Gaudy, intoxicating, bright, loud, lucrative, and altogether American: they are our nation's boardwalks. The boardwalk was first invented for utilitarian reasons-so that beach-goers could stroll along the shore in their evening wear without tracking sand into train cars or hotel lobbies. But it wasn't long before the imagination of a country just becoming acquainted with the concept of leisure time transformed the boardwalk into something much more.
In America's Boardwalks, James Lilliefors takes us on a journey along the edges of the country to twelve of its most famous beach towns. Starting in the Northeast with Coney Island, Asbury Park, Atlantic City, Wildwood, and Cape May, we continue south to Rehoboth Beach; Ocean City, Maryland; Virginia Beach; Myrtle Beach; and Daytona Beach. In California, we explore the exotic scenes at Venice Beach and Santa Cruz. Lilliefors traces each town's history from the building of a boardwalk to what are frequently ambitious plans to revitalize and redevelop today. In every case, he shows how the boardwalk has been integral to the area's economic growth, status, and appeal.
This richly documented and illustrated tale, however, tells more than the story of the birth and development of boardwalks. Weaving together observations and conversations with business owners, planners, and strollers themselves, Lilliefors reveals the vitality of the boardwalk as an idea, rather than just as a place. Boardwalks, he argues, are living monuments to American enterprise, a young country's founding dreams, and its unwavering optimism.
Born at a time when the country was busy rebuilding and reinventing itself as an industrial and economic power, these lively seaside destinations seemed to herald a new life of relaxation, recreation, and middle-class prosperity. On the nation's first boardwalk in Atlantic City, you could find everything from a "home of the future," to diving horses, kangaroo boxing, and the world's largest typewriter. With no admission gate, boardwalks were also a thoroughly democratic idea, inviting visitors from all social and economic groups to join the same parade.
Even today, these glittering coastal hubs, with their always unique blends of people, sea spray, shops, inventions, and oddities remain a last frontier-a testament to the power of individuality in an increasingly homogenized world. From Thrasher's French fries in Ocean City to Mack's Pizza in Wildwood and Nathan's hot dogs in Coney Island, people still visit these resorts for products and pleasures that break the otherwise mundane stream of chain restaurants and retailers. Evoking the spirit, tastes, smells, and sounds that have become a beloved part of our nostalgia and that continue to lure new generations, this book is a deserved tribute to America's iconic seaside wonders.
Concerned about aspects of her romantic relationships, Donna McDonald consulted with a psychologist who asked, “Your hearing loss must have had a big impact on you?” At age 45, with a successful career in social work policy, McDonald took umbrage at the question. Then, she realized that she never had addressed the personal barrier she had constructed between her deaf-self and her hearing persona. In The Art of Being Deaf, she describes her long, arduous pursuit of finding out exactly who she was.
Born in 1950s Australia, McDonald was placed in an oral deaf school when she was five. There, she was trained to communicate only in spoken English. Afterwards, she attended mainstream schools where she excelled with speechreading and hard work. Her determination led to achievements that proved her to be “the deaf girl that had made good.” Yet, despite her constant focus on fitting in the hearing world, McDonald soon realized that she missed her deaf schoolmates and desired to explore her closed-off feelings about being deaf.
When she reconnected with her friends, one urged her to write about her experiences to tell all about “the Forgotten Generation, the orally-raised deaf kids that no one wants to talk about.” In writing her memoir, McDonald did learn to reconcile her deaf-self with her “hearing-deaf” persona, and she realized that the art of being deaf is the art of life, the art of love.
“Illness, in the larger sense of mortality,” Don Hardy writes, “is an inescapable shared trait among all living creatures, and we humans know about it, whether or not we want to talk about it.”
Because I’d Hate to Just Disappear is a portrait of a husband and wife, Don and Heather Hardy, thrown into the physical and emotional machinery of Don being diagnosed with leukemia and going through chemotherapy and treatment over a period of close to two years.
