Monthly Archives: August 2014

Chicago Book Review Fall 2014 Preview

CBR_Logo2Chicago and Midwestern publishers and authors have been busy little bees of late, and, as a result, the coming months promise a bevy of interesting titles across a variety of genres. From local indie publishers to micro houses to university presses, scores of new books will provide readers a chance to read local and support area authors and publishers, as well as to learn a new thing or two about Chicago and the region.

Here at Chicago Book Review, we asked local and regional publishers to share information about some of their key upcoming titles. The result is CBR’s Fall 2014 Preview, a month-by-month listing of some of the exciting books coming out between now and the end of the year. In the list below, you’ll find information about books covering an interesting array of subject matter, from baking to biography to business, from sociology to sports, from history to regional interest, and from anthologies to fiction to mystery.

CBR’s Fall 2014 Preview promises something for everyone—books from local authors and publishers that are sure to please. Happy Reading!

SEPTEMBER

826CHI-Compendium IV CoverThe 826CHI Compendium, Volume IV
by Students of 826CHI
$15, paperback, 209 pages
826CHI (in conjunction with DePaul University and Big Shoulders Books): Anthology
Published once every two years, The Compendium is an anthology of writing across 826CHI’s programs: Field Trips, In-Schools, Workshops, After-School Tutoring & Writing, Workshops, and Publications. This book includes a selection of 826CHI’s strongest writing and embodies the creative, project-based mission of inspiring students to become confident writers. This volume is arranged as an atlas, inspiring readers and writers alike to explore every place they can. The Compendium encompasses journeys in outer space, foreign countries (made-up or otherwise), the future, the past, our great city, and our extraordinary brains.

Landvik_BestBest to Laugh: A Novel
by Lorna Landvik
$24.95 hardcover, 312 pages
University of Minnesota Press: Fiction
Best to Laugh follows Lorna Landvik’s latest irresistible character, Candy Pekkala, from Minnesota to Hollywood as she pursues her dream of becoming a comedian. Herself a comic performer, Landvik taps her own adventurous past and writes in her classic style—sometimes so funny, you’ll cry; sometimes so sad, you might as well laugh; and always impossible to put down.

Blood in the Fields: Ten Years Inside California’s Nuestra Familia Gang
by Julia Reynolds
$26.95, hardcover, 368 pages
Chicago Review Press: True Crime
The city of Salinas, California, is the birthplace of John Steinbeck and the setting for his epic masterpiece, East of Eden, but it is also the home of Nuestra Familia, one of the most violent gangs in America. Prize-winning journalist and Nieman Fellow Julia Reynolds spent ten years reporting on the gang, and here she tells their story from the inside out. She follows young men and women as they search for a new kind of family, quests that usually lead to murder and betrayal.

Blues All Day Long: The Jimmy Rogers Story
by Wayne Everett Goins
$29, paperback, 416 pages
University of Illinois Press: Biography
A member of Muddy Waters’s legendary late 40s-50s band, Jimmy Rogers pioneered a blues guitar style that inspired later collaborators such as Eric Clapton and Keith Richards. Biographer Goins fills a gap in twentieth-century music history with the story of one of the blues’ eminent figures.

Chicago PortraitsChicago Portraits
by Chicago Tribune
$35, hardcover, 288 pages
Agate Publishing/Midway: Photography, Regional Interest
For more than 100 years, the prize-winning photographers at the newspaper have been documenting life in Chicago. Along the way, they’ve amassed an unmatched collection of photos of the city’s denizens and visitors. The resulting photo archive is a priceless assortment of the famous, infamous, and otherwise fascinating subjects who have lived in—or just passed through—Chicago.

Cold Sweat: My Father James Brown and Me
by Yamma Brown
$24.95, hardcover, 208
Chicago Review Press: Autobiography
Being the child of a global superstar is never easy, but being the daughter of the Godfather of Soul—that’s a category unto itself. Like every little girl, Yamma Brown wanted her father’s attention, but fame, drugs, jail, and the complicated women in James Brown’s life set the stage for an uncommon childhood, and an even more complicated adulthood. Yamma’s story of battling the demons of domestic abuse and carrying the legacy of her father is tragic yet heartwarming.

CHG_finalcoverCrazy Horse’s Girlfriend
by Erika T. Wurth
$15.95, paperback, 288 pages
Curbside Splendor Publishing: Novel/YA Crossover
Margaritte is a sharp-tongued, drug-dealing, sixteen-year-old Native American floundering in a Colorado town crippled by poverty, unemployment, and drug abuse. She hates the burnout, futureless kids surrounding her and dreams that she and her unreliable new boyfriend can move far beyond the bright lights of Denver that float on the horizon before the daily suffocation of teen pregnancy eats her alive.

