Tag Archive for alumni books

Gorman ’82 Captures Canadian North in Award-Winning Book

Stephen Gorman '82

Photographer Stephen Gorman ’82 (www.stephengorman.com)  has published Arctic Visions: Encounters at the Top of the World, a lavish and memorable tribute to the land, sea, wildlife, and people of Canada’s North. Gorman traveled throughout the Canadian Arctic and the Northwest Passage aboard the expedition ship Lyubov Orlova for four seasons, giving him an unprecedented opportunity to take pictures of some of our planet’s most spectacular landscapes and wildlife populations.
The book’s stunning images and lively text offer a true sense of the spirit and being of this vast, awesome, and historic region. The publication received the 2011 Benjamin Franklin Award from the Independent Book Publishers Association.

Book by Stephen Gorman '82

Gorman has also worked on assignment for such leading periodicals as Men’s Journal, National Geographic publications, Discovery Channel publications, Sports Illustrated, Sierra, Audubon, Outside, among many others. For the last several years he has been artist-in-residence for Cruise North Expeditions, an Inuit-owned and operated educational and adventure travel company based in the Canadian Arctic that is dedicated to cultural and environmental preservation.

His other photo-essay books include The American Wilderness: Journeys into Distant and Historic Landscapes, Thoreau’s New England; Wild New England, and Northeastern Wilds: Journeys of Discovery in the Northern Forest.

Kurian ’94 Sets His First Novel in a Struggling Romania

Justin Kurian '94

Justin Kurian ’94 has published his first novel, The Sunlight Lies Beyond (Regent Press), whose protagonist John Arden, a disillusioned American from a Wall Street background, lives in Romania in 1992, a country in transition three years after the collapse of the Communist regime. His life becomes entangled with various people caught in a tumultuous world, among them actors at the National Opera and a talented, ambitious businesswoman who is repressed by society. Arden finds that if he can successfully confront the tribulations ahead, he may possibly vanquish his inner demons.

Kurian recently shared some thoughts about working on the book:

“I had written short stories and creative works that had been very well received, but I had yet to write a novel. I had set very high standards for myself in terms of craftsmanship, and I felt I was prepared to reach these standards. I was excited about the writing style I had honed and achieved, and was ready to express it in the novel form. 

“While I lived in Romania, I encountered an excellent setting for a novel. The society was undergoing a very difficult change. In 1989 Romania escaped Communism, but the struggle to move to a free market economy was not as easy as many had hoped. What fascinated me, though, was not necessarily the technical difficulties of this sort of transformation, but the resistance of some of the people in the society to this change. Any change is usually met with resistance, whether this change is overall for the better of society or not. This is due to a variety of factors that are explored within the book.”

Adelman ’83 Shares Stories to Demystify Psychoanalysis

Anne Adelman '83

Anne Adelman ’83 is the co-author (with Karry Malawista and Catherine Anderson) of Wearing My Tutu to Analysis and Other Stories: Learning Psychodynamic Concepts from Life (Columbia University Press), a book that is certain to enliven psychodynamic theory for students, teachers, clinicians, and others eager to learn the ins and outs of practice. The authors share amusing, poignant, and sometimes difficult stories and reflections from their personal and professional lives as they invite readers to explore the complex underpinnings of the profession, along with analytical theory’s esoteric nature.

The vehicle of the story is an integral part of psychodynamic practice so that it becomes a thoroughly appropriate method in this book for illustrating the dynamics of psychoanalysis. Through their narratives, the writers, who are also practicing analysts, show readers how to incorporate psychodynamic concepts into their work and identify common truths at the root of shared experience. Their approach demystifies dense material and the emotional consequences of intimate practice.

Click here to read an except from the book.

Adelman is a clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst and has taught and supervised in a variety of settings, including the Yale Child Study Center, the George Washington University Psy.D. program, and the Chinese American Psychoanalytic Alliance. She is a faculty member for New Directions at the Washington Institute for Psychoanalysis and maintains a private practice in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

Dobrow ’83 Delves into the World of Minor League Baseball

Marty Dobrow '83

In his remarkable sports book, Knocking on Heaven’s Door (University of Massachusetts Press), Marty Dobrow ’83 explores the “anguish of almost” as he examines the lives of six minor league baseball players who are so close to something they want so much, something they have always wanted, but something they still might not get. What links them together, aside from their common goal of wanting to play on a major league team, is that they are all represented by the same team of agents whose own aspirations parallel those of the players they represent.

The book explores the contradictory culture of the minors. On the one hand, nothing could be more wholesome or family friendly: the kitschy mascots, the hokey promotions, the Little Leaguers hanging over the railing to get autographs from earnest young players. On the other hand, it a savagely competitive world where the success of a teammate—if he plays the same position that you do—is a bad thing, while his injury represents good news.

