In the tiny Iowa farm town of Atalissa, dozens of men, all with intellectual disability and all from Texas, lived in an old schoolhouse. Before dawn each morning, they were bussed to a nearby processing plant, where they eviscerated turkeys in return for food, lodging, and $65 a month. They lived in near servitude for more than thirty years, enduring increasing neglect, exploitation, and physical and emotional abuse—until state social workers, local journalists, and one tenacious labor lawyer helped these men achieve freedom. Drawing on exhaustive interviews, Dan Barry dives deeply into the lives of the men, recording their memories of suffering, loneliness and fleeting joy, as well as the undying hope they maintained despite their traumatic circumstances. Barry explores how a small Iowa town remained oblivious to the plight of these men, analyzes the many causes for such profound and chronic negligence, and lays out the impact of the men’s dramatic court case, which has spurred advocates—including President Obama—to push for just pay and improved working conditions for people living with disabilities.
A luminous work of social justice, told with compassion and compelling detail, The Boys in the Bunkhouse is more than just inspired storytelling. It is a clarion call for a vigilance that ensures inclusion and dignity for all.
Dan Barry writes the “This Land” column for The New York Times, a feature that he inaugurated in January of 2007. Barry has written three books, Pull Me Up: A Memoir, published in 2004; City Lights: Stories About New York, a collection of his “About New York” columns, published in 2007; and Bottom of the 33rd: Hope, Redemption, and Baseball’s Longest Game, published in 2011.
The Hopi community of Awat’ovi existed peacefully on Arizona’s Antelope Mesa for generations until one bleak morning in the fall of 1700—raiders from nearby Hopi villages descended on Awat’ovi, slaughtering their neighboring men, women, and children. While little of the pueblo itself remains, five centuries of history lie beneath the low rises of sandstone masonry, and theories about the events of that night are as persistent as the desert winds. The easternmost town on Antelope Mesa, Awat’ovi was renowned for its martial strength, and had been the gateway to the entire Hopi landscape for centuries. Why did kinsmen target it for destruction? Drawing on oral traditions, archival accounts, and extensive archaeological research, James Brooks unravels the story and its significance. Mesa of Sorrows follows the pattern of an archaeological expedition, uncovering layer after layer of evidence and theories. Brooks questions their reliability and shows how interpretations were shaped by academic, religious and tribal politics. Piecing together three centuries of investigation, he offers insight into why some were spared—women, mostly, and taken captive—and others sacrificed. He weighs theories that the attack was in retribution for Awat’ovi having welcomed Franciscan missionaries or for the residents’ practice of sorcery, and argues that a perfect storm of internal and external crises revitalized an ancient cycle of ritual bloodshed and purification.
James F. Brooks is professor of history and anthropology at University of California, Santa Barbara, and the author of Captives and Cousins, which received the Bancroft, Francis Parkman, and Frederick Douglass Prizes. He lives in Santa Barbara.
Jewel never knew her brother Bird, but all her life she has lived in his shadow. Her parents blame Grandpa for the tragedy of their family’s past; they say that Grandpa attracted a malevolent spirit—a duppy—into their home. Grandpa hasn’t spoken a word since. Now Jewel is twelve, and she lives in a house full of secrets and impenetrable silence. Jewel is sure that no one will ever love her like they loved Bird, until the night that she meets a mysterious boy in a tree. Grandpa is convinced that the boy is a duppy, but Jewel knows that he is something more. And that maybe—just maybe—the time has come to break through the stagnant silence of the past.
Crystal Chan grew up as a mixed-race kid in the middle of the Wisconsin cornfields and has been trying to find her place in the world ever since. Over time, she found that her heart lies in public speaking, performing, and ultimately, writing. She given talks and workshops across the country; facilitated discussion groups at national conferences; is a professional storyteller for children and adults alike; and is a regular contributor to Wisconsin Public Radio. In Chicago, where Crystal now lives, you will find her biking along the city streets and talking to her pet turtle. Bird is her first novel.
Ryan Collins is the author of several chapbooks, most recently Where the Wind Bends Backwards (with Erin M. Bertram, 918studio). His poems have appeared in American Letters & Commentary, PEN Poetry Series, Handsome, DIAGRAM, Another Chicago Magazine, Forklift , Ohio, and many other places. He curates the SPECTRA Poetry Reading Series in Rock Island, IL where he lives. A New American Field Guide & Song Book is his first poetry collection.
You Must Change Your Life: The Story of Rainer Maria Rilke and Aguste Rodin is a vibrant portrait of the remarkable friendship between Rilke and Rodin—their years together as disciple and master, their heartbreaking rift, and finally their moving reconciliation—as well as an exploration of the origins of their work and a celebration of the ways it continues to reverberate a century later. Corbett has packed this book with plenty to satisfy francophiles; fans of Rilke, Rodin, and Letters to a Young Poet; and anyone seeking an answer to the eternal question: “How should I live my life?”
Rachel Corbett is the executive editor of Modern Painters. Her writing has appeared in The New Yorker, the New York Times, the Art Newspaper, New York magazine, and others. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.
