Monthly Archives: October 2008

Children’s books for adults

October 16, 2008
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Children’s books for adults

Adults looking for something to read during the American Library Association’s Teen Read Week October 12 to 18 should look no further than Seth Lerer’s Children’s Literature: A Reader’s History from Aesop to Harry Potter. Amid other revelations about teen staples from Judy Blume novels to the Harry Potter series, Lerer shows that the category of Young Adult literature was originally created to keep “offensive” materials off the children’s shelves of libraries. His breadth, ecompassing centuries of books for children of all ages, virtually guarantees that you’ll discover something new in Children’s Literature about a book you loved as a kid. Chicagoans can even make those discoveries in person, when Lerer presents his book tonight at the Newberry Library (which, on a related note, currently has a great exhibition featuring its collection of children’s books–700 years worth of them). If you’re not able to make it, you can at least console yourself with this excerpt. . . .

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Chicago Audio Works Podcast: Episode 2

October 16, 2008
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Chicago Audio Works Podcast: Episode 2

In the second episode of the Chicago Audio Works podcast we feature an interview with Jan Van Meter, author of Tippecanoe and Tyler Too: Famous Slogans and Catchphrases in American History. Host Chris Gondek talks with Van Meter about the various slogans and catchphrases that permeate our public culture—from Theodore Roosevelt’s “speak softly and carry a big stick,” to the Virginia Slims marketing slogan “You’ve come a long way, baby”—and their profound influence on American values, beliefs, and politics. Chicago Audio Works is produced by Chris Gondek of Heron & Crane and the Invisible Hand. This and previous episodes of Chicago Audio Works are also available from iTunes and other digital media aggregators. See all audio and video available from the University of Chicago Press. . . .

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Patrick Burke on the Birth of Cool

October 15, 2008
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Patrick Burke on the Birth of Cool

Now that his Come In and Hear the Truth: Jazz and Race on 52nd Street is out, UCP author and Washington University professor Patrick Burke stopped by the studios of KWUR 90.3 FM to talk jazz on Kemper Art Waves, a bi-weekly radio show that connects St. Louis arts and visual culture to the Washington University community and beyond. The conversation focuses on the coolest of them all, Miles Davis, and features Professor Burke’s analysis of the term “cool.” Whether discussing St. Louis’s native son (Davis was born in Alton, Illinois, and later moved to East St. Louis) or the two-block stretch of 52nd Street in Manhattan that was the center of the jazz world in the mid-1930s and the late ’40s (as he does in his book), Professor Burke proves to be one cool cat himself. Check out the podcast of this session, and the next time you are in St. Louis, drop by the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum and say hello to former Press exhibits manager Kimberly Singer! . . .

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Another plot twist in the murder of Anna Politkovskaya

October 15, 2008
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Another plot twist in the murder of Anna Politkovskaya

The New York Times reported today that French police discovered toxic mercury pellets in the car of human rights lawyer Karinna Moskalenko, one day before pretrial hearings in Moscow into the murder of one of her best-known clients, journalist and author Anna Politkovskaya. Politkovskaya’s writing garnered worldwide attention for her coverage of the brutal conflict in Chechnya. She published hundreds of articles in Novaya gazeta, some of which are collected in A Small Corner of Hell: Dispatches from Chechnya published in 2003. On October 7, 2006 Anna Politkovskaya was found shot to death in her Moscow apartment. As she was a vocal critic of Vladimir Putin, Chechen Prime Minister (now President) Ramzan Kadyrov, and both sides in the Chechen wars, speculation as to possible political motives for her death abounded. In August of 2007 ten suspects were arrested. Three of those suspects—including two Chechen brothers, Dzhabrail and Ibragim Makhmudov and a former police officer, Sergei Khadzhikurbanov—were set to go on trial, with preliminary hearings beginning today. The judge refused a request to delay the trial until Ms. Moskalenko recovered from mercury poisoning. To find out more about the recent developments in the case of the murder of Anna Politkovskaya read . . .

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The Great Chicago Book Sale a Great Success!

October 15, 2008
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The Great Chicago Book Sale a Great Success!

The University of Chicago Press held its first public book sale in 26 years on October 7 and 8 at International House in Hyde Park. Thousands of book lovers took this rare opportunity to buy Chicago books at deep discounts. With more than 20,000 books available—all at less than $5 each, the selection included everything from anthropology through zoology. The next sale will be held in 2034. (Just kidding.) . . .