This is an intimate baseball book that focuses not just on the players, but on the wives, girlfriends, and family members who have latched onto a difficult dream. The story begins during spring training in 2005 and ends in the fall of 2008, followed by a brief epilogue that updates each player’s fortunes through the 2009 season. Along the way Dobrow offers a revealing, intimate look at life in minor league baseball: the relentless tedium of its itinerant routines and daily rituals; the lure of performance-enhancing drugs as a means of gaining a competitive edge; and the role of agents in negotiating each player’s failures as well as his successes.

In a starred review, Publishers Weekly called the book, “A beautifully written, meticulously orchestrated account of the families, common agents, notable triumphs, and devastating failures of half a dozen talented young men who want to play in the Major Leagues.”

The Sports Literature Association said the book “gives us the rarest of sport literature: the true baseball story…that tells us the truth about the game without sugar-coating its unpleasantries or removing its warts—while somehow still managing to make us love it all the more.”

Upcoming Reading

The author will be reading at 7 p.m. Oct. 18 at the Bergino Baseball Clubhouse on 11th Street in Manhattan.

Book by Wasson ’03 Showcases Master Film Director Paul Mazursky

Book by Sam Wasson ’03

In his new book, Paul on Mazursky (Wesleyan University Press), film scholar Sam Wasson ’03 talks to writer and director Paul Mazursky about his substantial career, which includes such memorable movies as Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, Harry and Tonto, An Unmarried Woman, Moscow on the Hudson, Down and Out in Beverly Hills and many more. His rich human comedies, grounded in pure emotion, are hard to classify and contain scenes that are simultaneously sincere and hilarious, realistic and romantic.

His works represent Hollywood’s most sustained comic expression of the 1970s and 1980s but they have not really been given their due until now . In the first ever book-length examination of one of America’s most important and least appreciated filmmakers, Wasson delves into Mazursky’s oeuvre one film at a time and touches upon the director’s life in and out of Hollywood.

In addition to 19 fascinating interviews with the director, the book contains talks with Mel Brooks (who provides the foreword), the late Jill Clayburgh (who was Oscar-nominated for her fine performance in An Unmarried Woman), writer Josh Greenfeld, Meg Mazursky (the director’s daughter), cinematographer Fred Murphy, and others who have worked with the director over the years.

The volume contains a detailed filmography and a number of never-before-seen photos.

Wasson is the author of The New York Times best seller, Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M.: Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and the Dawn of the Modern Woman (Harper) and A Splurch in the Kisser: The Movies of Blake Edwards (Wesleyan University Press). He is working on a biography of Bob Fosse.


Han ’06 Explores Changing Nature of the Web in New Book

Book by Sam Han ’06

Sam Han ’06 has written Web 2.0 (Routledge), a highly accessible introductory text which examines crucial discussions and issues surrounding the changing nature of the World Wide Web. It puts Web 2.0 in context within the history of the Web and explores its position within emerging media technologies.

The book discusses the connections between diverse media technologies including mobile smart phones, hand-held multimedia players, “netbooks” and electronic book readers such as the Amazon Kindle, all of which are made possible by the Web 2.0. The publication also considers new developments in mobile computing as it integrates various aspects of social networking, and also covers recent controversial debates that have arisen in a backlash to the Web 2.0.

Han is an Instructional Technology Fellow of the Macaulay Honors College at the City University of New York. He is the author of Navigating Technomedia: Caught in the Web and co-editor of The Race of Time: A Charles Lemert Reader.

Avitzour ’76 Writes Memoir about Losing Daughter to Long Illness

Susan Petersen Avitzour '76

Ten years ago, Susan Petersen Avitzour ’76 lost her 18-year-old daughter Timora to leukemia, after a six-year struggle. In her new memoir, And Twice the Marrow of Her Bones (ZmanMa), Avitzour deals with a number of profound personal, philosophical, and spiritual questions which face many bereaved parents. Using both narrative and a personal and philosophical journal, she takes the reader up close to the long years of her daughter’s illness and into her own emotional, intellectual, and spiritual journey after her child’s death. She addresses topics that range from food to fun to forgiveness, from pain to purpose to prayer—and ultimately considers the challenge of affirming faith and love in an unpredictable, and often cruel, universe.

The author writes:

“My goals in writing And Twice the Marrow of Her Bones were mainly two: To tell Timora’s and my stories in a way that would engross and move readers; and to write a book that would be of some comfort and/or assistance to people enduring hardship. I’ve been especially gratified that many people have told me it’s helped them deal with difficulties they are facing in their own lives, even if these difficulties are very different from those I describe in the memoir—and have thanked me for writing it.

