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Peter Bacon Hales (1950–2014)

August 28, 2014
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Peter Bacon Hales (1950–2014)

University of Chicago Press author, professor emeritus at the University of Illinois at Chicago, dedicated Americanist, photographer, writer, cyclist, and musician Peter Bacon Hales (1950–2014) died earlier this week, near his home in upstate New York. Once a student of the photographers Garry Winogrand and Russell Lee, Hales obtained his MA and PhD from the University of Texas at Austin, and launched an academic career around American art and culture that saw him take on personal and collaborative topics as diverse as the history of urban photography, the Westward Expansion of the United States, the Manhattan Project, Levittown, contemporary art, and the geographical landscapes of our virtual and built worlds. He began teaching at UIC in 1980, and went on to become director of their American Studies Institute. His most recent book, Outside the Gates of Eden: The Dream of America from Hiroshima to Now, was published by the University of Chicago Press earlier this year.

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From Outside the Gates of Eden:

 

“We live, then, second lives, and third, and fourth—protean lives, threatened by the lingering traces of our mistakes, but also amenable to self-invention and renewal. . . . The cultural landscape is hazy:  it could . . .

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Carl Zimmer on the Ebolapocalypse

August 7, 2014
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Carl Zimmer on the Ebolapocalypse

Carl Zimmer is one of our most recognizable—and acclaimed—popular science journalists. Not only have his long-standing New York Times column, “Matter,” and his National Geographic blog, The Loom, helped us to digest everything from the oxytocin in our bloodstream to the genetic roots of mental illness in humans and animals, they also have helped to circulate cutting-edge science and global biological concerns to broad audiences.

One of Zimmer’s areas of journalistic expertise is providing context for the latest research on virology, or, as the back cover of his book A Planet of Viruses explains: “How viruses hold sway over our lives and our biosphere, how viruses helped give rise to the first life-forms, how viruses are producing new diseases, how we can harness viruses for our own ends, and how viruses will continue to control our fate for years to come.” 

It shouldn’t come as any surprise, then, that with regard to recent predictions of an Ebolapocalypse Zimmer stands ready to help us interpret and qualify risk with regard to Ebola and the biotech industry’s push for experimental medications and treatments.

At The Loom, Zimmer shows a strand of the ebola virus as an otherworldly cul-de-sac against a dappled pink light. As he writes, we still have no antiviral treatment . . .

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Advanced praise for The Getaway Car

July 9, 2014
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Advanced praise for The Getaway Car

On our forthcoming The Getaway Car: A Donald Westlake Nonfiction Miscellany, from Kirkus Reviews (read the review in full here):

Westlake (1933–2008), who wrote under his own name and a handful of pseudonyms, was an award-winning writer of crime, mystery and detective novels; short stories; screenplays; and one children’s book. University of Chicago Press promotions director Stahl thinks this collection of Westlake’s nonfiction will please his fans; it’s likely these sharp, disarmingly funny pieces will also create new ones. The editor includes a wide range of writing: interviews, letters, introductions to Westlake’s and others’ work, and even recipes. “May’s Famous Tuna Casserole” appeared in the cookbook A Taste of Murder. May is the “faithful companion” of Westlake’s famous protagonist John Dortmunder, “whose joys are few and travails many.” Another of his culinary joys, apparently, was sautéed sloth. One of the best essays is “Living With a Mystery Writer,” by Westlake’s wife, Abby Adams: “Living with one man is difficult enough; living with a group can be nerve-wracking. I have lived with the consortium which calls itself Donald Westlake for five years now, and I still can’t always be sure, when I get up in the morning, which of the . . .

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“Never have empty bedrooms looked so full.”

July 3, 2014
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gilbertson_bedrooms cover

The Fourth of July will be marked tomorrow, as usual, with barbecues and fireworks and displays of patriotic fervor.

