Monthly Archives: May 2016

Chicago Book Review’s Summer 2016 Preview

CBR_Logo2If winter makes us bibliophiles dream about curling up on a cozy sofa under a warm blanket and reading a good book in front of a crackling fire, well, then, summer has us dreaming about kicking back on a chaise lounge with a tall glass of something cold and reading a good book under a canopy of shady trees.

Or maybe that’s just me.

No matter where your summer dreams take you—back yard, beach, poolside, inside with the a/c blasting—reading a good book is easy when you have dozens of new releases to choose from. And that’s just what we have here in our 2016 Summer Preview.

This annual guide is, as usual, packed with a whole lotta titles from local authors and local publishers, as well as new books that tackle local subject matter. That’s not to say that these books don’t have wider appeal because they do. In this wonderful, fabulous, lovely long list, readers from all walks of life with all manner of interests can find something enticing. Fiction and nonfiction. For adults and kids of all ages.

This month-by-month list will have you adding all sorts of good books to your to-read pile between now and September, a sunny season full of opportunities to explore new authors and #ReadLocal.


9 arts_978-1-4964-0576-0The 9 Arts of Spiritual Conversations
by Mary Schaller and John Crilly
$15.99, paperback, 256 pages
Tyndale House: Evangelism
It can feel scary, awkward, and uncomfortable as we try to navigate loaded questions and different perspectives in conversations with people who have different beliefs than us. Drawing straight from the life and ministry of Jesus, The 9 Arts of Spiritual Conversations offers simple practices to help you build relationships with people who believe differently and encourages readers to create a safe space to have natural, loving, and spiritual conversations with others.

bob-segers-house-and-other-storiesBob Seger’s House and Other Stories
Michael Delp and M. L. Liebler (eds.), foreword by Charles Baxter
$24.99, paperback, 376 pages
Wayne State University Press/Made in Michigan Writers Series: Fiction
Bob Seger’s House and Other Stories is a collection of short stories written by some of Michigan’s most well-known fiction writers. This collection of twenty-two short stories serves as a celebration not only of the tenth anniversary of the Made in Michigan Writers Series in 2016 but also of the rich history of writing and storytelling in the region.

by Zofia Nalkowska (translated by Ursula Phillips)
$35.95, paperback, 272 pages
Northern Illinois University Press: Literature in Translation
Available for the first time in English, Zofia Nalkowska’s modernist novel, Boundary, was originally published as Granica in Poland in 1935. Nalkowska was a pioneer of feminist fiction in Central Europe. Her observation of inequality in the treatment of men and women is at the heart of Boundary, which explores a transgressive love affair and its repercussions.

brazil_9781608463602.01_0Brazil’s Dance With the Devil
by Dave Zirin
$17.95, paperback, 276 pages
Haymarket Books: Culture & Media
The people of Brazil celebrated when they learned that in the space of two years their country would host the world’s two largest sporting events: the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016. Now they are protesting in numbers the country hasn’t seen in decades. Relying on fieldwork from the most dangerous corners of Rio to the halls of power in Washington, DC, Dave Zirin exposes how sports and politics have collided in spectacular fashion. This updated edition examines the final tally of debt and displacement that accompanied the 2014 World Cup, eyewitness accounts of the militarized police crackdown, and new reporting on the pre-Olympic plans in cities across Brazil.

broken-ground-9781476794839_lgBroken Ground
by Karen Halvorsen Schreck
$14.99, paperback, 336 pages
Howard Books: Fiction
When a young oil rig widow escapes her grief and the Texas Dust Bowl, she discovers a surprising future—and new passion—awaiting her in California in this lyrically written romance by the local author of Sing for Me. Newly married to her childhood sweetheart, twenty-one-year-old Ruth Warren is settling into life in a Depression-era, East Texas oil town. She’s making a home when she learns that her young husband, Charlie, has been killed in an oil rig accident. Ruth is devastated, but then gets a chance for a fresh start.