“Creating the book was a double process. On the one hand, it was therapeutic in that it forced me to dig into deep aspects of my experience which I’d been avoiding, and to explore various facets of their meaning for me. That part was quite hard, but ultimately strengthened me. On the other, the process was deeply artistic in that I had to decide how to take my raw experience and put it into language, and fashion into a whole with integrity—a work that would be meaningful to others besides myself.”

“People often ask me if it was hard to write this particular memoir. My main difficulty was balancing my desire to tell the story of Timora’s illness and death and the need to protect my family’s privacy. One of the most serious challenges facing parents of children with serious illness is dealing with the family dynamics. I wanted to be honest about the very real difficulties, but without revealing things that my children would much rather be kept from the public eye. I eventually wrote just enough not to idealize our family—to let my readers know that a situation like ours is inevitably going to be very hard on the other children, and that parents will sometimes find themselves at a loss about what to do.”

Blacker ’76 Edits Book about Practicing Zen

Book edited by Melissa Myozen Blacker ’76

Melissa Myozen Blacker ’76 is co-editor (with James Ishmael Ford) of The Book of MU: Essential Writings on Zen’s Most Important Koan (Wisdom Publications, 2011). The word “mu” is one ancient Zen teacher’s response to the earnest question of whether even a dog has “buddha nature”—and discovering for ourselves the meaning of the master’s response is the urgent work of each of us who yearns to be free and at peace.

“Practicing Mu” is synonymous with practicing Zen, and “sitting with Mu” is an apt description for all Zen meditation. It has been said that thousands and thousands of koans in the Zen tradition are really just further elaborations of Mu.

This essential volume brings together the writings of more than 40 teachers, ancient and modern masters from across centuries and the full spectrum of the Zen world, to illuminate and clarify the essential matter: the question of how to be most truly ourselves. These writers include Dogen, Hakuin, Dahui, Thich Thien-An Zenkei Shibayama, Seung Sahn, Taizan Maezumi, Sheng Yen Philip Kapleau, Robert Aitken, Jan Chozen Bays, Shodo Harada Grace Schireson, John Daido Loori, John Tarrant Barry Magid, Joan Sutherland, and more.

Blacker is a Dharma successor to James Ishmael Ford. She is a Zen roshi and a co-founder of Boundless Way Zen, which she currently serves as a senior guiding teacher. She is also the associate director of the Stress Reduction Clinic and a director of professional training at the Center for Mindfulness, University of Massachusetts Medical School. She is resident at Mugendo-ji, the Boundless Way Temple in Worcester, Mass.

Book by Vinkovetsky ’88 Explores 19th-Century Alaska under Russian Rule

Book by Ilya Vinkovetsky '88

From 1741 until Alaska was sold to the United States in 1867, the Russian empire claimed territory and peoples in North America. In his new book, Russian America: An Overseas Colony of a Continental Empire, 1804–1867 (Oxford University Press), Ilya Vinkovetsky ’88, an assistant professor of history at Simon Fraser University, examines how Russia governed its only overseas colony. Russian America was effectively transformed from a remote extension of Russia’s Siberian frontier penetrated mainly by Siberianized Russians into an ostensibly modern overseas colony operated by Europeanized Russians.

Under the rule of the Russian-American Company, the colony was governed on different terms than the rest of the empire, a hybrid of elements carried over from Siberia and imported from rival colonial systems. Its economic, labor, and social organization reflected Russian hopes for Alaska, as well as the numerous limitations, such as its vast territory and pressures from its multiethnic residents, it imposed.

Ilya Vinkovetsky '88 in front of a Russian ship in Vancouver, during the Winter Olympics 2010

This approach was particularly evident in Russian strategies to convert the indigenous peoples of Russian America into loyal subjects of the Russian Empire. The author looks closely at Russian efforts to acculturate the native peoples, including attempts to predispose them to be more open to the Russian political and cultural influence through trade and Russian Orthodox Christianity.

This is the first book published by Oxford University Press on Alaska’s Russian colonial period since James R. Gibson’s groundbreaking Imperial Russia in Frontier America, which came out in the 1970s.

Vinkovestsky says: “My interest in history was fostered at Wesleyan, where I was a history major and took many courses in American and Russian history and also several courses in cultural anthropology. Wesleyan’s history program of the 1980s was an excellent preparation for graduate study in the field.”

“I took memorable history courses with Richard Buel, Philip Pomper, Donald Meyer, Richard Elphick, Ann Wightman, Ronald Schatz, and Vera Schwarcz. I am grateful to them all, and in particular, to Richard Buel, who persuaded me to write a senior thesis, which he also supervised.

