Author event: Gail Mazur, Zeppo’s First Wife

March 16, 2006
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Author event: Gail Mazur, Zeppo’s First Wife

On March 27 at 8:00 p.m., Los Angeles Times Book Prize nominee Gail Mazur will read from Zeppo’s First Wife: New and Selected Poems at the Blacksmith House (56 Brattle Street, Cambridge, MA). The event is part of the Blacksmith House Poetry Series, which Mazur founded in 1973. Zeppo’s First Wife, which includes excerpts from Mazur’s four previous books, as well as twenty-two new poems, is epitomized by the worldly longing of the title poem, with its searching poignancy and comic bravura. In his review of Zeppo’s First Wife, former United States Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky wrote, "Audacity and modesty: In Mazur’s work, those apparent opposites reveal their secret kinship: Modesty from its place on the sidelines can see through the conventional sham of the rules, and audacity has the confidence to embrace the plain, ordinary truth. In the face of demons or emptiness, Mazur offers a song." Read a poem from Zeppo’s First Wife. See all our books by Gail Mazur. . . .

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Review: Mario Biagioli, Galileo’s Instruments of Credit

March 15, 2006
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Review: Mario Biagioli, Galileo’s Instruments of Credit

The New Scientist recently praised Mario Biagioli’s Galileo’s Instruments of Credit: Telescopes, Images, Secrecy. From the review: " study presents a fresh and interesting view of the challenges faced by the 17th-century scientist." Galileo’s Instruments of Credit proposes radical new interpretations of several key episodes of Galileo’s career, including his early telescopic discoveries of 1610, the dispute over sunspots, and the conflict with the Holy Office over the relationship between Copernicanism and Scripture. Galileo’s tactics during this time shifted as rapidly as his circumstances, argues Mario Biagioli, and the pace of these changes forced him to respond swiftly to the opportunities and risks posed by unforeseen inventions, further discoveries, and the interventions of his opponents. Read an excerpt. . . .

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Now it’s hamantashen time

March 14, 2006
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Now it’s hamantashen time

The Latke-Hamantash Debate was born at the University of Chicago some sixty years. In Chicago the debate is traditionally held on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. On other campuses—Cornell University, for example—the debate takes place around the celebration of Purim. Purim, Hanukkah, or, heck, the Fourth of July, any time is an appropriate time for the intellectual and gastronomic delights of The Great Latke-Hamantash Debate, a collection of the best of nearly sixty years of brilliant University of Chicago oratory deployed on behalf of latkes and hamantashen. In the Jerusalem Report Matt Nesvisky writes, “Editor Cernea, herself an anthropologist and a former Hillel official, has done a creditable job of combing through the organization’s archives to come up with essays that are never quite hilarious but are usually at least moderately amusing. I for one confess to a fondness for Ralph Marcus’s charming couplet: ‘Though David admired Bathsheba’s torso/ He liked her hamantashen more so.’ A close second is when Lawrence Sherman has Mercutio remarking ‘Women who are cold, cold latkes/ Cannot warm a young man’s gatkes.’” Our online feature for the book includes the text and audio of Ted Cohen’s “Consolations of the Latke” as well as recipes . . .

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Author event: Lawrence Weschler, A Wanderer in the Perfect City

March 13, 2006
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Author event: Lawrence Weschler, A Wanderer in the Perfect City

On March 15 at 7:30 p.m., Lawrence Weschler, author of A Wanderer in the Perfect City: Selected Passion Pieces, will sign books at Skylight Books in Los Angeles (1818 N. Vermont Avenue). Lawrence Weschler was a staff writer at the New Yorker for twenty years, where his work shuttled between political tragedy and cultural comedy. A Wanderer in the Perfect City is a collection of his cultural forays, now republished with a new foreword by Pico Iyer. Read the new foreword. Read an excerpt on the Web site of the New York Times, from an earlier edition. See all our books by Lawrence Weschler. . . .

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Testing the theory of broken windows

March 10, 2006
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Testing the theory of broken windows

Malcom Gladwell, posting to his blog yesterday, discussed the book by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner, Freakonomics, and the implications of the arguments in that book for his “theory of broken windows,” which Gladwell developed in The Tipping Point. Concludes Gladwell, “I prefer to think of Freakonomics not as contradicting my argument in Tipping Point, but as completing it.” Then he goes on to say: “Since Tipping Point has come out, there have been a number of economists who have looked specifically at broken windows—and tried to test the theory directly. Some have found support for it. Others—particularly Bernard Harcourt at the University of Chicago—find it wanting. If you crave a rigorous critique of broken windows, read Harcourt. He’s every bit as smart as Levitt.” Later this year we will publish Harcourt’s new book, Against Prediction: Profiling, Policing, and Punishing in an Actuarial Age which will include Harcourt’s argument against the theory of broken windows. We also published Harcourt’s book Language of the Gun: Youth, Crime, and Public Policy. . . .

