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"A remarkably fine work of creative scholarship." --C. Vann Woodward, New York Review of Books In 1860, when four million African Americans were enslaved, a quarter-million others, including William Ellison, were "free people of color." But Ellison was remarkable. Born a slave, his experience spans the history of the South from George Washington and Thomas Jefferson to Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis. In a day when most Americans, black and white, worked the soil, barely scraping together a living, Ellison was a cotton-gin maker--a master craftsman. When nearly all free blacks were destitute, Ellison was wealthy and well-established. He owned a large plantation and more slaves than all but the richest white planters. While Ellison was exceptional in many respects, the story of his life sheds light on the collective experience of African Americans in the antebellum South to whom he remained bound by race. His family history emphasizes the fine line separating freedom from slavery.
"Weary Feet, Rested Souls is a valuable and beautiful road map to a landscape we must not forget."--Marian Wright Edelman, president of the Children's Defense Fund Thirty years after the Civil Rights Movement transformed America, Weary Feet, Rested Souls brings the landscape of this compelling period of history back to life. Logging 30,000 miles of research and more than 100 hours of interviews with Civil Rights veterans, Townsend Davis has written both a history of the struggle and an indispensable traveler's guidebook to Civil Rights in the Deep South. Ranging from Martin Luther King, Jr.'s childhood neighborhood to Philadelphia, Mississippi, where three Civil Rights workers were murdered, to Selma and Birmingham and scores of other sites, Weary Feet, Rested Souls is a uniquely inspiring and deeply commemorative guide to the Movement and its heroes.
"Ron Carlson's novel is in the coming-of-age tradition, with the contemporary attributes of humor and cool. . . . I liked Larry for his unpretentiousness, his wry, caring angle on experience." --New York Times In this tender, comic novel, Larry Boosinger--graduate student, writer, garage attendant, escaped convict (and perhaps a person)--has one foot in late adolescence while he searches frantically for a place to put the other. Beset by illusions, attracted by paradoxes, Larry carries on his allegorical fistfight with life. He operates in a movie-created world where attempts are made at perfection. Enamored of the romantic ideals of old movies, popular songs, and his own personal hero, F. Scott Fitzgerald, he seeks experience that will match his expectations.
In The News of the World, Ron Carlson's celebrated last collection, it was widely noted that the news was good. Here, as everybody goes to Plan B, the news is stronger, edgy, and bittersweet. Here are men and women in the middle--of life, of relationships. There is a difference between what they set out for and what they get. A single mother keeps house on an aircraft carrier. A new father finds himself seduced by a motorcycle. A lonely professor is forced to face a few truths. Braced by honesty and lifted by affection for the world, these stories are a stunning showcase for a writer tackling universal themes in new ways. Get ready: when Plan A breaks down, Ron Carlson is here.
"If you can read this one without getting a lump in your throat, turn yourself in to the nearest mortuary. Your heart has ceased to function. This book is about the innate hunger of the human heart to belong. To be part of a family unit whether or not there are blood ties. It's about the refusal of the American adult to be bothered with those young enough or old enough to be a nuisance. And it's about the most touching book I've read in many a moon." --Carolyn Vaughter, Houston Chronicle Collin Elder is running away from a "home" for wayward teenagers. Louisa Holz is escaping from her father, a carnival daredevil. Heading west from Arizona, they meet a third member of the novel's family--Will Clare, elderly and forgetful but full of rich memories.
A dazzling collection of stories about how the familiar can suddenly turn strange. A guidebook introduces foreign visitors to a recognizable but dreamlike America, where mirrors are haunted and the Statue of Liberty wears a bowler hat. A department-store supervisor must discipline employees who don't smile enough at customers, but finds himself unexpectedly drawn to the saddest of them all. A woman reluctantly agrees to buy her daughter a robot pet, then is horrified when her little girl chooses an enormous mechanical spider for a companion. The characters in these stories find that the world they thought they knew has shifted and changed, become bizarre and disorienting, and, occasionally, miraculous. Told with absurdist humor and sweet sadness, Viral is about being lost in places that are supposed to feel like home.