Culture Worrier: Selected Columns 1984-2014: Reflections on Race, Politics, and Social Change
by Clarence Page
$17, paperback, 448 pages
Agate Publishing/Bolden: Current Affairs & Politics
This column collection from Pulitzer Prize-winner Clarence Page showcases his insightful, engaging, and entertaining perspective. As the only collection of Page’s nationally syndicated column, this book provides a snapshot of one of the most distinctive voices in American commentary.

DC Final Cover frontDeath at Chinatown
by Frances McNamara
$15.99, paperback, 226 pages
Allium Press of Chicago: Historical Mystery
In the summer of 1896, amateur sleuth Emily Cabot becomes involved in a murder investigation when an herbalist is poisoned in Chicago’s original Chinatown.

The Getaway Car: A Donald Westlake Nonfiction Miscellany
by Donald E. Westlake, edited by Levi Stahl
$18, paperback, 256 pages
The University of Chicago Press: Mystery
Donald E. Westlake published nearly one hundred books, including not one but two long-running series, starring the hard-hitting Parker and the hapless John Dortmunder. The Getaway Car sets previously published pieces, many little seen, alongside never-before-published material found in Westlake’s working files, offering a clear picture of the man behind the books.

9781940430270The Game We Play
by Susan Hope Lanier
$14.95, paperback, 124 pages
Curbside Splendor Publishing: Short Stories
Ten riveting, emotionally complex stories examining the decisions we make when our choices are few and courage is costly. Topics include a young couple facing disease and commitment with the same sharp fear, a teenager stealing from his girlfriend’s mother’s purse to help pay for her abortion, and a father making a split-second decision that puts his child’s life at risk.

Incentive Publications: Common Core Math Grade 6; Common Core Math Grade 7; Common Core Math Grade 8
by World Book
$15.99, paperback, 144 pages
World Book: Supplemental/Common Core activity
Full of engaging puzzles, stories, and adventures, these supplemental activities reinforce specific skills and are ideal for differentiated instruction. Each book is organized according to that grade level’s Common Core mathematics domains; tables at the front of each book define each standard and identify the pages in the book that support it. This comprehensive collection can be used in both the classroom and at home.

Invisible to the EyeInvisible to the Eye: Animals in Disguise
by Kendra Muntz
$9.99, hardcover, 48 pages
World Book/Bright Connections Media: Juvenile Nonfiction/Nature
Using their natural camouflage techniques, animals can blend into their surroundings, often becoming “invisible” to the passing eye. With a little luck, animal and nature enthusiasts of all ages will search and find each animal in disguise in this interactive and informative look at animals in nature. Stunning photography and simple text allow readers to enjoy close-up views of animals in their natural environments while learning new facts about these hidden creatures.

J Is for Jazz
by Ann Ingalls
$16.99, hardcover, 40 pages
World Book/Bright Connections Media: Juvenile Nonfiction/Music
Go on a riotous romp through many of the foundations of jazz in this fun and informative look at what many consider to be the one truly original American musical form that is as rich and vibrant today as when it began. Readers are transported into the Jazz Age through sweeping, bold illustrations and lyrical introductions to historical figures and musical terms. Featuring a glossary of jazz slang, this stunningly illustrated ABC primer is sure to inform and delight readers, collectors of ABC and illustrated books, and jazz lovers of all ages.

La Belle Creole: The Cuban Countess Who Captivated Havana, Madrid, and Paris
by Alina García-Lapuerta
$29.95, hardcover, 320 pages
Chicago Review Press: Biography
Known for her beauty and angelic voice, Mercedes Santa Cruz y Montalvo, la Belle Créole, was a Cuban-born star of nineteenth-century Parisian society. She befriended aristocrats and artists alike, including Balzac, Baron de Rothschild, Rossini, and the opera diva La Malibran. A daughter of the creole aristocracy, Mercedes led a tumultuous life, leaving her native Havana as a teenager to join her mother in the heart of Madrid’s elite society.

WellerF14Lorado Taft: The Chicago Years
by Allen Stuart Weller, Edited by Robert G. La France and Henry Adams with Stephen P. Thomas
$39.95, hardcover, 288 pages
University of Illinois Press: Biography
Sculptor Lorado Taft helped build Chicago’s worldwide reputation as the epicenter of the City Beautiful Movement. Returning to Chicago from France, Taft established a bustling studio and produced sculpture for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, the 1913 Fountain of the Great Lakes; the 1929 Alma Mater at the University of Illinois; and large-scale projects such as his ambitious program for Chicago’s Midway with the monumental Fountain of Time. In addition, the book charts Taft’s mentoring of women artists, many of whom went on to achieve artistic success.