downstate dealmakersThe Dealmakers of Downstate Illinois
by Robert E. Hartley
$27.50, paperback, 208 pages
Southern Illinois University Press: History
From 1945 to 1975, downstate lawmakers dominated the Illinois political arena. In The Dealmakers of Downstate Illinois, Robert E. Hartley details the lives and contributions of three influential southern Illinois politicians: Paul Powell, Clyde Choate, and John Stelle. The Dealmakers of Downstate Illinois is a vivid, straightforward tale of fighting in the legislative chambers, backstabbing behind the scenes, and trading special favors for votes in pursuit of not only personal gain but also the advancement of a regional agenda.

gates harvard_9781616894641Gates of Harvard Yard
by Blair Kamin (ed.), foreword by Ann Marie Lipinski
$15.95, paperback, 96 pages
Princeton Architectural Press: Essays/Architecture
Offering the complete, never-before-told story of the twenty-five gates that form portals to Harvard Yard, this beautiful gift book recounts the aesthetic vision for America’s preeminent university. Written by Pulitzer prize-winning Chicago Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin, the book discusses the architectural intentions of the gates, as well as the human drama behind their fruition—tales of wealth, power, and institutional and personal ambition. Illustrated with previously unpublished sketches by Roger Erickson, architect and landscape architect; stunning color photographs of each gate by Ralph Lieberman; and a beautiful hand-drawn three-dimensional aerial map of Harvard Yard that denotes the location of each gate by RISD graduate student Christopher Beck.

great-lakes-island-escapes_0Great Lakes Island Escapes: Ferries and Bridges to Adventure
by Maureen Dunphy
$29.99, paperback, 272 pages
Wayne State University Press: Great Lakes/Travel
Great Lakes Island Escapes: Ferries and Bridges to Adventure explores in depth more than thirty of the Great Lakes Basin islands accessible by bridge or ferry and introduces more than fifty additional islands. Includes helpful information about getting to each featured island, what to expect when you get there, the island’s history, and what natural and historical sites and cultural attractions are available to visitors. Each chapter lists special island events, where to get more island information, and how readers can help support the island.

Cocola_webPlaces in the Making: A Cultural Geography of American Poetry
by Jim Cocola
$55, paperback, 288 pages
University of Iowa Press: Cultural Studies
Places in the Making maps a range of twentieth- and twenty-first-century American poets who have used language to evoke the world at various scales. Distinct from related traditions including landscape poetry, nature poetry, and pastoral poetry—which tend toward more idealized and transcendent lyric registers—this study traces a poetics centered upon more particular and situated engagements with actual places and spaces.

redemption roadRedemption Road: From Grief to Peace Through Walking the Camino de Santiago
by Brendan McManus, S.J.
$13.95, paperback, 195 pages
Loyola Press: Self-Improvement
Redemption Road is the story of a broken man putting one foot in front of the other as he attempts to let go of the anger, guilt, and sorrow that have been weighing him down. But the road to healing is fraught with peril: steep hills and intense heat, wrong turns and blistered feet. Worse still, a nagging leg injury could thwart Brendan’s ultimate goal of reaching the Camino’s end and honoring his brother in a symbolic act at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. Constantly tempted to quit his quest, Brendan relies on the principles of Ignatian spirituality to guide him on his journey from desolation to consolation. For anyone going through the process of grieving, Redemption Road offers real hope—not that the path to peace will be easy, but that Christ, who himself suffered and died, will be with us every step of the way and lead us at last to wholeness and healing.

robert nixon chicagoRobert Nixon and Police Torture in Chicago, 1871–1971
by Elizabeth Dale
$32, hardcover, 184 pages
Northern Illinois University Press: History/Regional Studies
Elizabeth Dale uncovers the lost history of police torture in Chicago between the Chicago Fire and 1971, tracing the types of torture claims made in cases across that period. To show why the criminal justice system failed to adequately deal with many of those allegations of police torture, Dale examines one case in particular, the 1938 murder trial of Robert Nixon.