In this thoughtful and exquisite account, Don and Heather narrate Don’s struggle in real-time. Disarmingly honest, they recount each intimate stage of a couple living through cancer together, the mental and physical struggles, the humor and visceral emotion to reveal how two very different personalities shape—and are shaped by—the experience of cancer and its treatment. Through these moments emerge a constant flow of human kindness and discovery that lifts them each day.
A few short years after HIV first entered the world blood supply in the late 1970s and early 1980s, over half the hemophiliacs in the United States were infected with the virus. But this was far more than just an unforeseeable public health disaster. Negligent doctors, government regulators, and Big Pharma all had a hand in this devastating epidemic.
Blood on Their Hands is an inspiring, firsthand account of the legal battles fought on behalf of hemophiliacs who were unwittingly infected with tainted blood. As part of the team behind the key class action litigation filed by the infected, young New Jersey lawyer Eric Weinberg was faced with a daunting task: to prove the negligence of a powerful, well-connected global industry worth billions. Weinberg and journalist Donna Shaw tell the dramatic story of how idealistic attorneys and their heroic, mortally-ill clients fought to achieve justice and prevent further infections. A stunning exposé of one of the American medical system’s most shameful debacles, Blood on Their Hands is a rousing reminder that, through perseverance, the victims of corporate greed can sometimes achieve great victory.
“This is a book that is sensible and smart. It throbs with life and style and the hard iron of living-the words beaten into tensile strength, all rust scoured into thought.” -Sam Pickering
With a perfect balance of playfulness, humor, and apology, Philip Brady calls himself a bard. But he explains that, before the title became shrouded in mystery, bards were simply teachers, unknown and poor, who gave literal voice to poems through recitations. Woven throughout these twenty essays is Brady's resistance to the academic expectations and settings of poetic instruction, enabling him to elicit the most authentic and surprising responses from a range of voices. He is motivated by the possibility of poetry expressed in the grittiest of places and takes readers from the rust belts of Ohio, to the far-flung pubs of Ireland, to Zairian classrooms with few books and fidgety lightbulbs. Most of all, he believes that, while bad poetry is a fact of life, good poetry should be studied and learned by heart.
Brady doesn't resort to dissecting poems here, though poems-his own and those of many of his masters, from Yeats to Tu Fu-do appear. Instead, the poetic language of his observations seems to fulfill a greater purpose: “Voiced, the poem is transfigured from a printed glyph to sensory language: ephemeral, but with a tensile strength derived from the collective memory that births it. Critics may feel differently, but what matters to a poem is not how many times it is reprinted, but how deeply it penetrates the heart.”
These essays are meditations grounded in the author's life as a poet, teacher, publisher, musician, traveler, and organizer. In one, readers encounter non-traditional students who attend class after work and whose lives are already shaped by burden. Brady recognizes the tension between reading poetry as an academic exercise and reading it for its power to endow all people with a broader sense of the self that is informed by both the dead and the living. He celebrates the challenges that his students bring to the classroom by forging headlong into discussions that other instructors would cringe at-as when a student declares that he doesn't like reading old poetry but instead likes greeting-card poems. Brady masterfully turns this potentially deflating moment into one that is both validating and deeply inspiring-for student and reader.
Philip Brady is a professor of English at Youngstown State University, where he directs the Poetry Center and Etruscan Press. He is the author of three books of poetry, Weal (winner of Ashland Poetry Press's Snyder Prize); Forged Correspondences, (chosen for Ploughshares' Editors' Shelf by Maxine Kumin); and Fathom; and a memoir, To Prove My Blood: A Memoir of Emigrations & the Afterlife. He is the co-editor, with James F. Carens, of Critical Essays on James Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. He plays in Brady's Leap, a New-Celtic band which has produced two CD's of original music.
“Family history begins with missing persons,” Alison Light writes in Common People. We wonder about those we’ve lost, and those we never knew, about the long skein that led to us, and to here, and to now. So we start exploring.