Lead with Humility: 12 Leadership Lessons from Pope Francis
by Jeffrey A. Krames
$14, hardcover, 144 pages
Amacom: Business
Since his election as pontiff, Pope Francis has achieved the remarkable: breathed life into an aging institution, reinvigorated a global base, and created real hope for the future. In Lead with Humility, Chicago-area author Jeffrey Krames explores twelve key principles and shows how leaders and managers can adapt them for the workplace with equally impressive results.

Only the Dead
by Vidar Sundstøl
$22.95 hardcover, 168 pages
University of Minnesota Press: Fiction/Mystery
Steeped in the rich history of Lake Superior’s rugged North Shore, this follow-up to the Riverton Prize–winning The Land of Dreams pursues two tales through a bleak and beautiful landscape haunted by the lives and dreams of its Scandinavian immigrants and Native Americans. Lance Hansen finds himself equally haunted by the complex mysteries that continue to unravel around him.

Paterno LegacyPaterno Legacy: Enduring Lessons from the Life and Death of My Father
by Jay Paterno
$26.95, hardcover, 358 pages
Triumph Books: Sports/Biography
This biography of Joe Paterno by his son Jay is an honest and touching look at the life and legacy of a beloved coaching legend. Jay Paterno paints a full picture of his father’s life and career as well as documenting that almost none of the horrific crimes that came to light in 2012 took place at Penn State.

Ray Bradbury Unbound
by Jonathan R. Eller
$34.95, hardcover, 336 pages
University of Illinois Press: Biography
In the second volume of the authoritative biography of Ray Bradbury, Eller, the director of the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies at Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis, picks up the story begun in Becoming Ray Bradbury, following the author’s evolution from a short story master to a multi-media creative force and outspoken visionary.

6.16.14sweetgrasscoverThe Road Back to Sweetgrass
by Linda LeGarde Grover
$24.95 hardcover, 208 pages
University of Minnesota Press: Fiction/Native American
Set in northern Minnesota, this novel follows a trio of American Indian women, from the 1970s to the present, observing their lives intersect on the fictional Mozhay Point reservation. Linda LeGarde Grover connects the sense of place with the experience of Native women who came of age during the days of the federal termination policy and the struggle for tribal self-determination.

The Road Less Taken: Lessons from a Life Spent Cycling
by Kathryn Bertine
$16.95, paperback, 234 pages
Triumph Books: Sports/Autobiography
In The Road Less Taken, Kathryn Bertine takes readers through her journey of striving to become a professional cyclist in her mid-30s. Her essays explore the twists and turns on life’s unexpected roads via bicycle, but also the larger meaning of what it means to heed one’s inner compass and search for a personal true north.

story keeper 978-1-4143-8689-8The Story Keeper
by Lisa Wingate
$14.99, paperback, 448 pages
Tyndale House: Fiction
When successful New York editor Jen Gibbs discovers a decaying slush-pile manuscript on her desk, she has no idea that the story of Sarra, a young mixed-race woman trapped in Appalachia at the turn of the twentieth century, will both take her on a journey and change her forever. Happy with her life in the city, and at the top of her career with a new job at Vida House Publishing, Jen has left her Appalachian past and twisted family ties far behind. But the search for the rest of the manuscript, and Jen’s suspicions about the identity of its unnamed author, will draw her into a mystery that leads back to the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains … and quite possibly through the doors she thought she had closed forever.

Under Pressure: How Playing Football Almost Cost Me My Life and Why I’d Do It All Again
by Ray Lucas with David Seigerman
$25.95, hardcover, 251 pages
Triumph Books: Sports/Autobiography
In Under Pressure, Ray Lucas provides fans with a timely, uncensored look at pro football’s play-at-all-costs culture. He discusses how this prevailing attitude leads to widespread abuse of painkillers and leaves many former players unable to lead a normal life once their playing career ends while also sharing details on how he overcame his drug addiction and turned his own life around.

Where ToWhere To? A Hack Memoir
by Dmitry Samarov
$15.95, paperback, 190 pages
Curbside Splendor Publishing: Memoir
Dmitry Samarov’s illustrated memoir captures encounters with drunken passengers, overbearing cops, unreasonable city bureaucracy, his fellow cab drivers, a few potholes, and other unexpectedly beautiful moments. Accompanied by dozens of Samarov’s original artworks—composed during traffic jams, waits at the airport, and lulls in his shifts—the stories in Where To? provide a street-level view of America from the perspective of an immigrant painter driving a cab for money.