a-self-made-man-9781476777252_lgA Self-Made Man: The Political Life of Abraham Lincoln Vol. I, 1809–1849
by Sidney Blumenthal
$35, hardcover, 576 pages
Simon & Schuster: History/Biography
The first of a multi-volume history of Lincoln as a political genius—from his obscure beginnings to his presidency, assassination, and the overthrow of his post-Civil War dreams of Reconstruction. This first volume traces Lincoln from his painful youth, describing himself as “a slave,” to his emergence as the man we recognize as Abraham Lincoln. From his youth as a “newsboy,” a voracious newspaper reader, Lincoln became a free thinker, reading Tom Paine, as well as Shakespeare and the Bible, and studying Euclid to sharpen his arguments as a lawyer.

cards bucket_9781629371979The St. Louis Cardinals Fans’ Bucket List
by Dan O’Neill, foreword by Adam Wainwright
$16.95, hardcover, 272 pages
Triumph Books: Sports
Every St. Louis Cardinals fan has a bucket list of activities to take part in at some point in their lives. But even the most die-hard fans haven’t done everything there is to experience in and around St. Louis. From visiting Ballpark Village to learning how to do an Ozzie Smith backflip, author Dan O’Neill provides ideas, recommendations, and insider tips for must-see places and can’t-miss activities near Busch Stadium. But not every experience requires a trip to St. Louis; long-distance Cardinals fans can cross some items off their list from the comfort of their own homes. Whether you’re attending every home game or supporting the Cards from afar, there’s something for every fan to do in The St. Louis Cardinals Fans’ Bucket List.

9780226314433Two Weeks in the Midday Sun: A Cannes Notebook
by Roger Ebert
$16, paperback, 200 pages
University of Chicago Press: Film Studies/Entertainment
More about people than movies, this book is an intimate, quirky, and witty account of the parade of personalities attending the 1987 festival—Ebert’s twelfth, and the fortieth anniversary of the event. Illustrated with Ebert’s charming sketches of the festival and featuring both a new foreword by Martin Scorsese and a new postscript by Ebert about an eventful 1997 dinner with Scorsese at Cannes, Two Weeks in the Midday Sun is a small treasure, a window onto the mind of this connoisseur of criticism and satire, a man always so funny, so un-phony, so completely, unabashedly himself.

Women in BlueWomen in Blue: 16 Brave Officers, Forensic Experts, Police Chiefs, and More
by Cheryl Mullenbach
$19.99, hardcover, 240 pages
Chicago Review Press: Juvenile Nonfiction
They were called sleuths in skirts, guardian mothers, copettes, and police in petticoats. It would be a long time—well over 150 years—before women in law enforcement were known simply as police officers. Balancing the stories of trailblazers from the past with those of today’s dedicated officers, chiefs, FBI agents, and forensics experts, this collection of riveting biographies traces the evolution of women in policing. Women in Blue is part of CRP’s Women of Action series for young adult readers.

you-may-see-a-strangerYou May See a Stranger
by Paula Whyman
$17.95, paperback, 216 pages
Northwestern University Press: Stories
Miranda Weber is a hot mess. In Paula Whyman’s debut collection of stories, we find her hoarding duct tape to ward off terrorists, stumbling into a drug run with a crackhead, and—frequently—enduring the bad behavior of men. A drivers’ education class pulsing with racial tension is the unexpected context of her sexual awakening. As she comes of age, and in the three decades that follow, the potential for violence always hovers nearby. She’s haunted by the fate of her disabled sister and—thanks to the crack cocaine epidemic of the 1980s, the wars in the Middle East, and sniper attacks—the threat of crime and terror in her hometown of Washington, DC. Miranda can be lascivious, sardonic, and maddeningly self-destructive, but, no matter what befalls her, she never loses her sharp wit or powers of observation, which illuminate both her own life and her strange, unsettling times.


adversity-and-justice_0Adversity and Justice
by Kevin M. Ball
$39.99, hardcover, 296 Pages
Wayne State University Press/Great Lakes Books Series: Legal History
More than a million individuals and thousands of businesses sought relief in the United States’ ninety-three bankruptcy courts in 2014, more than twenty-seven thousand of them in the Eastern District of Michigan. Adversity and Justice presents a chronological history of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, the site of the city of Detroit’s landmark bankruptcy case.

the alliance 27381338The Alliance
by Jolina Petersheim
$22.99, hardcover, 364 pages
Tyndale House: Fiction
Midwestern author Jolina Petersheim looks at what happens when the outside world begins to besiege an Old Order Mennonite community after a national emergency takes America off the power grid and everyone must decide how far they are willing to go to protect their beliefs and their way of life.

