Monthly Archives: June 2007

Review: Santner, On Creaturely Life

June 7, 2007
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Review: Santner, On Creaturely Life

Eric Santner’s new book On Creaturely Life: Rilke, Benjamin, Sebald, recently received an enthusiastic review by Ross Wilson in the Times Literary Supplement. Wilson’s review begins: What is life? What kind of beings are human beings? Despite their forbidding enormity, these questions have received sustained scrutiny in contemporary political theory, philosophy, literary theory, and criticism.… Eric L. Santner’s fascinating, difficult book is a significant contribution to this attempt to specify what is human about human life and, indeed, what is meant by “life” to begin with. Ross not only praises Santner’s book as “the most urgently relevant sort of intellectual history” but explains its relation to the work of the Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben, and provides a lucid gloss of its main arguments: “Creaturely life” is not simple biological life, then, but the “zero degree of social existence”; it is that minimum of human life, closest to animal life, which is caught up in the antagonisms of the political.” Two years ago we posted an essay by Santner that offered a highly topical rehearsal of these ideas—an account of Terry Schiavo and Abu Ghraib as “two faces of the state of exception in which political power takes a direct hold . . .

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Review: Boyers, Honey with Tobacco

June 7, 2007
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Review: Boyers, Honey with Tobacco

Robert Pinsky recently featured Peg Boyers’ latest book of poems Honey with Tobacco in his “Poet’s Choice” column in the Washington Post. Pinsky writes: Cuban life before Castro has supplied American poetry with rich, ambiguous material. An engaging, poignant group of poems in Peg Boyers’s new book, Honey with Tobacco, includes childhood memories of that time. Boyers declines mere nostalgia, as in this poem that scrutinizes pleasure-seeking, a leisured class, even memory itself, with a cool attention, analytical as well as sympathetic.… PLAYA COLORADA It was a beach like all beaches, only perhaps more beautiful. And the sand was pink not red. We would arrive in caravans, hampers overflowing with food and drink like Aziz and his party on the way to Malabar. The colonials and their servants away on an outing. We would stop under thatch umbrellas, towels and tablecloths spread out against the sea. My mother in her skirted swim suit surrounded by fathers of other children, her olive skin lit through her straw hat. They would laugh and drink beer and leer while the children did the usual beach things, boring futile tunnels to China, running at waves and then away, daring each other to be swallowed. . . .

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Printers Row Book Fair this Weekend

June 6, 2007
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Printers Row Book Fair this Weekend

The annual Printers Row Book Fair is this weekend, June 9-10, in the historic Printers Row district in Chicago’s south loop. Along with more than a hundred publishers and bookstores plying their wares, the fair offers the opportunity to meet firsthand the literary masterminds behind some wonderful UCP books, including readings and author signings from: Joel Greenberg, author of A Natural History of the Chicago Region and Sally A. Kitt Chappell author of Chicago’s Urban Nature: A Guide to the City’s Architecture + Landscape. June 9, 3:00 pm at Grace Place, Sanctuary, second floor. Carl Smith author of The Plan of Chicago: Daniel Burnham and the Remaking of the American City. June 10, 1:00 pm at the Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry stage. Mary Pattillo, author of Black on the Block: The Politics of Race and Class in the City. June 10, 1:30 pm at University Center / Private Dining Room. Paul D’Amato author of Barrio: Photographs from Chicago’s Pilsen and Little Village. June 10, 3:30 pm at University Center / Private Dining Room. The University of Chicago Press will be located in Tent A at Congress and Dearborn and will be offering books from the above authors and many more. Check . . .