OCTOBER

Chasing the Light: The Cloud Cult Story
by Mark Allister
$16.95 paperback, 192 pages
University of Minnesota Press: Music/Biography
Mark Allister tells the story of the heartbreaking yet affirming journey of Cloud Cult’s lead singer and songwriter Craig Minowa and delves into the career of the band. Featuring rarely seen photographs and passionate testimonials by fans, Chasing the Light is a testament to the profound influence one band’s personal evolution can have on its followers and on indie rock aficionados.

9780830836796Doing Good Without Giving Up: Sustaining Social Action in a World That’s Hard to Change
by Ben Lowe
$16, paperback, 208 pages
InterVarsity Press: Activism/Justice
Activist Ben Lowe renews our mission with key postures and practices for sustaining faithful social action. What makes social action distinctively Christian includes such things as living out Jesus’ love, having a prophetic witness, building bridges with opponents, repudiating idolatries, and practicing repentance and Sabbath. Moving beyond theory, Lowe showcases practical examples of what it looks like to persevere in faithful activism and advocacy today.

Does Not Love
by James Tadd Adcox
$14.95, paperback, 276 pages
Curbside Splendor Publishing: Fiction
Set in an archly comedic alternate reality version of Indianapolis that is completely overrun by Big Pharma, James Tadd Adcox’s debut novel chronicles Robert and Viola’s attempts to overcome loss through the miracles of modern pharmaceuticals. Viola falls out of love following her body’s third “spontaneous abortion,” while her husband Robert becomes enmeshed in an elaborate conspiracy designed to look like a drug study.

The Game Plan: The Art of Building a Winning Football Team
by Bill Polian with Vic Carucci
$25.95, hardcover, 288 pages
Triumph Books: Sports/Autobiography
As one of the most successful general managers and team presidents in NFL history, few people understand how to create the blueprint for a winning football team like Bill Polian. Now, Polian shares his blueprint for building a successful football team in The Game Plan, as he details the decisions both a team needs to make in the regular season and the offseason to bring teams to the postseason and the NFL’s ultimate test of a well-built team: the Super Bowl.

NEON-Cover-FrontGood Old Neon: Signs You’re In Chicago
by Nick Freeman
$17.95, paperback, 150 pages
Lake Claremont Press: Local Interest
Chicago’s rich neon heritage is celebrated in this full-color compendium of gaudy, garish, and downright delightful signs. From the far South Side to the Wisconsin Dells, Good Old Neon documents the familiar and the obscure, capturing in more than 100 photos these fast-disappearing artifacts of a glorious era when brightly lit signs filled the urban landscape.

Indian For EveryoneIndian for Everyone: The Home Cook’s Guide to Traditional Favorites
by Anupy Singla
$35, hardcover, 288 pages
Agate Publishing/Surrey: Cooking & Wine
Anupy Singla’s new book Indian for Everyone offers more than 100 classic and popular Indian recipes. This breakthrough cookbook opens up the pleasures of Indian cuisine for any home cook, regardless of dietary restrictions, level of expertise, or prior familiarity with Indian food.

Justice While Black: Helping African-American Families Navigate and Survive the Criminal Justice System
by Robbin Shipp and Nick Chiles
$14, paperback, 160 pages
Agate Publishing/Bolden: African-American Studies
Justice While Black aims to be a primer for African Americans on how to avoid being ensnared in the criminal justice system. It provides advice on specific legal circumstances such as avoiding arrest, being arrested, being in custody, plea bargaining, and preparing for and going through a trial, while shedding light on discriminatory practices such as racial profiling and sentencing disparities.

Losing in Gainesville
by Brian Costello
$15.95, paperback, 526 pages
Curbside Splendor Publishing: Fiction
With an ensemble cast of slackers, burn-outs, musicians, and dreamers, who are all losing something—their youth, their ambitions, their careers, their children, their former identities—Costello builds a sun-bleached world of people struggling to understand what it means to succeed on their terms.

Slomski_webThe Lovers Set Down Their Spoons
by Heather A. Slomski
$16, paperback, 146 pages
University of Iowa Press: Fiction
Winner of the 2014 Iowa Short Fiction Award, Heather A. Slomski’s debut story collection takes loss as its primary subject and holds it up to the light. In prose spare and daring, poised yet startling, these stories take shape in reality, but reality, they sometimes show us, is not a separate realm from the fantastic or the surreal.

Pandora’s DNA: Tracing the Breast Cancer Genes Through History, Science, and One Family Tree
by Lizzie Stark
$26.95, hardcover, 336 pages
Chicago Review Press: Autobiography
Would you cut out your healthy breasts and ovaries if you thought it might save your life? That’s not a theoretical question for journalist Lizzie Stark’s relatives, who grapple with the horrific legacy of cancer built into the family DNA, a BRCA mutation that has robbed most of her female relatives of breasts, ovaries, peace of mind, or life itself.