Most of us, however, give up a few generations back. We run into a gap, get embarrassed by a ne’er-do-well, or simply find our ancestors are less glamorous than we’d hoped. That didn’t stop Alison Light: in the last weeks of her father’s life, she embarked on an attempt to trace the history of her family as far back as she could reasonably go. The result is a clear-eyed, fascinating, frequently moving account of the lives of everyday people, of the tough decisions and hard work, the good luck and bad breaks, that chart the course of a life. Light’s forebears—servants, sailors, farm workers—were among the poorest, traveling the country looking for work; they left few lasting marks on the world. But through her painstaking work in archives, and her ability to make the people and struggles of the past come alive, Light reminds us that “every life, even glimpsed through the chinks of the census, has its surprises and secrets.”
What she did for the servants of Bloomsbury in her celebrated Mrs. Woolf and the Servants Light does here for her own ancestors, and, by extension, everyone’s: draws their experiences from the shadows of the past and helps us understand their lives, estranged from us by time yet inextricably interwoven with our own. Family history, in her hands, becomes a new kind of public history.
Cop's Kid: A Milwaukee Memoir
Mel C. Miskimen University of Wisconsin Press, 2003 Library of Congress CT275.M555A3 2003 | Dewey Decimal 977.595044092
B-Day, as it came to be known, finally arrived. It was a Friday. A school day. I identified with Cinderella as I watched Dad get ready for work. Holster, check. Gun, check. Billy club, check. Handcuffs, check. . . . Saturday morning I got up early. Dad was already gone. Back to work. Ushering the Beatles out of town. On the table . . . there were two small bars of soap, slightly used, the words "Coach House Inn" still legible. One book of matches with four missing. And a note from Dad, "From their room." . . . No one else’s dad comes home from work with something that might, just might, have been intimate with a Beatle.
Growing up, Mel Miskimen thought that a gun and handcuffs on the kitchen table were as normal as a gallon of milk and a loaf of Mrs. Karl’s bread. Her father, a Milwaukee cop for almost forty years was part Super Hero (He simply held up his hand and three lanes of traffic came to a screeching halt) and part Supreme Being (He could be anywhere at anytime. I never knew when or where he would pop up.) Miskimen’s memoir, told in humorous vignettes, tells what it was like for a girl growing up with a dad who packed a lunch and packed heat.
In 2008, anthropologist Matti Bunzl was given rare access to observe the curatorial department of Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art. For five months, he sat with the institution’s staff, witnessing firsthand what truly goes on behind the scenes at a contemporary art museum. From fund-raising and owner loans to museum-artist relations to the immense effort involved in safely shipping sixty works from twenty-seven lenders in fourteen cities and five countries, Matti Bunzl’s In Search of a Lost Avant-Garde illustrates the inner workings of one of Chicago’s premier cultural institutions.
Bunzl’s ethnography is designed to show how a commitment to the avant-garde can come into conflict with an imperative for growth, leading to the abandonment of the new and difficult in favor of the entertaining and profitable. Jeff Koons, whose massive retrospective debuted during Bunzl's research, occupies a central place in his book and exposes the anxieties caused by such seemingly pornographic work as the infamous Made in Heaven series. Featuring cameos by other leading artists, including Liam Gillick, Jenny Holzer, Karen Kilimnik, and Tino Sehgal, the drama Bunzl narrates is palpable and entertaining and sheds an altogether new light on the contemporary art boom.
Throughout her extensive career, Russian conceptual artist Irina Nakhova has frequently pushed the limits of what constitutes art and how we experience the art museum. One of her famous early pieces, for instance, transformed a room in her very own Moscow apartment into an art installation.
Released in conjunction with Nakhova’s first museum retrospective exhibition in the United States, this book includes many full-color illustrations of her work, spanning the entirety of her forty-year career and demonstrating her facility with a variety of media. It also includes essays by a variety of world-renowned curators and art historians, each cataloging Nakhova’s artistic innovations and exploring how she deals with themes of everyday life, memory, viewer engagement, and moral responsibility. It concludes with a new interview with Nakhova herself, giving new insight into her creative process and artistic goals. Irina Nakhova: Museum on the Edge provides a vivid look at the work of a visionary artist. Published in partnership with the Zimmerli Museum.
