeting rooms, computer labs, etc.). Some noted a potential shift when re-opening to provide extended computer lab hours in order to accommodate needs, or providing more mobile devices for check out (inside or outside of the library) in order to provide social distance.

As far as staffing goes, we know that some libraries have experienced RIF’s (reduction in force), and layoffs, but this has not been the norm. Over 30% of respondents reported all staff reporting to work, and over 30% reported at least the director reporting to work. It is appropriate to note that many libraries only have one primary staff person (the director). Only 6% reported that no staff were coming to work. Numerous libraries are offering alternative services, as over 75% reported providing curbside circulations and over 40% reported providing virtual programming. 90% of survey respondents reported completing tasks associated with circulation and mail processing. This likely includes cleaning and quarantining items, and almost 75% reported maintenance, security, and cleaning tasks performed by staff.

The survey also asked about what the library’s needs are upon re-opening. Topping the list is an alternative to in-person summer reading events, and making sure items are clean and safe by providing adequate sanitizing and protective equipment. This chart at the right shows those results.

Finally, some of the open-ended answers give insight into longer-term needs of libraries to address community concerns and prepare for the future. Anecdotally, some of these responses include the following:

  • Expanding the range of Wi-Fi to areas outside of the library, allowing for users to be more spread out;
  • Device lending to community members that do not have their own (e.g. laptop, tablet computers);
  • Providing relevant information about COVID-19 to the community;
  • Online/virtual programming;
  • eBook and Audiobook availability and access;
  • Providing materials (clean and sanitized) such as books, puzzles, music, videos, games, and activity packs to quarantined or at risk groups;
  • Improve internet speed and infrastructure to handle increased demands;
  • Printing, copy, and fax services (providing with lower touch);
  • Reference and partnerships with organizations to support unemployment, economic recovery, small business, and other assistance; and
  • Hotspot lending.

Many libraries are now evaluating their technology, network infrastructure, and Wi-Fi (range, speed, etc.). Did you know that NLC offers FREE technology assessments and help to you? If you are interested, please check out our Better Broadband webpage for resources, and to move forward towards an assessment, contact ,Holly Woldt.

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NCompass Live: 2020 Census Outreach for Libraries

The 2020 Census is happening right now! We’ll discuss tips and tricks for ‘2020 Census Outreach for Libraries’ on next week’s FREE NCompass Live webinar, on Wednesday, May 13, 10:00am-11:00am CT.

The Morton-James Public Library in Nebraska City, NE, was awarded a Library Census Equity Fund Grant from the American Library Association to bolster library services to hard-to-count communities and help achieve a complete count in the 2020 Census. Join us to hear more about the grant, how the library is using the funding, and to learn ways that libraries can help educate community members on the importance of answering the 2020 Census questionnaire.

Presenters: Denise Davis, Librarian, Morton-James Public Library, Nebraska City, NE; Mary Sauers, Government Information Services Librarian, Nebraska Library Commission

Upcoming NCompass Live shows:

  • May 20 – Reading for Justice: A Database for YA & Youth Literature
  • May 27 – Pretty Sweet Tech – How to Make Digital Literacy Less Boring
  • June 3 – Automating Virtual Student Library Cards
  • June 10 – Identity and Impostor Syndrome in Library Makerspaces
  • June 17 – Who are These People & Why are They in My Library? Using Empathy & UX to Understand Your Library Patrons

For more information, to register for NCompass Live, or to listen to recordings of past events, go to the NCompass Live webpage.

NCompass Live is broadcast live every Wednesday from 10am – 11am Central Time. Convert to your time zone on the Official U.S. Time website. The show is presented online using the GoToWebinar online meeting service. Before you attend a session, please see the NLC Online Sessions webpage for detailed information about GoToWebinar, including system requirements, firewall permissions, and equipment requirements for computer speakers and microphones.

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Getting Started with NebraskAccess

Learn more about using NebraskAccess databases and share this information with all of your library users!

NebraskAccess provides Nebraska residents with free 24/7 access to premium databases containing thousands of full text popular magazine and journal articles; primary source documents; genealogical, health, legal, small business, and science resources; reading recommendations; and research resources for K-12 students. These resources are available to Nebraska residents at no cost. The Nebraska Library Commission purchases subscriptions for Nebraskans with funding from the State of Nebraska and the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services.

NebraskAccess also offers ALL site visitors access to a directory of topically-arranged websites evaluated and compiled by Nebraska Library Commission reference librarians, and links to full text Nebraska state government publications and digitized Nebraska historical resources.

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#BookFaceFriday “The Light in Hidden Places” by Sharon Cameron

Hello, is it a #BookFace you’re looking for?