The collection delves into a night at the movies, featuring all the familiar types—the rom-com, the action-adventure, the superhero, and the spy—but the narratives are still under construction, and every storyline is an opportunity for the unimaginable twist. Motive and identity are constantly shifting in these short stories that offer both narrative and anti-narrative, while the stunted shop-talk of the movie business struggles to keep up. With the wit of Steve Erickson’s Zeroville and the inventive spirit of Italo Calvino’s Cosmicomics, John Domini offers a collection at once comical and moving, care- fully suspended between a game of language and a celebration of American film.
John Domini has three stories collections and three novels in print. Other books include selections of criticism and poetry. He’s published fiction in Paris Review and Ploughshares, non-fiction in GQ and the New York Times, and won a poetry prize from Meridian. Grants include a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. The New York Times praised his work as “dreamlike… grabs hold of both reader and character,” and Alan Cheuse, of NPR, described it as “witty and biting.” He has taught at Harvard, Northwestern and elsewhere and makes his home in Des Moines.
Take This Stallion is an anthology of Duplan’s work in free verse poetry.
“Portrait of the Found Self” I hear only a bird remote / and laughing from beneath / its hunter’s hands. The till / is joyfull. I become at night / the hunter whose hands delight / in the roundness of her animal. // I move to the window. / My gaze is soft. I see / my shadow from outside, / my shadow laughing / from beneath my hands.
Anaïs Duplan was born in Jacmel, Haiti. She is the director of a performance collective called The Spacesuits and of The Center for Afrofuturist Studies, an artist residency program in Iowa City. Her poems and essays have appeared in Birdfeast, Hyperallergic, The Journal, [PANK], and other publications.
Featuring three characters from the bestselling book-club favorite The Life We Bury, Eskens newest release, The Heavens May Fall, explores a riveting murder case told from two opposing perspectives. Detective Max Rupert and attorney Boady Sanden’s friendship is being pushed to the breaking point. Max is convinced that Jennavieve Pruitt was killed by her husband, Ben. Boady is equally convinced that Ben, his client, is innocent. As the case unfolds, the two are forced to confront their own personal demons. Max is still struggling with the death of his wife four years earlier, and the Pruitt case stirs up old memories. Boady hasn’t taken on a defense case since the death of an innocent client, a man Boady believes he could have saved but didn’t. Now he is back in court, with student Lila Nash at his side, and he’s determined to redeem himself for having failed in the past.
Allen Eskens is the award winning and USA Today-bestselling author of The Life We Bury and The Guise of Another. He is the recipient of the Barry Award, Rosebud Award and the Silver Falchion Award for his debut novel, The Life We Bury, which was also named a finalist for the Edgar® Award, Thriller Award, Anthony Award and the Minnesota Book Award. Allen honed his creative writing skills through the MFA program at Minnesota State University as well as classes at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival and the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis. He is a member of the Twin Cities Sisters in Crime.
Freeman’s: Family is the second literary anthology in the series reviewers are calling “bold” (Minneapolis Star-Tribune) and “refreshing” (Chicago Literati). Following a debut issue on the theme of “Arrival,” Freeman circles a new topic whose definition is constantly challenged by the best of our writers: family.
With outstanding, never-before-published pieces of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry from literary heavyweights and up-and-coming writers alike, Freeman’s: Family collects the most amusing, heartbreaking, and probing stories about family life emerging today.
John Freeman was the editor of Granta until 2013. His books include How to Read a Novelist and Tales of Two Cities: The Best of Times and Worst of Times in Today’s New York. He is an executive editor at the Literary Hub and teaches at the New School. His work has appeared in the New Yorker, the New York Times, and the Paris Review.
Roxane Gay has emerged as one of the strongest voices in American letters in her various roles as a writer, professor, editor and commentator. She is the author of the short story collection Ayiti, the novel An Untamed State, and the essay collection Bad Feminist. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Best American Mystery Stories 2014, Best American Short Stories 2012, Best Sex Writing 2012, A Public Space, McSweeney’s, Tin House, Oxford American, American Short Fiction, West Branch, Virginia Quarterly Review, NOON, The New York Times Book Review, Bookforum, Time, The Los Angeles Times, The Nation, The Rumpus, Salon, and many others.
It was announced in July that Gay has been chosen as one of the writers of the forthcoming Marvel comic, “World of Wakanda.” She and the poet Yona Harvey will work on the project, becoming the first black women to write for Marvel.
The City of Literature is proud to announce that Roxane Gay has been named the fifth recipient of the Paul Engle Prize. Gay will receive the prize, which includes a one-of-a-kind work of art and $10,000, during a special ceremony as part of the Iowa City Book Festival on Oct. 6. The event is at 7 p.m. at the Coralville Public Library. The event is free and open to the public.
Paul Engle (October 12, 1908 – March 22, 1991), though best remembered as the long-time director of the Writers’ Workshop and founder of the UI’s International Writing Program, also was a well-regarded poet, playwright, essayist, editor and critic. In addition to recognizing a writer, like Engle, makes an impact on his or her community and the world at large through efforts beyond the page, the award is designed to raise awareness about Engle and his works.