Goats_CVR_feb26The Audacity of Goats
by J. F. Riordan
$24.95, hardcover, 396 pages
Beaufort Books: Literary Fiction
All is not well north of the tension line. A series of unsettling nighttime incidents have left the islanders uncertain whether to be nervous or annoyed. Are they victims of an elaborate teenage prank, or is there a malevolent stranger lurking on the island? Written by Midwestern author J. F. Riordan, Book 2 in the award-winning “North of the Tension Line” series, The Audacity of Goats, is the continuing tale of Fiona Campbell, and her reluctant adventures among the pleasures, mysteries, and exasperations of small town life in Door County, Wisconsin.

big hurt 9781629372297The Big Hurt’s Guide to BBQ and Grilling
by Frank Thomas
$19.95, paperback, 176 pages
Triumph Books: Cooking
Hall of Famer and Chicago icon Frank Thomas shares his passion for grilling and cooking with baseball fans everywhere for the first time. Grilling is perhaps as essential and synonymous with American culture as baseball itself, and Frank Thomas is ready to share all of his home run recipes. Whether you’re looking for barbecue basics or grilling greatness, these sizzling steaks, slow-cooked smoked ribs, and mouthwatering burgers are sure to please every palate, from healthy fare to hearty indulgences. Beautiful full-color photographs and easy-to-follow instructions set you up for culinary success alongside legendary former White Sox player Frank Thomas.

the curveThe Curve
by Jeremy Blachman and Cameron Stracher
$26.95, hardcover, 229 pages
Ankerwycke: Fiction
The Curve tells the story of students at Manhattan Law School, a decrepit institution on the edge of the toxic Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, who are geographically-challenged and mad as hell—in debt up to their eyeballs and fighting over the few legal jobs left for those who are far outside the Ivy League. With its colorful cast of eccentrics and law school misfits, a satirical plot that, without too much of a stretch, could be ripped from the headlines, and a proven author duo who know this world and have six previous books between them, The Curve is a hugely entertaining and deeply felt novel that satirizes the current state of higher education and reads like a cross between Dangerous Minds and The Paper Chase.

9780253019394_medDealing With Dictators: The United States, Hungary, and East Central Europe, 1942–1989
by László Borhi (translated by Jason Vincz)
$68, hardcover, 562 pages
Indiana University Press: History/Politics/International Studies
Dealing With Dictators explores America’s Cold War efforts to make the dictatorships of Eastern Europe less tyrannical and more responsive to the country’s international interests. During this period, U.S. policies were a mix of economic and psychological warfare, subversion, cultural and economic penetration, and coercive diplomacy. Through careful examination of American and Hungarian sources, László Borhi assesses why some policies toward Hungary achieved their goals while others were not successful. The story of the process by which the transition from Soviet satellite to independent state occurred in Hungary sheds light on the dynamics of systemic change in international politics at the end of the Cold War.

roy imagination_0The End of Imagination
by Arundhati Roy
$19.95, paperback, 390 pages
Haymarket Books: Essays
The End of Imagination brings together five of Arundhati Roy’s acclaimed books of essays into one comprehensive volume for the first time and features a new introduction by the author. This new collection begins with her pathbreaking book The Cost of Livin—published soon after she won the Booker Prize for her novel The God of Small Things—in which she forcefully condemned India’s nuclear tests and its construction of enormous dam projects that continue to displace countless people from their homes and communities. The End of Imagination also includes her nonfiction works Power Politics, War Talk, Public Power in the Age of Empire, and An Ordinary Person’s Guide to Empire, which include her widely circulated and inspiring writings on the U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, the need to confront corporate power, and the hollowing out of democratic institutions globally.

