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Ambition and Accommodation
How Women View Gender Relations
Roberta S. Sigel
University of Chicago Press, 1996
What do ordinary citizens really think about issues of gender equality and gender roles? Combining data from both telephone surveys and in-depth focus groups, Ambition and Accommodation provides the most detailed portrait to date of how Americans, in particular American women, think they are faring in today's society.

By juxtaposing the voices of women and men from all walks of life, Sigel finds that women's perceptions of gender relations are complex and often contradictory. Although most women see gender discrimination pervading nearly all social interactions—private as well as public—they do not invariably feel that they personally have been its victims. They want to see discrimination ended, but believe that men do not necessarily share this goal. Women are torn, according to Sigel, between the desire to improve their positions relative to men and the desire to avoid open conflict with them. Their desire not to jeopardize their relations with men, Sigel holds, helps explain women's willingness to accommodate a less-than-egalitarian situation by, for example, taking on the second shift at home or by working harder than men on the job. Sigel concludes that, although men and women agree on the principle of gender equality, definitions as well as practice differ by gender.

This complex picture of how women, while not always content with the status quo, have chosen to accommodate to the world they must face every day is certain to provoke considerable debate.
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Buddhism, Unitarianism, and the Meiji Competition for Universality
Michel Mohr
Harvard University Press, 2013

In the late 1800s, as Japanese leaders mulled over the usefulness of religion in modernizing their country, they chose to invite Unitarian missionaries to Japan. This book spotlights one facet of debates sparked by the subsequent encounter between Unitarianism and Buddhism—an intersection that has been largely neglected in the scholarly literature. Focusing on the cascade of events triggered by the missionary presence of the American Unitarian Association on Japanese soil between 1887 and 1922, Michel Mohr’s study sheds new light on this formative time in Japanese religious and intellectual history.

Drawing on the wealth of information contained in correspondence sent and received by Unitarian missionaries in Japan, as well as periodicals, archival materials, and Japanese sources, Mohr shows how this missionary presence elicited unprecedented debates on “universality” and how the ambiguous idea of “universal truth” was utilized by missionaries to promote their own cultural and ethnocentric agendas. At the turn of the twentieth century this notion was appropriated and reformulated by Japanese intellectuals and religious leaders, often to suit new political and nationalistic ambitions.

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Chains of Love
Slave Couples in Antebellum South Carolina
Emily West
University of Illinois Press, 2004
Historians have traditionally neglected relationships between slave men and women during the antebellum period. In Chains of Love, historian Emily West remedies this situation by investigating the social and cultural history of slave relationships in the very heart of the South. 
 
Focusing on South Carolina, West deals directly with the most intimate areas of the slave experience including courtship, love and affection between spouses, the abuse of slave women by white men, and the devastating consequences of forced separations. Slaves fought these separations through cross-gender bonding and cross-plantation marriages, illustrating West's thesis about slave marriage as a fierce source of resistance to the oppression of slavery in general.
 
Making expert use of sources such as the Works Progress Administration narratives, slave autobiographies, slave owner records, and church records, this book-length study is the first to focus on the primacy of spousal support as a means for facing oppression. Chains of Love provides telling insights into the nature of the slave family that emerged from these tensions, celebrates its strength, and reveals new dimensions to the slaves' struggle for freedom.  
 
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Courtesans, Concubines, and the Cult of Female Fidelity
Beverly Bossler
Harvard University Press, 2012

This book traces changing gender relations in China from the tenth to fourteenth centuries by examining three critical categories of women: courtesans, concubines, and faithful wives. It shows how the intersection and mutual influence of these groups—and of male discourses about them—transformed ideas about family relations and the proper roles of men and women.

Courtesan culture had a profound effect on Song social and family life, as entertainment skills became a defining feature of a new model of concubinage, and as entertainer-concubines increasingly became mothers of literati sons. Neo-Confucianism, the new moral learning of the Song, was significantly shaped by this entertainment culture and by the new markets—in women—that it created. Responding to a broad social consensus, Neo-Confucians called for enhanced recognition of concubine mothers in ritual and expressed increasing concern about wifely jealousy. The book also details the surprising origins of the Late Imperial cult of fidelity, showing that from inception, the drive to celebrate female loyalty was rooted in a complex amalgam of political, social, and moral agendas. By taking women—and men’s relationships with women—seriously, this book makes a case for the centrality of gender relations in the social, political, and intellectual life of the Song and Yuan dynasties.

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CUT LOOSE
(Mostly) Older Women on the End of their (Mostly) Long-Term Relationships
Bauer-Maglin, Nan
Rutgers University Press, 2006

Although breakups—whether celebrity or everyday—are a constant source of fascination, surprisingly little attention has been given to women who are cut loose in their later years. This is a book about (mostly) long-term relationships that have come apart. Each woman involved, the majority of whom are over sixty, tells of her experience through journal entries, essays, poetry, or stories. Although in many senses they have been abandoned, they have also been set free, untethered, and, for some, liberated sexually, mentally, or emotionally.

The book is divided into two major sections. The pieces in the first part are personal narratives. Among the varied voices, we hear from women in both heterosexual and same-sex relationships who have been left by their partners or who have decided to leave them. In the second section, the contributors look at being left and leaving from psychological, sociological, economic, sexual, medical, anthropological, and literary perspectives. Other essays explore the shared experiences of specific classes of women, such as single women, widows, or abandoned daughters.

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Disobedience, Slander, Seduction, and Assault
Women and Men in Cajamarca, Peru, 1862-1900
By Tanja Christiansen
University of Texas Press, 2004

Though the law and courts of nineteenth-century Peru were institutions created by and for the ruling elite, women of all classes used the system to negotiate the complexities of property rights, childrearing, and marriage, and often to defend their very definitions of honor. Drawing on the trial transcripts of Cajamarca, a northern Peruvian province, from more than a century ago, this book shares eye-opening details about life among this community, in which reputation could determine a woman's chances of survival.

Exploring the processes of courtship, seduction, and familial duties revealed in these court records, historian Tanja Christiansen has unearthed a compelling panorama that includes marital strife, slander, disobedience, street brawls, and spousal abuse alongside documents that give evidence of affection and devotion. Her research also yields much new information about the protocols for conflict and cooperation among nineteenth-century Peruvian women from all social strata, and the prevalence of informal unions in an economy driven in large part by migratory male labor. Reviving a little-known aspect of Latin American history, Christiansen's book simultaneously brings to light an important microcosm of women's history during the nineteenth century.