In November Rain, Carl Houseman, the deputy sheriff of rural Nation County, Iowa, leaves home to enter the world of international intrigue in the sixth in Donald Harstad’s critically acclaimed series. Houseman’s daughter, Jane, has been studying abroad in the UK. When her best friend Emma Schiller has been kidnapped, Houseman, desperate to protect his daughter and help her friend, accepts Scotland Yard’s invitation to take him on as a consultant. Emma’s trail leads to the door of her former professor–and ex-lover–Dr. Robert Northwood, whose impassioned activism on behalf of a pair of Muslim political prisoners has landed him unwittingly in cahoots with a cadre of dangerous individuals. It seems like a simple hoax, except that if Houseman doesn’t track down the professor’s co-conspirators, the consequences will be anything but simple–and the harm that will result could be global in Harstad’s gripping new installment in his outstanding series.
In 1970, Don Harstad and his wife Mary returned to Iowa, where Don was employed as a police dispatcher, and Mary began her teaching career. In 1973, Don became a Deputy Sheriff, and continued with that career until 1996, when he resigned from the Department to be able to begin a writing career. During his years as a Deputy Sheriff, Don was a patrol officer, the Department Intelligence Officer, and eventually Chief Investigator. The many and varied experiences Don had during that time have provided him with a large base of information, which he draws upon for many of the characters and situations described in his novels.
A Nix can take many forms. In Norwegian folklore, it is a spirit who sometimes appears as a white horse that steals children away. In Nathan Hill’s remarkable first novel, a Nix is anything you love that one day disappears, taking with it a piece of your heart. It’s 2011, and Samuel Andresen-Anderson—college professor, stalled writer—has a Nix of his own: his mother, Faye. He hasn’t seen her in decades, not since she abandoned the family when he was a boy. Now she’s re-appeared, having committed an absurd crime that electrifies the nightly news, beguiles the internet, and inflames a politically divided country. The media paints Faye as a radical hippie with a sordid past, but as far as Samuel knows, his mother was an ordinary girl who married her high-school sweetheart. Which version of his mother is true? Two facts are certain: she’s facing some serious charges, and she needs Samuel’s help. From the suburban Midwest to New York City to the 1968 riots that rocked Chicago and beyond, The Nix explores—with sharp humor and a fierce tenderness—the resilience of love and home, even in times of radical change.
Nathan Hill’s short fiction has appeared in many literary journals, including The Iowa Review, AGNI, The Gettysburg Review, and Fiction, where he was awarded the annual Fiction Prize. A native Iowan, he lives with his wife in Naples, Florida. THE NIX is his first novel.
When Claire Hoffman is five-years-old, her mother informs her and her seven-year-old brother Stacey, that they are going to heaven—Iowa—to live in Maharishi’s national headquarters for Heaven on Earth. For Claire’s mother, Transcendental Meditation—the Maharishi’s method of meditation and his approach to living the fullest possible life—was a salvo that promised world peace and enlightenment. At first this secluded utopia offers warmth and support, and makes these outsiders feel calm, secure, and connected to the world. Claire attends the Maharishi school, where her meditations were graded and she and her class learned Maharishi’s principals for living. But as Claire and Stacey mature, their adolescent skepticism kicks in, drawing them away from the community and into delinquency and drugs. Eventually, Claire moves to California with her father and breaks from Maharishi completely. A decade later, after making a name for herself in journalism and starting a family, she begins to feel exhausted by cynicism and anxiety. She finds herself longing for the sparkle filled, belief fueled Utopian days in Iowa, meditating around the clock. So she returns to her hometown in pursuit of TM’s highest form of meditation — levitation. This journey will transform ideas about her childhood, family, and spirituality.
Greetings from Utopia Park takes us deep into this complex, unusual world, illuminating its joys and comforts, and its disturbing problems. While there is no utopia on earth, Hoffman reveals, there are noble goals worth striving for: believing in belief, inner peace, and a firm understanding that there is a larger fabric of the universe to which we all belong.
Claire Hoffman works as a magazine writer living in Los Angeles, writing for national magazines, covering culture, religion, celebrity, business and whatever else seems interesting. She was formerly a staff reporter for the Los Angeles Times and a freelance reporter for the New York Times. Claire is a native Iowan and has been meditating since she was three years old.
Selling Shakespeare tells a story of Shakespeare’s life and career in print, a story centered on the people who created, bought, and sold books in the early modern period. The interests and investments of publishers and booksellers have defined our ideas of what is ‘Shakespearean’, and attending to their interests demonstrates how one version of Shakespearean authorship surpassed the rest. In this book, Adam G. Hooks identifies and examines four pivotal episodes in Shakespeare’s life in print: the debut of his narrative poems, the appearance of a series of best-selling plays, the publication of collected editions of his works, and the cataloguing of those works. Hooks also offers a new kind of biographical investigation and historicist criticism, one based not on external life documents, nor on the texts of Shakespeare’s works, but on the books that were printed, published, sold, circulated, collected, and catalogued under his name.
Adam G. Hooks is an Assistant Professor in the Department of English and the Center for the Book at the University of Iowa, where his research and teaching focus on Shakespeare, early modern literature and culture, and the history of the book. He has several publications on Shakespeare, the book trade, and the First Folio, and has received awards from the Shakespeare Association of America, the Bibliographical Society of America, and Rare Book School. He runs the book history website Anchora at www.adamghooks.net.
