Bookshelf: Summer 2015
It’s What I Do: A Photographer’s Life of Love and War (Penguin Press) is the memoir of Lynsey Addario ’95, a Pulitzer Prize– and MacArthur Genius Grant–winning war photographer. It’s her explanation and exploration of how relentlessly pursuing truth through a camera lens has been her calling, shaped her life, and put this gifted chronicler at the forefront of her generation. Accepting the challenge to go into the chaos of crisis in Afghanistan following 9/11, she just kept going — to Iraq, Darfur, the Congo, Somalia — and was kidnapped in Libya. Brave but not fearless, Addario uses her fear to create the empathy and humanity that are essential to her work recording global strife — work that, she knows, has tremendous potential to influence public opinion and official policy. She shares how being a female in war-ravaged settings has affected every part of her professional and personal life, which now includes a husband and a young child. Kirkus calls It’s What I Do “a brutally real and unrelentingly raw memoir that is as inspiring as it is horrific,” and it was an Amazon Best Book of the Month in February. Actress Jennifer Lawrence will play Addario in an upcoming film based on the work, directed by Steven Spielberg.
Using his BA in theology and his MPhil in classical Indian religion and Sanskrit from Oxford University, as well as his UW doctorate in Buddhist studies, Paul Griffiths PhD’83 has crafted Decreation: The Last Things of All Creatures (Baylor University Press). He opines that while Christianity has “obsessed” over the future of humanity, it has neglected the ends of nonhuman animals, inanimate objects, and angels. His work creates a grammar and a lexicon for a new eschatology of these beings. Griffiths is the Warren Chair of Catholic Theology at Duke Divinity School in Durham, North Carolina.
In Forensic Media: Reconstructing Accidents in Accelerated Modernity (Duke University Press), Greg Siegel ’90 considers how photographic, electronic, and digital media have been used as forensic tools to reconstruct crashes and catastrophes. These media help people to make sense out of what can seem like tragic, chance occurrences by transforming them into more reassuring narratives of causal succession. Siegel is an associate professor of film and media studies at the University of California-Santa Barbara.
New Yorker Joanna Cohen ’94 has published her debut novel, Sweet Child (Amazon Digital Services), which she describes as a “coming-of-age story and mystery that centers on New York City private school kids in the 1980s” — but she’s hardly a stranger to the written word: she wrote about sports for the Daily Cardinal; spent nearly a decade as a reporter and editor for Sports Illustrated; wrote scripts for All My Children, earning three Emmy nominations; and freelanced for the sports, opinion, and style sections of the New York Times. Cohen concludes that she must be “the only person ever to have covered the Yankees in the World Series and written dialogue for daytime legend Susan Lucci.”
The winner of the 2014 World Fantasy Award is A Stranger in Olondria (Small Beer Press), Sofia Samatar MA’97, PhD’13’s debut fantasy novel about a book-starved boy bibliophile who’s been raised on stories of the distant land of Olondria, where books are blessedly common. When he finally gets to visit, his life is nearly perfect — until he’s pulled drastically off course, is haunted by a ghost, and becomes a pawn in the struggle between two powerful cults. Reviewers praise the author for her sensuous descriptions and intoxicating sentences, calling the book mesmerizing, dreamy, and dazzling. Samatar is the nonfiction and poetry editor for Interfictions Online: A Journal of Interstitial Arts and an assistant professor of literature and writing at California State University-Channel Islands.
Sharing Secrets (TLC Solutions) sounds like it could be a lovely romance story, but its subtitle, A Conversation about the Counterintuitive Nature of Executive Leadership, sets the reader straight. (Martha) Erin McDavid Soto ’82’s first book — for aspiring, new, and rising executives — is a candid, practical road map that skips the jargon and offers real-world insights and approaches to improve results. A seasoned executive who provides executive coaching and organizational development through her business, TLC Solutions, the author also has longtime experience working around the world for USAID, the Peace Corps, and as a member of the Senior Foreign Service Office; and she’s taught at the National Defense University.
A book for Baby Boomers, by one: that’s Rick Bava ’81’s In Search of the Baby Boomer Generation (Motivational Press), for which he gathered fodder by traveling the country to talk to folks from all walks about the issues that interest them most. A business executive for thirty years, Bava became a voice for his generation beginning in 2007. He now writes the Baby Boomer Corner column for Today’s Senior Magazine, is part of the Boomer Nation radio program, and offers speeches and business consulting on all things Boomer.
You know about Wisconsin’s superiority in brats and cheese, but the state also leads the nation in producing cranberries and holds respectable spots in the wild rice, maple syrup, and cherry categories, too. Richard Baumann ’53 of Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, stirs these ingredients into his new book, Foods That Made Wisconsin Famous (HenschelHAUS Publishing/Cedar Valley Publishing), to serve up practical and delicious recipes for discriminating palates. He has produced six cookbooks, written print columns, and hosted and produced nearly seventy TV cooking programs.
