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NON-FICTION TITLES OF PARTICULAR INTEREST
My Old Kentucky Home by
Publication Date: 2022-05-03
The long journey of an American song, passed down from generation to generation: the state song of Kentucky, a song that has inhabited hearts and memories, and in perpetual reprise, stands outside time; sung each May, before every Kentucky Derby, since 1930. Written by Stephen Foster nine years before the Civil War, "My Old Kentucky Home" made its way through the wartime years to its decades-long run as a national minstrel sensation for which it was written; Author Emily Bingham explores the long, strange journey of what has come to be seen by some as an American anthem, an integral part of our folklore, culture, customs, foundation, a living symbol of a "happy past." But "My Old Kentucky Home" was never just a song. It was always a song about slavery with the real Kentucky home inhabited by the enslaved and shot through with violence, despair, and degradation. Bingham explores the song's history and permutations from its decades of performances across the continent, entering into the bloodstream of American life, through its twenty-first-century reassessment. It is a song that has been repeated and taught for almost two hundred years, a resonant changing emblem of America's original sin whose blood-drenched shadow hovers and haunts us still. .
Boys and Oil by
Publication Date: 2022-06-01
"I am a child of the American West, a landscape so rich and wide that my culture trembles with terror before its power." So begins Taylor Brorby's Boys and Oil, a haunting, bracingly honest memoir about growing up gay amidst the harshness of rural North Dakota, "a place where there is no safety in a ravaged landscape of mining and fracking." In visceral prose, Brorby recounts his upbringing in the coalfields; his adolescent infatuation with books; and how he felt intrinsically different from other boys. Now an environmentalist, Brorby uses the destruction of large swathes of the West as a metaphor for the terror he experienced as a youth. From an assault outside a bar in an oil boom town to a furtive romance, and from his awakening as an activist to his arrest at the Dakota Access Pipeline, Boys and Oil provides a startling portrait of an America that persists despite well-intentioned legal protections.
What the Ermine Saw by
Publication Date: 2022-05-24
Five hundred and thirty years ago, a young woman sat before a Grecian-nosed artist known as Leonardo da Vinci. Her name was Cecilia Gallerani, and she was the young mistress of Ludovico Sforza, duke of Milan. Sforza was a brutal and clever man who was mindful that Leonardo's genius would not only capture Cecilia's beguiling beauty but also reflect the grandeur of his title. But when the portrait was finished, Leonardo's brush strokes had conveyed something deeper by revealing the essence of Cecilia's soul. Despite the work's importance in its own time, no records of it have been found for the two hundred and fifty years that followed Gallerani's death. Eden Collinsworth's dexterous story illuminates the eventual history of this unique masterpiece, as it journeyed from one owner to the next-from the portrait's next recorded owner, a Polish noblewoman to its exile in Paris during the Polish Soviet War, to its return to WWII-era Poland where--in advance of Germany's invasion--it remained hidden behind a bricked-up wall by a housekeeper who defied Hitler's edict that it be confiscated as one of the Reich's treasures.
Winslow Homer: American Passage by
Publication Date: 2022-04-12
In 1860, at the age of twenty-four, Winslow Homer (1836-1910) sold Harper's Weekly two dozen wood engravings, carved into boxwood blocks and transferred to metal plates to stamp on paper. One was a scene that Homer saw on a visit to Boston, his hometown. His illustration shows a crowd of abolitionists on the brink of eviction from a church; at their front is Frederick Douglass, declaring "the freedom of all mankind." Homer, born into the Panic of 1837 and raised in the years before the Civil War, came of age in a nation in crisis. He created multivalent visual tales, both quintessentially American and quietly replete with narrative for and about people of all races and ages. Whether using pencil, watercolor, or, most famously, oil, Homer addressed the hopes and fears of his fellow Americans and invited his viewers into stories embedded with universal, timeless questions of purpose and meaning. Like his contemporaries Twain and Whitman, Homer captured the landscape of a rapidly changing country with an artist's probing insight. His tale is one of America in all its complexity and contradiction, as he evolved and adapted to the restless spirit of invention transforming his world. In The author reveals the man behind the art. It is the surprising story of a life led on the front lines of history.
Deaf Utopia by
Publication Date: 2022-04-19
Before becoming the actor, producer, advocate, and model that people know today, Nyle DiMarco was half of a pair of Deaf twins born to a multi-generational Deaf family in Queens, New York. At the hospital one day after he was born, Nyle "failed" his first test--a hearing test--to the joy and excitement of his parents. In this engrossing memoir, Nyle shares stories, both heartbreaking and humorous, of what it means to navigate a world built for hearing people. From growing up in a rough-and-tumble childhood in Queens with his big and loving Italian-American family to where he is now, Nyle has always been driven to explore beyond the boundaries given him. A college math major and athlete at Gallaudet--the famed university for the Deaf in Washington, DC--Nyle was drawn as a young man to acting, and dove headfirst into the reality show competitions America's Next Top Model and Dancing with the Stars--ultimately winning both competitions. Deaf Utopia is more than a memoir, it is a cultural anthem--a proud and defiant song of Deaf culture and a love letter to American Sign Language, Nyle's primary language. Through his stories and those of his Deaf brothers, parents, and grandparents, Nyle opens many windows into the Deaf experience.