“I am also grateful to James Gutmann, my geology professor at Wesleyan, who urged me to do something important with my life. Although this book is not what he had in mind, Jim Gutmann’s admonition struck a chord, and I made an effort to heed his advice—to a degree.”

Baltzell ’87 Writes Guide to Becoming a Better Performer

Amy Baltzell '87

Amy Baltzell ’87 is the author of Living in the Sweet Spot: Preparing for Performance in Sport and Life (Fitness Information Technology), an inspiring guide to getting ready for life’s big performances. The author integrates the best of the new field of positive psychology with the essentials of sport psychology.

Every chapter contains practical, effective reflective exercises that will help readers rise to the challenge of performing at their best when it counts. The book is divided into three parts: The Building Blocks of a Champion Approach, Preparing for Performance and Competition, and The Day of Performance.

Readers will learn how to strengthen their experience of daily fulfillment and concurrently make the most of the big moments when they occur. Top athletes and musicians, and the author herself, who was an Olympian and an America’s Cup sailor, share experiences about the issues they have faced under pressure as performers.

Baltzell directs the sport psychology program and is a professor in the School of Education at Boston University. She was inducted into Wesleyan’s Athletics Hall of Fame in 2010.

Book by Sinnreich ’94 Studies High-Tech Music Culture

Book by Aram Sinnreich '94.

Aram Sinnreich ’94 is the author of Mashed Up: Music, Technology and the Rise of Configurable Culture (University of Massachusetts Press) in which he chronicles the rise of “configurability,” an emerging musical and cultural moment rooted in today’s global, networked communications infrastructure. For his book, Sinnreich interviewed dozens of prominent DJs, attorneys, and music industry executives and argues that today’s battles over sampling, file sharing, and the marketability of new styles such as “mash-ups” and “techno” foretells social change on a broader scale.

For centuries, music has possessed a unique power to evoke emotions, signal identity, and bond or divide entire societies, all without the benefit of literal representation. According to Sinnreich, this power helps to explain why music has so often been regulated in societies around the globe and throughout history. Institutional authorities ranging from dynastic China’s “Office to Harmonize Sounds” to today’s copyright collecting societies like BMI and ASCAP leverage the rule of law and the power of the market to ensure that some musical forms and practices are allowed while others are prohibited.

In spite of these powerful regulators, musical cultures consistently come up with new and innovative ways to work around institutional regulations. These workarounds often generate new styles and traditions in turn, with effects far beyond the cultural sphere.

In the book’s preface, Sinnreich notes that as a Wesleyan student, he immersed himself in the University’s “stellar music and ethnolomusicology program.” He says, “I was exposed for the first time to innovative music theorists such as Anthony Braxton and Alvin Lucier, and to new (for me) musical traditions, from locales as diverse as Ghana, South India, and Indonesia. … I developed a deeper cultural competency in the African American musical styles of the 1970s and 1980s … as well as in dub and dancehall reggae. Given how deeply the hip-hop of the 1980s and 1990s drew on these traditions, it makes sense that I would gain a fuller appreciation of this newer music only once I had further developed my historical musical lexicon.”

Mashed Up will appeal to audiences interested in musicology, digital rights, street culture, and related subjects.

Kim ’03 Translates Best-Selling Korean Novel about Missing Mother

Chi-Young Kim '03

Chi-Young Kim ’03 has translated the international best-selling Korean novel, Please Look After Mom (Knopf), which recounts the story of a family’s search for their mother, who disappears one afternoon amid the crowds of the Seoul Station subway. The novel is told from the points of view of four of the family members.

In a review of the novel in The New York Times, Mythili G. Rao writes: “Shin’s prose, intimate and hauntingly spare in this translation by Chi-Young Kim, moves from first to second and third person, and powerfully conveys grief’s bewildering immediacy.”

The Korea Times wrote that Please Look After Mom “would not have made a sensational international debut without professional translator Kim Chi-young. The 30-year-old Korean-American suspended her law practice to devote herself to translating Korean literature.”

The newspaper also profiled Kim as a translator following in her mother’s footsteps. Kim comments about her work: “It makes me feel good to help those who don’t speak Korean learn more about Korean literature, and what many Koreans love and cherish.”

Based in Los Angeles, Kim is the recipient of the Daesan Foundation Translation Grant in 2005 and 2008, and the 34th Modern Korean Literature Translation Award in 2003. Her other translations include Kyung Ran Jo’s Tongue (Bloomsbury, 2009), Young-ha Kim’s Your Republic Is Calling You (Mariner Books, 2010) and I Have the Right to Destroy Myself (Harvest Books, 2007), and Lee Dong-ha’s Toy City (Koryo Press, 2007)..