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Elegies
Propertius
Harvard University Press, 1990

Learned love poems from the early Augustan age.

The passionate and dramatic elegies of Propertius gained him a reputation as one of Rome’s finest love poets. Here he portrays the exciting, uneven course of his love affair with Cynthia and tells us much about his contemporaries and the society in which he lives, while in later poems he turns to mythological themes and the legends of early Rome.

Born in Assisi about 50 BC, Propertius moved as a young man to Rome, where he came into contact with a coterie of poets, including Virgil, Tibullus, Horace, and Ovid. Publication of his first book brought immediate recognition and the unwavering support of Maecenas, the influential patron of the Augustan poets. He died perhaps in his mid-thirties, leaving us four books of elegies that have attracted admirers throughout the ages.

In this new edition of Propertius, G. P. Goold solves some longstanding questions of interpretation and gives us a faithful and stylish prose translation. His explanatory notes and glossary-index offer steady guidance and a wealth of information.

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THE FASHIONING OF ANGELS
PARTNERSHIP AS SPIRITUAL PRACTICE
STEPHEN & ROBIN LARSEN
Swedenborg Foundation Publishers, 2000

Stephen and Robin Larsen, authors of A Fire in the Mind, the authorized biography of their friend Joseph Campbell, explore man-woman relationships, questing for the answer to the timeless question, "What do couples really want?"

The Larsens look to ancient wisdom -- the realm of mythology -- to solve the relationship riddle. Storytelling artists, they underline the powerful messages in the myths, folktales, and fairytales described in the book, stories that help heal wounds of gender wars. Experiential exercises the Larsens have developed deepen couples' spiritual bonds.

Readers "eavesdrop" on issues in the Larsens' own marriage; their dialogs about their own relating process bring passion and intimacy to the book.

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From Single to Serious
Relationships, Gender, and Sexuality on American Evangelical Campuses
Malone, Dana M.
Rutgers University Press, 2018
College students hook up and have sex. That is what many students expect to happen during their time at university—it is part of growing up and navigating the relationship scene on most American campuses today. But what do you do when you’re a student at an evangelical university? Students at these schools must negotiate a barrage of religiously imbued undercurrents that impact how they think about relationships, in addition to how they experience and evaluate them. As they work to form successful unions, students at evangelical colleges balance sacred ideologies of purity, holiness, and godliness, while also dealing with more mainstream notions of popularity, the online world, and the appeal of sexual intimacy. 

In From Single to Serious, Dana M. Malone shines a light on friendship, dating, and, sexuality, in both the ideals and the practical experiences of heterosexual students at U. S. evangelical colleges. She examines the struggles they have in balancing their gendered and religious presentations of self, the expectations of their campus community, and their desire to find meaningful romantic relationships. 
 
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Getting It, Having It, Keeping It Up
Straight Men’s Sexuality in Public and Private
Beth Montemurro
Rutgers University Press, 2022
Scholars and social critics are looking at gender and sexuality, as well as masculinity, in new ways and with more attention to the way cultural ideologies affect men’s and women’s lives. With the rise of an online “incel” (involuntarily celibate) community and the perpetration of acts of violence in their name, as well as increased awareness about the complexities of sexual interaction brought to the fore by the #metoo movement, it has become critical to discuss how men’s sexuality and masculinity are related, as well as the way men feel about the messages they get about being a man. Prior research on masculinity and masculine sexuality has examined the experiences of adolescent boys. But what happens to boys as they become men and as many move away from homo-social environments into sexual relationships? What happens when they no longer have a crowd of peers to posture or perform for? How do their sexual experiences and sexual selves change? How do they prove their masculinity in a society that demands it when they are no longer surrounded by peers? And how do they cultivate sexual selves and sexual self-confidence in a culture that expects them to always already be knowledgeable, desiring sexual subjects? In Getting It, Having It, Keeping It Up, Beth Montemurro explores the cultivation of heterosexual men’s sexual selves. Based on detailed, in-depth interviews with a large, diverse group of  heterosexual men between the ages of 20 and 68, she investigates how getting sex, having sex, and keeping up their sex lives matters to men. Ultimately, Montemurro uncovers the tension between public, cultural narratives about hetero-masculinity and men’s private, sexual selves and their intimate experiences.
 
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The Governance of Friendship
Law and Gender in the Decameron
Michael Sherberg
The Ohio State University Press, 2011
The Governance of Friendship: Law and Gender in the DECAMERON by Michael Sherberg addresses two related and heretofore unexamined problems in the pages of the Decameron: its theory of friendship and the legal theory embedded in it. Sherberg shows how Aristotle’s Ethics as well as Thomas Aquinas’s Summa Theologica inform these two discourses, at the intersection of which Boccaccio locates the question of gender relations which is one of the book’s central concerns.

Through a series of close readings at all three levels of the text—the author’s statements, the frame narrative, and the stories themselves—Sherberg shows how Boccaccio exposes and explores gender tensions rooted in a notion of the patriarchal household, which finds its own rationale in the natural-law postulate of the inferiority of women. Relying on the writings of the great twentieth-century legal theorist Hans Kelsen, Sherberg demonstrates how through the complex architecture of the Decameron Boccaccio dismantles the logic of natural law, exposing it instead as a rhetoric used by men to justify their control of women.

The Governance of Friendship aims well to advance our understanding of Boccaccio as an intellectual: not only steeped in the key texts of his time, but also at the forefront of critical thinking about such issues as law and gender which will play out over the coming centuries and beyond.
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The Governor and the Colonel
A Dual Biography of William P. Hobby and Oveta Culp Hobby
By Don Carleton
University of Texas Press, 2020

William P. “Will” Hobby Sr. and Oveta Culp Hobby were one of the most influential couples in Texas history. Both were major public figures, with Will serving as governor of Texas and Oveta as the first commander of the Women’s Army Corps and later as the second woman to serve in a presidential cabinet. Together, they built a pioneering media empire centered on the Houston Post and their broadcast properties, and they played a significant role in the transformation of Houston into the fourth largest city in the United States. Don Carleton’s dual biography details their personal and professional relationship—defined by a shared dedication to public service—and the important roles they each played in local, state, and national events throughout the twentieth century.

This deeply researched book not only details this historically significant partnership, but also explores the close relationships between the Hobbys and key figures in twentieth-century history, from Texas legends such as LBJ, Sam Rayburn, and Jesse Jones, to national icons, including the Roosevelts, President Eisenhower, and the Rockefellers. Carleton's chronicle reveals the undeniable impact of the Hobbys on journalistic and political history in the United States.