This year, it will also be marked by the publication of a book that honors patriotism–and counts its costs–in a more somber way: Ashley Gilbertson’s Bedrooms of the Fallen. The book presents photographs of the bedrooms of forty soldiers–the number in a platoon–who died while serving in Iraq or Afghanistan. The bedrooms, preserved by the families as memorials in honor of their lost loved ones, are a stark, heartbreaking reminder of the real pain and loss that war brings. As NPR’s The Two-Way put it, “Never have empty bedrooms looked so full.”

 

{Marine Corporal Christopher G. Scherer, 21, was killed by a sniper on July 21, 2007, in Karmah, Iraq. He was from East Northport, New York. His bedroom was photographed in February 2009.}

A moving essay by Gilbertson tells the story of his work on the project, of how he came to it after photographing the Iraq War, and about the experience of working with grieving families, gaining their trust and working to honor it. As Philip Gourevitch writes in his foreword, “The need to see America’s twenty-first-century war dead, . . .

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The detractor and the Donald

June 16, 2014
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The detractor and the Donald

In Terror and Wonder, Pulitzer Prize–winning Chicago Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin assembled his most memorable writing from the past decade, as well as some polemical observations on the changing context of the built environment. Among them are two that have taken on a new life in the past couple of weeks: “The Donald’s Dud: Trump’s Skyscraper, Shortened by the Post-9/11 Fear of Heights, Reaches Only for Mediocrity” and “A Skyscraper of Many Faces: In Trump’s Context-Driven Chicago Skyscraper, Beauty Is in the Eye—and the Vantage Point—of the Beholder.” The first piece decries the original design, leaving little room for ambivalence; the other considers the finished construction, and all in all, mostly lauds its structure.

Fast forward. Trump’s skyscraper has now been branded unequivocally as part of Trump’s real estate empire, in twenty-foot-tall block letters that spell out his eponym. Kamin unleashed some sharp criticism of the sign in a Chicago Tribune column last week, pointing the blame at city government for allowing this particular type of self-aggrandizement to continue due to obscure politicking:

“It’s a lack of sophisticated design guidelines as well as the teeth to enforce them. Trump’s sign isn’t the only offender — it’s just the most egregious — in a city where skyline branding has . . .

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World Ocean(s) Day

June 11, 2014
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World Ocean(s) Day

This past weekend, on June 8th to be exact, the Ocean Project and the World Ocean Network celebrated World Oceans Day. The event recognizes that there is “one world ocean” connecting the planet, and to this end, was known as “World Ocean Day” until 2009, when the “s” was added in accordance with the resolution passed by the United Nations General Assembly, which officially designated the annual date as “World Oceans Day.” Even this semantic quandry should evidence the passion yielded by those who champion and protect our hydrosphere—with that in mind, we’re revisiting The Deep, a project that launched new endeavors in “tidal” acquisitions for the Press, and has led to a remarkable list in the oceanic sciences (under the helm of Christie Henry, editorial director of the Sciences and Social Sciences).

The Deep explores the deepest realms of the ocean, revealing a cast of more than 200 sometimes terrifying and most mesmerizing creatures in crystalline detail, some photographed for the very first time.  The website associated with the book features an image gallery,an animated sampler, and beautiful pages, including the below profile of the glowing sucker octopus, one of the world’s few bioluminescent creatures, native to the North Atlantic:

 

In the wake of The Deep (pun . . .

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Isaac Tobin at CHGO DSGN

June 4, 2014
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Isaac Tobin at CHGO DSGN

If you’re knowledgeable about the world of book design in Chicago, you’re likely familiar with the work of Isaac Tobin, senior designer at the University of Chicago Press,  an Art Directors Club Young Gun winner, and a frequent mention on New City‘s “Lit 50” annual list. As one profiler at Chicagoist remarked, “ work is simple yet striking, satiric at times and always beautiful. We appreciate his ability to work from all angles and truly capture the essence of what the containing work is all about. If Tobin’s on the project, definitely judge a book by its cover.”