Feeling a little bit trapped lately? A little panicked as your TBR pile grows smaller and smaller? Don’t worry, you will never run out of books to read with Nebraska OverDrive Libraries. New titles are added almost daily, like this week’s #BookFaceFriday! “The Light in Hidden Places” by Sharon Cameron (Scholastic Press, 2020) is available to all Nebraska OverDrive Libraries in both eBook and Audiobook format. 173 libraries across the state share this collection of 16,670 audiobooks and 28,473 eBooks. As an added bonus it includes 130 podcasts that are always available with simultaneous use.

If you’re a part of it, let your users know about this great title, and if you’re not a member yet, find more information about participating in Nebraska Overdrive Libraries!

“Both a politically charged adventure and culture study, this thought-provoking dystopia stands firmly on its own.” — Booklist, starred review

This week’s #BookFaceFriday model is Mary Sauers, our Government Information Services Librarian!

Love this #BookFace & reading? Check out our past #BookFaceFriday photos on the Nebraska Library Commission’s Facebook page!

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Continuing Education: April Free Webinar List


Lots of free webinars coming up in April!

The free webinar list from the Wyoming State Library/WebJunction presents a list of webinars with program descriptions and links to registrations. Below are some upcoming webinars.

NCOMPASS LIVE

ONLINE CONFERENCES

ADVOCACY

ASSESSMENT & PLANNING

ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY

BOARDS

CAREERS

CHILDREN & TEENS

COLLECTION DEVELOPMENT & MANAGEMENT

COMMUNICATION

COVID-19

DEVELOPMENT & MANAGING CHANGE

DIGITAL RESOURCES

FUNDRAISING

LEGAL

LIBRARY SPACES

MANAGEMENT

OUTREACH & PARTNERSHIPS

PROGRAMMING

READERS’ ADVISORY

REFERENCE

SCHOOL LIBRARIES

TECHNOLOGY

TRAINING & INSTRUCTION

VOLUNTEERS

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#BookFaceFriday – “No Truth Without Ruth”

Dissent is patriotic, and so is this #BookFaceFriday.

Nothing says Women’s History Month like the notorious R.B.G. so settle in for storytime with “No Truth Without Ruth: The Life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg” written by Kathleen Krull and illustrated by Nancy Zhang (Quill Tree Books, 2018.) This title comes from our large collection of children’s and young adult books sent to us as review copies from book publishers. When our Children and Young Adult Library Services Coordinator, Sally Snyder, is done with them, the review copies are available for the Library System Directors to distribute to school and public libraries in their systems. Public and school library staff are also welcome to stop by and select some titles for their library collections. We think this one would be a great addition to any library. Contact Sally Snyder for more information.

“Large, colorful illustrations complement and highlight the text. Zhang captures the look and style of each era in Ginsburg’s life. Employing a strongly admiring tone and accessible language, the author emphasizes Ginsburg’s struggles, strengths, and triumphs. Informative, well-told biography.” (Kirkus Reviews)

This week’s #BookFace model is Mary Geibel, our Information Services Technician!

Love this #BookFace & reading? We suggest checking out all the titles available in our Book Club collection, permanent collection, and Nebraska OverDrive Libraries. Check out our past #BookFaceFriday photos on the Nebraska Library Commission’s Facebook page!

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Book Briefs: New University of Nebraska Press Books at the Nebraska Publications Clearinghouse

The Nebraska Publications Clearinghouse receives documents every month from all Nebraska state agencies, including the University of Nebraska Press (UNP).  Each month we will be showcasing the UNP books that the Clearinghouse receives.  UNP books, as well as all Nebraska state documents, are available for checkout by libraries and librarians, for their patrons, in Nebraska.

Here are the UNP books the Clearinghouse received in January 2020:

Chaucer’s losers, Nintento’s Children, and Other Forays in Queer Ludonarratology Tison Pugh (Series: Frontiers of Narrative)

Tison Pugh examines the intersection of narratology, ludology, and queer studies, pointing to the ways in which the blurred boundaries between game and narrative provide both a textual and a metatextual space of queer narrative potential. By focusing on these three distinct yet complementary areas, Pugh shifts understandings of the way their play, pleasure, and narrative potential are interlinked.

Through illustrative readings of an eclectic collection of cultural artifacts—from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales to Nintendo’s Legend of Zelda franchise, from Edward Albee’s dramatic masterpiece Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? to J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter fantasy novels—Pugh offers perspectives of blissful ludonarratology, sadomasochistic ludonarratology, the queerness of rules, the queerness of godgames, and the queerness of children’s questing video games. Collectively, these analyses present a range of interpretive strategies for uncovering the disruptive potential of gaming texts and textual games while demonstrating the wide applicability of queer ludonarratology throughout the humanities.