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Zeppo’s First Wife shortlisted for Los Angeles Times Book Prize

March 10, 2006
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Zeppo’s First Wife shortlisted for Los Angeles Times Book Prize

Yesterday, nominees for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize were announced. We are happy to report that Gail Mazur’s Zeppo’s First Wife: New and Selected Poems is a nominee in the poetry category. Winners will be named on April 28. Widely acclaimed for expanding the stylistic boundaries of both the narrative and meditative lyric, Gail Mazur’s poetry crackles with verbal invention as she confronts the inevitable upheavals of a lived life. Zeppo’s First Wife, which includes excerpts from Mazur’s four previous books, as well as twenty-two new poems, is epitomized by the worldly longing of the title poem, with its searching poignancy and comic bravura. Mazur’s explorations of "this fallen world, this loony world" are deeply moving acts of empathy by a singular moral sensibility—evident from the earliest poem included here, the much-anthologized "Baseball," a stunning bird’s-eye view of human foibles and passions. Clear-eyed, full of paradoxical griefs and appetites, her poems brave the most urgent subjects—from the fraught luscious Eden of the ballpark, to the fragility of our closest human ties, to the implications for America in a world where power and war are cataclysmic for the strong as well as the weak. Gail Mazur’s books include Zeppo’s First . . .

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Author event: Ann Durkin Keating, Chicagoland

March 10, 2006
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Author event: Ann Durkin Keating, Chicagoland

On Saturday, March 11, at 11:00 a.m., Ann Durkin Keating will discuss her new book Chicagoland: City and Suburbs in the Railroad Age at the Newberry Library in Chicago (60 West Walton Street ). The event is free and open to the public. Copies of Chicagoland will be available for purchase. Historian and coeditor of the acclaimed The Encyclopedia of Chicago, Ann Durkin Keating resurrects for us here the bustling network that defined greater Chicagoland. Taking a new approach to the history of the city, Keating shifts the focus to the landscapes and built environments of the metropolitan region. Organized by four categories of settlements-farm centers, industrial towns, commuter suburbs, and recreational and institutional centers-that framed the city, Chicagoland offers the collective history of 230 neighborhoods and communities, the people who built them, and the structures they left behind that still stand today. See tours of Chicagoland. Visit the Encyclopedia of Chicago Web site. . . .

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Robert J. Zimmer nominated to serve as president of the U of C

March 9, 2006
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Robert J. Zimmer nominated to serve as president of the U of C

The Presidential Search Committee of the University of Chicago has just announced that Robert J. Zimmer has been nominated to serve as president of the University of Chicago. Zimmer is a mathematician and former University of Chicago faculty member. He currently serves as provost at Brown University. The Board of Trustees is expected to approve the recommendation on Friday. Zimmer would then succeed Don Michael Randel as thirteenth president of the University of Chicago. Zimmer is the author of Essential Results of Functional Analysis. Functional analysis is a broad mathematical area with strong connections to many domains within mathematics and physics. This book, based on a first-year graduate course taught by Robert J. Zimmer at the University of Chicago, is a complete, concise presentation of fundamental ideas and theorems of functional analysis. It introduces essential notions and results from many areas of mathematics to which functional analysis makes important contributions, and it demonstrates the unity of perspective and technique made possible by the functional analytic approach. . . .

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Review: Andrzej Szczeklik, Catharsis

March 9, 2006
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Review: Andrzej Szczeklik, Catharsis

Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries recently reviewed Andrzej Szczeklik’s Catharsis: On the Art of Medicine. From the review: "A rash of reflections on medicine has been published by senior physicians approaching retirement. Most are autobiographical, often maudlin, and usually self-serving. This jewel of a book is an exception. explores the patient-doctor encounter, a mysterious process that has constituted the art of medicine since time eternal.… The text is peppered with illustrative case histories, and salted with the resources of a prodigious intellect that mixes history, philosophy, mythology, and poetry in telling the story. This is a wise, erudite, and insightful book that has been translated sensitively from the original Polish. It makes for an enormously good read that will enrich the life of anyone who peruses it. Highly recommended." Read an excerpt. . . .

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Author event: Andrew Wachtel, Remaining Relevant after Communism

March 8, 2006
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Author event: Andrew Wachtel, Remaining Relevant after Communism

On March 9 at 7 p.m., Andrew Wachtel will discuss his new book Remaining Relevant after Communism: The Role of the Writer in Eastern Europe at the No Exit Café in Chicago (6970 N. Glenwood in Rogers Park). More than any other art form, literature defined Eastern Europe as a cultural and political entity in the second half of the twentieth century. Although often persecuted by the state, East European writers formed what was frequently recognized to be a "second government," and their voices were heard and revered inside and outside the borders of their countries. This study by one of our most influential specialists on Eastern Europe considers the effects of the end of communism on such writers. According to Andrew Baruch Wachtel, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the creation of fledgling societies in Eastern Europe brought an end to the conditions that put the region’s writers on a pedestal. In the euphoria that accompanied democracy and free markets, writers were liberated from the burden of grandiose political expectations. But no group is happy to lose its influence: despite recognizing that their exalted social position was related to their reputation for challenging political oppression, such writers have . . .

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