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1001 Beds
Performances, Essays, and Travels
Tim Miller; Edited by Glen Johnson
University of Wisconsin Press, 2006
    For a quarter century, Tim Miller has worked at the intersection of performance, politics, and identity, using his personal experiences to create entertaining but pointed explorations of life as a gay American man—from the perils and joys of sex and relationships to the struggles of political disenfranchisement and artistic censorship. This intimate autobiographical collage of Miller's professional and personal life reveals one of the celebrated creators of a crucial contemporary art form and a tireless advocate for the American dream of political equality for all citizens.
    Here we have the most complete Miller yet—a raucous collection of his performance scripts, essays, interviews, journal entries, and photographs, as well as his most recent stage piece Us. This volume brings together the personal, communal, and national political strands that interweave through his work from its beginnings and ultimately define Miller's place as a contemporary artist, activist, and gay man.
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Act Like You're Having a Good Time
Essays
Michele Weldon
Northwestern University Press, 2020

Winner, 2021 Gilda Women's Book Award

In this honest and tender collection of essays, award-winning memoirist Michele Weldon asks what it means to be a mature woman seeking a life of purpose and meaning through work, family, and relationships. Facing ageism and invisibility within popular culture, Weldon examines the effects of raising children, striving for applause, failing expectations, forming new friendships, reconciling lost dreams, and restoring one’s faith. With sincerity and humor, she unwraps family traditions, painting classes, lap swimming, dress codes, and career disappointments. She addresses white privilege and her evolving understanding of racism. And she asks crucial questions about mortality, finding connection in writing and stories.

Frank, eloquent, and daring, Weldon dissects the intricacies of life, journeying toward self-discovery as a mother, daughter, sister, and friend. Readers of any age or gender will recognize the universal experience of learning to accept oneself and asking essential questions—even if there are no easy answers.

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Against the Current
Paddling Upstream on the Tennessee River
Kim Trevathan
University of Tennessee Press, 2021

In August 1998 Kim Trevathan summoned his beloved 45-pound German shepherd mix, Jasper, and paddled a canoe down the Tennessee River, an adventure chronicled in Paddling the Tennessee River: A Voyage on Easy Water. Twenty years later, in Against the Current: Paddling Upstream on the Tennessee River, he invites readers on a voyage of light-hearted rumination about time, memory, and change as he paddles the same river in the same boat—but this time going upstream, starting out in early spring instead of late summer. In sparkling prose, Trevathan describes the life of the river before and after the dams, the sometimes daunting condition of its environment, its banks’ host of evolving communities—and also the joys and follies of having a new puppy, 65-pound Maggie, for a shipmate.

Trevathan discusses the Tennessee River’s varied contributions to the cultures that hug its waterway (Kentuckians refer to it as a lake, but Tennesseans call it a river), and the writer’s intimate style proves a perfect lens for the passageway from Kentucky to Tennessee to Alabama and back to Tennessee. In choice observations and chance encounters along the route, Trevathan uncovers meaningful differences among the Tennessee Valley’s people—and not a few differences in himself, now an older, wiser adventurer.

Whether he is struggling to calm his land-loving companion, confronting his body’s newfound aches and pains, craving a hard-to-find cheeseburger, or scouting for a safe place to camp for the night, Trevathan perseveres in his quest to reacquaint himself with the river and to discover new things about it. And, owing to his masterful sense of detail, cadence, and narrative craft, Trevathan keeps the reader at the heart of the journey. The Tennessee River is a remarkable landmark, and this text exhibits its past and present qualities with a perspective only Trevathan can provide.

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Beyond Desert Walls
Essays from Prison
Ken Lamberton
University of Arizona Press, 2005
“From the upper bunk where I write, a narrow window allows me a southern exposure of the desert beyond this prison. Saguaro cacti, residents here long before this rude concrete pueblo, fill the upper part of my frame. If I could open the window and reach out across the razed ground, sand traps, and shining perimeter fence, I might touch their fluted sides, their glaucous and waxen skins.”
 
For some people, even prison cannot shut out the natural world.

A teacher and family man incarcerated in Arizona State Prison—the result of a transgression that would cost him a dozen years of his life—Ken Lamberton can see beyond his desert walls. In essays that focus on the natural history of the region and on his own personal experiences with desert places, the author of the Burroughs Medal-winning book Wilderness and Razor Wire takes readers along as he revisits the Southwest he knew when he was free, and as he makes an inner journey toward self-awareness. Whether considering the seemingly eternal cacti or the desolate beauty of the Pinacate, he draws on sharp powers of observation to re-create what lies beyond his six-by-eight cell and to contemplate the thoughts that haunt his mind as tenaciously as the kissing bugs that haunt his sleep.

Ranging from prehistoric ruins on the Colorado Plateau to the shores of the Sea of Cortez, these writings were begun before Wilderness and Razor Wire and serve as a prequel to it. They seamlessly interweave natural and personal history as Lamberton explores caves, canyons, and dry ponds, evoking the mysteries and rhythms of desert life that elude even the most careful observers. He offers new ways of thinking about how we relate to the natural world, and about the links between those relationships and the ones we forge with other people. With the assurance of a gifted writer, he seeks to make sense of his own place in life, crafting words to come to terms with an insanity of his own making, to look inside himself and understand his passions and flaws.