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Her Husband
Luigi Pirandello
Duke University Press, 2000
One of the twentieth century’s greatest literary artists and winner of the Nobel prize in 1934, Luigi Pirandello wrote the novel Her Husband in 1911, before he produced any of the well-known plays with which his name is most often associated today. Her Husband—translated here for the first time into English—is a profoundly entertaining work, by turns funny, bitingly satirical, and tinged with anguish. As important as any of the other works in Pirandello’s oeuvre, it portrays the complexities of male/female relations in the context of a newly emerging, small but vocal Italian feminist movement.
Evoking in vivid detail the literary world in Rome at the turn of the century, Her Husband tells the story of Silvia Roncella, a talented young female writer, and her husband Giustino Boggiolo. The novel opens with their arrival in Rome after having left their provincial southern Italian hometown following the success of Silvia’s first novel, the rather humorously titled House of Dwarves. As his wife’s self-appointed (and self-important) promoter, protector, counselor, and manager, Giustino becomes the primary target of Pirandello’s satire. But the couple’s relationship—and their dual career—is also complicated by a lively supporting cast of characters, including literary bohemians with avant-garde pretensions and would-be aristocratic esthetes who are all too aware of the newly acquired power of journalists and the publishing establishment to make or break their careers. Having based many of the characters—including Silvia and Giustino—on actual literary acquaintances of his, Pirandello reacted to the novel’s controversial reception by not allowing it to be reprinted after the first printing sold out. Not until after his death were copies again made available in Italy.
Readers will find Her Husband eerily evocative of the present in myriad ways—not the least of which is contemporary society’s ongoing transformation wrought by the changing roles of men and women, wives and husbands.


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Heroides. Amores
Ovid
Harvard University Press, 1977

Two early works by the consummate Latin love poet.

Ovid (Publius Ovidius Naso, 43 BC–AD 17), born at Sulmo, studied rhetoric and law at Rome. Later he did considerable public service there, and otherwise devoted himself to poetry and to society. Famous at first, he offended the emperor Augustus by his Ars amatoria, and was banished because of this work and some other reason unknown to us, and dwelt in the cold and primitive town of Tomis on the Black Sea. He continued writing poetry, a kindly man, leading a temperate life. He died in exile.

Ovid's main surviving works are the Metamorphoses, a source of inspiration to artists and poets including Chaucer and Shakespeare; the Fasti, a poetic treatment of the Roman year of which Ovid finished only half; the Amores, love poems; the Ars amatoria, not moral but clever and in parts beautiful; Heroides, fictitious love letters by legendary women to absent husbands; and the dismal works written in exile: the Tristia, appeals to persons including his wife and also the emperor; and similar Epistulae ex Ponto. Poetry came naturally to Ovid, who at his best is lively, graphic and lucid.

The Loeb Classical Library edition of Ovid is in six volumes.

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How I Got Him Back
A Novel
Valerie Sayers
Northwestern University Press, 2013
Mary Faith Rapple wonders when her lover will stop making promise he can’t keep—and leave his wife at last. But Mary Faith isn’t the only woman in town with man troubles, for everyone has someone they want, someone they can’t have, and someone they want to forget. Sayers has a gift for voice and the honest, gritty commentary about human behavior. This book offers her own version of the humor that Southern writers from Eudora Welty to Flannery O’Connor to Reynolds Price use so tellingly. Sayers’ novel is a skillful and well-crafted book which should appeal to readers of intelligent fiction.
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In Love with Jerzy Kosinski
A Novel
Agate Nesaule
University of Wisconsin Press, 2009
From Agate Nesaule, acclaimed by writers across the globe from Doris Lessing to Tim O’Brien, comes a long-awaited novel. In Love with Jerzy Kosinski is a story of courage and persistence, exploring in fiction the themes that gripped readers of Nesaule’s award-winning memoir, A Woman in Amber.
    After fleeing Latvia as a child, Anna Duja escapes Russian confinement in displaced persons camps and eventually arrives in America. Years later, she finds herself in a different kind of captivity on isolated Cloudy Lake, Wisconsin, living with her disarming but manipulative husband, Stanley.
    Inspired by the transformation of Polish-Jewish émigré Jerzy Kosinski from persecuted wartime escapee to celebrity author in America, Anna slips away from Stanley and Cloudy Lake in small steps: learning to drive, making friends, moving to Madison, falling in love, and learning to forgive. Readers will applaud the book’s power, the beauty of its prose, and its strong evocation of a woman gradually finding her way in the wake of trauma.
 

Winner, the Chancellor’s Regional Literary Award, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater
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In Praise of Older Women
The Amorous Recollections of A. V
Stephen Vizinczey
University of Chicago Press, 1990
"A cool, comic survey of the sexual education of a young Hungarian, from his first encounter, as a twelve-year-old refugee with the American forces, to his unsatisfactory liaison with a reporter's wife in Canada at the belated end of his youth, when he was twenty-three . . . elegantly erotic, with masses of that indefinable quality, style . . . this has the real stuff of immortality."—B. A. Young, Punch

"A pleasure. Vizinczey writes of women beautifully, with sympathy, tact and delight, and he writes about sex with more lucidity and grace than most writers ever acquire."—Larry McMurtry, Houston Post

"Like James Joyce, who was as far from being a writer of erotica as Dostoevsky, Vizinczey has a refreshing message to deliver: Life is not about sex, sex is about life."—John Podhoretz, Washington Times

"The gracefully written story of a young man growing up among older women . . . although some passages may well arouse the reader, this novel brims with what the courts have termed "redeeming literary merit."—Clarence Petersen, Chicago Tribune

"A funny novel about sex, or rather (which is rarer) a novel which is funny as well as touching about sex . . . elegant, exact and melodious—has style, presence and individuality."—Isabel Quigly, Sunday Telegraph

"The delicious adventures of a young Casanova who appreciates maturity while acquiring it himself. In turn naive, sophisticated, arrogant, disarming, the narrator woos his women and his tale wins the reader."—Polly Devlin, Vogue


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In the House
Lynn K. Kilpatrick
University of Alabama Press, 2010
A collection of stories that limn the dangers of domesticity
 
In Lynn K. Kilpatrick’s In the House, anything can happen. A collection of shorts—lists, character sketches, directions, scripts, and instructions—In the House reveals the often conspicuous, yet frequently overlooked, dangers of relationships gone awry.
 
