Monthly Archives: March 2009

Two UCP books nominated for the L.A. Times Book Prize

March 9, 2009
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Two UCP books nominated for the L.A. Times Book Prize

Last Monday, the Los Angeles Times announced the 2008 nominees for the annual L. A. Times Book Prize. We were pleased to find Connie Voisine’s Rare High Meadow of Which I Might Dream among the nominees in the poetry category while Martin J. S. Rudwick’s Worlds Before Adam: The Reconstruction of Geohistory in the Age of Reform was also nominated in the science & technology category. There are nine competitive award categories in all—biography, current interest, fiction, the Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction, history, mystery/thriller, poetry, science and technology, young adult—each with five nominees. All awards will be presented in a ceremony on April 24, kicking off the L.A. Times Festival of Books. Click on over to the L.A. Times website to see the complete list of all 45 of this year’s nominees, and congrats to our authors! Also, a tip of the hat to Biblical Scholar Robert Alter, author of 22 acclaimed works on the Bible, literary modernism and contemporary Hebrew (many of which have been published by the Harvard University Press) and the 2008 winner of the Book Prize’s Robert Kirsch Award for lifetime achievement. . . .

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What Brian Eno is reading

March 6, 2009
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What Brian Eno is reading

Brian Eno may take a back seat to the likes of Bono or the Edge in terms of superstardom, yet for the last couple of decades he’s been instrumental in creating the sound behind megaband U2’s biggest hits, also recently producing Coldplay’s Viva La Vida—last year’s biggest selling album. Now he’s gearing up for another pop-rock release with U2 titled, No Line On The Horizon. But Eno’s also made a name for himself on his own as one of the pioneer’s of early ambient electronic music, releasing several solo albums in the seventies and eighties that have since come to define the genre. If your familiar with that work with its Gregorian-chant-like monophonic drones, it might make sense that Eno also enjoys reading about medieval culture. Our publicist in the UK, Whitney Linder, noticed next to a recent interview with Eno in the Telegraph a boxed feature titled “What Eno’s Reading at the Moment”—one of his five titles: A Day in a Medieval City by Chiara Frugoni. The little feature on Eno’s reading material isn’t available online, so, unless you’ve got last Saturday’s Telegraph lining your birdcage, you’ll have to take our word for it. Take a look at the . . .

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Proposition 8 goes to court

March 5, 2009
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Proposition 8 goes to court

The California Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments today on Proposition 8, the successful ballot measure that amended the state’s constitution to ban gay marriage. The Los Angeles Times reports that supporters of gay marriage “seek to overturn Proposition 8 by saying it isn’t a constitutional amendment at all, but a constitutional revision that should have been required to go through a much more rigorous process to become law.” Whatever the court decides, it seems safe to predict that this is only one of many battles to come between two sides of an issue that—as the authors of The Politics of Same-Sex Marriage point out—has waxed and waned in the public sphere since the passing of the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act. In fact, same-sex couples filed suit Tuesday against the federal government over portions of the act. The suit is expected to take several years to make its way through the federal court system—which leaves a lot of time for reading up on the issue in the meantime. The Politics of Same-Sex Marriage, a great place to start, brings together an esteemed list of scholars to explore all facets of this heated issue, including the ideologies and . . .

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Happy National Grammar Day!

March 4, 2009
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Happy National Grammar Day!

It’s National Grammar Day, brought to you by the fine folks at the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar, and, as you prepare for a raucous celebration tonight (just don’t drink too many grammartinis or you may be commatose tomorrow! *rimshot*), we wanted to spotlight a book that will help you embody SPOGG’s mission of speaking well, writing well, and helping others do the same. After all, as publisher of The Chicago Manual of Style, we take good grammar very seriously. The A in response to all those Qs on The Chicago Manual of Style Online, Carol Fisher Saller is the gatekeeper of good grammar. In The Subversive Copy Editor: Advice from Chicago (or, How to Negotiate Good Relationships with Your Writers, Your Colleagues, and Yourself), Saller offers a practical guide to being a prose perfectionist in a world of dangling prepositions and misplaced modifiers. A companion to grammar stylebooks, The Subversive Copy Editor emphasizes habits of carefulness, transparency, and flexibility while encouraging anybody who works with words to build an environment of trust, cooperation, and, of course, good grammar. Full of good humor, good advice, and, most of all, good writing, Saller’s wry and refreshing tome is the . . .