"An engrossing tale of obsession, adventure and scientific reasoning." --Betty Ann Kevles, Los Angeles Times In the winter of 1938, a fishing boat by chance dragged from the Indian Ocean a fish thought extinct for 70 million years. It was a coelacanth, which thrived concurrently with dinosaurs and pterodactyls--an animal of major importance to those who study the history of vertebrate life. Living Fossil describes the life and habitat of the coelcanth and what scientists have learned about it during fifty years of research. It is an exciting and very human story, filled with ambitious and brilliant people, that reveals much about the practice of modern science.
The hidden life of Alfred C. Kinsey, the principal architect of the sexual revolution. In this brilliant, groundbreaking biography, twenty years in the making, James H. Jones presents a moving and even shocking portrait of the man who pierced the veil of reticence surrounding human sexuality. Jones shows that the public image Alfred Kinsey cultivated of disinterested biologist was in fact a carefully crafted public persona. By any measure he was an extraordinary man--and a man with secrets. Drawing upon never before disclosed facts about Kinsey's childhood, Jones traces the roots of Kinsey's scholarly interest in human sexuality to his tortured upbringing. Between the sexual tensions of the culture and Kinsey's devoutly religious family, Jones depicts Kinsey emerging from childhood with psychological trauma but determined to rescue humanity from the emotional and sexual repression he had suffered. New facts about his marriage, family life, and relationships with students and colleagues enrich this portrait of the complicated, troubled man who transformed the state of public discourse on human sexuality.
Of Richard Hugo's Making Certain It Goes On, David Wagoner has written: "Richard Hugo spared himself (and us) no pains or joys in making the wonderful, vigorous original poems brought together in this single collection. His was and is a very important voice in modern American poetry." Hugo was also an editor of the Yale Younger Poets series and a distinguished teacher and master of the personal essay. Now many of his essays have been assembled and arranged by Ripley Hugo, the poet's widow and a writer and teacher, and Lois and James Welch, writers and close friends of the poet. Together the essays constitute a compelling autobiographical narrative that takes Hugo from his lonely childhood through the war years and his working and creative life to an interview just before his death in 1982. William Matthews, also a friend of Hugo's, has written an introduction.
Here is a collection of poems by a writer whom the poet Carolyn Kizer calls "one of the most passionate, energetic, and honest poets living." Hugo's most important subject is the American West. In the present volume, people, places, dreams, and memories are explored again--always in search of the poet's self.
Richard Hugo, whom Carolyn Kizer has called" one of the most passionate, energetic, and honest poets living," here offers an extraordinary collection of new poems, each one a "letter" or a "dream." Both letters and dreams are special manifestations of alone-ness; Hugo's special senses of alone-ness, of places, and of other people are the forces behind his distinctively American and increasingly authoritative poetic voice. Each letter is written from a specific place that Hugo has made his own (a "triggering town," as he has called it elsewhere) to a friend, a fellow poet, an old love. We read over the poet's shoulder as the town triggers the imagination, the friendship is re-opened, the poet's selfhood is explored and illuminated. The "dreams" turn up unexpectedly (as dreams do) among the letters; their haunting images give further depth to the poet's exploration. Are we overhearing them? Who is the "you" that dreams?
The definitive collection of a major American poet's work. Richard Hugo was, in James Wright's words, "a great poet, true to our difficult life." Making Certain It Goes On brings together, as Hugo wished, the poems published in book form during his lifetime, together with the new poems he wrote in his last years.
Richard Hugo has been described by Carolyn Kizer as "one of the most passionate, energetic, and honest poets now living." Nowhere has that passion, energy, and honesty been more evident than in ?White Center, his newest volume of poems. "That Richard Hugo's poetry creates in his readers an almost indistinguishable desire for more," writes the critic and poet Dave Smith, "is the mark of his ability to reach those deep pools in us where we wait for passionate engagement. What Hugo gives us is the chance to begin again and a world where that beginning is ever possible." Here, for his ever-growing body of readers, are more of those opportunities.