The Price of Thirst: Global Water Inequality and the Coming Chaos
by Karen Piper
$26.95 hardcover, 304 pages
University of Minnesota Press: Current Affairs/Environment
Karen Piper leads readers through the frightening landscape where thirst is political, drought is a business opportunity, and multinational corporations control our most necessary natural resource. Visiting the hot spots of water scarcity and the hotshots in water finance, Piper shows what happens when global businesses buy up the water supply and turn off the taps of people who cannot pay.

Magee 9781556525629So You Want to Start a Brewery?
by Tony Magee
$17.95, paperback, 224 pages
Chicago Review Press: Cooking/Business
In 1993, Tony Magee, who had foundered at every job he’d ever had, decided to become the founder of a brewery. So You Want to Start a Brewery? is the thrilling first-person account of his gut-wrenching challenges and unexpected successes that lead to the founding and rise of Lagunitas Brewing Company—now the fifth largest and fastest growing craft brewing company in the US. Once fully completed, Lagunitas’ new facility in Chicago will fulfill all distribution east of the Rockies.

The 10 Commandments of Marriage: Practical Principles to Make Your Marriage Great
by Ed Young
$14.99, paperback, 224 pages
Moody Publishers: Christian Living
In The 10 Commandments of Marriage, Dr. Ed Young shares the “thou shalts” and the “thou shalt nots” of successful relationships – straight from the pages of God’s Word. Long-married couples will find love-building precepts that will revive a failing marriage and make a great relationship even better. Soon-to-be-marrieds will discover what marriage is all about, and gain priceless insights into starting on solid ground.

NOVEMBER

Chris CheliosChris Chelios: Made in America
by Chris Chelios & Kevin Allen
$25.95, hardcover, 272 pages
Triumph Books: Sports/Autobiography
From being inducted to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2013, to serving in an executive role on the Detroit Red Wings, and signing on to become an NHL analyst for Fox Sports 1, Chris Chelios has proven himself to be a man of many talents and here he tells his story. Traveling from the 1992 Stanley Cup final to the 2006 Winter Olympics team, Chelios shares his achievements on the ice while providing new information on his life off it to readers, making this autobiography a must-have not only for Chelios fans, but anyone who loves the game of hockey.

Death of a Bovver Boy: A Carolus Deene Mystery
$14.95, paperback, 160 pages
Academy Chicago/Chicago Review Press: Fiction/Mystery
Prolific British author Leo Bruce’s gritty final book in the Carolus Deene mystery series is published in the U.S. for the first time. Bruce’s books have been termed “superb examples of classic British mystery” by The New York Times Book Review, and he’s been called “a master of the genre” by Publishers Weekly.

Gangsters & GriftersGangsters & Grifters: Classic Crime Photos from the Chicago Tribune
by Chicago Tribune
$29.95, hardcover, 192 pages
Agate Publishing/Midway: True Crime, Regional Interest
From the Chicago Tribune archives, black-and-white photographs of notorious gangsters and colorful crooks have been collected in this enthralling look back into Chicago’s underworld at the height of its early twentieth-century infamy.

Hidden but Now Revealed: A Biblical Theology of Mystery
by G. K. Beale and Benjamin L. Gladd
$27, paperback, 393 pages
InterVarsity Press: Religion
This book explores the biblical conception of mystery as an initial, partially hidden revelation that is subsequently more fully revealed, shedding light not only on the richness of the concept itself, but also on the broader relationship between the Old and New Testaments. Exploring all the occurrences of the term mystery in the New Testament and the topics found in conjunction with them, this work unpacks how the New Testament writers understood the issue of continuity and discontinuity.

Holiday CookiesHoliday Cookies: Prize-Winning Family Recipes from the Chicago Tribune for Cookies, Bars, Brownies, and More
by Chicago Tribune
$24.95, hardcover, 224 pages
Agate Publishing/Surrey: Cooking
The first collection of award-winning recipes from the Chicago Tribune’s famed holiday cookie contest, this cookbook contains more than 100 confections for bakers looking to enrich their holiday season with kitchen-tested, award-winning recipes.

Honor Above All
by J. Bard-Collins
$17.99, paperback, 312 pages
Allium Press of Chicago: Historical Mystery
Pinkerton agent Garrett Lyons arrives in Chicago in 1882 to solve the murder of his partner. He enlists the help of his friend, architect Louis Sullivan, and becomes involved in the race to build one of the first skyscrapers.

The Neighborhood Outfit: Organized Crime in Chicago Heights
by Louis Corsino
$25, paperback, 184 pages
University of Illinois Press: Regional Interest/Sociology
Prohibition-era bootleggers allied with Al Capone organized crime in Chicago Heights, Illinois. Author Corsino tells the story of the Chicago Heights “boys” and their place in the city’s Italian American community in the twentieth century.

