Tag Archive for books

Wolfe ’68 Translates Ancient Greek Epitaphs

Michael Wolfe '68

Michael Wolfe ’68

In his new collection Cut These Words into My Stone: Ancient Greek Epitaphs (Johns Hopkins University Press), Michael Wolfe ’68 brings together his English translations of ancient Greek epitaphs, with a foreword by Richard Martin, a classics professor at Stanford University. Greek epitaphs, considered by some scholars to be the earliest artful writing in Western Europe, are short celebrations of the lives of a rich cross section of society that help form a vivid portrait of an ancient era.

Book by Michael Wolfe '68

Book by Michael Wolfe ’68

Wolfe divides his book into five chronological sections spanning 1,000 years, beginning with the Late Archaic and Classical periods and ending with Late Antiquity. The book also features contextual comments, notes, biographies of the poets, and a bibliography. General readers should find this well-researched scholarly endeavor accessible and entertaining, as it covers a wide variety of individuals and even some animals.

At Wesleyan, Wolfe studied classics, graduating Phi Beta Kappa. While writing this book, Wolfe drew on several deep Wesleyan ties: Andy Gaus ’68, Wolfe’s classmate and friend of many years, helped review and improve many of the translations; poet Richard Wilbur, with whom Wolfe studied, wrote a comment included on the back cover of the book; and Kevin Whitfield, Wolfe’s professor of Greek, is thanked in the dedication.

Wolfe is a poet, author, and film producer who has taught writing and literature at Phillips Exeter Academy and the University of California, as well as other secondary schools and universities. An occasional speaker on Islamic issues, he and his works have received many awards.

Author website

Novak MA ’99 Explores Underground Music Genre

David Novak MA '99

David Novak MA ’99

For his new study Japanoise (Duke University Press), David Novak MA ’99 has conducted more than a decade of research in Japan and the United States to trace the “cultural feedback” that generates and sustains Noise.

Noise is an underground music—made through an amalgam of feedback, distortion, and electronic effects—that first emerged as a genre in the 1980s, circulating on cassette tapes traded between fans in Japan, Europe, and North America. This unusual kind of music has captured the imagination of a small but passionate transnational audience, characterized by its cultivated obscurity, ear-shattering sound, and over-the-top performances. For its dedicated listeners, Noise always seems to be new and to originate from elsewhere: in North America, it was called “Japanoise.”

Book by David Novak MA '99

Book by David Novak MA ’99

Novak’s book is a lively ethnographic account of live performances, the circulation of recordings, and the lives and creative practices of musicians and listeners. The author examines the technologies of Noise and the productive distortions of its networks. He also describes musical circulation through sound and listening, recording and performance, international exchange, and the social interpretations of media. Chapters are devoted to “Scenes of Liveness and Deadness,” “Sonic Maps of the Japanese Underground,”  “Genre Noise,” “Feedback, Subjectivity, and Performance,” “The Future of Cassette Culture,” and more.

Novak is an assistant professor of music at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Harris ’98 Studies Multinational Trade Route

harris.tina

Tina Harris ’98

In her new book Geographical Diversions  (The University of Georgia Press), Tina Harris ’98 employs cultural anthropology, human geography, and material culture to explore the social and economic transformations that take place along one trade route that extends through China, Nepal, Tibet, and India. She makes connections between the seemingly mundane motions of daily life and more abstract levels of global change by focusing on two generations of traders and how they create “geographies of trade that work against state ideas of what trade routes should look like.”  She observes the tensions between the apparent fixity of invisible national boundaries and the mobility of the local individuals. The book as a whole challenges and confronts established theories on an innovative smaller-scale perspective.

Book by Tina Harris '98

Book by Tina Harris ’98

Harris considers what allows the traders along one trade route to make their own places through their markets and their way of life. She focuses on the effects of new infrastructure due to the economic rise of China and India on places that are rarely covered by international media. Alongside her detailed written analysis of the trade route, Harris provides numerous photographs to give readers a more visual sense of the world they are reading about. These pictures include a mule caravan loaded with Tibetan wool near Pharia, circa 1930s; a sign on National Highway 31A on the road to Gangtok, and the reopening ceremony that took place in July of 2006.

Author website

Desai ’03 to Release New Collection of Short Stories

Tejas Desai '03

Tejas Desai ’03 signs a copy of his book.

Tejas Desai ’03, author of The Brotherhood and creator of The New Wei Collective, will release Dhan’s Debut and Other Stories, his first collection of short stories, this fall.