Whether considering rattlesnakes of the hellish summer desert or the fellow inmates of his own personal hell, Lamberton finds meaningful connections—to his crime and his place, to the people who remained in his life and those who didn’t. But what he reveals in Beyond Desert Walls ultimately arises from language itself: a deep, and perhaps even frightening, understanding of a singular human nature.
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A Biscuit for Your Shoe
Beatrice Upshaw
University of North Texas Press, 2020

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A Body in the O
Performances and Stories
Tim Miller
University of Wisconsin Press, 2019
From London to DC to Australia to Los Angeles, Tim Miller has sold out shows in which he addresses issues of gender, immigration, homophobia, and censorship. As one of the “NEA Four,” who successfully sued the federal government for violating their First Amendment rights when their funding was rescinded in the early 1990s, Miller has always played an important role in defending queer artistic expression on stage. His autobiographical explorations into identity, politics, and art through the lens of his own experiences lead to visceral, humorous, and poignant performances. His activism and experiences inform his newest collection of performance scripts and writings, which represent the culmination of the many struggles for rights and equality that Miller has documented, and performed, over the course of his career. A Body in the O is an important addition to Miller’s existing body of work, picking up from his show Lay of the Land and moving into his more recent piece, Rooted.
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Casablanca and Other Stories
Edgar Brau
Michigan State University Press, 2006

Edgar Brau, one of the most exciting South American writers to emerge in the past twenty years, debuts his first English-language collection with the publication of Casablanca and Other Stories. The fiction of Edgar Brau draws not only upon the rich literary heritage of his native Argentina but also upon the body of work that has now rightly been formed into a South American canon, embracing those such as Jorge Luis Borges, Gabriel García Marquez, and Isabelle Allende. He brings a unique perspective to his narratives—narratives forged in the political and social upheaval that has been modern South America. Employing a fantasy-like aspect that goes beyond magical realism, his work is reminiscent of Edgar Allan Poe in his use of atmosphere as an additional character. These short stories signal a new era, much as the publication of Jorge Luis Borges’ Labyrinths in 1962 heralded a coming-of-age for his generation.
     Translated by Donald A. Yates, Andrea Labinger, and Joanne M. Yates, this collection includes stories from two of Edgar Brau’s collections—El poema y otras historias and Tres cuentos—to bring to a fresh audience the very best new work of a major Argentinean author.

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Doris Salcedo
Edited by Julie Rodrigues Widholm and Madeleine Grynsztejn
University of Chicago Press, 2015
A mountain of chairs piled between buildings. Shoes sewn behind animal membranes into a wall. A massive crack running through the floor of Tate Modern. Powerful works like these by sculptor Doris Salcedo evoke the significance of bearing witness and processes of collective healing. Salcedo, who lives and works in Bogotá, roots her art in Colombia’s social and political landscape—including its long history of civil wars—with an elegance and poetic sensibility that balances the gravitas of her subjects. Her work is undergirded by intense fieldwork, including interviews with people who have suffered loss and endured trauma from political violence. In recent years, Salcedo has become increasingly interested in the universality of these experiences and has expanded her research to Turkey, Italy, Great Britain, and the United States.

Published to accompany Salcedo’s first retrospective exhibition and the American debut of her major work Plegaria muda, Doris Salcedo is the most comprehensive survey of her sculptures and installations to date. In addition to featuring new contributions by respected scholars and curators, the book includes over one hundred color illustrations highlighting many pieces from Salcedo’s thirty-year career. Offering fresh perspectives on a vital body of work, Doris Salcedo is a testament to the power of one of today’s most important international artists.
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The Eclipse I Call Father
Essays on Absence
David Axelrod
Oregon State University Press, 2019
In The Eclipse I Call Father: Essays on Absence, David Axelrod recalls a balmy night in May 1970 when he vowed to allow no one and nothing he loves to pass from this life without praise, even if it meant praising the most bewildering losses. In each of these fourteen essays Axelrod delivers on that vow as he ranges across topics as diverse as marriage, Japanese poetry, Craftsman design, Old English riddles, racism, extinction, fatherhood, mountaineering, predatory mega-fauna, street fighting, trains, the Great Depression, and the effects of climate change—accretions of absence that haunt the writer and will likewise haunt readers.

The essays in this collection grew from a ten-year period when the author found himself periodically living and working abroad, wondering why foreign landscapes haunted him more than the familiar landscapes of the inland Pacific Northwest he called home. Each place had a long history of habitation, but at home he was blind, unable to see past the surfaces of things. Axelrod examines many aspects of that phenomenon in these pages, framing surface realities and imagining the scale and scope of that surface, but also trying to sense what is absent or changed, and how, despite its absence, the unseen accretes to ever-greater densities and persists as something uncanny.

Curious, alert, and keenly observant, these essays probe the boundaries between what is here and what is gone, what is present and what is past, in elegant prose. Readers familiar with Axelrod’s poetry will find a new facet of his lyrical gifts, while those encountering his work for the first time will be richly rewarded by the discovery of this Northwest literary talent.
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The Education of a Radical
An American Revolutionary in Sandinista Nicaragua
By Michael Johns
University of Texas Press, 2012

“I went to Nicaragua with nothing but a tourist visa, $1,500 in cash, the name of someone at the Agrarian Reform Ministry, and the idea of being a revolutionary intellectual. . . . The idea took hold in a simple character flaw: wanting to believe that I knew better than everyone else.” —From the preface

When Michael Johns joined a Sandinista militia in 1983, a fellow revolutionary dubbed him a rábano, a radish: red on the outside but white on the inside. Now, more than twenty-five years later, Johns appreciates the wisdom of that label as he revisits the questions of identity he tried to resolve by working with the Sandinistas at that point in his life. In The Education of a Radical, Johns recounts his immersion in Marxism and the Nicaraguan sojourn it led to, with a painful maturation process along the way.

His conversion began in college, where he joined a student group called the Latin American Solidarity Association and traveled to Chiapas, Mexico, for research on his senior thesis. Overwhelmed by the poverty he witnessed (and fascinated by a new friend named Maricela who was trying to turn peasants into revolutionaries and who carried a heavily highlighted copy of Late Capitalism), he experienced an ideological transformation. When a Marxist professor later encouraged him to travel to Nicaragua, the real internal battle began for him, a battle that was intensified by the U.S. invasion of Grenada and its effect on the Sandinistas, who believed they were the next target for an imminent American invasion. Before he knew it, Johns was digging trenches and learning how to use an AK-47. His intellectual ideals came face-to-face with revolutionary facts, and the results would perplex him for years to come.

Bringing to life a vivid portrait of the sometimes painful process of reconciling reality with romanticized principles, The Education of a Radical encapsulates a trove of truths about humanity, economics, and politics in one man’s memorable journey.