Poland 487-3Poland: The First Thousand Years
by Patrice M. Dabrowski
$45.95, hardcover, 506 pages
NIU Press: History
Poland: The First Thousand Years is a sweeping account designed to amplify major figures, moments, milestones, and turning points in Polish history. These include important battles and illustrious individuals, alliances forged by marriages and choices of religious denomination, and meditations on the likes of the Polish battle slogan “for our freedom and yours” that resounded during the Polish fight for independence in the long nineteenth century and echoed in the Solidarity period of the late twentieth century.

Pynchon’s California
by Scott McClintock and John Miller (Eds.)
$45, paperback, 228 pages
University of Iowa Press: Literature
Pynchon’s California is the first book to examine Thomas Pynchon’s use of California as a setting in his novels. Throughout his 50-year career, Pynchon has regularly returned to the Golden State in his fiction. With the publication in 2009 of his third novel set there, the significance of California in Pynchon’s evolving fictional project becomes increasingly worthy of study. Scott McClintock and John Miller have gathered essays from leading and up-and coming Pynchon scholars who explore this topic from a variety of critical perspectives, reflecting the diversity and eclecticism of Pynchon’s fiction and of the state that has served as his recurring muse from The Crying of Lot 49 (1965) through Inherent Vice (2009).

wffWorth Fighting For: An Army Ranger’s Journey Out of the Military and Across America
by Rory Fanning
$16.95, paperback, 200 pages
Haymarket Books: Memoir
Told with page-turning style, humor, and warmth, Worth Fighting For explores the emotional and social consequences of rejecting the mission of one of the most elite fighting forces in the world. It is only through the generous, and colorful people Fanning meets and the history he discovers that he learns to live again.

DECEMBER

change 9780830840359A Change of Heart: A Personal and Theological Memoir
by Thomas C. Oden
$32, paperback, 450 pages
InterVarsity Press: Religion
How did one of the twentieth century’s most celebrated liberals have such a dramatic change of heart? Oden’s enthusiasms for pacifism, ecumenism and the interface between theology and psychotherapy were ambushed by varied shapes of reality. This fascinating memoir walks us through not only his personal history but some of the most memorable chapters in twentieth-century theology.

Always on Strike
by Arnold Stead
$16, paperback, 220 pages
Haymarket Books: Labor
Centering on Frank Little’s activities as a Western Wobbly, Always on Strike chronicles and discusses the I.W.W.’s free speech actions, the Mesabi Iron Range Strikes of 1913 and 1916, anti-WWI activities and their suppression, the Green Corn Rebellion, Little’s assassination, and the subsequent Wobbly conspiracy trials.

Diary/Landscape
by James Welling
$45, hardcover, 160 pages
University of Chicago Press: Photography
A beautiful and moving meditation on family, history, memory, and place, Diary/Landscape reintroduced history and private emotion as subjects in high art, while also helping to usher in the centrality of photography and theoretical questions about originality that mark the epochal Pictures Generation. The book is published to accompany the first-ever complete exhibition of this series of pivotal photographs, now owned by the Art Institute of Chicago.

pelletier cover50691-mediumA Marriage Made at Woodstock: A Novel
by Cathie Pelletier
$14.99, paperback, 336 pages
Sourcebooks: Fiction
In A Marriage Made at Woodstock, Cathie Pelletier takes an honest and hilarious look at a marriage on the verge of dissolution—and how hard it can be to reconcile who we once were with who we have become.


Rebels by Accident
by Patricia Dunn
$9.99, paperback, 320 pages
Sourcebooks: YA Fiction
After attending her first high school party lands her in jail, Mariam thinks things can’t possibly get worse. So when her parents send her to live with her grandmother in Cairo, she is sure her life is over. Her Sittu is Darth Vader’s evil sister, and Mariam is convinced that the only sights she’ll get to see in Egypt are the rooms in her grandmother’s apartment. Then a girl named Asmaa calls the people of Egypt to protest against their president, and Mariam finds herself in the middle of a revolution, running from teargas and falling in love for the first time, and having her first kiss.