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Review: Attlee, Isolarion

June 5, 2007
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Review: Attlee, Isolarion

James Attlee’s new book Isolarion: A Different Oxford Journey received a positive review by Paul Kingsnorth in the Independent. Kingsnorth—an Oxford resident himself— writes: Oxford’s supposedly dreaming spires have been committed to print so often that you’d have thought there’d be nothing we don’t know about the city now. Yet James Attlee shows otherwise with a book about the last part of Oxford that remains colorful, wild, unpredictable and, for the moment, untouched by the dead hand of “regeneration.”… Its subject, the Cowley Road, … is a ramshackle, multicultural mélange, the old track through the marshes between Oxford and Cowley village, now home to a mix of races and religions, strung with halal butchers, flotation centers, porn shops and pawn brokers, Chinese herbalists, Caribbean fishmongers, Russian grocers, pubs and mosques.… It’s my neighborhood, and I thought I knew it pretty well. But Isolarion has made me think, not just about local history and the hidden everyday, but about religion and philosophy, democracy and social change. More than a day trip, Kingsnorth notes in Isolarion “Attlee’s aim is to make a pilgrimage: ‘Why make a journey to the other side of the world when the world has come to you?’… Attlee . . .

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Press Release: Gosnell, Ice

June 5, 2007
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Press Release: Gosnell, Ice

More brittle than glass, at times stronger than steel, at other times flowing like molasses, ice covers 10 percent of the earth’s land and 7 percent of its oceans. In Ice: The Nature, the History, and the Uses of an Astonishing Substance author Mariana Gosnell explores the history and uses of ice in all its complexity, grandeur, and significance. From the freezing of Pleasant Lake in New Hampshire to the breakup of a Vermont river at the onset of spring, from the frozen Antarctic landscape that emperor penguins inhabit to the cold, watery route bowhead whales take between Arctic ice floes, Gosnell examines icebergs, icicles, and frostbite; sea ice and permafrost; ice on Mars and in the rings of Saturn; and several new forms of ice developed in labs. A record of the scientific surprises, cultural magnitude, and everyday uses of frozen water, Ice is a sparkling illumination of a substance whose ebbs and flows over time have helped form the world we live in. Read the press release. . . .

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The Miss Manners of Chicago Style

June 1, 2007
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The Miss Manners of Chicago Style

Today’s issue of the the Chicago Reader—the Spring Books Special—has a nice little feature about the writer of The Chicago Manual of Style Q&A. But if you’re hoping that the identity of the Q&A writer will at long last be revealed to all the world … you’ll be disappointed to learn that the woman behind the wit of the Q&A has adopted a pseudonym, Jody Fisher. Every month new entries are published to the The Chicago Manual of Style Q&A. Here’s one from this month’s lot: Q. Is it really necessary to include “as” before “per”? For example, “Client has requested, as per original agreement, two hard copies of all reports.” Since “per” means “according to,” can’t we just delete the unnecessary (and wordy-looking) “as”? Thank you, great gurus, for your wisdom! A. It is not necessary to add “as.” In fact, it used to be considered incorrect, and sticklers still feel superior when they slash through it. . . .

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Press Release: Shulman, Dark Hope

June 1, 2007
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Press Release: Shulman, Dark Hope

On the eve of yet another effort at forging a lasting peace in Israel and Palestine, American-born Israeli David Shulman takes readers into the heart of the long-running conflict with Dark Hope: Working for Peace in Israel and Palestine, an eye-opening memoir that reveals the unforgettable human stories behind the angry faces and despairing pronouncements. A soul-searching memoir, Dark Hope chronicles the efforts of Shulman and his companions—Israeli and Palestinian both—in the peace group Ta’ayush to bring aid to Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza. In the face of hostile settlers, police, and soldiers, the members of Ta’ayush work through checkpoints and blockades to deliver food, medicine, and basic human comfort. By focusing on the human dimension of the occupation, Shulman forcefully clarifies its inherent injustice. We meet ardent partisans on both sides—but we also see ordinary people radicalized by conflict. Settlers shoot innocent Palestinians harvesting olives, soldiers blow up houses, police savagely beat nonviolent demonstrators, and families and communities are irrevocably destroyed. With Dark Hope, Shulman has written an unforgettable book, an attempt to discover how his beloved Israel went wrong—and how it might still be brought back. Read the press release. Read an excerpt from the . . .

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