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Even Mississippi
Melany Neilson
University of Alabama Press, 1989
Even Mississippi is a well-crafted and engaging account that is not only good reading but also a penetrating commentary on several social, political, and historical themes. This is the story of Robert Clark’s two unsuccessful campaigns for a Congressional seat, in 1982 and 1984, and is written by the young woman who served as the only white staff member during the first campaign and one of a few whites during the second. Using the campaign as a starting point, the author takes us on a journey into the Mississippi Delta, where the progress of the last two decades has eluded America’s truly forgotten poor, where blacks like Clark move from cotton rows to politics as they work toward a new way of life.
            Describing the isolation of a small town, Neilson recounts how the acculturation process worked in Mississippi and how it effectively molded blacks and whites. Even Mississippi is the story of a girl, a family, struggling with two powerful worlds, one dying and the other in the process of birth. Ole Miss, manners, and morals aside, there is something here that measure the heartbeat of what we once called “the South.” There are the genteel people and the plain folk, juke joints and Garden clubs, continuity and change, love and hate the good times and the bad. But it is Ed Tye, the author’s father, who is the personification of the struggle with the past that eventually loses out to the forces of change. Both black and white readers will appreciate his dilemma, his sense of loyalty, and his attachment to his family.
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From Bloodshed to Hope in Burundi
Our Embassy Years during Genocide
By Ambassador Robert Krueger and Kathleen Tobin Krueger
University of Texas Press, 2007

In 1994, while nations everywhere stood idly by, 800,000 people were slaughtered in eight weeks in Rwanda. Arriving as U.S. Ambassador to neighboring Burundi a few weeks later, Bob Krueger began drawing international attention to the genocide also proceeding in Burundi, where he sought to minimize the killing and to preserve its fledgling democratic government from destruction by its own army. From Bloodshed to Hope in Burundi is a compelling eyewitness account of both a horrific and persistent genocide and of the ongoing efforts of many courageous individuals to build a more just society.

Krueger and his wife Kathleen graphically document the slaughter occurring all around them, as well as their repeated efforts to get the U.S. government and the international community to take notice and take action. Bob Krueger reconstructs the events of the military coup that precipitated the Burundi genocide and describes his efforts to uncover the truth by digging up graves and interviewing survivors. In straightforward and powerful language, Kathleen Krueger recounts her family's experience living amid civil war, including when she faced down a dozen AK-47-wielding African soldiers to save the life of a household worker.

From Bloodshed to Hope in Burundi shines a piercing light on a genocide that has gone largely unreported, and identifies those responsible for it. It also offers hope that as the truth emerges and the perpetrators are brought to account, the people of Burundi will at last achieve peace and reconciliation.

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Gay Liberation after May '68
Guy Hocquenghem
Duke University Press, 2022
In Gay Liberation after May ’68, first published in France in 1974 and appearing here in English for the first time, Guy Hocquenghem details the rise of the militant gay liberation movement alongside the women’s movement and other revolutionary organizing. Writing after the apparent failure and eventual selling out of the revolutionary dream of May 1968, Hocquenghem situates his theories of homosexual desire in the realm of revolutionary practice, arguing that revolutionary movements must be rethought through ideas of desire and sexuality that undo stable gender and sexual identities. Throughout, he persists in a radical vision of the world framed through a queerness that can dismantle the oppressions of capitalism and empire, the family, institutions, and, ultimately, civilization. The articles, communiques, and manifestos that compose the book give an archival glimpse at the issues queer revolutionaries faced while also speaking to today’s radical queers as they look to transform their world.
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Going It Alone
Ramblings and Reflections from the Trail
Tim Hauserman
University of Nevada Press, 2022
Join author Tim Hauserman on his solo journeys through the Sierra Nevada and the forests of Minnesota. Hauserman shares his experiences hiking by himself through some of the most spectacular landscapes in the United States. Along the way, he confronts his conflicting desires to be alone in the wilderness, then facing profound loneliness and fear once he is there. In a single instant, he goes from enjoying a shimmering mountain lake to being petrified by the sound of a bear crunching through sticks right next to his tent.

Hauserman hikes the John Muir Trail through rainstorms and challenging climbs, explores the Tahoe Rim Trail on a fourteen-day excursion, and travels to Minnesota to conquer the Superior Hiking Trail, where he is inundated with bugs, faces drought, and is eerily alone on the trail with not a single other hiker in sight for days. Going It Alone combines his self-deprecating humor, what he identifies as “Stupid Tim Tricks,” and delightful descriptions of the natural surroundings.

Some might describe the wilderness as the middle of nowhere or as nothingness, but for Hauserman, it is everything. While his love for nature remains undaunted through these experiences, he also discovers that he has overly high expectations for his capabilities and that he cannot just wish his loneliness away. He eventually discovers that his long walks in the woods are less about hiking and more about learning how he wants to live his life.

 
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Great Expectation
A Father's Diary
Dan Roche
University of Iowa Press, 2008
In Great Expectation, Dan Roche gives a man's perspective on what it means to start and expand a family relatively later in life. Through a series of diary entries in turns humorous, angst ridden, and full of hope and joy, Roche describes his own thoughts and concerns during the nine months of his wife's pregnancy.

With five years of parenting his irrepressible daughter Maeve under his belt, Roche, already forty-five years old, and his wife, Maura, face the prospect of another arrival and the myriad of emotions that come with a second child. From revelling in the joys of pregnancy such as Maura's delight at "having cleavage" and being able to eat whatever she desires; to assuaging the parental anxieties of choosing the right obstetrician, correcting the mistakes one made with the first child, and sending children to college in the future; to navigating the unforeseen, experiencing the unexpected death of a parent, and feeling trepidation toward the thought of having a son, Roche records his emotions with unusual candidness and intimacy.

Reflecting on day-to-day events and their significance in his family’s life together, Roche wonders what he is getting himself into and how much deeper he can immerse himself into parenting. Together, he and his wife face the bittersweet intersections of death and new life, menace and hopefulness. With sincerity and a mature wit, Great Expectation stands as a wise recounting of nine months’ time, with all of its chaos and charms, and offers a fresh perspective for first-time and veteran parents alike.