Desai’s previous novel, The Brotherhood, the first book in The Brotherhood Trilogy, is a noir thriller that deals with contemporary social issues facing the Indian-American population.While at Wesleyan he wrote a collection of short stories with the same title and similar themes. Reworked over the years into its current version, the novel expresses Desai’s interest in “the different ideologies inherent in Hinduism and Buddhism, differences of personality and outlook, the relationship between individual and community,” topics that have fascinated him since childhood. The Evil Parrot Book Club (“book reviews by an average bloke”) says that the novel “keeps you guessing all the way to the nerve-wracking conclusion.”

Dhan’s Debut is part of a different series, The Human Tragedy, which Desai plans to alternate with The Brotherhood Trilogy. The short story collection deals with darker aspects of contemporary American life that most fiction today won’t delve into: conflicts of class, race, and extreme psychologies. “Most collections today have cute themes, boring characters, are humorless and devoid of true social or psychological significance,” Desai says. “I want to revitalize the short story collection with Dhan’s Debut. Eventually I hope to create a panoramic portrait of our diverse society with The Human Tragedy, employing a wide range of styles, characters, and situations.”

Desai’s interest in self-publishing has led him to create his own publishing company and literary movement, The New Wei.

“Publishers, both major and small, are only interested in ‘safe’ writers they can fit into an already defined market.  I want to be a dynamic writer who creates his own aesthetic and his own market, and I want to promote authors who have the courage to do the same.”  Desai believes that self-publishing, which already accounts for the majority of books published today, will eventually evolve into author collectives, and he wants to create the first.

Desai offers this advice to struggling authors: “Keep writing.  Write every day.  Rewrite and revise constantly.  Take breaks.  Writing is like exercising a muscle.  One day you will just feel it. And if you feel you have what it takes to join my collective and movement, contact me.”

For more information see:

http://www.amazon.com/Brotherhood-Trilogy-1/dp/0988351927/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1371233438&sr=1-1

http://wesconnect.wesleyan.edu/s/1318/index_social.aspx?&gid=1&pgid=2457&crid=0

http://thenewwei.tumblr.com/

http://evilparrotbookclub.wordpress.com/2013/05/17/the-brotherhood-by-tejas-desai/

http://vaultofbooks.com/author-interviews/conversation-tejas-desai

 

 

Northcutt ’97 Co-Edits College Advice Guide

Frances Northcutt '97

Frances Northcutt ’97

Frances Northcutt ’97 is the co-editor with Scott Silverman of the newly revised 5th edition of How to Survive Your Freshman Year (Hundreds of Heads Books), which offers tips and advice directly from students on today’s campuses. This guide for those heading off to college was compiled from interviews with hundreds of students at more than 120 colleges across the country. Northcutt, who most recently has been an honors advisor and admissions reader for Macaulay Honors College of the City University of New York, contributes her expert guidance and helpful commentary.

College guide edited by Frances Northcutt '97

College guide co-edited by Frances Northcutt ’97

Chapters of the book are devoted to such topics as what to take to college, leaving home, roommates, choosing classes, how to study, working and finances, fashion and laundry, food issues, dating and sex, vacations and study abroad, and keeping in touch and setting boundaries with family members.

In her biography at the end of the book, Northcutt notes that “it was her work-study job at the Wesleyan University campus post office that first inspired her to seek a career in student affairs. She loved working at the post office window, where she explained all the complicated postage options to students, faculty, and staff … During her senior year, she made the move from the post office to the registrar’s office. She also helped to start a peer advising program.”

Hessekiel ’82 Co-Writes Guide to Mixing Social Causes and Commerce

David Hessekiel '82

David Hessekiel ’82

David Hessekiel ’82 is co-author with Philip Kotler and Nancy Lee of Good Works! Marketing and Corporate Initiatives that Build a Better World … and the Bottom Line (John Wiley and Sons), a guide that offers actionable advice on integrating marketing and corporate social initiatives into broader business goals. The book suggests that purpose-driven marketing has moved from a nice-to-do to a must-do for businesses and explains how to balance social and business goals.

Book by David Hessekiel '82

Book by David Hessekiel ’82

The book’s introduction explores why some marketing and corporate social initiatives fail and others succeed and then looks at six social initiatives for doing well by doing good. Other chapters consider how corporate managers and staff can choose the most appropriate issues, best partners, and highest potential initiatives. A final section devoted to nonprofits and public sector agencies seeking corporate support offers advice on how to create mutually beneficial partnerships.

The authors provide guidance on the effective execution of marketing campaigns, including persuading consumers to join your company in supporting a good cause; supporting product sales and consumer engagement by linking them to donations; changing the way you do businesses to achieve a worthwhile social outcome; and dealing with cynics and critics.

Hessekiel is president of the Cause Marketing Forum (www.causemarketing forum.com). A blogger for Forbes, MediaPost and the Huffington Post, he is a frequently quoted industry analyst and speaks regularly about cause marketing and corporate social responsibility to business and NGO audiences.