In an essay on Richard Hugo, the poet James Wright called him "one of the precious few poets of our age . . . who has, and sustains, an abiding vision." Hugo took that vision to Skye with him: he makes Scottish history, legends, and "triggering towns" his own in these new poems, just as he has earlier done in poems of the American West. And in making them his own, he makes them our own as well. He continues to be, in Wright's words, "a great poet, true to our difficult life." In September of 1977 Richard Hugo and his family went to live for several months on the Isle of Skye, off the coast of Scotland. One of the results of that experience is this new and impressive volume of poems.
"[An] extraordinary book. . . . Mr. Gould is an exceptional combination of scientist and science writer. . . . He is thus exceptionally well placed to tell these stories, and he tells them with fervor and intelligence."--James Gleick, New York Times Book Review High in the Canadian Rockies is a small limestone quarry formed 530 million years ago called the Burgess Shale. It hold the remains of an ancient sea where dozens of strange creatures lived--a forgotten corner of evolution preserved in awesome detail. In this book Stephen Jay Gould explores what the Burgess Shale tells us about evolution and the nature of history.
Hauntingly beautiful fiction about two women, solitude, art, and transformation. For years, Gioia Timpanelli has held audiences rapt with her retellings of ancient tales, often appearing with Robert Bly, James Hillman, Joseph Campbell, and Gary Snyder. Here, in fiction full of warmth and resonances--characters we can't help but recognize, prose and imagery that play on the strings of the soul--Timpanelli draws on her deep knowledge of these old stories and their wisdoms to create a new and refreshing kind of storytelling, with hints of both Italo Calvino and Angela Carter. In "A Knot of Tears," a woman's locked-up life is transformed by a parrot who tells tales; her story becomes a subtle and surprising meditation on the necessity of being true to oneself and others. In "Rusina, Not Quite in Love," a strange and lovely retelling of the story of the Beauty and the Beast, a young woman escapes family and society--especially the grasp of her superficial and beastly sisters--to find consolation and beauty in nature and its muse. In each case, women of very different backgrounds--one aristocratic, one impoverished--find solitary spaces from which they can emerge as artists and shapers of their own destinies. With a sense of character unusual in contemporary fiction (not mere personality, but moral character) and a gentle, lyric touch, Timpanelli blends the seeming simplicity of folktale with a richly textured understanding of human nature. With great integrity and affection for language, her work teaches about love and solitude, honesty and art.
A bloody mutiny on a whaling journey, followed by an incredible tale of survival on land and sea. Samuel Comstock knew he was born to do some great thing, but his only legacy was a reign of terror. Two years out of Nantucket on a whaling voyage in 1824, he organized a mutiny and murdered the officers of the Globe. It was a premeditated act; in his sea chest Comstock carried the seeds, tools, and weapons with which he would found his own island kingdom. He had often described these plans to one of his brothers, William. But the chief witness and chronicler of the mutiny was young George Comstock, who neither participated in nor approved of his brother's savage deed. Within days of settling on Mili Atoll in the Marshall Islands, Comstock was murdered by his fellow mutineers. Six innocent seamen--George among them--seized the Globe and escaped; most of the rest were killed by natives. Two survivors lived for twenty-two months, half-prisoners and half-adoptees of the natives, until they were rescued in a bold and dangerous maneuver by a landing party from the U.S. schooner Dolphin. The Globe's story is one of terror, adventure, endurance, and luck. It is also the story of one of the most bizarre and frightening minds that ever went to sea.
"One of the best novelists since Jane Austen."--Philadelphia Inquirer This novel is a powerful successor to Testimonies, Patrick O'Brian's first novel written for adults. It is set in that corner of France that became O'Brian's adopted home, where the long, dark wall of the Pyrenees runs headlong to meet the Mediterranean. Alain Roig returns to Saint-Féliu after years in the East and finds his family in crisis. His dour, middle-aged cousin Xavier, the mayor and most powerful citizen of the town, has fallen in love and plans to marry Madeleine, the young daughter of the local grocer. The Roig family property is threatened by this union, and Madeleine's relatives object on different grounds. Xavier is a tragic figure, damned by what he perceives as a lack of feeling; Madeleine is to be his salvation. Unfortunately she does not return his affection, and, as the feasts and harvest festivals of Saint-Féliu are played out, she finds herself falling in love with Alain.