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Guatemalan Journey
By Stephen Connely Benz
University of Texas Press, 1996

Guatemala draws some half million tourists each year, whose brief visits to the ruins of ancient Maya cities and contemporary highland Maya villages may give them only a partial and folkloric understanding of Guatemalan society. In this vividly written travel narrative, Stephen Connely Benz explores the Guatemala that casual travelers miss, using his encounters with ordinary Guatemalans at the mall, on the streets, at soccer games, and even at the funeral of massacre victims to illuminate the social reality of Guatemala today.

The book opens with an extended section on the capital, Guatemala City, and then moves out to the more remote parts of the country where the Guatemalan Indians predominate. Benz offers us a series of intelligent and sometimes humorous perspectives on Guatemala's political history and the role of the military, the country's environmental degradation, the influence of foreign missionaries, and especially the impact of the United States on Guatemala, from governmental programs to fast food franchises.

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Guilty Pleasures
Feminist Camp from Mae West to Madonna
Pamela Robertson
Duke University Press, 1996
“Camp,” Mae West told Playboy, “is the kinda comedy where they imitate me.” But what was West doing, if not camp itself? Guilty Pleasures puts women back into the history of camp, a story long confined to gay male practice. Emphasizing the distinctive roles women have played as producers and consumers of camp, Pamela Robertson links her subject to feminist discussions of gender parody, performance, and spectatorship. Her book offers a heady tour of social and cultural criticism at its most interesting, and American culture at its most flamboyant.
Robertson grounds her theoretical discussion of female performance and spectatorship in detailed studies of figures such as Mae West, Joan Crawford, and Madonna. She locates these figures in turn within a tradition of feminist camp—a female form of aestheticism related to masquerade and rooted in burlesque, parallel to but different from gay male camp. Through analyses of films from Gold Diggers of 1933 to Johnny Guitar, as well as video and television, Robertson shows how the gold digger is to feminist camp what the dandy is to gay male camp—its original personification and defining voice. Set against a backdrop of social history, her analysis demonstrates that feminist camp flourishes during periods of antifeminist backlash in America, and that it reflects a working-class sensibility particularly attuned to changing attitudes toward women’s work and sexuality.
Appealing to a wide range of scholars spanning the fields of film and mass culture, feminism, gay/lesbian/queer studies, and cultural studies, Guilty Pleasures will also attract an audience of general readers interested in camp and popular culture.
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Liminal Zones
Where Lakes End and Rivers Begin
Kim Trevathan
University of Tennessee Press, 2013
     After the death of his paddling companion, a German shepherd–labrador retriever mix named Jasper, Kim Trevathan began a series of solitary upstream kayaking quests in search of what he calls “liminal zones,” transitional areas where dammed reservoirs give way to the current of the rivers that feed them. For four years he scoured the rivers and lakes of America, where environmentally damaging, and now decaying, man-made structures have transformed the waterways. In this thoughtful work, he details his upriver adventures, describing the ecological and aesthetic differences between a dammed river and a free-flowing river and exploring the implications of what liminal zones represent—a reassertion of pure, unadulterated nature over engineered bodies of water.
     Trevathan began by exploring the rivers and creeks of his childhood: the Blood River and Clarks River in western Kentucky. He soon ventured out to the Wolf River, the Big South Fork of the Cumberland, and other waterways in Tennessee. In 2008, he looped around the country with trips to Indiana’s Tippecanoe River, Montana’s Clearwater River, Oregon’s Deschutes and Rogue Rivers, and Colorado’s Dolores River, as well as adventures on such southeastern rivers as the Edisto, the Tellico, and the Nantahala. To Trevathan, paddling upstream became a sort of religion, with a vaporous deity that kept him searching. Each excursion yielded something unexpected, from a near-drowning in the Rogue River to a mysterious fog bank that arose across the Nantahala at midday.
     Throughout Liminal Zones, Trevathan considers what makes certain places special, why some are set aside and protected, why others are not, and how free-flowing streams remain valuable to our culture, our history, and our physical and spiritual health. This contemplative chronicle of his journeys by water reveals discoveries as varied and complex as the rivers themselves.
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Long Time, No See
Beth Finke
University of Illinois Press, 2003
Long Time, No See is certainly an inspiring story, but Beth Finke does not aim to inspire. Eschewing reassuring platitudes and sensational pleas for sympathy, she charts her struggles with juvenile diabetes, blindness, and a host of other hardships, sharing her feelings of despair and frustration as well as her hard-won triumphs. Rejecting the label “courageous,” she prefers to describe herself using the phrase her mother invoked in times of difficulty: “She did what she had to do.”
 
With unflinching candor and acerbic wit, Finke chronicles the progress of the juvenile diabetes that left her blind at the age of twenty-six as well as the seemingly endless spiral of adversity that followed. First she was forced out of her professional job. Then she bore a multiply handicapped son. But she kept moving forward, confronting marital and financial problems and persevering through a rocky training period with a seeing-eye dog.
 
Finke’s life story and her commanding knowledge of her situation give readers a clear understanding of diabetes, blindness, and the issues faced by  parents of children with significant disabilities. Because she has taken care to include accurate medical information as well as personal memoir, Long Time, No See serves as an excellent resource for others in similar situations and for professionals who deal with disabled adults or children.
 
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Madonnaland
And Other Detours into Fame and Fandom
By Alina Simone
University of Texas Press, 2016

When Alina Simone agreed to write a book about Madonna, she thought it might provide an interesting excuse to indulge her own eighties nostalgia. Wrong. What Simone discovered instead was a tidal wave of already published information about Madonna—and her own ambivalence about, maybe even jealousy of, the Material Girl’s overwhelming commercial success. With the straight-ahead course stymied, Simone set off on a quirky detour through the backroads of celebrity and fandom and the people who love or loathe Madonna.