Igler ’88 Writes History of Pacific World Travels During 1770s–1840s

David Igler '88

David Igler ’88

David Igler ’88 has written the new history book, The Great Ocean: Pacific Worlds from Captain Cook to the Gold Rush (Oxford University Press), the first book to combine American, oceanic, and world history in a vivid portrayal of travels in the Pacific world. He researched hundreds of documented voyages to explore the commercial, cultural, and ecological upheavals following Captain Cook’s exploits, and concentrated on the eastern Pacific in the decades between the 1770s and the 1840s.

Book by David Igler '88

Book by David Igler ’88

Igler starts with the expansion of trade as seen via the travels of William Shaler, captain of the American Brig Lelia Byrd. Soon he reveals a world where voyagers, traders, hunters, and native peoples met one another in episodes often marked by violence and tragedy. Some of his accounts tell how indigenous communities struggled against introduced diseases that cut through the heart of their communities; how the ordeal of Russian Timofei Tarakanov typified the common practice of taking hostages and prisoners; how Mary Brewster witnessed first-hand the bloody “great hunt” that decimated otters, seals, and whales; and how James Dwight Dana rivaled Charles Darwin in his pursuit of knowledge on a global scale.

In an article about Igler’s book on Verso, the blog of the Huntington Library in San Marino, California, Matt Stevens writes: “Igler has made excellent use of the rare books and manuscripts at The Huntington, but he came to appreciate all the material that tends to fall outside the definition of ‘special collections’—that is, published journals and other reference materials that occupy the general stacks.

“ ‘Whenever I was jotting down notes at The Huntington,’ says Igler, ‘I would often stop and look up a source. Sure enough, the book was here, and I would go grab it. So being on site was instrumental to my ability to complete my book.’ ”

Igler is associate professor of history at the University of California, Irvine. His books include Industrial Cowboys: Miller & Lux and the Transformation of the Far West, 1850–1920 and The Human Tradition in California.

Heller ’04 Writes First Biography of Architect Edmund Bacon

Gregory Heller '04

Gregory Heller ’04

Gregory Heller ’04 is the author of Ed Bacon: Planning, Politics, and the Building of Modern Philadelphia (University of Pennsylvania Press), the first biography of the controversial architect and urban planner.

A book launch will be held on Thursday, May 16 at the Center for Architecture in Philadelphia (1218 Arch Street) at 6 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. Go to http://hellergreg.ticketleap.com/edbacon/ for more information.

In the mid-20th century, Edmund Bacon worked on shaping urban America as many Americans left cities to pursue life in suburbia. As director of the Philadelphia City Planning Commission, Bacon forged new approaches to neighborhood development and elevated Philadelphia’s image to the level of great world cities. He oversaw the planning and implementation of dozens of redesigned urban space, including the restored colonial neighborhood of Society Hill, the new office development of Penn Center, and the transit-oriented shopping center of Market East.

Biography by Gregory Heller '04

Biography by Gregory Heller ’04

Heller traces the career of Bacon’s two-decade tenure as city planning director, which coincided with a transformational period in American planning history. He was a larger-than-life personality, and Heller argues his successes owed as much to his savvy negotiation of city politics and the pragmatic particulars of his vision.

In a recent interview with the Philadelphia Weekly Press, Heller revealed that he became interested in Bacon while completing an internship with the Philadelphia City Planning Commission while he was attending Wesleyan. Heller was able to meet with Bacon, who asked him to write his memoir. Heller took a year off from college to complete it and was then approached by a publisher to write a biography about Bacon. The author wrote his college thesis on Bacon and brought the architect to campus his senior year.

In his introduction, Heller writes: “We study history to understand the past but also to glean lessons for the present and the future. … Despite his shortcomings, Bacon’s ability to bridge the worlds of the visionary and active political actor was rare in 1949 and remains perhaps rarer today.”

Heller is a practitioner in the fields of economic development and urban planning. He is senior advisor at Econsult Solutions, Inc. in Philadelphia. His writing on city planning has appeared in Next American City, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and Imagining Philadelphia: Edmund Bacon and the Future of the City, also available from the University of Pennsylvania Press.

Behar ’77 Writes New Memoir

Ruth Behar '77 (Photo: Gabriel Frye-Behar)

Ruth Behar ’77 (Photo: Gabriel Frye-Behar)

Storyteller and cultural anthropologist Ruth Behar ’77 is the author of Traveling Heavy: A Memoir Between Journeys (Duke University Press), in which she recounts her life as an immigrant child and later, as an adult woman who loves to travel but is terrified of boarding a plane. Behar shares moving stories about her Yiddish-Sephardic-Cuban-American family, as well as the kind strangers she meets on her travels. The author refers to herself an anthropologist who specializes in homesickness and repeatedly returning to her homeland of Cuba. She asks the question why we leave home to find home.