In a home suffused with fragility or in a kitchen surrounded by knives, Kilpatrick’s men and women navigate around one another’s eccentricities with caution, highlighting the unspoken desires and veiled needs of domestic routine. In these stories those desires collide, illuminating the dangers that can lurk in seemingly insignificant places such as the pantry, a basement, the Miss America pageant, dioramas, or in the mind of the one you love.
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Inequalities of Love
College-Educated Black Women and the Barriers to Romance and Family
Averil Y. Clarke
Duke University Press, 2011
Inequalities of Love uses the personal narratives of college-educated black women to describe the difficulties they face when trying to date, marry, and have children. While conventional wisdom suggests that all women, regardless of race, must sacrifice romance and family for advanced educations and professional careers, Averil Y. Clarke’s research reveals that educated black women’s disadvantages in romance and starting a family are consequences of a system of racial inequality and discrimination. The author analyzes the accounts of black women who repeatedly return to incompatible partners as they lose hope of finding “Mr. Right” and reject unwed parenting because it seems to affirm a negative stereotype of black women’s sexuality that is inconsistent with their personal and professional identities. She uses national survey data to compare college-educated black women’s experiences of romance, reproduction, and family to those of less-educated black women and those of white and Hispanic women with degrees. She reports that degreed black women’s lives include less marriage and sex, and more unwanted pregnancy, abortion, and unwed childbearing than college-educated white and Hispanic women. Black women’s romantic limitations matter because they constitute deprivation and constraint in romance and because they illuminate important links between race, class, and gender inequality in the United States. Clarke’s discussion of the inequities that black women experience in romance highlights the connections between individuals’ sexual and reproductive decisions, their performance of professional or elite class identities, and the avoidance of racial stigma.
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Intimate Connections
Love and Marriage in Pakistan’s High Mountains
Anna-Maria Walter
Rutgers University Press, 2022
Intimate Connections dissects ideas, feelings, and practices around love, marriage, and respectability in the remote high mountains of Gilgit-Baltistan in northern Pakistan. It offers insightful perspectives from the emotional lives of Shia women and their active engagement with their husbands. These gender relations are shaped by countless factors, including embodied values of modesty and honor, vernacular fairy tales and Bollywood movies, Islamic revivalism and development initiatives. In particular, the advent of media and communication technologies has left a mark on (pre)marital relations in both South Asia and the wider Muslim world. Juxtaposing different understandings of ‘love’ reveals rich and manifold worlds of courtship, elopements, family dynamics, and more or less affectionate matches that are nowadays often initiated through SMS. Deep ethnographic accounts trace the relationships between young couples to show how Muslim women in a globalized world dynamically frame and negotiate circumstances in their lives.
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Intimate Creativity
Partners In Love And Art
Irving Sarnoff
University of Wisconsin Press, 2002

     Integrating the psychology of love and creativity, this pioneering book explores both how a couple’s involvement as lovers influences their creative collaboration and how working together affects their relationship. Representing a variety of genres—painting, sculpture, photography, and installation art—the celebrated couples profiled here include, among others, Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Elizabeth Diller and Ricardo Scofidio, and Kristin Jones and Andrew Ginzel.
     Intrigued by this process of "intimate creativity," psychologists Irving and Suzanne Sarnoff (themselves partners in love and work) decided to conduct in-depth interviews with partners in visual art because they defy the supremely individualistic tradition of their field. Whatever their age or sexual orientation, these artist-couples combine their talents to form a collective identity as a professional team. Passionately intense about their shared commitment, they communicate endlessly to resolve conflicts and reach consensus. Providing mutual validation and support, they increase their productivity and the quality of their work; they minimize their fear and frustration and enhance their pleasure in being together.
     The authors also draw on historical and contemporary literature about similar couples, ranging from Jean Arp and Sophie Taeuber to Gilbert and George to Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen. Stimulating and engaging, this book highlights the features of a unique collaborative process, considers the connection between creativity and sexuality, and suggests possibilities for any couple to expand their intimacy.

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The Last Layer of the Ocean
Kayaking through Love and Loss on Alaska's Wild Coast
Mary Emerick
Oregon State University Press, 2021
There are five layers of the ocean, though most of us will only ever see one. The deepest layer is the midnight zone, where the only light comes from bioluminescence, created by animals who live there. In order to see, these creatures must create their own light. They move like solitary suns, encased in their own bubbles of freezing water. This is the most remote, unexplored zone on the planet. Though hostile to humans, it’s a source of rapt fascination for Mary Emerick, who would go there in a heartbeat if she could.

The year Emerick turned 38, the suicide of a stranger compelled her to uproot her life and strike out for Alaska, taking a chance on love and home. She learned how to travel in a small yellow kayak along the rugged coast, contending with gales, high seas, and bears. She pondered the different meanings of home from the perspectives of people who were born along Alaska’s coast, the first peoples who had been there for generations, newcomers who chose this place for themselves, and the many who would eventually, inevitably leave. When she married a man from another island, convinced that love would stick, she soon learned that marriage is just as difficult to navigate as the ocean.

Divided into sections detailing the main kayaking strokes, with each stroke serving as metaphor for the lives we all pass through and the tools needed to stay afloat, this eloquent memoir speaks to the human need for connection—connection to place and to our fellow travelers casting their bubbles of light in the depths.
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Last Words of the Holy Ghost
Matt Cashion
University of North Texas Press, 2015

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Listening to Mozart
Charles Wyatt
University of Iowa Press, 1995

With all the drama and complexity of a symphony, Listening to Mozart traces forty years in the life of flutist James Baxter. Many of the stories in this collection—actually a novel in stories—center on or revolve around James' relationship with Anna, a potter and artist. Each story is a separate movement, yet they combine to create a deeply textured whole work. The stories chronicle James' inward journey, as well as his life and loves, with a voice repeatedly transformed through the years.

“Bach Suite” serves as a prologue and deals with the split in consciousness that often accompanies musical performance. The story imitates the musical form it describes and tunes the reader's ear to the innermost thoughts of a musician. Each succeeding story introduces another episode in James' life—his music school days in Philadelphia with his first love, Zoe, his stint in the U.S. Marine Band during the Vietnam War when he meets Anna, his adventures with his friend Franklin, his experiences with the mysterious Dalawa, a trip with Anna to Toronto to immerse themselves in the culture and music of South India. James' friendships, affairs, experiences, and occasional angst resound in each story.

In all the stories, in all his relationships, James finds himself experiencing his life in much the way he experiences music. There is a moment for which he is waiting, yet for which he is never fully prepared, a moment which passes inexorably. Sometimes, in the rare musical experience, he is able to penetrate that moment and allow time to fall away. These moments are the signposts of his life, like the movements of the Bach suite, but unbidden, and they give him his only perspective and vision.