In this witty, sometimes acerbic, always perceptive chronicle, Simone begins by trying to understand why Madonna’s birthplace, Bay City, Michigan, won’t even put up a sign to celebrate its most famous citizen, and ends by asking why local bands who make music that’s authentic and true can disappear with barely a trace. In between, she ranges from Madonna fans who cover themselves with tattoos of the singer’s face and try to make fortunes off selling her used bustiers and dresses, to Question Mark and the Mysterians—one-hit wonders best known for “96 Tears”—and Flying Wedge, a Detroit band that dropped off an amazing two-track record in the office of CREEM magazine in 1972 and vanished, until Simone tracked it down.

Filled with fresh insights about the music business, fandom, and what it takes to become a superstar, Madonnaland is as much a book for people who, like Simone, prefer “dark rooms, coffee, and state-subsidized European films filled with existential despair” as it is for people who can’t get enough of Madonna.

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May '68 and Its Afterlives
Kristin Ross
University of Chicago Press, 2002
During May 1968, students and workers in France united in the biggest strike and the largest mass movement in French history. Protesting capitalism, American imperialism, and Gaullism, 9 million people from all walks of life, from shipbuilders to department store clerks, stopped working. The nation was paralyzed—no sector of the workplace was untouched. Yet, just thirty years later, the mainstream image of May '68 in France has become that of a mellow youth revolt, a cultural transformation stripped of its violence and profound sociopolitical implications.

Kristin Ross shows how the current official memory of May '68 came to serve a political agenda antithetical to the movement's aspirations. She examines the roles played by sociologists, repentant ex-student leaders, and the mainstream media in giving what was a political event a predominantly cultural and ethical meaning. Recovering the political language of May '68 through the tracts, pamphlets, and documentary film footage of the era, Ross reveals how the original movement, concerned above all with the question of equality, gained a new and counterfeit history, one that erased police violence and the deaths of participants, removed workers from the picture, and eliminated all traces of anti-Americanism, anti-imperialism, and the influences of Algeria and Vietnam. May '68 and Its Afterlives is especially timely given the rise of a new mass political movement opposing global capitalism, from labor strikes and anti-McDonald's protests in France to the demonstrations against the World Trade Organization in Seattle.
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Melancholy Drift
Marking Time in Chinese Cinema
Jean Ma
Hong Kong University Press, 2010
Ma offers an innovative study of three provocative Chinese directors Wong Kar-wai, Hou Hsiao-hsien, and Tsai Ming-liang. Focusing on the highly stylized and nonlinear configurations of time in each director’s films, she argues that these directors have brought new global respect for Chinese cinema in amplifying motifs of loss, nostalgia, haunting, absence and ephemeral poetics. Hou, Tsai, and Wong all insist on the significance of being out of time, not merely out of place, as a condition of global modernity. Ma argues that their films collectively foreground the central place of contemporary Chinese films in a transnational culture of memory, characterized by a distinctive melancholy that highlights the difficulty of binding together past and present into a meaningful narrative.
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Of What One Cannot Speak
Doris Salcedo's Political Art
Mieke Bal
University of Chicago Press, 2010

Doris Salcedo, a Colombian-born artist, addresses the politics of memory and forgetting in work that embraces fraught situations in dangerous places. Noted critic and theorist Mieke Bal narrates between the disciplines of contemporary culture in order to boldly reimagine the role of the visual arts. Both women are pathbreaking figures, globally renowned and widely respected. Doris Salcedo, meet Mieke Bal.

In Of What One Cannot Speak, Bal leads us into intimate encounters with Salcedo’s art, encouraging us to consider each work as a “theoretical object” that invites—and demands—certain kinds of considerations about history, death, erasure, and grief. Bal ranges widely through Salcedo’s work, from Salcedo’s Atrabiliarios series—in which the artist uses worn shoes to retrace los desaparecidos (“the disappeared”) from nations like Argentina, Chile, and Colombia—to Shibboleth, Salcedo’s once-in-a-lifetime commission by the Tate Modern, for which she created a rupture, as if by earthquake, that stretched the length of the museum hall’s concrete floor. In each instance, Salcedo’s installations speak for themselves, utilizing household items, human bones, and common domestic architecture to explore the silent spaces between violence, trauma, and identity. Yet Bal draws out even deeper responses to the work, questioning the nature of political art altogether and introducing concepts of metaphor, time, and space in order to contend with Salcedo’s powerful sculptures and installations.

An unforgettable fusion of art and essay, Of What One Cannot Speak takes us to the very core of events we are capable of remembering—yet still uncomfortably cannot speak aloud.

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On Learning to Heal
or, What Medicine Doesn't Know
Ed Cohen
Duke University Press, 2023
At thirteen, Ed Cohen was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease—a chronic, incurable condition that nearly killed him in his early twenties. At his diagnosis, his doctors told him that the best he could hope for would be periods of remission. Unfortunately, doctors never mentioned healing as a possibility. In On Learning to Heal, Cohen draws on fifty years of living with Crohn’s to consider how Western medicine’s turn from an “art of healing” toward a “science of medicine” deeply affects both medical practitioners and their patients. He demonstrates that although medicine can now offer many seemingly miraculous therapies, medicine is not and has never been the only way to enhance healing. Exploring his own path to healing, he argues that learning to heal requires us to desire and value healing as a vital possibility. With this book, Cohen advocates reviving healing’s role for all those whose lives are touched by illness.
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Paddling The Tennessee River
A Voyage On Easy Water
Kim Trevathan
University of Tennessee Press, 2001
In late August 1998, Kim Trevathan and his dog, Jasper, set out by canoe on a long, slow trip down the 652 miles of the Tennessee River, the largest tributary of the Ohio. Trevathan wanted to experience the river in its entirety, from Knoxville’s narrow, winding channel, which flows past rocky bluffs, to the wide-open waters of Kentucky Lake at its lower end.

Over the course of the five-week voyage, Trevathan rediscovered the people and places that made history on the Tennessee’s banks. He crossed the path of the explorer Meriwether Lewis along the Natchez Trace, noted the sites of Ulysses S. Grant’s Civil War battles, and passed Hiwassee Island, the spot where a teenaged runaway named Sam Houston lived with Cherokee Chief Jolly.