At once intimate and sweeping, Bottomland–the anticipated second novel from Michelle Hoover–follows the Hess family in the years after World War I as they attempt to rid themselves of the Anti-German sentiment that left a stain on their name. But when the youngest two daughters vanish in the middle of the night, the family must piece together what happened while struggling to maintain their life on the unforgiving Iowa plains.
In the weeks after Esther and Myrle’s disappearance, their siblings desperately search for the sisters, combing the stark farmlands, their neighbors’ houses, and the unfamiliar world of far-off Chicago. Have the girls run away to another farm? Have they gone to the city to seek a new life? Or were they abducted? Ostracized, misunderstood, and increasingly isolated in their tightly-knit small town in the wake of the war, the Hesses fear the worst. Told in the voices of the family patriarch and his children, this is a haunting literary mystery that spans decades before its resolution. Hoover deftly examines the intrepid ways a person can forge a life of their own despite the dangerous obstacles of prejudice and oppression.
Michelle Hoover is the Fannie Hurst Writer-in-Residence at Brandeis University and teaches at GrubStreet, where she leads the Novel Incubator program. She is a 2014 NEA Fellow and has been a Writer-in-Residence at Bucknell University, a MacDowell Fellow, and a winner of the PEN/New England Discovery Award. Her debut, The Quickening, was a 2010 Massachusetts Book Award “Must Read.” She is a native of Iowa and lives in Boston.
Of This New World offers a menagerie of utopias: real, imagined, and lost. Starting with the Garden of Eden and ending in a Mars colony, the stories wrestle with conflicts of idealism and practicality, communal ambition and individual kink. Stories jump between genres—from historical fiction to science fiction, realism to fabulism—but all ask that fundamental human question: is paradise really so impossible? Over the course of twelve stories, Hyde writes with a mix of lyricism, humor, and masterful detail. A group of environmental missionaries seeks to start an ideal eco-society on an island in The Bahamas, only to unwittingly tyrannize the local inhabitants. The neglected daughter of a floundering hippie commune must adjust to conventional life with her un-groovy grandmother. Haunted by her years at a collegiate idyll, a young woman eulogizes a friendship. After indenturing his only son to the Shakers, an antebellum vegan turns to Louisa May Alcott’s famous family for help. And in the final story, a former drug addict chases a second chance at life in a government-sponsored space population program. An unmissable debut, the collection charts the worlds born in our dreams and bred in hope.
A native of New Hampshire, Allegra Hyde received her B.A. from Williams College and her M.F.A. from Arizona State University. Her stories and essays have been published in New England Review, Gettysburg Review, The Missouri Review, and many other venues. She is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize, as well as a notable mention in Best American Essays 2015.
Beginning with her experience as a medical actor who was paid to act out symptoms for medical students to diagnose, Leslie Jamison’s visceral and revealing essays ask essential questions about our basic understanding of others: How should we care about each other? How can we feel another’s pain, especially when pain can be assumed, distorted, or performed? Is empathy a tool by which to test or even grade each other? By confronting pain real and imagined, her own and others’ Jamison uncovers a personal and cultural urgency to feel. She draws from her own experiences of illness and bodily injury to engage in an exploration that extends far beyond her life, spanning wide-ranging territory from poverty tourism to phantom diseases, street violence to reality television, illness to incarceration in its search for a kind of sight shaped by humility and grace.
Leslie Jamison is the author of a novel, The Gin Closet, which was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times First Fiction Prize. Her essays have appeared in the Believer, Harper s, Oxford American, A Public Space, Tin House, and The Best American Essays. She is a regular columnist for the New York Times Book Review and lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Suki Kim is a novelist, an essayist, an investigative journalist and the only writer ever to go live undercover in North Korea to investigate and write a book from the inside. Since 2002, she has travelled to North Korea, witnessing both Kim Jong-il’s 60th Birthday celebrations as well as his death at age 69 in 2011. Her New York Times bestselling book of investigative literary nonfiction, Without You, There Is No Us, My Time with the Sons of North Korean Elite sheds a new light on the understanding of the North Korean society by delving into its day-to-day life and provides unprecedented insights into the psychology of its ruling class, about whom the world knows very little. She has also reported on the North Korean defectors for Harper’s magazine.
Kim’s first novel, The Interpreter, was a finalist for a PEN Hemingway Prize, and her nonfiction has appeared in New York Times, New York Review of Books, Washington Post, Slate, and The New Republic, where she is a contributing editor. A recipient of a Guggenheim, a Fulbright, and a George Soros Foundation’s Open Society fellowship, Kim has been featured on CNN’s Fareed Zakaria’s GPS and Christiane Amanpour Show and Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show. Her 2015 TED Talk, which received a standing ovation from its audience including Bill Gates and Al Gore, has since drawn millions of viewers online. Born and raised in Seoul, she lives in New York.
Jennifer L. Knox’s new book of poems, Days of Shame and Failure, was published by Bloof Books in late 2015. Her first three books of poems are also available on Bloof: The Mystery of the Hidden Driveway, Drunk by Noon and A Gringo Like Me. Her poems have appeared four times in the Best American Poetry series as well as the anthologies Great American Prose Poems, From Poe to Present and Best American Erotic Poems. Her work has appeared in publications such as the New York Times, the New Yorker, American Poetry Review, McSweeney’s, and Bomb.