O'Brian's richly told adventure saga, with its muscular prose, supple dialogue and engaging characters, packs a nice old-school punch." --Publishers Weekly This story begins where Patrick O'Brian's devoted fans would want it to, with a sloop in the South China Sea barely surviving a killer typhoon. The time is the 1930s and the protagonist a teenaged American boy whose missionary parents have just died. In the company of his rough seafaring uncle and an elderly English cousin, an eminent archaeologist, Derrick sets off in search of ancient treasures in central Asia. Along the way they encounter a charismatic Chinese bandit and a host of bad characters, including Russian agents fomenting unrest. The narrative touches on surprising subjects: astronomy, oriental philosophy, the correct identification of ancient Han bronzes, and some very local cuisine. It ends in an ice-bound valley, with the party caught between hostile Red-Hat monks and the Great Silent Ones, the Tibetan designation for the yeti.
"One of the best novelists since Jane Austen."--Philadelphia Inquirer The protagonist of this World War II novel is a prisoner of the German army in France. In order to keep himself sane while denying the charges and absorbing the beatings of his captors, Richard Temple conducts a minute examination--one might almost call it a prosecution--of his own life. Temple escapes from a blighted childhood and his widowed, alcoholic mother thanks to an artistic gift, the one thing of value he has to his name. His life as a painter in London of the '30s is cruelly deprived. In order to eat, he squanders this one asset by becoming a forger of art, specializing in minor works by Utrillo. He is rescued by the love of a beautiful and wealthy woman, and it is the failure of this relationship and the outbreak of war that propel him into the world of espionage.
"[Gardner] zaps his targets with laserlike precision and wit."--Entertainment Weekly Martin Gardner is perhaps the wittiest, most devastating unmasker of scientific fraud and intellectual chicanery of our time. Here he muses on topics as diverse as numerology, New Age anthropology, and the late Senator Claiborne Pell's obsession with UFOs, as he mines Americans' seemingly inexhaustible appetite for bad science. Gardner's funny, brilliantly unsettling exposés of reflexology and urine therapy should be required reading for anyone interested in "alternative" medicine. In a world increasingly tilted toward superstition, Did Adam and Eve Have Navels? will give those of us who prize logic and common sense immense solace and inspiration. "Gardner is a national treasure...I wish [this] could be made compulsory reading in every high school--and in Congress."--Arthur C. Clarke "Nobody alive has done more than Gardner to spread the understanding and appreciation of mathematics, and to dispel superstition."-- The New Criterion, John Derbyshire
A war memoir of unusual literary beauty and power from the acclaimed poet who wrote the poem "The Hurt Locker." In 2003, Sergeant Brian Turner crossed the line of departure with a convoy of soldiers headed into the Iraqi desert. Now he lies awake each night beside his sleeping wife, imagining himself as a drone aircraft, hovering over the terrains of Bosnia and Vietnam, Iraq and Northern Ireland, the killing fields of Cambodia and the death camps of Europe. In this breathtaking memoir, award-winning poet Brian Turner retraces his war experience--pre-deployment to combat zone, homecoming to aftermath. Free of self-indulgence or self-glorification, his account combines recollection with the imagination's efforts to make reality comprehensible. Across time, he seeks parallels in the histories of others who have gone to war, especially his taciturn grandfather (World War II), father (Cold War), and uncle (Vietnam). Turner also offers something that is truly rare in a memoir of violent conflict--he sees through the eyes of the enemy, imagining his way into the experience of the "other." Through it all, he paints a devastating portrait of what it means to be a soldier and a human being.
"Smart, funny, angry, political, and utterly poetic . . . both haunting and humorous." --The Rumpus
Winner of the 1999 National Book Award for Poetry. Collected here are poems from Ai's previous five books--Cruelty, Killing Floor, Sin, Fate, and Greed--along with seventeen new poems. Employing her trademark ferocity, these new dramatic monologues continue to mine this award-winning poet's "often brilliant" (Chicago Tribune) vision.
Justly celebrated as one of our strongest poets, Stephen Dunn selects from his eight collections and presents sixteen new poems marked by the haunting "Snowmass Cycle."
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