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Love After the Riots
Juan Felipe Herrera
Northwestern University Press, 1996
A "fin-de-siecle epic", Juan Felipe Herrera's After the Riots chronicles a ten-and-a-half hour love affair through the streets of Los Angeles, revealing a world marred by chaos and redeemed by beauty. These are wild poems that force us to consider the nature of our modern-day lives, the world around us, and the prospect of love in the shadow of hopelessness. 
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Love, Sex, and Desire in Modern Egypt
Navigating the Margins of Respectability
By L. L. Wynn
University of Texas Press, 2018

Cairo is a city obsessed with honor and respectability—and love affairs. Sara, a working-class woman, has an affair with a married man and becomes pregnant, only to be abandoned by him; Ayah and Zeid, a respectably engaged couple, argue over whether Ayah’s friend is a prostitute or a virgin; Malak, a European belly dancer who sometimes gets paid for sex, wants to be loved by a man who won’t treat her like a whore just because she’s a dancer; and Alia, a Christian banker who left her abusive husband, is the mistress of a wealthy Muslim man, Haroun, who encourages business by hosting risqué parties for other men and their mistresses.

Set in transnational Cairo over two decades, Love, Sex, and Desire in Modern Egypt is an ethnography that explores female respectability, male honor, and Western theories and fantasies about Arab society. L. L. Wynn uses stories of love affairs to interrogate three areas of classic anthropological theory: mimesis, kinship, and gift. She develops a broad picture of how individuals love and desire within a cultural and political system that structures the possibilities of, and penalties for, going against sexual and gender norms. Wynn demonstrates that love is at once a moral horizon, an attribute that “naturally” inheres in particular social relations, a social phenomenon strengthened through cultural concepts of gift and kinship, and an emotion deeply felt and desired by individuals.

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Love That Works
Art & Science Of Giving
Bruce Brander
Templeton Press, 2004

This original, highly readable book poses a clear distinction between our customary form of love, which almost guarantees failure, and higher, more generous ways of loving that can succeed and enrich both individuals and society as a whole. Love That Works draws on history, psychology, and the theology and science of love to offer a proposal on how to be successful in love and romance. It starts by showing why love fails to meet expectations, often ending sadly or even tragically.

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Lyric Novella
Annemarie Schwarzenbach
Seagull Books, 2011

Schwarzenbach’s clear, psychologically acute prose makes this novella an evocative narrative, with many intriguing parallels to her own life.

Annemarie Schwarzenbach—journalist, novelist, antifascist, archaeologist, and traveler—has become a European cult figure for bohemian free spirits since the rediscovery of her works in the late 1980s. Lyric Novella is her story of a young man’s obsession with a Berlin variété actress. Despite having his future career mapped out for him in the diplomatic service, the young man begins to question all his family values under Sibylle’s spell. His family, future, and social standing become irrelevant when set against his overriding compulsion to pick her up every night from the theater so they can go for a drive. Bringing the story back to her own life, Schwarzenbach admitted after publication that her hero was in fact a young woman, not a man, leaving little doubt that Lyric Novella is a literary tale of lesbian love during socially and politically turbulent times.

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Misers, Shrews, and Polygamists
Sexuality and Male-Female Relations in Eighteenth-Century Chinese Fiction
Keith McMahon
Duke University Press, 1995
Having multiple wives was one of the mainstays of male privilege during the Ming and Qing dynasties of late imperial China. Based on a comprehensive reading of eighteenth-century Chinese novels and a theoretical approach grounded in poststructuralist, psychoanalytic, and feminist criticism, Misers, Shrews, and Polygamists examines how such privilege functions in these novels and provides the first full account of literary representations of sexuality and gender in pre-modern China.
In many examples of rare erotic fiction, and in other works as well-known as Dream of the Red Chamber, Keith McMahon identifies a sexual economy defined by the figures of the "miser" and the "shrew"—caricatures of the retentive, self-containing man and the overflowing, male-enervating woman. Among these and other characters, the author explores the issues surrounding the practice of polygamy, the logic of its overvaluation of masculinity, and the nature of sexuality generally in Chinese society. How does the man with many wives manage and justify his sexual authority? Why and how might he escape or limit this presumed authority, sometimes to the point of portraying himself as abject before the shrewish woman? How do women accommodate or coddle the man, or else oppose, undermine, or remold him? And in what sense does the man place himself lower than the spiritually and morally superior woman?
The most extensive English-language study of Chinese literature from the eighteenth century, this examination of polygamy will interest not only students of Chinese history, culture, and literature but also all those concerned with histories of gender and sexuality.
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Modern Loves
The Anthropology of Romantic Courtship and Companionate Marriage
Jennifer S. Hirsch and Holly Wardlow, Editors
University of Michigan Press, 2006
How are love, marriage, and desire changing? This collection confronts that question, examining how global cultural flows, changing gender relations, specific economic structures, and state policies are reshaping intimate life around the world. Grounded in cutting edge feminist anthropological theory, these essays discuss how women and men craft courtship, intimacy, and marriage around the world, situating intimate relations in their respective social and economic contexts and exposing the dynamics that are shared cross-culturally, as well as those characteristics that are specific to each site.

In this first comparative ethnographic look at the global transformation toward marital ideals characterized by emotional intimacy, companionship, and mutual choice—discussed here as "companionate marriage"—Modern Loves asks how this shift is occurring and explores the factors that promote and hinder it, just who is pushing for these more companionate relationships, and what advantages men and women see in modern love. The contributors analyze the intricate negotiations surrounding love, marriage, and sex in Mexico, India, Papua New Guinea, Brazil, Pakistan, Nigeria, Singapore, and Hong Kong and among Latino youth in East Los Angeles. Modern Loves presents the new global approach to kinship studies, examining both the microlevel practices that constitute and bind relationships and the macrolevel forces that shape the landscape of love.
Contributors: Margaret E. Bentley, Selina Ching Chan, Pamela I. Erickson, Jessica Gregg, Jennifer Higgins, Jennifer S. Hirsch, Wynne Maggi, Constance A. Nathanson, Gayatri Reddy, Daniel Jordan Smith, and Holly Wardlow

Jennifer S. Hirsch is Associate Professor in the Department of Sociomedical Sciences, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University. Holly Wardlow is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Toronto.