Jennifer L. Knox was born in Lancaster, California—home to Frank Zappa, Captain Beefheart, and the Space Shuttle. She received her B.A. from the University of Iowa, and her M.F.A. in poetry writing from New York University. She has taught poetry writing at Hunter College and New York University and has guest lectured in universities and colleges across the country. She currently teaches at Iowa State University and is the curator of the Iowa Bird of Mouth project.
Tom Lutz is on a mission to visit every country on earth. And the Monkey Learned Nothing contains reports from fifty of them, most describing personal encounters in rarely visited spots, anecdotes from way off the beaten path. Traveling without an itinerary and without a goal, Lutz explores the Iranian love of poetry, the occupying Chinese army in Tibet, the amputee beggars in Cambodia, the hill tribes on Vietnam’s Chinese border, the sociopathic monkeys of Bali, the dangerous fishermen and conmen of southern India, the salt flats of Uyumi in Peru, and floating hotels in French Guiana, introduces you to an Uzbeki prodigy in the market of Samarkand, an Azeri rental car clerk in Baku, guestworkers in Dubai, a military contractor in Jordan, cucuruchos in Guatemala, a Pentecostal preacher in rural El Salvador, a playboy in Nicaragua, employment agents in Singapore specializing in Tamil workers, prostitutes in Colombia and the Dominican Republic, international bankers in Belarus, a teacher in Havana, border guards in Botswana, tango dancers in Argentina, a cook in Suriname, a juvenile thief in Uruguay, voters in Guyana, doctors in Tanzania and Lesotho, scary poker players in Moscow, reed dancers in Swaziland, young camel herders in Tunisia, Romanian missionaries in Macedonia, and musical groups in Mozambique. With an eye out for both the sublime and the ridiculous, Lutz falls, regularly, into the instant intimacy of the road with random strangers.
Tom Lutz is the founder and editor in chief of the Los Angeles Review of Books. He is the author of Doing Nothing: A History of Loafers, Loungers, Slackers, and Bums, Cosmopolitan Vistas: American Regionalism and Literary Value, Crying: The Natural and Cultural History of Tears, and American Nervousness, 1903: An Anecdotal History. He teaches at the University of California, Riverside, and lives in Los Angeles, California.
Joseph March, a twenty-one-year-old working class kid from Seattle, has just graduated from college and his future beckons, unencumbered, limitless, magnificent. Joe’s life implodes when he starts to suffer the symptoms of bipolar disorder, and, not long after, his mother, Anne-Marie March, beats a stranger to death with a hammer. Joe moves to White Pine, Washington, where Anne-Marie is serving time and his father has set up house. He is followed by Tess Wolff, a fiercely independent woman with whom he is in love. Meanwhile, Joe’s mother is gradually being transformed into a national heroine. Many see her crime as a furious, exasperated act of righteous rebellion. Tess, too, is under her spell. Spurred on by Anne-Marie’s example, she enlists Joe in a secret, violent plan that will forever change their lives.
Maksik sings of modern America’s battered soul and of the lacerating emotions that make us human. Magnetic and masterfully told, Shelter in Place is about the things we are willing to die for, and those we’re willing to kill for.
Alexander Maksik is the author of three novels: YOU DESERVE NOTHING; A MARKER TO MEASURE DRIFT, which was named a New York Times Notable Book and a finalist for both the William Saroyan Prize and Le Prix du Meilleur Livre Étranger; and the forthcoming SHELTER IN PLACE, due out in September. A contributing editor at Condé Nast Traveler, his writing has appeared, or is forthcoming, in Best American Nonrequired Reading, Harper’s, Tin House, Harvard Review, The New York Times Book Review, The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, Salon and Narrative Magazine, among other publications. Maksik is the recipient of a 2015 Pushcart Prize, as well as fellowships from the Truman Capote Literary Trust and The Corporation of Yaddo. He is the co-artistic director of the Can Cab Literary Residence in Catalonia, Spain and his work has been translated into more than a dozen languages.
Emily Martin has been making movable and/or sculptural artists books since the late 1970’s. Her books are narrative sometimes autobiographical and make use of format as a metaphor for content. Currently she is exploring Shakespeare’s tragedies. Emily Martin lives in Iowa City, Iowa, USA where she has her studio and also teaches at the University of Iowa Center for the Book. Her work is in public and private collections throughout the United States and internationally, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Victoria and Albert Museum, London; The Museum of Contemporary Art of Chicago; The Marvin and Ruth Sackner Archive of Concrete and Visual Poetry, Miami Beach, Florida; The Library of Congress and others.
SCHOOLHOUSE: Lessons on Love & Landscape concerns the search for where identity and place and heart intersect. The memoir opens with its Brooklyn-born narrator standing on his head outside an old one-room schoolhouse amid 500 acres of remote woodlands in Iowa, his new home. Why this Walden-like retreat? Is it to attend the renowned Iowa Writers’ Workshop, or is he actually on the lam from love? Structured like a schoolbook, each chapter is named after a school subject (i.e. Geography, History, Social Studies, What I Did On My Summer Vacation), which collectively forms an overall lesson plan for his coming back out of the woods. For the Heartland, it seems, won’t allow him to hide out forever. SCHOOLHOUSE, a study in nature and human nature.