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Press Release: Atkinson, Mean

October 15, 2008
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Press Release: Atkinson, Mean

In the appropriately titled Mean, Colette LaBouff Atkinson’s speakers confront a series of cruel lovers, estranged ex-husbands and ex-ex-wives, neglectful parents, disrespectful children, menacing drunks, would-be rapists, well-meaning but ineffectual teachers, and that annoying kid in first grade who wouldn’t leave you alone. Managing to “say” what most of us would only think but never dare speak out loud, this stunning debut collection reveals that the horrors and cruelty we experience in everyday life can turn out to be very real indeed. But Atkinson does not merely rake her subjects across the coals: she deftly exposes, instead, how the world mirrors back to us our own meanness, lending it a truth and a history. In forty-three deadpan, often merciless prose poems that are masterpieces of the form, Mean lays bare the darkness within the narrator’s heart as well as in ours. Read the press release. . . .

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Beyond Le Clézio, a world of literature

October 14, 2008
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Beyond Le Clézio, a world of literature

Last week, before the Swedish Academy awarded the 2008 Nobel Prize in literature to Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio, Academy secretary Horace Engdahl caused a bit of a kerfuffle by suggesting that “The US is too isolated, too insular. They don’t translate enough and don’t really participate in the big dialogue of literature. That ignorance is restraining.” Notwithstanding GalleyCat’s recent musing on how “Engdahl makes the leap from American publishers not cranking out more world literature in translation to American novelists not being as good as their European counterparts,” it’s true that books in translation make up only about three percent of U.S. publishers’ output. UCP, happily, has made a healthy contribution to the three percent. We are perhaps best known in this arena for making French philosophy available to American readers, but our long list of books in translation also includes works that range from Le Clézio’s The Mexican Dream and the epic The Journey to the West to a wide selection of Friedrich Dürrenmatt’s writings and Rumi’s mystical poems. Providing an insider’s view of this world of literature, Mary Ann Caws‘s Surprised in Translation celebrates the occasional and fruitful peculiarity that results from some of the most flavorful translations . . .

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Some spots of time in the life of Norman Maclean

October 13, 2008
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Some spots of time in the life of Norman Maclean

Since its publication in 1976, Norman Maclean’s novella A River Runs Through It has become an American classic, earning him comparison to the likes of Thoreau and Hemingway. Maclean published only three short works of fiction during his lifetime, one of which was A River Runs Through It. None were published until after he retired, at the age of 71, from his career as a professor at the University of Chicago. In a recent article for the Wall Street Journal Joseph Rago asks: “how did this retired professor bring off such accomplished work on his first attempt? And how did he then manage, just as remarkably, to produce a haunting work of nonfiction, the posthumously published Young Men and Fire, Maclean’s exploration of a deadly Montana forest fire in 1949?” Rago continues: The Norman Maclean Reader points us toward an answer. Smartly edited by O. Alan Weltzien of the University of Montana, the book brings together manuscripts and letters found among Maclean’s papers after his death in 1990, as well as hard-to-find essays, lectures and interviews. Maclean did not draw a distinction between his life and his fiction, and the material in the Reader, much of it available for the . . .

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Negative campaigning defended

October 13, 2008
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Negative campaigning defended

Like many political observers, we noticed a troubling change in the tenor of the campaign last week: angry (and ill-informed) crowds at rallies, a passionately divided electorate, and increasingly negative campaign ads. But, according to John G. Geer, author of In Defense of Negativity: Attack Ads in Presidential Campaigns, “the real source of negativity in presidential campaigns is not attack ads themselves but the coverage of them by the news media.” In an op-ed published on Politico late last month, Greer said “negative” is a subjective term, and that’s just the problem. “When the definition of ‘negative’ is shaped by one’s position on the ideological spectrum, we should worry.” Also, there are, he pointed out, positive aspects of so-called negative ads: “They are more specific and documented than are positive ads. And they’re more likely to be about the important issues facing the nation.” The flip side is that, of course, attacks ads typically aren’t personal. Not so this week. If the oft-repeated maxim that this election is about character is true, should we get used to these hostile personal attacks? In an editorial in the October 12 Washington Post , Greer says the current climate of negativity is a . . .

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The Nobel laureate everyone knows

October 13, 2008
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The Nobel laureate everyone knows

The Nobel prize in economics (or to be exact, the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel), like most of the Nobels in the sciences, is typically won by an economist little known outside the academic world, or even outside the discipline. Paul Krugman’s Nobel is different. He is that rare species, the public intellectual, the well-known academic, the economist with an audience. The University of Chicago Press has published three books edited by Paul Krugman for the National Burea of Economic Research: Currency Crises, Empirical Studies of Strategic Trade Policy, and Trade with Japan: Has the Door Opened Wider? These are books that will never be bestsellers—or anywhere near it—but contain the sort of research that creates prize-winning careers. Our warm congratulations to Paul Krugman. . . .

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