"What‘s love got to do with it? Hirsch and Wardlow answer this question by demonstrating the relevance—indeed, centrality—of the ideologies and practices surrounding romantic love and companionate marriage to the study of social transformation more broadly. The essays compiled in this volume explore the material, structural, and demographic underpinnings of the global shift in marital ideals while also tracing some of the sources of this marital shift in mass media, missionization, and the spread of individualism. The contributors of the chapters provide ethnographically rich examples of the ways in which people living in different societies interpret and act upon these global forces and images in sometimes overlapping and sometimes varying ways. This volume is an important and thoughtful contribution to the study of emotion, gender, kinship, and social change." —Laura M. Ahearn, Department of Anthropology, Rutgers University

"With its rich descriptions of the nuances in romantic love and its lucid analysis of the political economy of conjugal relations, this book will be widely read and loved by anthropologists as well as the concerned public."
—Yunxiang Yan, Department of Anthropology, UCLA

"Modern Loves offers an overview of current scholarship on love in the context of sexual relationships cross-culturally, and provides a view of the complexity of varied aspects of emotion, social structure, and social change in contemporary sexual relationships. It clearly makes the case for a political economic understanding of the emergence of ideologies of love, marriage, and courtship as part of expanding global economies."
—Linda-Anne Rebhun, Department of Anthropology, Yale University
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New World Courtships
Transatlantic Alternatives to Companionate Marriage
Melissa M. Adams-Campbell
Dartmouth College Press, 2015
Feminist literary critics have long recognized that the novel’s marriage plot can shape the lives of women readers; however, they have largely traced the effects of this influence through a monolithic understanding of marriage. New World Courtships is the first scholarly study to recover a geographically diverse array of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century novels that actively compare marriage practices from the Atlantic world. These texts trouble Enlightenment claims that companionate marriage leads to women’s progress by comparing alternative systems for arranging marriage and sexual relations in the Americas. Attending to representations of marital diversity in early transatlantic novels disrupts nation-based accounts of the rise of the novel and its relation to “the” marriage plot. It also illuminates how and why cultural differences in marriage mattered in the Atlantic world—and shows how these differences might help us to reimagine marital diversity today. This book will appeal to scholars of literature, women’s studies, and early American history.
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Odd Couples
Friendships at the Intersection of Gender and Sexual Orientation
Anna Muraco
Duke University Press, 2012
Odd Couples examines friendships between gay men and straight women, and also between lesbians and straight men, and shows how these "intersectional" friendships serve as a barometer for shifting social norms, particularly regarding gender and sexual orientation. Based on author Anna Muraco's interviews, the work challenges two widespread assumptions: that men and women are fundamentally different and that men and women can only forge significant bonds within romantic relationships. Intersectional friendships challenge a variety of social norms, Muraco says, including the limited roles that men and women are expected to play in one another's lives. Each chapter uses these boundary-crossing relationships to highlight how key social constructs such as family, politics, gender, and sexuality shape everyday interactions. Friendship itself—whether intersectional or not—becomes the center of the analysis, taking its place as an important influence on the social behavior of adults.
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One Faith, Two Authorities
Tension between Female Religious and Male Clergy in the American Catholic Church
Jeanine E. Kraybill
Temple University Press, 2019

While female religious have grown to possess a sense of personal authority in issues impacting the laity, and have come to engage in social-issue-oriented activities, religious institutions have traditionally viewed men as the decision-makers. One Faith, Two Authorities examines the tensions of policy and authority within the gendered nature of the Catholic Church. 

Jeanine Kraybilllooks at the influence of Catholic elites—specifically within the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious—and their opinions on public policy and relevant gender dynamics with regard to healthcare, homosexuality, immigration, and other issues. She considers the female religious’ inclusive positions as well as their opposition to ACA for bills that would be rooted in institutional positions on procreation, contraception, or abortion. Kraybill also systematically examines the claims of the 2012 Doctrinal Assessment against the Leadership Conference of Women Religious.

One Faith, Two Authorities considerswhether the sisters and the male clergy are in fact in disagreement about social justice and healthcare issues and/or if women religious have influence.

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Opening Up
Youth Sex Culture and Market Reform in Shanghai
James Farrer
University of Chicago Press, 2002
From teen dating to public displays of affection, from the "fishing girls" and "big moneys" that wander discos in search of romance to the changing shape of sex in the Chinese city, this is a book like no other. James Farrer immerses himself in the vibrant nightlife of Shanghai, draws on individual and group interviews with Chinese youth, as well as recent changes in popular media, and considers how sexual culture has changed in China since its shift to a more market-based economy.

More and more men and women in China these days are having sex before marriage, creating a new youth sex culture based on romance, leisure, and free choice. The Chinese themselves describe these changes as an "opening up" in response to foreign influences and increased Westernization. Farrer explores these changes by tracing the basic elements in talk about sex and sexuality in Shanghai. He then shows how Chinese youth act out the sometimes-contradictory meanings of sex in the new market society. For Farrer, sexuality is a lens through which we can see how China imagines and understands itself in the wake of increased globalization. Through personal storytelling, neighborhood gossip, and games of seduction, young men and women in Shanghai balance pragmatism with romance, lust with love, and seriousness with play, collectively constructing and individually coping with a new culture based on market principles. With its provocative glimpse into the sex lives of young Chinese, then, Opening Up offers something even greater: a thoughtful consideration of China as it continues to develop into an economic superpower.
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A Portal in Space
By Mahmoud Saeed, Translated by William M. Hutchins
University of Texas Press, 2015

A Portal in Space, set in Basra, Iraq, during the Iran-Iraq War (1980–1988), follows the lives of Anwar, a newly minted architect, and the other members of his affluent family as they attempt to maintain a sense of normality during the frequent bombing attacks from Iran. When Anwar joins the Iraqi army and then goes missing in action, his family struggles to cope with uncertainty over his fate. His mother falls into depression and secludes herself in the family home, while his father shifts his attention from his duties as a judge to the weekly pilgrimage to Baghdad seeking information on his son—and to Zahra, the young widow he meets there.

Emotionally engaging, A Portal in Space is a wry, wise tale of human beings striving to retain their humanity during a war that is anything but humane. Mahmoud Saeed succeeds brilliantly in bringing the sights and sounds of Iraq to life on the page—whether in a bunker on the front lines of the Iran-Iraq War or in the parlor of a fortune-teller in Baghdad. As Zahra says of the novel she is writing: “It is a normal novel that contains love, war, life, deceit, and death.”

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The Red Sofa
Michèle Lesbre
Seagull Books, 2017
Now in paperback, The Red Sofa is a quiet French novella exploring love, memory, and the perspective that travel gives us on both.