Marc Nieson’s background includes children’s theatre, cattle chores, and a season with a one-ring circus. He’s also a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and NYU Film School, and currently serves on the MFA faculty of Chatham University, where he’s fiction editor of The Fourth River. His writings span fiction, creative nonfiction, and screenwriting. His prose has earned two Pushcart Prize nominations, the Literal Latte Fiction Award, and a Raymond Carver Short Story Award.
In each of the stories in Robert Oldshue’s debut collection, the characters want to be decent but find that hard to define. In the first story, an elderly couple is told that delivery of their Thanksgiving dinner has been canceled due to an impending blizzard. Unwilling to have guests but nothing to serve them, they make a run to the grocery, hoping to get there and back before the snow, but crash their car into the last of their neighbors. In “The Receiving Line,” a male prostitute tricks a closeted suburban schoolteacher only to learn that the trick is on him. In “The Woman on the Road,” a twelve-year-old girl negotiates the competing demands of her faith and her family as she is bat mitzvahed in the feminist ferment of the 1980s. The lessons she learns are the lessons learned by a ten-year-old boy in “Fergus B. Fergus,” after which, in “Summer Friend,” two women and one man renegotiate their sixty-year intimacy when sadly, but inevitably, one of them gets ill. “The Home of the Holy Assumption” offers a benediction. A quadriplegic goes missing at a nursing home. Was she assumed? In the process of finding out, all are reminded that caring for others, however imperfectly—even laughably—is the only shot at assumption we have.
When he isn’t writing, Robert Oldshue practices family medicine at a community health center in Boston. He holds an MFA from Warren Wilson College, and his work has appeared in the Bellevue Literary Review, the Gettysburg Review, and New England Review. He is married and has two children.
From one of America’s most important writers, Perfume River is an exquisite novel that examines family ties and the legacy of the Vietnam War through the portrait of a single North Florida family. Robert Quinlan is a seventy-year-old historian, teaching at Florida State University, where his wife Darla is also tenured. Their marriage, forged in the fervor of anti-Vietnam-war protests, now bears the fractures of time, both personal and historical, with the couple trapped in an existence of morning coffee and solitary jogging and separate offices. For Robert and Darla, the cracks remain under the surface, whereas the divisions in Robert’s own family are more apparent: he has almost no relationship with his brother Jimmy, who became estranged from the family as the Vietnam War intensified. Robert and Jimmy’s father, a veteran of WWII, is coming to the end of his life, and aftershocks of war ripple across their lives once again, when Jimmy refuses to appear at his father’s bedside. And an unstable homeless man whom Robert at first takes to be a fellow Vietnam veteran turns out to have a deep impact not just on Robert, but on his entire family.
Robert Olen Butler is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of sixteen novels, including Hell, A Small Hotel, and the Christopher Marlowe Cobb series. He is also the author of six short story collections and a book on the creative process, From Where You Dream. He has twice won a National Magazine Award in Fiction and received the 2013 F. Scott Fitzgerald Award for Outstanding Achievement in American Literature. He teaches creative writing at Florida State University.
After the breakthrough success of 2012’s Freeman, Leonard Pitts returns with an even richer, more complex, and more suspenseful story—one that takes on the past four decades of US race relations through the stories of two veteran journalists, a superstar black columnist and his unheralded white editor. The novel ricochets between two eras: 2008, when a senator from Illinois stands on the verge of history, and 1968, when Martin Luther King confronts his troubled last campaign in Memphis. Disillusioned, weary, and outraged by yet another report of an unarmed black man gunned down by police, Malcolm Toussaint writes a column so incendiary that his editor, Bob Carson, rejects it—but Toussaint uses Carson’s password to hack into the newspaper’s computer system and publish it anyway. Then he mysteriously disappears, and Carson, left to take the fall, is fired. Furious and bent on revenge, Carson tries to find Toussaint while dealing with the sudden reappearance of his one true love from his days as an activist. Meanwhile, Toussaint has been kidnapped by a pair of unlikely-yet-dangerous white supremacists who plan to bomb Barack Obama’s victory speech in Grant Park. As Election Day unfolds, Toussaint and Carson are forced to confront the choices they made as idealistic, impatient young men, when both their lives were changed by their work in the civil rights movement. Forty years later, they face an explosive opportunity to make peace with their respective pasts.
Leonard Pitts, Jr. is a nationally syndicated columnist for the Miami Herald and winner of the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for commentary, in addition to many other awards. He is also the author of the novels Freeman (Agate Bolden, 2012) and Before I Forget (Agate Bolden, 2009); the collection Forward From this Moment: Selected Columns, 1994-2009, Daily Triumphs, Tragedies, and Curiosities (Agate Bolden, 2009); and Becoming Dad: Black Men and the Journey to Fatherhood (Agate Bolden, 2006). Born and raised in Southern California, Pitts now lives in suburban Washington, D.C., with his wife and children.