A holiday greeting in December from Otto Vasak ’39 of Fairfield, California, shared that he and his wife, Elly — then ages ninety-seven and ninety-four respectively — had celebrated their seventy-third wedding anniversary on December 13. Elly had just published her third book of poetry, and Otto had published his own work, But Anyway … A Life Well Lived (Blue Dolphin). It contains 230 vignettes that he wrote over the years.
“A Wisconsin alumna is never too old to do something spectacular!” says (Connie) Carolyn Prentice Coddington Martin ’49 of Dallas. That something is publishing Tumbleweed Tales from a Tiny Texas Town (CreateSpace), a collection of thirty-seven “funny, provocative, or downright frightening short stories based on the action-packed adventures” of her husband, who had shared many tales of growing up in — yes — a tiny Texas town. The project has taken twenty years, and a second volume is in the works. Receiving some very complimentary reviews prompted Martin to add, “Don’t you know this is an electrifying experience for a senior citizen who is not accustomed to blowing her own horn?” She applauds artist Jeanne Ann Macejko for the book’s cover design.
John McEvoy ’60 is off to the races again with his sixth “horse crime novel,” High Stakes (Poisoned Pen Press). It continues the life and times of the irreverent Jack Doyle, a “former boxer, advertising representative, and publicity man whose midlife career has been shaped by the world of thoroughbred horse racing and dark deeds within.” McEvoy, of Evanston, Illinois, is also a widely published poet, former horse owner, and former editor and executive columnist for thoroughbred horse racing’s Daily Racing Form. He’s earned Benjamin Franklin Awards from the Independent Book Publishers Association for two previous books.
Wisconsinites have long tramped around in the grasses that cover the state, but how many have known what they were stepping on? There’s no need for ignorance or confusion now: Field Guide to Wisconsin Grasses (University of Wisconsin Press), co-edited by Merel Robin Black ’63 and Emmet Judziewicz MS’85, PhD’87, is the first comprehensive, scientifically current, illustrated guide to Midwestern grasses published since the 1960s, offering more than eleven hundred illustrations and species descriptions. Black is a research associate at UW-Stevens Point who manages the Plants of Wisconsin website, and Judziewicz is a biology professor and director of the Freckmann Herbarium at UW-Stevens Point.
Jeremy Mitchell ’64 was a boy born of British parents living in rural Wisconsin who attended Wisconsin High School, then located on the current UW campus. His father, Ronald Mitchell, was the longtime director of UW theater, and the Mitchell Theatre in Vilas Hall bears his name. Jeremy became a professional photographer in San Francisco and had a second career in public relations until a pair of lemon-sized brain tumors left him legally blind. His “self-prescribed rehab assignment” following surgery in 2000 was writing Recollections: Writing My Way Back from Brain Surgery (CreateSpace): a chronicle of triumph over adversity and part of his reinvention as a writer. He lives at ThunderCloud Farm in Sonoma County, California.
Charles David Kleymeyer MS’70, PhD’73’s retelling of the historical Jesus narrative — Yeshu: A Novel for the Open-Hearted (Quaker Heron Press) — won three national prizes for fiction in 2014. He wants the work to invite readers in, as a “storytelling Jewish carpenter touches humankind forever, and his wilderness-wandering cousin connects nature with the spirit” in journeys that “brim with universal lessons, laughter, and natural beauty, and lives are transformed in a lyrical, interfaith quest for peace, justice, and love.” To form the work’s characters and scenes, the Arlington, Virginia, author drew upon his forty-five-year career “working with ethnic peoples of the Americas and joining their struggles to improve their lives, revitalize their cultures, and restore the earth.”
Mary Kay Vaughan MA’70, PhD’73 takes a biographical approach to understanding the culture surrounding the Mexico City youth rebellion of the 1960s, chronicling the life and following the personal evolution of a young painter as a counter to the popular impressions of the rebellion. In her book, Portrait of a Young Painter: Pepe Zúñiga and Mexico City’s Rebel Generation (Duke University Press), she depicts the prosperity and informed public life of the place and time through a cultural analysis. Vaughan, of Plainfield, Illinois, is a professor emerita of history at the University of Maryland.
Many readers will relate to Fred Baker ’71, MS’75’s book, Growing Up Wisconsin: Remembrances from the American Midwest (Other Voices Press), in which young Fred is forced to leave bustling Chicago and move to a small farm in southwest Wisconsin. Life is filled with fun, adventure, and simple pleasures — but also adversity, necessary adaptations, and plenty of work for his family in the late 1950s and 1960s. Baker is a hydrologist and historian for whom Wisconsin resides in the past; he spends his present in Golden, Colorado.
Building on the success of its predecessors, the new third edition of James De Muth MS’72, PhD’74’s Basic Statistics and Pharmaceutical Statistical Applications (CRC Press) covers and greatly expands on statistical topics that are most relevant to those in the pharmaceutical industry and pharmacy practice. De Muth is a professor in the UW School of Pharmacy’s Division of Pharmacy Professional Development.