African Founders by
Publication Date: 2022-05-31
In this sweeping, foundational work, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David Hackett Fischer draws on extensive research to show how enslaved Africans and their descendants enlarged American ideas of freedom in varying ways in different regions of the early United States. African Founders explores the little-known history of how enslaved people from different regions of Africa interacted with colonists of European origins to create new regional cultures in the colonial United States. The Africans brought with them linguistic skills, novel techniques of animal husbandry and farming, and generations-old ethical principles, among other attributes. This startling history reveals how much our country was shaped by these African influences in its early years, producing a new, distinctly American culture. Drawing on decades of research, some of it in western Africa, Fischer recreates the diverse regional life that shaped the early American republic. He shows that there were varieties of slavery in America and varieties of new American culture, from Puritan New England to Dutch New York, Quaker Pennsylvania, cavalier Virginia, coastal Carolina, and Louisiana and Texas. This landmark work of history will transform our understanding of America's origins.
The Office BFFs by
Publication Date: 2022-05-17
An intimate, behind-the-scenes, richly illustrated celebration of beloved The Office co-stars Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey's friendship, and an insiders' view of Pam Beesly, Angela Martin, and the iconic TV show. Receptionist Pam Beesly and accountant Angela Martin had very little in common when they toiled together at Scranton's Dunder Mifflin Paper Company. But, in reality, the two bonded in their very first days on set and, over the nine seasons of the series' run, built a friendship that transcended the show and continues to this day. Sharing everything from what it was like in the early days as the show struggled to gain traction, to walking their first red carpet--plus exclusive stories on the making of milestone episodes and how their lives changed when they became moms--The Office BFFs is full of the same warm and friendly tone Jenna and Angela have brought to their Office Ladies podcast.
The Day I Die by
Publication Date: 2022-05-03
An intimate investigation of assisted dying in America and what it means to determine the end of our lives. In this groundbreaking book, award-winning cultural anthropologist Anita Hannig brings us into the lives of ordinary Americans who go to extraordinary lengths to set the terms of their own death. Faced with a terminal diagnosis and unbearable suffering, they decide to seek medical assistance in dying--a legal option now available to one in five Americans. Drawing on five years of research on the frontlines of assisted dying, Hannig unearths the uniquely personal narratives masked by a polarized national debate. Lyrical and lucid, sensitive but never sentimental, the book tackles one of the most urgent social issues of our time: how to restore dignity and meaning to the dying process in the age of high-tech medicine. Meticulously researched and compassionately rendered, the book exposes the tight legal restrictions, frustrating barriers to access, and corrosive cultural stigma that can undermine someone's quest for an assisted death--and why they persist in achieving the departure they desire.
Publication Date: 2022-04-12
True: The Four Seasons of Jackie Robinson by Kostya Kennedy is an unconventional biography, focusing on four transformative years in Robinson's athletic and public life: 1946, his first year playing in the essentially all-white minor leagues for the Montreal Royals; 1949, when he won the Most Valuable Player Award in his third season as a Brooklyn Dodger; 1956, his final season in major league baseball, when he played valiantly despite his increasing health struggles; and 1972, the year of his untimely death. Through it all, Robinson remained true to the effort and the mission, true to his convictions and contradictions. Kennedy examines each of these years through details not reported in previous biographies, bringing them to life in vivid prose and through interviews with fans and players who witnessed his impact, as well as with Robinson's surviving family. These four crucial years offer a unique vision of Robinson as a player, a father and husband, and a civil rights hero--a new window on a complex man, tied to the 50th anniversary of his passing and the 75th anniversary of his professional baseball debut.
I'll Show Myself Out by
Publication Date: 2022-04-26
In New York Times bestselling author and Emmy Award-winning writer and producer Jessi Klein's second collection, she hilariously explodes the cultural myths and impossible expectations around motherhood and explore the humiliations, poignancies, and possibilities of midlife. In interconnected essays like "Listening to Beyoncé in the Parking Lot of Party City," "Your Husband Will Remarry Five Minutes After You Die," "Eulogy for My Feet," and "An Open Love Letter to Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent," Klein explores this stage of life in all its cruel ironies, joyous moments, and bittersweetness. Written with Klein's signature candor and humanity, I'll Show Myself Out is an incisive, moving, and often uproarious collection.