A veteran of the US war in Iraq commits suicide, and his brother joins with four friends in search of ways to protest the war. Together they undertake a series of small-scale bombings, until an explosion claims the life of a member of their circle. This novel serves as an elegy to these two deaths—the veteran and the activist—and so mourns the war in Iraq itself. They Dragged Them Through the Streets gives form to the anger and troubled idealism of the American home front’s experience of today’s wars. This is an innovative work in the great tradition of war literature and a singular chronicle of one generation’s conflicts.
Hilary Plum is from New England and now lives in central Pennsylvania. She co-edits, with Zach Savich, the Open Prose Series at Rescue Press and she serves as the managing editor of the Journal of the History of Ideas.
Thor’s hammer is missing again. The thunder god has a disturbing habit of misplacing his weapon–the mightiest force in the Nine Worlds. But this time the hammer isn’t just lost. It has fallen into enemy hands. If Magnus Chase and his friends can’t retrieve the hammer quickly, the mortal worlds will be defenseless against an onslaught of giants. Ragnarok will begin. The Nine Worlds will burn. Unfortunately, the only person who can broker a deal for the hammer’s return is the gods’ worst enemy, Loki–and the price he wants is very high.
Rick Riordan, dubbed “storyteller of the gods” by Publishers Weekly, is the author of three #1 New York Times best-selling middle grade series with 45 million copies sold throughout the world: Percy Jackson and the Olympians, based on Greek mythology; the Kane Chronicles, based on Ancient Egyptian mythology; and the Heroes of Olympus, based on Greek and Roman mythology. Rick collaborated with illustrator John Rocco on two best-selling collections of Greek myths for the whole family: Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods and Percy Jackson’s Greek Heroes. The first book in his Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard trilogy based on Norse mythology, The Sword of Summer, also debuted at #1 on the New York Times list. Rick lives in Boston, Massachusetts with his wife and two sons.
Rick Riordan will present his forthcoming novel, The Hammer of Thor, which is the second book in the Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard trilogy. That ticketed event will be held at the Englert Theatre at 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 7, and is presented by the festival and Prairie Lights. Tickets are $24, and attendees receive an autographed copy of the new book. Tickets will go on sale at the Englert box office and www.englert.org on Tuesday, July 12 at 12:30 p.m.
Growing up in Ladora, Iowa, Mildred “Millie” Benson had ample time to develop her imagination, sense of adventure, and independence. Millie left her small hometown to attend the University of Iowa, where she became the first person to earn a master’s degree from the school of journalism. While still a graduate student, Millie began writing for the Stratemeyer Syndicate, which published the phenomenally popular Hardy Boys series, among many others. Soon, Edward Stratemeyer tapped Millie for a new series starring amateur sleuth Nancy Drew, a young, independent woman not unlike Millie herself. The syndicate paid its writers a flat fee for their work and published the books under pseudonyms. Under the pen name Carolyn Keene, Millie went on to write twenty-three of the first thirty books of the Nancy Drew Mystery Stories. In all, Millie wrote more than a hundred novels for young people under her own name and under pseudonyms. Millie was also a journalist for the Toledo (Ohio) Times and The Blade. At the age of sixty-two she obtained her pilot’s license and combined her love of aviation with her passion for writing, sharing her travels and adventures with readers. Follow the clues throughout Missing Millie to solve the mysteries of this ghostwriter, journalist, and adventurer.
Julie Rubini is the author of the children’s books Hidden Ohio (published by Mackinac Island Press) and Missing Millie Benson: The Secret Case of the Nancy Drew Ghostwriter and Journalist (published by Ohio University Press). She is also the founder of Claire’s Day, a book festival created in memory of her daughter. http://www.clairesday.org
A veteran of the Washington Post and Miami Herald among others, Shroder has made a career of investigative journalism and human-interest stories, from interviewing South American children who claim to have memories of past lives for his book Old Souls, to a former Marine suffering from debilitating PTSD and his doctor who is pioneering a successful psychedelic drug treatment in Acid Test. Shroder’s most fascinating reporting, however, comes from within his own family: his grandfather, MacKinlay Kantor, was the world-famous author of Andersonville, the seminal novel of the Civil War. As a child, Shroder was in awe of the larger-than-life character. Kantor’s friends included Ernest Hemingway, Carl Sandberg, Gregory Peck and James Cagney. He was an early mentor to John D. MacDonald, and is credited with discovering the singer Burl Ives. He wrote the novel Glory for Me, which became the multi-Oscar-winning film The Best Years of Our Lives. He ghostwrote General Curtis LeMay’s memoirs, penning the infamous words “we’re going to bomb them back to the Stone Age” regarding North Vietnam. Kantor also suffered from alcoholism, an outsized ego, and an overbearing, abusive, and publically embarrassing personality where his family was concerned; he blew through a small fortune in his lifetime, dying nearly destitute and alone. In The Most Famous Writer Who Ever Lived, Shroder revisits the past–Kantor’s upbringing, his early life, and career trajectory–and writes not just the life story of one man but a meditation on fame, family secrets and legacies, and what is remembered after we are gone.
Tom Shroder is an award-winning journalist, editor, and author of Old Souls and Acid Test, a transformative look at the therapeutic powers of psychedelic drugs in the treatment of PTSD. As editor of The Washington Post Magazine, he conceived and edited two Pulitzer Prize winning feature stories. His most recent editing project, Overwhelmed: Work, Love and Play When No One Has the Time, by Brigid Schulte, was a New York Times bestseller.