In The Red Sofa, we meet Anne, a young woman setting off on the Trans-Siberian Railway in order to find her former lover, Gyl, who left twenty years before. As the train moves across post-Soviet Russia and its devastated landscapes, Anne reflects on her past with Gyl and their patriotic struggles, as well as on the neighbor she has just left behind, Clémence Barrot.

Rocked by the train’s movements Anne is moved by her memory of Clémence, who is old and whose memory is failing, but who has not lost her taste for life and adventure. Ensconced on her red sofa at home, Clémence loves to tell Anne her life story, mourning lost loved ones and celebrating the lives of brave, rebellious women who went before her. Eventually, Anne’s train trip returns her home having not found Gyl, but having found something much more meaningful—herself.
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Reuben, Reuben
A Novel
Peter De Vries
University of Chicago Press, 2014
Harking from the golden age of fiction set in American suburbia—the school of John Updike and Cheever—this work from the great American humorist Peter De Vries looks with laughter upon its lawns, its cocktails, and its slightly unreal feeling of comfort. A manic epic, Reuben, Reuben is really three books in one, tied together by a 1950s suburban Connecticut setting and hyper-literate cast of characters. A corruptible chicken farmer fearful for the fate of his beloved town, a womanizing poet from Wales (Dylan Thomas in disguise), and a hapless British poet-cum-actor-and-agent all take turns as narrator, revealing different, even conflicting views. But alcoholism, sexism, small-mindedness, and calamity challenge the high spirits of De Vries’s well-read suburbanites. Noted as much for his verbal fluidity and wordplay as for his ability to see humor through pain, De Vries will delight both new readers and old in this uproarious modern masterpiece.
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The School for Lies
A Play Adapted from Molière's The Misanthrope
David Ives
Northwestern University Press, 2012
Adapted from Molière’s The Misanthrope, David Ives’s The School for Lies tells the comic tale of Frank, who shares with Molière’s Alceste a venomous hatred of the hypocrisy that surrounds him. Like his predecessor, Frank gets into trouble for insulting the work of a dreadful poet and falls in love with Celimene, a witty widow. In Ives’s madcap version, however, Celimene returns Frank’s affection because she wrongly believes him to be King Louis XIV’s bastard brother. Borrowing from Shakespeare, reality TV, and everything in between, The School for Lies is an inspired entertainment as well as a pointed study in self-delusion, all rendered in sparkling couplets.
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Secrets and Rivals
Wartime Letters and the Parents I Never Knew
R. Bruce Larson
University of Missouri Press, 2015
Ruth Larson saved nearly 700 letters she and her husband Bob exchanged during World War II. Opening the box while his mother lay dying, her son Bruce expected to find commonplace details of his parents’ early life together. He instead discovered a story of deception, obsession, and betrayal.

Reading through the letters, he is drawn into his parents’ courtship amid the hardships of separation and war. Beyond the tumultuous romance, Larson finds that he barely recognizes his father, whom he knew only as distant and impassive. He uncovers shocking truths about his mother, Ruth, whom family lore had pigeonholed as sweetly pious.

At the time of the letters, Bob is a young Coast Guard clerk fighting off depression with thoughts of his dream girl back home. Back in Minnesota, Ruth passes the days adrift in romantic fantasies and liaisons with local admirers. Bob’s suspicions about Ruth and his obsession with her from afar threaten the young man’s fragile hold on his sanity, but he will not give her up. Decades later, their son comes to feel a tenderness for both his parents and to understand how their losses, fears, and reluctance can transform and refashion family bonds.

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Sense and Sensibility
An Annotated Edition
Jane Austen
Harvard University Press, 2013

Sense and Sensibility (1811) marked the auspicious debut of a novelist identified only as “A Lady.” Jane Austen’s name has since become as familiar as Shakespeare’s, and her tale of two sisters has lost none of its power to delight. Patricia Meyer Spacks guides readers to a deeper appreciation of the richness of Austen’s delineation of her heroines, Elinor and Marianne Dashwood, as they experience love, romance, and heartbreak. On display again in the editor’s running commentary are the wit and light touch that delighted readers of Spacks’s Pride and Prejudice: An Annotated Edition.

In her notes, Spacks elucidates language and allusions that have become obscure (What are Nabobs? When is rent day?), draws comparisons to Austen’s other work and to that of her precursors, and gives an idea of how other critics have seen the novel. In her introduction and annotations, she explores Austen’s sympathy with both Elinor and Marianne, the degree to which the sisters share “sense” and “sensibility,” and how they must learn from each other. Both manage to achieve security and a degree of happiness by the novel’s end. Austen’s romance, however, reveals darker overtones, and Spacks does not leave unexamined the issue of the social and psychological restrictions of women in Austen’s era.

As with other volumes in Harvard’s series of Austen novels, Sense and Sensibility: An Annotated Edition comes handsomely illustrated with numerous color reproductions that vividly recreate Austen’s world. This will be an especially welcome addition to the library of any Janeite.

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SPOT IN THE DARK
BETH GYLYS
The Ohio State University Press, 2004
Spot in the Dark is a collection of poetry exploring the nuances of human relationships. From new love to extramarital affairs to dating to solitude, the book’s four sections read as a journey by a series of narrators who wrestle through the beginning and middle stages of love, the complications of an affair, and the challenges of single life, and finally come to focus on the external world: the beauty and starkness of a winter landscape, the ebullience of spring, the breathtaking loveliness of a sunset. The book’s arc moves from examining the human wish and will to connect to another to presenting the self as part of a larger, richer, and more complicated set of external relationships. Written predominantly in free verse, these sometimes meditative, sometimes cynical, sometimes playful poems sift through the difficulties and pleasures of living in the world.
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Taming of the Shrew
William Shakespeare
Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2022
Amy Freed rewrites The Taming of the Shrew, one of the more problematic plays in the Shakespeare canon.

While beloved for its sharp dialogue and witty banter, The Taming of the Shrew offers a problematic storyline that many have deemed misogynistic. The play contains insensitive gags and uneasy politics, making it difficult for modern audiences to connect with the text. Amy Freed’s new translation reactivates the original story, blowing away the dust and cobwebs. As Freed’s text reminds us, at its heart The Taming of the Shrew is a story about courage and authenticity.