Elizabeth Ezra University of Illinois Press, 2007 Library of Congress PN1998.3.J47E97 2008 | Dewey Decimal 791.430233092
This is the first book on Jean-Pierre Jeunet, the popular and critically acclaimed director of films such as Amélie, Delicatessen, A Very Long Engagement, Alien Resurrection, and City of Lost Children. Jeunet's work exemplifies Europe's engagement with Hollywood, while at the same time making him a figurehead of the critically overlooked, specifically French tradition of the cinema of the fantastic.
Having garnered both commercial success and critical esteem in genres such as science fiction, fantasy, romantic comedy, and the war epic, Jeunet's work nevertheless engages with key aspects of French history and contemporary French culture. This study analyzes the director's major films, including those he made with Marc Caro, and his early short works. Elizabeth Ezra brings a new perspective to the study of Jeunet's work, uncovering instances of repressed historical trauma involving France's role in Algeria and the Second World War. The book includes a commentary by Jeunet himself on his career and corpus of films.
Investigating how the fraught political economy of migration impacts people around the world, Donald Martin Carter raises important issues about contemporary African diasporic movements. Developing the notion of the anthropology of invisibility, he explores the trope of navigation in social theory intent on understanding the lived experiences of transnational migrants.
Carter examines invisibility in its various forms, from social rejection and residential segregation to war memorials and the inability of some groups to represent themselves through popular culture, scholarship, or art. The pervasiveness of invisibility is not limited to symbolic actions, Carter shows, but may have dramatic and at times catastrophic consequences for people subjected to its force. The geographic span of his analysis is global, encompassing Senegalese Muslims in Italy and the United States and concluding with practical questions about the future of European societies. Carter also considers both contemporary and historical constellations of displacement, from Darfurian refugees to French West African colonial soldiers.
Whether focusing on historical photographs, television, print media, and graffiti scrawled across urban walls or identifying the critique of colonialism implicit in African films and literature, Carter reveals a protean and peopled world in motion.
Pope.L: Showing Up to Withhold
The Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago University of Chicago Press, 2014 Library of Congress NX512.P668A4 2014 | Dewey Decimal 700.92
Iconoclast and artist Pope.L uses the body, sex, and race as his materials the way other artists might use paint, clay, or bronze. His work problematizes social categories by exploring how difference is marked economically, socially, and politically. Working in a range of media from ketchup to baloney to correction fluid, with a special emphasis on performativity and writing, Pope.L pokes fun at and interrogates American society’s pretenses, the bankruptcy of contemporary mores, and the resulting repercussions for a civil society. Other favorite Pope.L targets are squeamishness about the human body and the very possibility of making meaning through art and its display.
Published to accompany his wonderfully inscrutable exhibition Forlesen at the Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago, Pope.L: Showing Up to Withhold is simultaneously an artist’s book and a monograph. In addition to reproductions of a number of his most recent artworks, it includes images of significant works from the past decade, and presents a forum for reflection and analysis on art making today with contributions by renowned critics and scholars, including Lawrie Balfour, Nick Bastis, Lauren Berlant, and K. Silem Mohammad.
“This book is the record of a struggle between two temperaments, two consciousnesses and almost two epochs.” That’s how Edmund Gosse opened Father and Son, the classic 1907 book about his relationship with his father. Seth Lerer’s Prospero’s Son is, as fits our latter days, altogether more complicated, layered, and multivalent, but at its heart is that same problem: the fraught relationship between fathers and sons.
At the same time, Lerer’s memoir is about the power of books and theater, the excitement of stories in a young man’s life, and the transformative magic of words and performance. A flamboyantly performative father, a teacher and lifelong actor, comes to terms with his life as a gay man. A bookish boy becomes a professor of literature and an acclaimed expert on the very children’s books that set him on his path in the first place. And when that boy grows up, he learns how hard it is to be a father and how much books can, and cannot, instruct him. Throughout these intertwined accounts of changing selves, Lerer returns again and again to stories—the ways they teach us about discovery, deliverance, forgetting, and remembering.
