The Book of Want: A Novel
Daniel A. Olivas University of Arizona Press, 2011 Library of Congress PS3615.L58B66 2011 | Dewey Decimal 813.6
When Moses descended Mount Sinai carrying the Ten Commandments, he never could have foreseen how one family in Los Angeles in the early twenty-first century would struggle to live by them.
Conchita, a voluptuous, headstrong single woman of a certain age, sees nothing wrong with enjoying the company of handsome—and usually much younger—men . . . that is, until she encounters a widower with unusual gifts and begins to think about what she really wants out of life.
Julieta, Conchita’s younger sister, walks a more traditional path, but she and her husband each harbor secrets that could change their marriage and their lives forever. Their twin sons, both in college, struggle to find fulfillment. Mateo refuses to let anyone stand in the way of his happiness, while Rolando grapples with his sexuality and the family’s expectations. And from time to time, Belén, the family’s late matriarch, pays a visit to advise, scold, or cajole her hapless descendants.
A delightful family tapestry woven with the threads of all those whose lives are touched by Conchita, The Book of Want is an enchanting blend of social and magical realism that tells a charming story about what it means to be fully human.
Days of Plenty, Days of Want
Patricia Preciado Martin University of Arizona Press, 1999 Library of Congress PS3563.A7272D39 1999 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
For Patricia Preciado Martin, the past is every bit as real as the present. In Days of Plenty, Days of Want, past and present meet in a collection of strikingly crafted short stories that show us a heritage being irreverently pushed aside by "progress" yet passed along from person to person, century to century.
In the pages of this book are people so real you'll swear you've met them, situations so familiar you'll nod in recognition. Two of these stories have won prizes in Chicano literary contests; all will win the hearts of readers. Through them, Patricia Preciado Martin reminds us that freedom and self-expression are important in fulfilling our potential—and, more important, that a large part of this process requires acknowledging our heritage as a priceless gift whose relevance in our lives cannot be ignored.
There is, literally, a world of difference between the statements "Everyone should have adequate food," and "Everyone has the right to adequate food." In George Kent's view, the lofty rhetoric of the first statement will not be fulfilled until we take the second statement seriously. Kent sees hunger as a deeply political problem. Too many people do not have adequate control over local resources and cannot create the circumstances that would allow them to do meaningful, productive work and provide for themselves. The human right to an adequate livelihood, including the human right to adequate food, needs to be implemented worldwide in a systematic way.
Freedom from Want makes it clear that feeding people will not solve the problem of hunger, for feeding programs can only be a short-term treatment of a symptom, not a cure. The real solution lies in empowering the poor. Governments, in particular, must ensure that their people face enabling conditions that allow citizens to provide for themselves.
In a wider sense, Kent brings an understanding of human rights as a universal system, applicable to all nations on a global scale. If, as Kent argues, everyone has a human right to adequate food, it follows that those who can empower the poor have a duty to see that right implemented, and the obligation to be held morally and legally accountable, for seeing that that right is realized for everyone, everywhere.
Her Kind of Want
Jennifer S. Davis University of Iowa Press, 2002 Library of Congress PS3604.A96H47 2002 | Dewey Decimal 813.6
Set mainly in the small towns of Alabama, the stories in Her Kind of Want ache with the relentless longing of the poor, struggling, usually discarded southern women who tell us their lives—lives that seem to revolve around men whose only presence is their absence.
Bebe, Luna, Melly, Little Hula, Dena. These are just a few of the women we meet in Jennifer Davis's award-winning collection. Women who married too fast, had children too young, and drink too much. Yet beneath their unpolished exteriors, these women are flesh and blood, and their wants and needs are as severe and deep as any.
Davis's characters relate their stories in voices as complex and raw as their southern environment. Each tale may sound slightly familiar—an unwanted pregnancy, a fast car flying down a country road—but Davis moves beyond the familiar stories of the rural South to expose the gaps that connect these women, creating startlingly real and vibrant characters.
Although often bleak and sometimes disturbing, Her Kind of Want is a celebration of southern people, their perseverance, their spirit, and their determination to make the ugly beautiful.
"Danielle Goldman's contribution to the theory and history of improvisation in dance is rich, beautiful and extraordinary. In her careful, rigorously imaginative analysis of the discipline of choreography in real time, Goldman both compels and allows us to become initiates in the mysteries of flight and preparation. She studies the massive volitional resources that one unleashes in giving oneself over to being unleashed. It is customary to say of such a text that it is 'long-awaited' or 'much anticipated'; because of Goldman's work we now know something about the potenza, the kinetic explosion, those terms carry. Reader, get ready to move and be moved."