EBCoverThe Empty Bottle Chicago: 21+ Years of Music / Friendly / Dancing
John Dugan (ed.), foreword by John Darnielle
$34.95, hardcover, 200 pages
Curbside Splendor: Essays
A collection of stories contributed by the community of fans, former bartenders, bouncers, and performers, including The Flaming Lips, Interpol, OK Go, Low, Girl Talk, and more, retelling the eclectic history of one of Chicago’s landmark music venues. The collection also will include full-color photographs and images of old show posters and ephemera.

TheGoodDivide_Cover300The Good Divide
by Kali VanBaale
$15, paperback, 196 pages
MG Press: Fiction
In the lush countryside of Wisconsin, Jean Krenshaw is the ideal 1960s 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.

abernathyThe Inequality Equalizer
by Jena E. Abernathy
$27.95, hardcover, 327 pages
Ankerwycke: General Business/Career
Executive career coach Jena Abernathy, a nationally recognized leader in human capital management, performance excellence, and organizational development, shares the career advice you’ll wish someone had told you years ago. You’ll find insight that you never learned in grad school—and you’ll learn how to get real about getting ahead. Packed with real-world lessons and no-nonsense advice, The Inequality Equalizer shows employees what it takes to level the playing field, achieve their professional goals, and enjoy a long, successful career.

curiosity 27015411Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet
by H. P. Wood
$15.99, paperback, 368 pages
Sourcebooks Landmark: Historical Fiction
A hypnotic debut in turn-of-the-century Coney Island, where an abandoned girl collides with a disgruntled ménage of circus freaks. With shades of Water For Elephants and The Museum of Extraordinary Things, Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet sweeps readers into a mesmerizing world where nothing is as it seems, and where “normal” is the exception to the rule.

NY1960CoverNew York, 1960
by Barry Gifford
$16.95, paperback, 90 pages
Curbside Splendor: Poetry
Barry Gifford’s newest collection of poetry captures the disarray of a life lived with passion, and in many places. In his signature laconic style, Gifford ponders serendipitous acquaintances, mourns the deaths of old friends and squandered relationships, and writes light and love-filled notes to his daughter and granddaughter. An evocative collection from an enduring voice.

978-1-63146-619-9- us usUs Versus Us
by Andrew Marin
$14.99, paperback, 240 pages
NavPress: Religion/Sexuality & Gender Studies
Written by local author Andrew Marin, a world-renowned voice on the intersection of faith and sexuality, this book provides ground-breaking findings for navigating a clear path forward in the battle regarding religion and the LGBT community in today’s culture.

supclubWisconsin Supper Clubs: Another Round
by Ron Faiola
$35, hardcover, 224 pages
Agate Midway: Cooking/Regional
This highly anticipated follow up to the hugely popular Wisconsin Supper Clubs profiles fifty more family-owned establishments that exemplify Wisconsin’s beloved supper club tradition. Through interviews with the proprietors and local customers, author Ron Faiola once again takes readers deep into the world of this authentic upper Midwestern experience.


all but normalAll But Normal
by Shawn Thornton
$22.99, hardcover, 320 pages
Tyndale House Publishers: Memoir
A window into the masked realities of mental illness—a rare, untold perspective on the tempestuous nature of family life from behind closed doors—where a mother’s psychological and physical debilitations wreaked havoc throughout the dysfunctional childhood home in which her son grew up. This memoir also looks at how he came to embrace the underrated value of brokenness—and what led him to the profound life lesson that, when it comes to family, normal is a relative term. A heartwarming coming-of-age story, All But Normal is a powerful reminder that sometimes the “broken” people in our lives are the ones who need fixing the least.

chicago transformedChicago Transformed
by Joseph Gustaitis
$29.95, paperback, 368 pages
Southern Illinois University Press: History
Between 1913 and 1919, Chicago transitioned from a nineteenth-century city to the metropolis it is today, but this period in Chicago has not been documented adequately. Chicago Transformed: World War I and the Windy City fills this gap, covering the important wartime events, developments, movements, and people that helped shaped Chicago.