This translation of The Taming of the Shrew was written as part of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s Play On! project, which commissioned new translations of thirty-nine Shakespeare plays. These translations present work from “The Bard” in language accessible to modern audiences while never losing the beauty of Shakespeare’s verse. Enlisting the talents of a diverse group of contemporary playwrights, screenwriters, and dramaturges from diverse backgrounds, this project reenvisions Shakespeare for the twenty-first century. These volumes make these works available for the first time in print—a new First Folio for a new era.
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Traveling on One Leg
Herta Muller
Northwestern University Press, 2010
Winner, 2009 Nobel Prize in Literature 
 
Irene is a fragile woman born to a German family in Romania, who has recently emigrated from her native country to West Germany. Politically and socially isolated, Irene moves within the orbit of three troubled men, while simultaneously embarking on an inner exploration of exile, homeland, and identity.
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Troping the Body
Gender, Etiquette, and Performance
Gwendolyn Audrey Foster
Southern Illinois University Press, 2000

Troping the Body: Gender, Etiquette, and Performance is an interdisciplinary study of etiquette texts, conduct literature, and advice books and films. GwendolynAudrey Foster analyzes the work of such women authors as Emily Post, Christine de Pizan, Hannah Webster Foster, Emily Brontë, Frances E. W. Harper, and Martha Stewart as well as such women filmmakers as Lois Weber and Kasi Lemmons.

“Specifically,” Foster notes, “I was interested in the possibility of locating power and agency in the voices of popular etiquette writers.” Her investigation led her to analyze etiquette and conduct literature from the Middle Ages to the present. Within this wide scope, she redefines the boundaries of conduct literature through a theoretical examination of the gendered body as it is positioned in conduct books, etiquette texts, poetry, fiction, and film.

Drawing on Bakhtin, Gates, Foucault, and the new school of performative feminism to develop an interdisciplinary approach to conduct literature—and literature as conduct—Foster brings a unique perspective to the analysis of ways in which the body has been gendered, raced, and constructed in terms of class and sexuality.

Even though women writers have been actively writing conduct and etiquette texts since the medieval period, few critical examinations of such literature exist in the fields of cultural studies and literary criticism. Thus, Foster’s study fills a gap and does so uniquely in the existing literature. In examining these voices of authority over the body, Foster identifies the dialogic in the texts of this discipline that both supports and disrupts the hegemonic discourse of a gendered social order.

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The Typewriter Satyr
A Novel
Dwight Allen
University of Wisconsin Press, 2009
Welcome to Midvale, a city of liberal-minded (but not too liberal-minded) folk in the heart of Wisconsin. Midvale is home to Oliver Poole, lanky and gray-haired father of four sons, husband of Diana (a prominent divorce lawyer), left fielder for an over-the-hill softball team called the Old Hatters, and sole proprietor of a typewriter repair shop (a trade that one of his sons compares to singing folk music on the street and waiting for someone to drop a nickel in the hat). Midvale is home, too, to Annelise Scharfenberg, a thirty-something, sugar-craving, aspiring Buddhist who works as a late-night music-and-gab-show host at a fringe radio station. When Annelise, a collector of old-fashioned things, walks into Oliver’s shop bearing a typewriter scavenged from an alley, a romance ensues, with consequences both comic and tragic. Set during the early years of the Iraq war, The Typewriter Satyr is flush with colorful characters, including a Syrian coffeehouse owner who believes the Bush government is after him, a Buddhist monk who grew up in rural Wisconsin, a painter known as the Rabbit Master, and a homeless writer who roams the streets of Midvale in search of a missing shoe. In The Typewriter Satyr Dwight Allen has created a world that, as the novelist Michelle Huneven notes, “speaks to the powerful tides of longing and loneliness surging through all of us.”
 
 
Honorable Mention, Anne Powers Book Length Fiction, Council for Wisconsin Writers

Finalist, General Fiction, Midwest Book Awards
 
 
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The Weather Changed, Summer Came and So On
Pedro Carmona-Alvarez
Seagull Books, 2015
Johnny is from New Jersey, and Kari is from Oslo. They meet in New York in the late 1950s and soon fall in love, get married, and move to Asbury Park, where their life unfolds like a dream: Kari gives birth to two beautiful daughters, and Johnny is a wildly successful entrepreneur. Everything begins to unravel, though, when Johnny’s business partner commits suicide and their company plunges into bankruptcy. Then a deadly accident claims their daughters. Reeling from the tragedy and seeking a new beginning, Johnny and Kari move to Norway. But they can’t escape their trauma as it continues to take a toll on their marriage, especially as Johnny struggles to find his place in a foreign country.
            The Weather Changed, Summer Came and So On is a haunting novel about love, loss, and identity that focuses on the survival of trauma. Translated beautifully from its original Norwegian by Diane Oatley, it constructs and inhabits a liminal world as the protagonists seek to stay afloat amid grief and estrangement. This is a gripping, heartbreaking story that will move readers with its timelessness and universal relevance.
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Women in a Man's World, Crying
Essays
Vicki Covington
University of Alabama Press, 2002

This thoughtful, engaging collection showcases the best nonfiction prose produced by one of the nation's most observant and incisive writers.

This collection of warm, heartfelt essays from award-winning novelist Vicki Covington chronicles the multitude of "in between" moments in the writer's life. These are her stolen moments in between the writing of four novels-Gathering Home, Bird of Paradise, Night Ride Home, and The Last Hotel for Women; in between coauthoring the edgy memoir Cleaving: The Story of a Marriage with her husband Dennis Covington; in between raising two daughters; in between her husband's struggle with cancer and the author's own heart attack; in between a life full of trials and triumphs, disappointments and celebrations - moments that, as Covington demonstrates here, are always rich and revealing.


In the title essay, the author questions why all seven middle-class women who live on her street confess at a neighborhood cookout that in the past 48 hours each of them has cried. In "A Southern Thanksgiving," Covington reflects on the "family dance" that is Thanksgiving in the South: "In the North they put their crazy family members in institutions, but in the South we put them in the living room for everyone to enjoy." In "My Mother's Brain," the author recounts the onset of Alzheimer's in her mother and how, with the spread of the disease, an untapped vein of love is revealed.


Some of these essays were written as weekly newspaper columns for the Birmingham News. Others were written for specific literary occasions, such as the First Annual Eudora Welty Symposium. They are divided into six thematic sections: "Girls and Women," "Neighborhood," "Death," "The South," "Spiritual Matters," and "Writing."


Throughout, as Covington casts her candid, attentive eye on a situation, confusion yields to comprehension, fear flourishes into faith, and anger flows into understanding. In memorializing the small moments of her life, she finds that they are far from peripheral; indeed, they are central to a life full of value and meaning.

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