Inside the Hot Zone : A Soldier on the Front Lines of Biological Warfare Mark G. Kortepeter

Inside the Hot Zone is an insider’s account of one of the most dangerous workplaces on earth: the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) in Fort Detrick, Maryland. Retired U.S. Army Col. Mark G. Kortepeter, a leading biodefense expert, recounts his journey from the lecture hall to the role of department chief, to the battlefield, to the Biosafety Level-4 maximum containment lab, and finally, to the corner office.

During Kortepeter’s seven and a half years in leadership at USAMRIID, the United States experienced some of the most serious threats in modern germ warfare, including the specter of biological weapons during the Iraq War, the anthrax letters sent after 9/11, and a little-known crisis involving a presumed botulism attack on the president of the United States. Inside the Hot Zone is a shocking, frightening eye-opener as Kortepeter describes in gripping detail how he and his USAMRIID colleagues navigated threats related to anthrax, botulism, smallpox, Lassa, and Ebola.

Kortepeter crafts a rich and riveting narrative as he wrestles with life-and-death decisions managing biological weapon exposures. The stories are real, but they could just as easily serve as plotlines in popular fiction or Hollywood thrillers. He gives the reader a seat at the table as each crisis unfolds, with an unvarnished and personal perspective on the dangers, the drama, the fear, the frustrations, the irony, and the uncertainty he encountered as a physician in the role of “Biodefender.”

National Pastimes : Cinema, Sports, and Nation Katharina Bonzel (Series: Sports, Media, and Society)

Sports have long fascinated filmmakers from Hollywood and beyond, from Bend It Like Beckham to Chariots of Fire to Rocky. Though sports films are diverse in their approach, style, and storytelling modes, National Pastimes discloses the common emotional and visual cues that belie each sports film’s underlying nationalistic impulses. Katharina Bonzel unravels the delicate matrix of national identity, sports, and emotion through the lens of popular sports films in comparative national contexts, demonstrating in the process how popular culture provides a powerful vehicle for the development and maintenance of identities of place across a range of national cinemas.

As films reflect the ways in which myths of nation and national belonging change over time, they are implicated in important historical moments, from Cold War America to the class dynamics of 1980s Thatcherite Britain to the fragmented sense of nation in post-unification Germany. Bonzel shows how sports films provide a means for renegotiating the boundaries of national identity in an accessible, engaging form. National Pastimes opens up new ways of understanding how films appeal to the emotions, using myth-like constructions of the past to cultivate spectators’ engagement with historical events.

Shape Shifters : Journeys Across Terrains of Race and Identity Edited by Lily Anne Y. Welty Tamai, Ingrid Dineen-Wimberly, and Paul Spickard (Series: Borderlands and Transcultural Studies)

Shape Shifters presents a wide-ranging array of essays that examine peoples of mixed racial identity. Moving beyond the static “either/or” categories of racial identification found within typical insular conversations about mixed-race peoples, Shape Shifters explores these mixed-race identities as fluid, ambiguous, contingent, multiple, and malleable. This volume expands our understandings of how individuals and ethnic groups identify themselves within their own sociohistorical contexts.

The essays in Shape Shifters explore different historical eras and reach across the globe, from the Roman and Chinese borderlands of classical antiquity to medieval Eurasian shape shifters, the Native peoples of the missions of Spanish California, and racial shape shifting among African Americans in the post–civil rights era. At different times in their lives or over generations in their families, racial shape shifters have moved from one social context to another. And as new social contexts were imposed on them, identities have even changed from one group to another. This is not racial, ethnic, or religious imposture. It is simply the way that people’s lives unfold in fluid sociohistorical circumstances.

With contributions by Ryan Abrecht, George J. Sánchez, Laura Moore, and Margaret Hunter, among others, Shape Shifters explores the forces of migration, borderlands, trade, warfare, occupation, colonial imposition, and the creation and dissolution of states and empires to highlight the historically contingent basis of identification among mixed-race peoples across time and space.

Willa Cather and the Arts Edited by Guy J. Renolds (Series: Cather Studies, Vol. 12)

Over the five decades of her writing career Willa Cather responded to, and entered into dialogue with, shifts in the terrain of American life. These cultural encounters informed her work as much as the historical past in which much of her writing is based. Cather was a multifaceted cultural critic, immersing herself in the arts, broadly defined: theater and opera, art, narrative, craft production. Willa Cather and the Arts shows that Cather repeatedly engaged with multiple forms of art, and that even when writing about the past she was often addressing contemporary questions.