If unfamiliar, don’t miss an opportunity to see “a long row” of Tobin’s covers, among the decade-spanning work of more than 100 other Chicagoans at CHGO DSGN, an exhibit curated by Rick Valicenti for the City’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, on view at the Cultural Center through November 2, 2014.

As a bit of a teaser, some candid images from the show’s opening  follow below:

 

 

 

. . .

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Wrigley Centennial Trivia Showdown

May 23, 2014
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Wrigley Centennial Trivia Showdown

Who is Burt Hooton? Your guess is as good as mine, or more likely, it’s better than mine. My answer is he’s no Mickey Lolich, but that’s because I grew up in Detroit—though, as Susan Sontag would say, Under the Sign of Jack Morris. But back to your guess—if you’re schooled in Cubs lore, come to the Wrigley Centennial Trivia Showdown on Wednesday, May 28th, at the Harold Washington Library,  in celebration of the year that brought you the births of Sun Ra, Julio Cortázar, and a certain stadium. Your hosts are Stuart Shea, doyen of Cubs history, and the Chicago Tribune’s Rick Kogan, and you can win t-shirts, plates, commemorative posters, and gift certificates to Birrieria Zaragoza, Clark Street Sports, Girl and the Goat, The People’s Garment Company, & Tales, Taverns, and Towns.

From the Chicago Reader: 

Stuart Shea, author of Wrigley Field: The Long Life and Contentious Times of the Friendly Confines, and the Tribune‘s Rick Kogan host the Wrigley Centennial Trivia Showdown. Test your knowledge of the legendary ballpark alongside other Cubs enthusiasts and maybe win a Wrigley Field prize pack, or bragging rights that might earn you a free drink or two around Clark and Addison.

From . . .

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On Animals, Part III: A Conversation with Barbara J. King and Jessica Pierce

May 16, 2014
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On Animals, Part III: A Conversation with Barbara J. King and Jessica Pierce

Today, we’re pleased to run the final installment of a conversation between Barbara J. King and Jessica Pierce, two of our most established experts on animal-human behavior. You can read Part I and Part II of their dialogue, on questions about animal confinement, evolution, and appropriate companionship, here and here. Below, they take on a particularly ethical dilemma: in light of evolution and morality, what should we and our animal companions eat for dinner?

PIERCE: Now, two questions for you:

1. Should we also “honor the evolutionary path” of humans, when it comes to food? And what exactly would this mean? Perhaps I am hypocritical: I honor the “natural” diet of my cat, but I don’t buy into arguments that there is some “natural” way of eating for humankind (and I am particularly skeptical of arguments that meat-eating is “natural” and therefore justified).

2. Which animals can we eat without too heavy a moral cost? Are there some?

KING: My cats are relieved that their species now joins dogs on the conditionally acceptable list! Seriously though, thanks for a good back-and-forth on that issue. As to your evolutionary question, I think there’s a distinction—a difference that . . .

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On Animals, Part II: A Conversation with Barbara J. King and Jessica Pierce

May 15, 2014
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On Animals, Part II: A Conversation with Barbara J. King and Jessica Pierce

We’re back with Part II of a conversation between anthropologist Barbara J. King and bioethicist Jessica Pierce on the lives of animals—and how our relationships with them correspond with certain philosophical and ethical ideals. King’s current project extends a nuanced look at the ethical questions raised by eating (or not eating) animals; its working title is Animals We Eat. Pierce, too, has a book in the works: Run, Spot, Run, a scientifically and philosophically grounded exploration of the ethics of pet ownership that seriously questions whether we are good for our pets. Here, their dialogue draws on the confines of animal ownership—and the implications of our own food ethics on the choices we make for our pets. You can read yesterday’s post here; be sure to join us tomorrow for the conversation’s final installment.

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PIERCE: So let me ask you about cats, since it sounds like you share your life with several feline companions. I think cats pose an interesting and challenging case. Although I have cats in the “maybe” category, I don’t feel confident that this is the right place for them. It’s possible that they belong on the “yes” list.

One of the big . . .

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