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How to use the stimulus funds wisely

March 4, 2009
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How to use the stimulus funds wisely

It has been widely reported recently that Illinois hasn’t yet revealed any concrete plans for the cash allotted to it for highway, bridge and transit projects via the President’s economic stimulus bill. And this morning, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood issued a warning that time is running out. Washington is required to distribute funds by the 10th. Combined with Illinois’ recently bolstered reputation for political corruption and mismanagement, the report seems at once predictable and worrisome, bringing to the fore the central pitfall of Obama’s attempts to jump-start the economy—the potential for local governments to simply squander billions of taxpayer dollars—a problem that Barry B. LePatner, author of Broken Buildings, busted Budgets, argues is compounded by a construction industry that “is just as broken as the infrastructure it’s charged with building and repairing.” In his article, “Five Points the Government MUST Consider Before Doling Out Billions to the Construction Industry” LePatner delivers a critical assessment of the construction industry and its inefficiencies, and outlines the steps a responsible government must take to ensure the money from one of the biggest spending programs in history is used wisely. Read the article on the American Surveyor website, or find out more about . . .

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Outlook for Humanities and Writing Even More Depressing in a Recession

March 3, 2009
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As the New York Times reported last week, economic downturns usually spell doom for the humanities: “In this new era of lengthening unemployment lines and shrinking university endowments, questions about the importance of the humanities in a complex and technologically demanding world have taken on new urgency.” Anyone who attended 2008’s Modern Language Association conference in San Francisco (when the Dow hovered at a relatively rosy 8600) could sense the palpable tension as newly-minted humanities PhDs wandered, dazed, through a convention where news of canceled interviews, hiring freezes, and staff cuts dampened the usually festive atmosphere. Two months and a thousand point on the Dow later, certified and aspiring MFAs descended on Chicago for the annual meeting of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs. The state of the economy—and possibly pharmaceuticals—was on everyone’s minds. Our intrepid Phoenix Poet David Gewanter reports from the trenches: In Chicago, the “hog-butcher of the world” as Carl Sandburg calls it, the abattoir known by the guttural acronym AWP Conference is open for business. Burly, heavy-coated, scalded by the cold outside, eight thousand writers bump and shuffle through the glittering halls of the Chicago Hilton, and suspiciously eye the stuffed elevators, lest they be . . .

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Drug money

March 3, 2009
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Drug money

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Election Day reading material

March 3, 2009
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Election Day reading material

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Solving the retirement-savings crisis

March 2, 2009
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Solving the retirement-savings crisis

It won’t be easy to fix “sorry state of retirement in the U.S.,” Robert Powell acknowledges in his MarketWatch column. “But thankfully, someone has a roadmap.” That someone is Annamaria Lusardi, editor of the just-published Overcoming the Savings Slump: How to Increase the Effectiveness of Financial Education and Saving Programs. Powell explains in user-friendly detail Lusardi’s eight-step plan for solving the nation’s retirement-savings crisis. From “identifying barriers to saving” to “keeping it simple,” Lusardi’s recommendations aim to make financial education and savings programs more effective. And a common thread in many of these ideas is her emphasis on the diversity of Americans’ saving needs and abilities. “There is not a simple way to help people save,” she notes in a blog posting Powell cites. ” . . . We should not assume that people have all the necessary, basic information at their fingertips. I have also learned that people are very different and that those differences should be taken into account when devising saving initiatives.” In Overcoming the Savings Slump, Lusardi’s coauthors join her in exploring the considerable challenges of devising and managing such initiatives during a transition from the traditional defined benefit pension system to one that requires more . . .

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How Dr. Seuss invented childhood

March 2, 2009
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How Dr. Seuss invented childhood

If you’ve tried to “Google” anything recently you’ve probably noticed that they’ve once again transformed their logo. This time, in honor of the birthday of Theodor Seuss Geisel aka Dr. Seuss, born 105 years ago today. From The Cat in the Hat, to Green Eggs and Ham, Dr. Suess’s titles have become some of the most the iconic children’s books of the twentieth century, influencing generations of readers, and ranked among the best selling children’s books of all time. Indeed, with such widespread popularity, as the NYT‘s A.O. Scott once wrote “with Starbellied Sneetches and blibber-blubber verse, Dr. Seuss invented the modern idea of childhood.” Enter Seth Lerer’s, Children’s Literature: A Reader’s History from Aesop to Harry Potter—a fascinating book that looks at the history of such children’s books as inseparable from the history of childhood itself, examining their profound influence on everything from family life and human growth, schooling and scholarship, to publishing and politics. In the only single-volume work to capture the rich and diverse history of children’s literature in its full panorama, Lerer explores how children are indelibly molded by the tales they hear and read—stories they will one day share with their own sons and daughters—in . . .

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