Elizabeth Sommers ’72 of Boston Medical Center is a public health advocate who has worked and published in the areas of acupuncture detoxification and the treatment of HIV/AIDS. She’s also written Acupuncture as an Adjuvant in the Treatment of HIV/AIDS: Examining Disparities in Access, Cost-Effectiveness and Public Health Considerations (Lambert Academic Publishing).
The Chivalric Folk Tradition in Sicily: A History of Storytelling, Puppetry, Painted Carts and Other Arts (McFarland) is Marcella Croce MA’78, PhD’88’s chronicle — through the arts — of the chivalric tradition that’s based on the medieval stories of Charlemagne and his knights and the sense of honor that they have engendered in Sicilian life. Croce, of Palermo, Sicily, has taught Italian in Iran and Japan, and since 2002, she’s organized the Palermo semester-abroad program of Union College in Schenectady, New York.
Michael Gregory MS’79 is a man with a mission. In introducing his latest book, The Wheels are Falling Off the Wagon at the IRS: An Open Letter to Patriotic Americans Concerned with the Federal Tax System (irswheels.com), he says, “The IRS is grossly underfunded. It’s causing a significant impact on the IRS’s ability to do its job. This negatively impacts you.” The author is a professional (and volunteer) mediator, blogger at ManagingResolutions.org, and chief manager of Michael Gregory Consulting in Roseville, Minnesota.
At the behest of their government, thousands of Puerto Rican agricultural workers migrated to Michigan in 1950 to work in the state’s sugar beet fields as part of Operation Farmlift. Encountering abysmal working conditions and low pay, the workers — and their wives, who remained in Puerto Rico — exploded in protest. These protests, the surprising alliances they created, and the Puerto Rican government’s response inform Eileen Suárez Findlay MA’88, PhD’95’s assertion in We Are Left without a Father Here: Masculinity, Domesticity, and Migration in Postwar Puerto Rico (Duke University Press) that the notions of fatherhood and domesticity were central to the nation’s populist politics and shaped its citizens’ understandings of themselves, their leaders, and their country. The author is an associate professor of Latin American and Caribbean history at American University in Washington, DC.
Where the River Burned: Carl Stokes and the Struggle to Save Cleveland (Cornell University Press), co-authored by David Stradling MA’91, PhD’96, is the story of Cleveland’s great challenges during the 1960s with racial violence, crime, loss of jobs and population, a growing ghetto, dangerous air pollution, and a Great Lake that appeared to be dying. When the Cuyahoga River caught fire in 1969, it became the emblem of all that was wrong with industrial America. In response, Cleveland’s mayor, Carl Stokes, the first African American mayor of a major U.S. city, adopted ecological thinking that emphasized the inseparability of social and environmental problems. Stradling is a professor of history at the University of Cincinnati who’s written several other environmental histories.
Marla Czeshinski McKenna ’93 hit a home run with her first children’s book, the customizable Mom’s Big Catch. Now she’s produced the sequel, Sadie’s Big Steal (Tate Publishing), about a dog who plans to steal a prized baseball and learns something important about right and wrong. McKenna, of Waterford, Wisconsin, teamed up with the Milwaukee Brewers to host a book drive in January, and both of her books support the Linda Blair WorldHeart Foundation. She thanks musician Rick Springfield — yes, “Jessie’s Girl” Rick Springfield — for matching her donations.
Mistake, Wisconsin (self-published) is Kersti Niebrugge ’03’s satirical, humorous first book for young adults in which musky mailboxes go missing in the small, eccentric, Northwoods town of Mistake. A crooked politician blames the local teens, but a resourceful sophomore smells something fishy and takes him on to save Mistake’s beloved musky-fishing opening-day holiday. Niebrugge, of New York City, has worked for BBC Worldwide and TBS’s Conan, and she’s currently a researcher for NBC’s Late Night with Seth Meyers.
In the century before 1870 — an era of political and religious upheaval in Ireland — the nation was not an Anglicized kingdom, and it articulated modernity through the Irish language. Thus contends Nicholas Wolf PhD’08 in An Irish-Speaking Island: State, Religion, Community, and the Linguistic Landscape in Ireland, 1770–1870 (University of Wisconsin Press). He’s an assistant professor and faculty fellow at the Glucksman Ireland House at New York University.
We send hearty congratulations to Kevin Mason PhD’09 on his 2013 promotion to associate professor of science education at UW-Stout in Menomonie, where he’s served as the program director for science education since 2006. Mason has also written Preparing for the Classroom: What Teachers Really Think about Teacher Education (R&L Publishers), which explores current topics and issues in teacher education through the viewpoints and words of eight practicing educators.
In Italian Women Filmmakers and the Gendered Screen (Palgrave Macmillan), editor Maristella Cantini-Malterer PhD’11 discusses how “feminism in Italy has left a great area of investigation uncovered, buried under the pressure of a backlash that runs over women’s identity, their expectations, and their artistic expression.” The book also examines Italian women’s contributions to cinema of the past, their visions of reality, and their openness toward today’s more complex gender challenges. Cantini-Malterer is an assistant professor of Italian at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana.
Published in the Summer 2015 issue