Kirkus Reviews writes: “A heartfelt witness to the changing political and emotional landscape of the Cuban-American experience.”

Memoir by Ruth Behar '77

Memoir by Ruth Behar ’77

Behar is the Victor Haim Perera Collegiate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Michigan. She is the author of many books, including An Island Called Home: Returning to Jewish Cuba; The Vulnerable Observer: Anthropology That Breaks Your Heart; and Translated Woman: Crossing the Border with Esperanza’s Story, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. Behar also is a poet, a fiction writer, and a documentary filmmaker. She wrote, directed, and produced Adio Kerida (Goodbye Dear Love), a film that has been shown at film festivals around the world. She has received many prizes, including a MacArthur “Genius” Award.

Ruth Behar website

First Novel by Pye ’82 Is Set in China

Virginia Pye '82 (Photo by Terry Brown)

Virginia Pye ’82 (Photo by Terry Brown)

Virginia Pye ’82 has published her first novel, River of Dust (Unbridled Books), which begins on the windswept plains of northwestern China not long after the Boxer Rebellion. Mongol bandits kidnap the young son of an American missionary couple. As the Reverend sets out in search of the child, he quickly loses himself in the rugged, drought-stricken countryside populated by opium dens, nomadic warlords, and traveling circuses. Grace, his young wife, pregnant with their second child, takes to her sick bed in the mission compound, and has visions of her stolen child and lost husband. The foreign couple’s dedicated Chinese servants, Ahcho and Mai Lin, accompany and eventually lead them through dangerous territory to find one another again.

Novel by Virginia Pye '82

Novel by Virginia Pye ’82

This novel was inspired in part by journals of Pye’s grandfather, who was himself an early missionary in China. The author’s father was born and raised in China and became an eminent political scientist and sinologist.

Pye holds an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College and has taught writing at the University of Pennsylvania and New York University. A three-term president of James River Writers, a literary nonprofit in Richmond, Virginia, she writes award-winning short stories that have appeared in numerous literary magazines, including The North American Review, Tampa Review and The Baltimore Review. She currently lives in Richmond.

For more information see the Virginia Pye website.

Roach ’81 Explores Alimentary Canal in Latest Book

Mary Roach

Mary Roach ’81 (Photo by Chris Hardy)

Best-selling author Mary Roach 81 has just published her latest gift to readers, Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal (W. W. Norton), in which she takes a memorable tour inside and outside of the body. Her fascinating book on the process of eating brings readers upclose with the bodily equipment that turns food into the nutrients and sustenance that keeps us ticking.

On her quest for knowledge of the digestive tract, Roach meets with professors and technicians, murderers, mad scientists, Eskimos, exorcists, rabbis and other unique characters. She is fearless in asking taboo and embarrassing questions with relish and humor. Questions such as: Why doesn’t the stomach digest itself? How much can you eat before your stomach bursts? Can constipation kill you?

Book by Mary Roach ’81

In her rave review in The New York Times, Janet Maslin writes: “Never has Ms. Roach’s affinity for the comedic and bizarre been put to better use. … Gulp is a big leap forward for Ms. Roach because it doesn’t require her to do any padding or stunt work. Simply thinking about the body and interviewing the most oddball experts she can find are enough to rivet interest. And the circumstances she describes are sometimes hilarious, sometimes repellent, never dull. She’s at her cheeriest in describing rectal smuggling of items into prison, which is a more creative enterprise than you might imagine.”

Mary Roach talks to The New York Times Dining Journal

Roach interview with NPR

Roach is a guest on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart

Rommelmann ’83 Writes Book of Dark Short Stories

Nancy Rommelmann '83

Nancy Rommelmann ’83 has released Transportation (Dymaxicon), a new book of short stories. A journalist as well as an author, Rommelmann writes with an unflinching documentarian gaze, focusing on the dreams, delusions, and occasionally criminal behaviors of subjects like serial killers, con men, and homeless teens.

In her new collection, Rommelmann tells stories that lean towards science fiction at points and towards magical realism at others. The opening story, “The White Coyote,” is a piece of black humor about a creature injected at birth with human DNA and its shaming at a Catholic grade school gymnasium. In “X-Girl,” a woman taunts a butcher and ignores his threats of punishment, while “Balzek” focuses on an artist determined to eat his own body for an exhibition.

Rommelmann is the author of the novel The Bad Mother, about Hollywood’s population of street kids, and the memoir The Queens of Montague Street, about growing up in Brooklyn Heights in the 1970s.  Her work has appeared in the LA Weekly, the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times Magazine, and Byliner.