The Premonitions Bureau by
Publication Date: 2022-05-03
On the morning of October 21, 1966, Kathleen Middleton, a music teacher in suburban London, awoke choking and gasping, convinced disaster was about to strike. An hour later, a mountain of rubble containing waste from a coal mine collapsed above the village of Aberfan, swamping buildings and killing 144 people, many of them children. Among the doctors and emergency workers who arrived on the scene was John Barker, a psychiatrist from Shelton Hospital, in Shrewsbury. At Aberfan, Barker became convinced there had been supernatural warning signs of the disaster, and decided to establish a "premonitions bureau," in conjunction with the Evening Standard newspaper, to collect dreams and forebodings from the public, in the hope of preventing future calamities. Middleton was one of hundreds of seemingly normal people, who would contribute their visions to Barker's research in the years to come, some of them unnervingly accurate. As Barker's work plunged him deeper into the occult, his reputation suffered. But in the face of professional humiliation, Barker only became more determined, ultimately realizing with terrible certainty that catastrophe had been prophesied in his own life.
Publication Date: 2022-04-12
Acclaimed novelist Brian Morton delivers a moving, darkly funny memoir of his mother's vibrant life and the many ways in which their tight, tumultuous relationship was refashioned in her twilight years. Tasha Morton is a force of nature: a brilliant educator who's left her mark on generations of students--and also a whirlwind of a mother, intrusive, chaotic, oppressively devoted, and irrepressible. For decades, her son Brian has kept her at a self-protective distance, but when her health begins to fail, he knows it's time to assume responsibility for her care. Even so, he's not prepared for what awaits him, as her refusal to accept her own fragility leads to a series of epic outbursts and altercations that are sometimes frightening, sometimes wildly comic, and sometimes both. Clear-eyed, loving, and brimming with dark humor, Tasha is an exploration of what sons learn from their mothers, a stark look at the impossible task of caring for an elderly parent in a country whose unofficial motto is "you're on your own," and a meditation on the treacherous business at the heart of every family--the business of trying to honor ourselves without forsaking our parents, and our parents without forsaking ourselves. Above all, Tasha is a vivid and surprising portrait of an unforgettable woman.
Letters to Gwen John by
Publication Date: 2022-04-26
Celia Paul's Letters to Gwen John centers on a series of letters addressed to the Welsh painter Gwen John (1876-1939), who has long been a tutelary spirit for Paul. John spent much of her life in France, making art on her own terms and, like Paul, painting mostly women. John's reputation was overshadowed during her lifetime by her brother, Augustus John, and her lover Auguste Rodin. Through the epistolary form, Paul draws fruitful comparisons between John's life and her own: their shared resolve to protect the sources of their creativity, their fierce commitment to painting, and the ways in which their associations with older male artists affected the public's reception of their work. Letters to Gwen John is at once an intimate correspondence, an illuminating portrait of two painters (including full-color plates of both artists' work), and a writer/artist's daybook, describing Paul's first exhibitions in America, her search for new forms, her husband's diagnosis of cancer, and the onset of the global pandemic. Paul, who first revealed her talents as a writer with her memoir, Self-Portrait, enters with courage and resolve into new unguarded territory--the artist at present--and the work required to make art out of the turbulence of life.
What We Wish Were True by
Publication Date: 2022-04-19
Nonprofit leader and minister Tallu Schuyler Quinn spent her adult life working to alleviate hunger, systemic inequality, and food waste, first as a volunteer throughout the US and abroad, and then as the founder of the Nashville Food Project, where she supported the vibrant community work of local food justice in Middle Tennessee; that all changed just after her fortieth birthday, when she was diagnosed with stage IV glioblastoma, an aggressive form of terminal brain cancer. In What We Wish Were True, Quinn achingly grapples with the possibility of leaving behind the husband and children she adores, and what it means to live with a terminal diagnosis and still find meaning. Through gorgeous prose, Quinn masterfully weaves together the themes of life and death by integrating spiritually nourishing stories about family, identity, vocational call, beloved community, God's wide welcome, and living with brain cancer. Taken together, these stunning essays are a piercing reminder to cherish each moment, whether heartbreaking or hilarious, and cast loose other concerns.
Riding Jane Crow by
Publication Date: 2022-06-28
Miriam Thaggert illuminates the stories of African American women as passengers and as workers on the nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century railroad. As Jim Crow laws became more prevalent and forced Black Americans to "ride Jim Crow" on the rails, the train compartment became a contested space of leisure and work. Riding Jane Crow examines four instances of Black female railroad travel: the travel narratives of Black female intellectuals such as Anna Julia Cooper and Mary Church Terrell; Black middle-class women who sued to ride in first class "ladies' cars"; Black women railroad food vendors; and Black maids on Pullman trains. Thaggert argues that the railroad represented a technological advancement that was entwined with African American attempts to secure social progress. Black women's experiences on or near the railroad illustrate how American technological progress has often meant their ejection or displacement; thus, it is the Black woman who most fully measures the success of American freedom and privilege, or "progress," through her travel experiences.