Rethinking Camelot: JFK, the Vietnam War, and U.S. Political Culture
by Noam Chomsky
$16, paperback, 172 pages
Haymarket Books: Politics
Noam Chomsky dismisses efforts to resurrect Camelot—an attractive American myth portraying JFK as a shinning knight promising peace, foiled only by assassins bent on stopping this lone hero from withdrawing from Vietnam. Chomsky argues that U.S. institutions and political culture, not individual presidents, are the key to understanding U.S. behavior during the Vietnam War.

supreme-ambitions-coverSupreme Ambitions: A Novel
by David Lat
$22.95, hardcover, 304 pages
American Bar Association: Fiction
Supreme Ambitions details the rise of Audrey Coyne, a recent Yale Law School graduate who dreams of clerking for the U.S. Supreme Court someday. Audrey moves to California to clerk for Judge Christina Wong Stinson, a highly regarded appeals-court judge who is Audrey’s ticket to a Supreme Court clerkship. While working for the powerful and driven Judge Stinson, Audrey discovers that high ambitions come with a high price. Toss in some headline-making cases, a little romance, and a pesky judicial gossip blog, and you have a legal novel with the inside scoop you’d expect from the founder of “Above the Law,” one of the nation’s most widely read and influential legal websites.

—Kelli Christiansen

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Compelling ‘Confessions’

CBR_Logo2The Confessions of Frances Godwin:
A Novel
by Robert Hellenga

“I thought once again of my early experiments with Lois while we were waiting for life to begin.
Hard to imagine now. Hard to remember. These memories were like shadows.
Lois and I never spoke of them,
never brought them into the light.
When we died, they would disappear with us.”

So says Frances Godwin, a retired high-school Latin teacher inching toward the twilight of life, in Robert Hellenga’s lovely new novel The Confessions of Frances Godwin.

Godwin 9781620405512Passages like this are found throughout the novel, lending color and shadow and texture to this fictional memoir, a story about a woman looking back on her life as she muddles through the present while contemplating the future. Meditative and quirky—like many of Hellenga’s novels—The Confessions of Frances Godwin is elegant and honest, a novel at once quiet and provocative.

There are no werewolves or zombies or wizards here. No dystopian post-apocalyptic world driven by strife and ruled by teenagers. No, The Confessions of Frances Godwin is a book about adults living in the real world, dealing with real-world issues, and negotiating real-world relationships. Thoughtfully written, this story is lovingly told, replete with all the anxiety and frustration and humor and irony that real life affords.

That’s not to say, though, that nothing of interest happens in these pages or that the story is so quiet as to be dull. Far from it. The Confessions of Frances Godwin finds the narrator, Frances, a sixty-something Midwestern woman, juggling the death of her long-ailing husband with her new status as a retiree, forcing her to rethink what her future will look like. She struggles to hang on to the thinnest thread of a relationship with her noncomformist daughter, who is married to a hateful cad who commits one too many ugly, harmful acts of rage. And, then, although she is far from pious, she finds herself talking to God. And God responds, launching them into an ongoing conversation full of sparring and wit, a conversation that will test Frances’s faith and mettle.

Verona

Author Robert Hellenga

With most of life behind her, Frances—who by most measures seems a rather plain, everyday Jane doing everyday things in an everyday place—actually has rather a lot to confess, which is quite wonderful and delicious. These confessions are somewhat surprising but somehow not shocking; they paint a picture of a woman of many layers. Hellenga has drawn in Frances a character who accepts herself—all of herself: her past, her regrets, her failings, her successes. In doing so, Frances becomes a woman the reader can’t help but admire. She is a woman anyone would be lucky to know in real life: a person rich in experience and emotion, full of stories and insight, at once flawed and perfect in all her imperfections.

Hellenga has a way of making the everyday feel brand new and of making the strange feel completely acceptable. Richly drawn characters and expertly paced narrative combine to gently push the story forward, pulling the reader in deeper and deeper until every facet of the story feels completely believable, until the reader wants to be a part of this world, fictional or not.

Peppered with phrases in Latin and Italian, sprinkled with references to music and theater, The Confessions of Frances Godwin is something of an exercise in erudition, although it doesn’t feel pretentious or showy. Some readers might balk at all the foreign phrases and references to various fine arts, but these are minor complaints. Indeed, Hellenga has paired intellectual exploration of life’s most profound questions with some healthy, raw emotion, resulting in a well-balanced story that is compelling from beginning to end.

The Confessions of Frances Godwin doesn’t hit the reader over the head with obvious solutions. It doesn’t shock the reader with cheap or salacious twists and turns. And yet it is gripping. Somehow, it needles the reader, making it impossible to set down the book without thinking about it, wondering not only about Frances and the people who surround her but about oneself and the people in our own lives.

This is a masterful effort. The Confessions of Frances Godwin should be at the top of the to-read list for fans of Hellenga’s work. For those who are new to his work, it still should be at the top of that to-read list.

Four-Star Review

July 2014, Bloomsbury
Fiction
$26, hardcover, 303 pages
ISBN: 978-1-62040-549-9

—Reviewed by Kelli Christiansen

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Local Author Spotlight: For Kate Hannigan, It’s a Sweet, Sweet, Sweet, Sweet World

CBR_Logo2Kate Hannigan knows well two different worlds: pre-published and post-published. The former: agonizing; the latter: amazing.