The essays in this volume are informed by new modes of contextualization, including the increasingly popular view of Cather as a pivotal or transitional figure working between and across very different cultural periods and by the recent publication of Cather’s correspondence. The collection begins by exploring the ways Cather encountered and represented high and low cultures, including Cather’s use of “racialized vernacular” in Sapphira and the Slave Girl. The next set of essays demonstrates how historical research, often focusing on local features in Cather’s fiction, contributes to our understanding of American culture, from musicological sources to the cultural development of Pittsburgh. The final trio of essays highlights current Cather scholarship, including a food studies approach to O Pioneers! and an examination of Cather’s use of ancient philosophy in The Professor’s House. Together the essays reassess Cather’s lifelong encounter with, and interpretation and reimagining of, the arts.


**All synopses courtesy of University of Nebraska Press  (https://www.nebraskapress.unl.edu/)

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Friday Reads: Exile from Eden, by Andrew Smith

Exile from Eden, the featured title in this Friday Reads, is the sequel to Andrew Smith’s 2014 apocalyptic novel, Grasshopper Jungle, which I claimed as my new favorite book in a July 15, 2016 Friday Reads. I guess, therefore, this is a sequel Friday Reads.

Exile from Eden begins sixteen years after six-foot-tall praying mantises with a taste for human flesh forced Austin Szczerba, Robby Brees, and Shann Collins, along with Robby’s mother, Connie Brees, her boyfriend, Louis Sing, Shann’s mother and stepfather, Wendy and Johnny McKeon, and Austin’s dog, Ingrid, to hole up in an underground bunker, called Eden. During these sixteen years, Johnny McKeon and Ingrid have died, and Arek Szczerba and Mel Sing have been born. Arek is the son of Austin and Shann, though he considers Robby his second father. Mel is the daughter of Connie and Louis.

Narrated by sixteen-year-old Arek, Exile from Eden tells the story of what happens when he and fifteen-year-old Mel leave Eden (or, as Arek calls it, “the hole”) to search for Austin and Robby, who have failed to return from one of their regular supply-gathering missions. A road trip adventure ensues. As was the case with Grasshopper Jungle, however, Exile from Eden is about so much more than a mere plot summary would suggest. After all, as Austin stated in Grasshopper Jungle, “[g]ood books are about everything.”

In Grasshopper Jungle, Austin was obsessed with recording history and telling the truth. In Exile from Eden, Arek, his son, also ruminates on truth—how we construct it for ourselves and try to convey it to others: “All stories are true the moment they are told,” Arek states in the opening sentence of the book. “Whether or not they continue to be true is up to the listener” (3).

Because he was born and raised in the hole, Arek has no firsthand knowledge of the before-the-hole world, and extremely limited exposure to the new post-apocalyptic world outside the hole. To address this deficit, his father, Austin, brings back artifacts—including books, maps, and paintings—to try to build a model of the world for Arek. As Arek discovers after leaving the hole, however, “the model . . . is not the thing” (110). This leads him to further epistemological exploration of what we can know and how we can know it:

. . . My father’s model of the world was supposed to represent everything that was outside the hole. The only thing that can re-present anything real is the thing itself. No models can ever adequately perform that job.
    The model presents—and re-presents—only the model, and nothing more.
    And the data—what’s really outside the hole—does not call to us, so we must go to it, and then interpret its meaning with our incompetent human minds. The data is mute; we give it an imperfect voice. (110)

Exile from Eden juxtaposes the before-the-hole world, with its rules and protocols, shame and inhibitions, with the terrifying, unstructured freedom offered by the after-the-hole world. In Eden, Arek’s grandmother, Wendy–“SPEAKER OF LAWS” (20), believer in following instructions, and segregator of the sexes—represents the pre-hole world. The promise of the post-hole world, on the other hand, is captured most powerfully by a line from Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick, recited by Arek’s father, Austin, after he and Arek finish reading the book aloud to each other: “In landlessness alone resides the highest truth, shoreless, indefinite as God” (244).

At one point, Austin tells Arek “you and Mel are like the first humans on earth. You are the new people, without the baggage everyone carried with them, without end, from before” (188). Indeed, after months outside the hole, Arek describes Mel and himself as “joined to the world outside, not as pieces of a model, but as the thing itself” (347).

In the final chapter, when he and Mel finally reunite with Austin and Robby, Arek, channeling Melville, describes himself as “Shoreless Man.” And when Austin asks how he likes it outside the hole, Arek replies “There are no rules, and it’s wild” (353). Based on the premise set up throughout the book, this is a good thing and a happy ending.

Smith, Andrew. Exile from Eden. New York: Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, 2019.

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