Trevathan also came to know the modern river’s dwellers, including a towboat pilot, two couples who traded in their landlocked homes for life on the river, a campground owner, and a meteorologist for NASA. He placed his life in the hands of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lock operators as he and Jasper navigated the river’s nine dams.

Paddling the Tennessee River is a powerful travel narrative that captures the river’s wild, turbulent, and defiant past and confronts what it has become—an overused and overdeveloped series of lakes. But first and foremost, the book is the story of a man and his dog, riding low enough to smell the water and to discover the promise of a slow river running through the southern heartland.

The Author: Kim Trevathan, who earned his M.F.A. in creative writing at the University of Alabama, works as a new media writer and producer and writes a column for the Maryville Daily Times. His essays and short stories have been published in The Distillery, New Millennium Writings, The Texas Review, New Delta Review, and Under the Sun. He lives in Rockford, Tennessee.


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Political Representation in France
Philip E. Converse and Roy Pierce
Harvard University Press, 1986

There can scarcely be a greater tribute to the vitality of the Fifth Republic's democracy than this monumental work. A searching analysis of how the will of the voters is translated into authoritative political decision making, this book not only uncovers political truths about contemporary France but also provides a model for the study of other popular forms of government.

The authors set out to find an answer to the perplexing question of how representative government operates in France in the seemingly unstable context of multiparties. By interviewing voters as well as legislators in 1967 and in 1968 after the great upheaval, and by monitoring policies of the National Assembly from 1967 to 1973, the authors test relationships between public opinion and decision making. They are able to sort out the abiding political cues that orient the French voter, to establish the normal electoral processes, to gauge the nature of mass perceptions of the political options available to voters, and to interpret the strikes, riots, and demonstrations of 1968 as a channel of communication parallel to the electoral process itself.

Lucid in style, methodologically sophisticated, and often comparative in approach, Political Representation in France is a seminal work for political scientists, sociologists, and historians.

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The Politics of Survival
Marc Abélès
Duke University Press, 2010
In this provocative analysis of global politics, the anthropologist Marc Abélès argues that the meaning and aims of political action have radically changed in the era of globalization. As dangers such as terrorism and global warming have moved to the fore of global consciousness, foreboding has replaced the belief that tomorrow will be better than today. Survival, outlasting the uncertainties and threats of a precarious future, has supplanted harmonious coexistence as the primary goal of politics. Abélès contends that this political reorientation has changed our priorities and modes of political action, and generated new debates and initiatives. The proliferation of supranational and transnational organizations—from the European Union to the World Trade Organization (WTO) to Oxfam—is the visible effect of this radical transformation in our relationship to the political realm. Areas of governance as diverse as the economy, the environment, and human rights have been partially taken over by such agencies. Non-governmental organizations in particular have become linked with the mindset of risk and uncertainty; they both reflect and help produce the politics of survival.

Abélès examines the new global politics, which assumes many forms and is enacted by diverse figures with varied sympathies: the officials at meetings of the WTO and the demonstrators outside them, celebrity activists, and online contributors to international charities. He makes an impassioned case that our accounts of globalization need to reckon with the preoccupations and affiliations now driving global politics. The Politics of Survival was first published in France in 2006. This English-language edition has been revised and includes a new preface.

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Prairie Sky
A Pilot's Reflections on Flying and the Grace of Altitude
W. Scott Olsen
University of Missouri Press, 2013

“It’s almost like ballet. Preflight. Starting. Warm-up. The voices from the control tower—the instructions. Taxiing. The rush down the runway. Airborne. There are names for every move. The run-up. Position and hold. Every move needs to be learned, practiced, made so familiar you feel the patterns in every other thing you do. It’s technical, yes. But there is a grace to getting metal and bone into the sky.”

Prairie Sky is a celebration of curiosity and a book for explorers. In this collection of contemplative essays, Scott Olsen invites readers to view the world from a pilot’s seat, demonstrating how, with just a little bit of altitude, the world changes, new relationships become visible, and new questions seem to rise up from the ground.

Whether searching for the still-evident shores of ancient lakes, the dustbowl-era shelterbelt supposed to run the length of the country, or the even more elusive understandings of physics and theology, Olsen shares the unique perspective and insight allowed to pilots.

Prairie Sky explores the reality as well as the metaphor of flight: notions of ceaseless time and boundless space, personal interior and exterior vision, social history, meteorology, and geology. Olsen takes readers along as he chases a new way of looking at the physical world and wonders aloud about how the whole planet moves in interconnected ways not visible from the ground. While the northern prairie may call to mind images of golden harvests and summer twilight such images do not define the region. The land bears marks left by gut-shaking thunderstorms, hard-frozen rivers, sweeping floods, and hurricane-size storms. Olsen takes to the midwestern sky to confront the ordinary world and reveals the magic--the wondrous and unique sights visible from the pilot’s seat of a Cessna.

Like Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s classic work Wind, Sand and Stars, Olsen’s Prairie Sky reveals the heart of what it means to fly. In the grand romantic tradition of the travel essay, it opens the dramatic paradoxes of self and collective, linear and circular, the heart and the border.

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Shelter
Bobby Burns
University of Arizona Press, 1998
Bobby Burns arrived in Tucson, Arizona, with a few dollars in his pocket and no place to live. Without family, without a job, he had nowhere to go but a homeless shelter. How did a college graduate find himself so close to life on the streets? In a voice that is startling for its simplicity and utter honesty, Burns tells the story of how he slipped into homelessness, how he learned what it means to live in a place where nobody will notice if you disappear, and how he emerged to tell his story. Bobby's diary of 41 days without a home brings readers into the world of a homeless shelter.