From 1936 to 1939, the New Deal’s Federal Writers’ Project collected life stories from more than 2,300 former African American slaves. These narratives are now widely used as a source to understand the lived experience of those who made the transition from slavery to freedom. But in this examination of the project and its legacy, Catherine A. Stewart shows it was the product of competing visions of the past, as ex-slaves’ memories of bondage, emancipation, and life as freedpeople were used to craft arguments for and against full inclusion of African Americans in society. Stewart demonstrates how project administrators, such as the folklorist John Lomax; white and black interviewers, including Zora Neale Hurston; and the ex-slaves themselves fought to shape understandings of black identity. She reveals that some influential project employees were also members of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, intent on memorializing the Old South. Stewart places ex-slaves at the center of debates over black citizenship to illuminate African Americans’ struggle to redefine their past as well as their future in the face of formidable opposition.
By shedding new light on a critically important episode in the history of race, remembrance, and the legacy of slavery in the United States, Stewart compels readers to rethink a prominent archive used to construct that history.
Catherine A. Stewart is professor of history at Cornell College.
In the lush countryside of Wisconsin, Jean Krenshaw is the ideal 1960’s dairy farm wife. She cooks, sews, raises children, and plans an annual July 4th party for friends and neighbors. But when her brother-in-law Tommy, who lives next door, marries leery newcomer Liz, Jean is forced to confront a ten-year-old family secret involving the unresolved death of a young woman. With stark and swift prose, The Good Divide explores one woman’s tortured inner world, and the painful choices that have divided her life, both past and present, forever.
Kali VanBaale’s debut novel, The Space Between, earned an American Book Award, the Independent Publisher’s silver medal for general fiction, and the Fred Bonnie Memorial First Novel Award. Kali holds an MFA in creative writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She has been an assistant professor of writing and literature at Drake University and is a faculty member in the Lindenwood University MFA Creative Writing Program. Born and raised on a dairy farm in rural southern Iowa, she currently lives and writes on an acreage outside Des Moines with her husband, three children, and highly emotional dog.
Angelo Volandes is a physician, writer, and patients’ rights advocate. He practices internal medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and is on faculty at Harvard Medical School. He is Co-Founder and President of Advance Care Planning (ACP) Decisions, a non-profit foundation implementing systems and technologies to improve the quality of care delivered to patients in the health care system. He is the author of the new book “The Conversation: A Revolutionary Plan for End-of-Life Care,” about how people can empower themselves to get the right medical care at the right time and on their terms.
Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, he was educated at Harvard, Yale, and the University of Pennsylvania. He lectures widely across the country, and spends his time in Massachusetts with his wife Aretha Delight Davis, MD, JD and their two daughters.
Medical examiner Laura Hanning has two charred corpses and no answers. Both bear a mysterious tattoo but exhibit no known cause of death. Their only connection to one another is a string of puzzling miracle cures. Her preliminary investigation points to a cult in the possession of the fabled panacea―the substance that can cure all ills―but that’s impossible. Laura finds herself unknowingly enmeshed in an ancient conflict between the secretive keepers of the panacea and the equally secretive and far more deadly group known only as 536, a brotherhood that fervently believes God intended for humanity to suffer, not be cured. Laura doesn’t believe in the panacea, but that doesn’t prevent the agents of 536 from trying to kill her. A reclusive, terminally ill billionaire hires Laura to research the possibility of the panacea. The billionaire’s own body guard, Rick Hayden, a mercenary who isn’t who he pretends to be, has to keep her alive as they race to find the legendary panacea before the agents of 536 can destroy it.
F. Paul Wilson, a New York Times bestselling author of horror, adventure, medical thrillers, science fiction, and virtually everything in between, is a practicing physician who resides in Wall, New Jersey. His books include the Repairman Jack novels―including Ground Zero, The Tomb, and Fatal Error―the Adversary cycle―including The Keep―and a young adult series featuring the teenage Jack.
The Invention of Nature reveals the extraordinary life of the visionary German naturalist Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859) and how he created the way we understand nature today. Though almost forgotten today, his name lingers everywhere from the Humboldt Current to the Humboldt penguin. Humboldt was an intrepid explorer and the most famous scientist of his age. His restless life was packed with adventure and discovery, whether climbing the highest volcanoes in the world, paddling down the Orinoco or racing through anthrax–infested Siberia. Perceiving nature as an interconnected global force, Humboldt discovered similarities between climate zones across the world and predicted human-induced climate change. He turned scientific observation into poetic narrative, and his writings inspired naturalists and poets such as Darwin, Wordsworth and Goethe but also politicians such as Jefferson.
Andrea Wulf is the author of “The Brother Gardeners” and the co-author of “This Other Eden”. Her book “Founding Gardeners” was published to great acclaim in spring 2011. Her “Chasing Venus” was published in 2012 in eight countries in conjunction with the last transit of Venus in our century. And her latest book ‘The Invention of Nature” has received rave reviews and awards – and is a New York Times bestseller. She has written for New York Times, the Atlantic, the LA Times, Wall Street Journal, the Sunday Times and the Guardian and many others.