---Fred Moten, Duke University
"In this careful, intelligent, and theoretically rigorous book, Danielle Goldman attends to the 'tight spaces' within which improvised dance explores both its limitations and its capacity to press back against them. While doing this, Goldman also allows herself---and us---to be moved by dance itself. The poignant conclusion, evoking specific moments of embodied elegance, vulnerability, and courage, asks the reader: 'Does it make you feel like dancing?' Whether taken literally or figuratively, I can't imagine any other response to this beautiful book."
---Barbara Browning, New York University
"This book will become the single most important reflection on the question of improvisation, a question which has become foundational to dance itself. The achievement of I Want to Be Ready lies not simply in its mastery of the relevant literature within dance, but in its capacity to engage dance in a deep and abiding dialogue with other expressive forms, to think improvisation through myriad sites and a rich vein of cultural diversity, and to join improvisation in dance with its manifestations in life so as to consider what constitutes dance's own politics."
---Randy Martin, Tisch School of Arts at New York University
I Want To Be Ready draws on original archival research, careful readings of individual performances, and a thorough knowledge of dance scholarship to offer an understanding of the "freedom" of improvisational dance. While scholars often celebrate the freedom of improvised performances, they are generally focusing on freedom from formal constraints. Drawing on the work of Michel Foucault and Houston Baker, among others, Danielle Goldman argues that this negative idea of freedom elides improvisation's greatest power. Far from representing an escape from the necessities of genre, gender, class, and race, the most skillful improvisations negotiate an ever shifting landscape of constraints. This work will appeal to those interested in dance history and criticism and also interdisciplinary audiences in the fields of American and cultural studies.
Danielle Goldman is Assistant Professor of Dance at The New School and a professional dancer in New York City, where she recently has danced for DD Dorvillier and Beth Gill.
Cover art: Still from Ghostcatching, 1999, by Bill T. Jones, Paul Kaiser, and Shelley Eshkar. Image courtesy of Kaiser/Eshkar.
Advocating nuclear war, attempting communication with dolphins and taking an interest in the paranormal and UFOs, there is perhaps no greater (or stranger) cautionary tale for the Left than that of Posadism.
Named after the Argentine Trotskyist J. Posadas, the movement's journey through the fractious and sectarian world of mid-20th century revolutionary socialism was unique. Although at times significant, Posadas' movement was ultimately a failure. As it disintegrated, it increasingly grew to resemble a bizarre cult, detached from the working class it sought to liberate. The renewed interest in Posadism today - especially for its more outlandish fixations - speaks to both a cynicism towards the past and nostalgia for the earnest belief that a better world is possible.
Drawing on considerable archival research, and numerous interviews with ex- and current Posadists, I Want to Believe tells the fascinating story of this most unusual socialist movement and considers why it continues to capture the imaginations of leftists today.
The sense that well-being remains elusive, transitory, and unevenly distributed is felt by the rich as well as the poor, and in all societies. To explore this condition of existential dissatisfaction, the anthropologist Michael Jackson traveled to Sierra Leone, described in a recent UN report as the “least livable” country in the world. There he revisited the village where he did his first ethnographic fieldwork in 1969–70 and lived in 1979. Jackson writes that Africans have always faced forces from without that imperil their lives and livelihoods. Though these forces have assumed different forms at different times—slave raiding, warfare, epidemic illness, colonial domination, state interference, economic exploitation, and corrupt government—they are subject to the same mix of magical and practical reactions that affluent Westerners deploy against terrorist threats, illegal immigration, market collapse, and economic recession. Both the problem of well-being and the question of what makes life worthwhile are grounded in the mystery of existential discontent—the question as to why human beings, regardless of their external circumstances, are haunted by a sense of insufficiency and loss. While philosophers have often asked the most searching questions regarding the human condition, Jackson suggests that ethnographic method offers one of the most edifying ways of actually exploring those questions.
The final book in the groundbreaking Voices from the Underground series, Stop the Presses! I Want to Get Off!, is the inspiring, frenetic, funny, sad, always-cash-starved story of Joe Grant, founder and publisher of Prisoners’ Digest International, the most important prisoners’ rights underground newspaper of the Vietnam era. From Grant’s military days in pre-Revolutionary Cuba during the Korean War, to his time as publisher of a pro-union newspaper in Cedar Rapids and his eventual imprisonment in Leavenworth, Kansas, Grant’s personal history is a testament to the power of courage under duress. One of the more notorious federal penitentiaries in the nation, Leavenworth inspired Grant to found PDI in an effort to bring hope to prisoners and their families nationwide.