Shelter is filled with the sights and sounds of homelessness. Shelter life is patterned by meals provided by church volunteers, lines for soap and clean towels, the repeated meticulous washing of hands by an obsessive-compulsive resident, the rare pleasure of a fried chicken dinner, the illicit smell of marijuana within the shelter. Burns witnesses the residents' struggles with drugs, alcohol, and disability, and he wonders daily whether he will have the courage to emerge from this life. Bobby's diary expresses the full range of emotions of a homeless person: anger, self-pity, pride, humility, shame, depression, and optimism. These are not contradictions; taken together they represent the real feelings provoked by homelessness.

But with rare inner courage, Bobby stokes the fires of hope within himself, marking the days in his journal to keep himself from sliding deeper into a spiral of despair. Bobby confronts his own stereotypes about the homeless and learns firsthand what it means to struggle daily for survival and for dignity. He learns greater courage and he learns greater kindness. He is given food and a bed for 41 days, but he finds shelter on his own, deep within himself.
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Sound and Silence
My Experience with China and Literature
Yan Lianke
Duke University Press, 2024
Yan Lianke is a world-renowned author of novels, short stories, and essays whose provocative and nuanced writing explores the reality of everyday life in contemporary China. In Sound and Silence, Yan compares his literary project to a blind man carrying a flashlight whose role is to help others perceive the darkness that surrounds them. Often described as China’s most censored author, Yan reflects candidly on literary censorship in contemporary China. He outlines the Chinese state’s project of national amnesia that suppresses memories of past crises and social traumas. Although being banned in China is often a selling point in foreign markets, Yan argues that there is no requisite correlation between censorship and literary quality. Among other topics, Yan also examines the impact of American literature on Chinese literature in the 1980s and 1990s. Encapsulating his perspectives on life, writing, and literary history, Sound and Silence includes an introduction by translator Carlos Rojas and an afterword by Yan.
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Thomas Kinkade
The Artist in the Mall
Alexis L. Boylan, ed.
Duke University Press, 2011
Often featuring lighthouses, bridges, or quaint country homes, Thomas Kinkade’s soft-focus landscapes have permeated American visual culture during the past twenty years, appearing on everything from Bibles to bedsheets to credit cards. Kinkade sells his work through his shopping-mall galleries, QVC, the Internet, and Christian stores. He is quite possibly the most collected artist in the United States. While many art-world and academic critics have dismissed him as a passing fad or marketing phenomenon, the contributors to this collection do not. Instead, they explore his work and its impact on contemporary art as part of the broader history of American visual culture. They consider Kinkade’s imagery and career in relation to nineteenth-century Currier and Ives prints and Andres Serrano’s Piss Christ, the collectibles market and the fine-art market, the Thomas Kinkade Museum and Cultural Center, and “The Village at Hiddenbrooke,” a California housing development inspired by Kinkade’s paintings. The conceptual artist Jeffrey Vallance, the curator of the first major museum exhibition of Kinkade’s art and collectibles, recounts his experiences organizing that show. All of the contributors draw on art history, visual culture, and cultural studies as they seek to understand Kinkade’s significance for both art and audiences. Along the way, they delve into questions about beauty, class, kitsch, religion, and taste in contemporary art.

Contributors. Julia Alderson, Alexis L. Boylan , Anna Brzyski, Seth Feman, Monica Kjellman-Chapin, Micki McElya, Karal Ann Marling, David Morgan, Christopher Pearson, Andrea Wolk Rager, Jeffrey Vallance

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A Thousand Deer
Four Generations of Hunting and the Hill Country
By Rick Bass
University of Texas Press, 2012

In November, countless families across Texas head out for the annual deer hunt, a ritual that spans generations, ethnicities, socioeconomics, and gender as perhaps no other cultural experience in the state. Rick Bass’s family has returned to the same hardscrabble piece of land in the Hill Country—“the Deer Pasture”—for more than seventy-five years. In A Thousand Deer, Bass walks the Deer Pasture again in memory and stories, tallying up what hunting there has taught him about our need for wildness and wilderness, about cycles in nature and in the life of a family, and particularly about how important it is for children to live in the natural world.

The arc of A Thousand Deer spans from Bass’s boyhood in the suburbs of Houston, where he searched for anything rank or fecund in the little oxbow swamps and pockets of woods along Buffalo Bayou, to his commitment to providing his children in Montana the same opportunity—a life afield—that his parents gave him in Texas. Inevitably this brings him back to the Deer Pasture and the passing of seasons and generations he has experienced there. Bass lyrically describes his own passage from young manhood, when the urge to hunt was something primal, to mature adulthood and the waning of the urge to take an animal, his commitment to the hunt evolving into a commitment to family and to the last wild places.

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Time of Grace
Thoughts on Nature, Family, and the Politics of Crime and Punishment
Ken Lamberton
University of Arizona Press, 2007
“I hole up in my own cozy cubicle and write, considering ways to make the approaching Thanksgiving holiday not just another day in this place. In prison, hope faces east; time is measured in wake-ups.”

Time of Grace is a remarkable book, written with great eloquence by a former science teacher who was incarcerated for twelve years for his sexual liaison with a teenage student. Far more than a “prison memoir,” it is an intimate and revealing look at relationships—with fellow humans and with the surprising wildlife of the Sonoran Desert, both inside and beyond prison walls. Throughout, Ken Lamberton reflects on human relations as they mimic and defy those of the natural world, whose rhythms calibrate Lamberton’s days and years behind bars. He writes with candor about his life, while observing desert flora and fauna with the insight and enthusiasm of a professional naturalist.

While he studies a tarantula digging her way out of the packed earth and observes Mexican freetail bats sailing into the evening sky, Lamberton ruminates on his crime and on the wrenching effects it has had on his wife and three daughters. He writes of his connections with his fellow inmates—some of whom he teaches in prison classes—and with the guards who control them, sometimes with inexplicable cruelty. And he unflinchingly describes a prison system that has gone horribly wrong—a system entrapped in a self-created web of secrecy, fear, and lies.

This is the final book of Lamberton’s trilogy about the twelve years he spent in prison. Readers of his earlier books will savor this last volume. Those who are only now discovering Lamberton’s distinctive voice—part poet, part scientist, part teacher, and always deeply, achingly human—will feel as if they are making a new friend.