“A child is a man in small letter,” wrote Bishop John Earle in the seventeenth century. “His father hath writ him as his own little story.” With Prospero’s Son, Seth Lerer acknowledges the author of his story while simultaneously reminding us that we all confront the blank page of life on our own, as authors of our lives.
Scenes From Postmodern Life
Beatriz Sarlo University of Minnesota Press, 2001 Library of Congress F2849.2.S22813 2001 | Dewey Decimal 982.035
Shepherd: A Memoir
Richard Gilbert Michigan State University Press, 2014 Library of Congress SF375.32.G54A3 2014 | Dewey Decimal 636.31092
Upon moving to Appalachian Ohio with their two small children, Richard Gilbert and his wife are thrilled to learn there still are places in America that haven’t been homogenized. But their excitement over the region’s beauty and quirky character turns to culture shock as they try to put down roots far from their busy professional jobs in town. They struggle to rebuild a farmhouse, and Gilbert gets conned buying equipment and sheep—a ewe with an “outie” belly button turns out to be a neutered male, and mysterious illnesses plague the flock. Haunted by his father’s loss of his boyhood farm, Gilbert likewise struggles to earn money in agriculture. Finally an unlikely teacher shows him how to raise hardy sheep—a remarkable ewe named Freckles whose mothering ability epitomizes her species’ hidden beauty. Discovering as much about himself as he does these gentle animals, Gilbert becomes a seasoned agrarian and a respected livestock breeder. He makes peace with his romantic dream, his father, and himself. Shepherd, a story both personal and emblematic, captures the mythic pull and the practical difficulty of family scale sustainable farming.
James Houk's field work in Trinidad and subsequent involvement in the Orisha religion allows him a uniquely intimate perspective on a complex and eclectic religion. Originating in Nigeria, Orisha combines elements of African religions (notably Yoruba), Catholicism, Hinduism, Protestantism Spiritual Baptist, and Kabbalah. A religion of spirits and spirit possession, ceremonies and feasts, churches and shrines, sacrifices and sacred objects, Orisha is constantly shifting and unstable, its practice widely varied. As a belief system, it is a powerful presence in the social structure, culture, and, more recently, the political realm of Trinidad.
Houk carefully examines the historical forces that have transformed Orisha from a relatively simple religion in colonial Trinidad to an abstruse mix of belief, ritual, and symbolism. The voices of worshippers and Orisha leaders spring to life the intensity and power of the religion. Houk's own recounting of participation in many of the mystical ceremonies, including taking on the important role of drummer in several feasts, his initiation into Orisha, and his exceptional field research provide fascinating details essential in understanding the development of this Caribbean religion.
South African artist William Kentridge’s drawings, films, books, installations, and collaborations with opera and theater companies have established him as a world-class star in contemporary art, media, and theater. In 2010, and again in 2013, he staged Dmitri Shostakovich’s The Nose at the Metropolitan Opera; after the premiere, the New York Times noted that “Kentridge, who directed this production, helped design the sets and created the videos that animate the staging, received the heartiest bravos.” In this book, Jane Taylor, Kentridge’s friend and frequent collaborator, invites us to take an extraordinary behind-the-scenes look at his work for the show.
Kentridge has long been admired for his unconventional use of conventional media to produce art that is stunning, evocative, and narratively powerful—and how he works is as important as what he creates. This book is more than just a simple record of The Nose. The opera serves as a springboard into a bracing conversation about how Kentridge’s methods serve his unique mode of expression as a narrative and political artist. Taylor draws on his etchings, sculptures, and drawings to render visible the communication that occurs between his mind and hand as he thinks through the activity of making. Beautifully illustrated in color, William Kentridge offers striking insights about one of the most innovative artists of our present moment.