“I had many years of writing and writing and writing and not getting anywhere with publishers,” says Hannigan, who calls Hyde Park home. “There’s a lot of writers out there who just throw in the towel—and I don’t blame them.”

So well versed in rejection had Hannigan become over the years of trying to get her full-length work published that she started collecting her rejection letters. She taped them together end to end, had them laminated, and turned the collection into a 65-foot “Scroll of Doom,” a show-and-tell prop that she takes with her when speaking to children about writing, persistence, and tenacity.

Hannigan sure knows something about tenacity. Indeed, any number of published authors can tell you that getting there takes a lot of time and—yes—a lot of tenacity. “And a whole lot of luck,” Hannigan says. “You have to hit when an agent or an editor is open to it.”

Author Kate Hannigan

Hannigan turned “agonizing” into “amazing” this past May with the publication of her first children’s book, Cupcake Cousins, one of a three-book series with Disney/Hyperion. Having started to write seriously in 2005, it took more than eight years of writing and submitting manuscripts and hoping to be published before she landed in the world of published authors.

Not that Hannigan was a stranger to writing and publishing. She had been doing some work-for-hire writing for local publisher Publications International, Ltd., and, years ago, she worked as a journalist with the San Francisco Chronicle and the Dallas Morning News. As it happens, one of her former newspaper coworkers is now her literary agent.

A little bit of luck, a little bit of good timing, and a darn good story idea pushed Hannigan into the world of published authors, a world she loves because she gets to write about what she loves.

“You have to follow your heart, because if you follow the trends, by the time you find an agent, that trend has passed,” Hannigan says. “You don’t want to be coming out with a book that nobody wants. You have to follow your heart but still understand that it’s an industry, and publishers need to sell books.”

Writing children’s stories comes naturally to this mother of three who claims to still be a kid at heart. “I think a lot of people wind up writing for children because they have children, and suddenly you’re immersed in this wonderful world of literature. We tap into stories that really mean something to us,” she says. “But then you start thinking about your own stories. I just wanted to be part of this wonderful world.”

And now she is part of this wonderful world. Children’s book publishing in the United States is roughly a $3.5 billion market, with picture books and young adult titles like the Hunger Games and Divergent series driving much of that market.

Hannigan’s Cupcake Cousins, an adventurous story about two cousins, their dog, and “a misbehaving blender,” is geared toward middle-grade readers. Far from the dystopian worlds found in so many popular YA titles, Cupcake Cousins aims for an accessible, age-appropriate level of suspense. Hannigan wanted to write something fun and exciting but without so much darkness and tension.

“There are some great stories where the stakes aren’t so high. That’s what I wanted to tap into,” she says. “Something where there could be fun and thrills, but didn’t have to take such an emotional toll. [Readers] just want some escapism. I knew I wanted to write something sweet.”

Complete with easy recipes for yummy cupcakes, two adorable cousins, and a charming dog, Cupcake Cousins promises to be sweet. And in that, too, Hannigan has entered another wonderful world. “It’s the kid-lit world,” she says. “What’s not to love?”

Hannigan is finding there is a lot to love about being a children’s author. One of those being that she finds herself in a world with a lot of other great children’s authors, many of whom live in the area.

“You can’t throw a stick without hitting an author in Hyde Park,” Hannigan says. “And so many people write for kids, whether it’s an econ professor or a stay-at-home mom.”

With that in mind, Hannigan has pulled together some of those authors to form the Hyde Park/South Side Chicago Network for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, which brings programming to Chicago’s community of children’s authors and artists. She also was instrumental in pulling together “Middle-Grade in the Midwest,” a group of six Midwestern middle-grade authors who meet to talk about craft, creativity, and the writing life and who visit bookstores together to discuss their books with fans and readers.

From fellow children’s authors to supportive family members to an amazing team of agent, editor, illustrator, and publisher, Hannigan has, indeed, found that persistence and tenacity—not to mention luck and a good idea—have paid off. This post-published world is one that this Hyde Park author has come to love.

“It’s been such a fun experience,” Hannigan laughs. “‘Giddy’ is the word.”

—Kelli Christiansen

Kate Hannigan is the author of Cupcake Cousins (Book 1: May 2014; Book 2: Spring 2015; Book 3: Fall 2016) and The Detective’s Assistant (April 2015). She will be reading from and signing copies of her book during “Middle-Grade Mania,” 6:30-8 p.m. Friday, September 26, at 57th Street Books, 1301 E 57th St, Chicago.

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