Gripping, sobering, and beautifully written, Lamberton’s memoir is an unforgettable exploration of crime, punishment, and the power of the human spirit.
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The Time We Have
Essays on Pandemic Living
Michele Weldon
Northwestern University Press, 2024
A candid and cathartic exploration of pandemic life, from family to pop culture to healthcare—and beyond
 
At a time when so many are dealing with collective and personal grief, award-winning author and journalist Michele Weldon’s new collection of essays navigates the revelatory and upending nature of this extraordinary pandemic era through a lens of love and connection. Weldon explores pain and pleasure alike with emotional texture, empathy, wisdom, vulnerability, and humor. She interrogates moments of joy, despair, and triumph, offering readers the possibility for a richly cathartic experience. With honesty and agility, Weldon creates poignant intersections of her narrative with popular culture, history, media, news, consumerism, family traditions, and healthcare. Employing honest and daring language, Weldon examines the concepts of safety, importance of beloved objects, power of words, shift to remote relationships, concepts of feminism, betrayal of public lies, and more. Ultimately, with grace and heart, Weldon offers in these essays useful pathways toward framing this swath of time so that we might arrive at a sense of understanding, belonging, and peace with our new realities.
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Treehab
Tales from My Natural, Wild Life
Bob Smith
University of Wisconsin Press, 2016
In this bitingly funny and often surprising memoir, award-winning author and groundbreaking comedian Bob Smith offers a meditation on the vitality of the natural world—and an intimate portrait of his own darkly humorous and profoundly authentic response to a life-changing illness.
            In Treehab—named after a retreat cabin in rural Ontario—Smith muses how he has “always sought the path less traveled.” He rebuffs his diagnosis of ALS as only an unflappable stand-up comic could (“Lou Gehrig’s Disease?  But I don’t even like baseball!”) and explores his complex, fulfilling experience of fatherhood, both before and after the onset of the disease.
          Stories of his writing and performing life—punctuated by hilariously cutting jokes that comedians tell only to each other—are interspersed with tales of Smith’s enduring relationship with nature: boyhood sojourns in the woods of upstate New York and adult explorations of the remote Alaskan wilderness; snakes and turtles, rocks and minerals; open sky and forest canopy; God and friendship—all recurring touchstones that inspire him to fight for his survival and for the future of his two children.
          Aiming his potent, unflinching wit at global warming, equal rights, sex, dogs, Thoreau, and more, Smith demonstrates here the inimitable insight that has made him a beloved voice of a generation. He reminds us that life is perplexing, beautiful, strange, and entirely worth celebrating.
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Uta Barth
Peripheral Vision
Arpad Kovacs
J. Paul Getty Trust, The, 2023
This retrospective of the photographer Uta Barth traces her use of the camera to explore both how and what we see.

Los Angeles–based contemporary artist Uta Barth (b. 1958) has spent her decades-long career exploring the complexities and limits of human and mechanical vision. At first, her photographs appear to be deceptively simple depictions of everyday objects—light filtering through a window, tree branches bereft of leaves, a sparsely appointed domestic interior—but these images, visually spare yet conceptually rigorous, emerge from her investigation of sight, perception, light, and time.

In this richly illustrated monograph, curator Arpad Kovacs and contributors Lucy Gallun and Jeremy Gilbert-Rolfe chart Barth’s career path and discuss her most significant series, revealing how she has rejected the primacy of a traditional photographic subject and instead called attention to what is on the periphery. The book includes previously unpublished bodies of work made early in her career that add much to our understanding of this important artist. Also included is Barth’s most recent work, ...from dawn to dusk, an ambitious commission marking the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Getty Center.
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The Way Home
Essays on the Outside West
James McVey
University of Utah Press, 2010

"A sense of place can be a complicated matter," writes James McVey in the prologue to his new collection of essays, The Way Home. Based on twenty years of living and traveling in the West, the collection includes essays on river running, backcountry skiing, fly fishing, and backpacking—all describing various attempts to engage in meaningful contact with the elements of wild nature, and to have a deep firsthand knowledge of a place. With an essayists breadth McVey engages ecology, geology, anthropology, psychology, and history as well as his own personal outdoor experiences to peer into the particulars of living in as complicated a place as the West. While the essays function within the tradition of western nature writing, they transcend regional issues insofar as they maintain a broader philosophical context that accounts for such global concerns as mass extinction and climate change.

The essays use backcountry experiences as occasions for reflection on such topics as nature and culture, conservation, and the human relation to the wild. They combine the naturalist’s commitment to landscape with the adventurer’s attention to technique and skill. The outdoor experiences function as ritualized activity, the purpose of which is to explore a specific relation with a place. As such, the essays consider certain nonrational ways of knowing the world, including a perception of aesthetics based on sensory participation with the more-than-human world. This gets to the heart of the essential connection in this work between its adventure themes and nature concerns--a connection very much concerned with issues of lifestyle and worldview. McVey describes his own journey in the West, traveling through the varying philosophical revelations wilderness presents—"a lifetime of questions"—finally landing on a conservation ethic, a feeling of home.

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Wong Kar-wai
Peter Brunette
University of Illinois Press, 2005

Called the leading heir to the great directors of post-WWII Europe and lavished with awards, Wong Kar-wai has redefined perceptions of Hong Kong's film industry. Wong's visual brilliance and emphasis on atmosphere over action have set him apart from peers while earning him an admiring international audience. In the Mood for Love regularly appears on lists of the twenty-first century's greatest films while critics and filmgoers recognize works like Chungking Express and Happy Together as modern classics. 

Peter Brunette describes the ways in which Wong's supremely haunting visual films create a new form of cinema by telling a story with stunning, suggestive visual images and audio tracks rather than character, dialogue, and plot. As he shows, Wong's early background in genre film offers fascinating insights on his more studied later works. He also delves into Wong's perennial themes of time, love, and loss and examines the political implications of his films, especially concerning the handover of former British colony Hong Kong to the People's Republic of China.

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