DiscoCoverDisco Demolition: The Night Disco Died
by Dave Hoekstra in collaboration with Steve Dahl, photographs by Paul Natkin, foreword by Bob Odenkirk
$34.94, hardcover, 200 pages
Curbside Splendor: Local History/Music
On July 12, 1979, more than 70,000 White Sox fans rushed the field at Comiskey Park to destroy disco records in retaliation of the genre’s recent rise to popularity to the detriment of rock music. Featuring more than thirty interviews conducted by legendary journalist Dave Hoekstra, with help from Steve Dahl, Disco Demolition examines the night that changed America’s disco culture forever.

9780830840991The Face of Forgiveness: A Pastoral Theology of Shame and Redemption
by Philip D. Jamieson
$18, paperback, 192 pages
InterVarsity Press: Practical Theology
Utilizing contemporary distinctions between shame and guilt, Philip Jamieson shows how traditional Western atonement models have frequently failed to deal adequately with the full extent of Christ’s victory. Jesus Christ has answered both the problem of human guilt and shame. It is only in facing Christ that we find our sins forgiven and receive a new identity. The author concludes by offering several strategies to aid Christians in understanding and appropriating the fullness of God’s loving and forgiving work.

9780830844654Impossible People: Christian Courage and the Struggle for the Soul of Civilization
by Os Guinness
$16, hardcover, 239 pages
InterVarsity Press: Cultural Analysis
More than ever, Christians must resist the negative cultural forces of our day with fortitude and winsomeness. What is needed is followers of Christ who are willing to face reality without flinching and respond with a faithfulness that is unwavering. Os Guinness describes these Christians as “impossible people,” those who have “hearts that can melt with compassion, but with faces like flint and backbones of steel who are unmanipulable, unbribable, undeterrable and unclubbable, without ever losing the gentleness, the mercy, the grace and the compassion of our Lord.”

9780807524565_Preschool-ChloeZoe-512x512It’s the First Day of Preschool, Chloe Zoe!
by Jane Smith
$12.99, hardcover, 32 pages
Albert Whitman: Picture Books
Chloe Zoe is starting preschool today, but she’s a little nervous. What if she doesn’t like it? Mommy tells her that she will get to sing songs, read stories, and paint pictures. But Chloe Zoe isn’t so sure. She’d rather stay at home and play with her little sister. Will Chloe Zoe discover how fun preschool is before the day is over?

by Chelsea Martin
$14.95, paperback, 200 pages
Curbside Splendor: Fiction
After breaking up with her boyfriend Mickey, a young woman struggles to situate her life and her art, and reach her estranged mother. Told in a series of vignettes, Mickey is one young woman’s journey to figuring out life (or not) amidst drunken mistakes, reality TV marathons, bathroom sex, and the daydreamed titles of imaginary art installations.

9781572841741_halal kitchenMy Halal Kitchen: Global Recipes, Cooking Tips, and Lifestyle Inspiration
by Yvonne Maffei
$29.95, hardcover, 214 pages
Agate Surrey: Cooking
In this beautiful cookbook, Yvonne Maffei of shares more than 100 halal-friendly recipes for classic dishes—from American comfort foods to French, Asian, Latin, and Italian favorites—as well as invaluable tips for sourcing (or making) halal substitutes.

Atheism cover - front cover 1000The Necessary Poetics of Atheism
by Martín Espada, Lauren Schmidt, and J. D. Schraffenberger
$15, paperback, 90 pages
Twelve Winters Press: Essays/Poetry
The authors discuss issues related to writing and publishing atheistic poetry in a culture dominated by Christianity, and also how poetry itself is a kind of religion. The collection grew out of the trio’s presentation at the North American Review Bicentennial Conference in 2015. The book includes a foreword by Andrew Sneddon and an introduction by Heid E. Erdrich.

Preston TuckerPreston Tucker and His Battle to Build the Car of Tomorrow
by Steve Lehto, foreword by Jay Leno
$27.99, hardcover, 272 pages
Chicago Review Press: Transportation/History
In the wake of World War II, the U.S. automobile industry was fully unprepared to meet the growing demands of the public, for whom they had not made any cars for years. In stepped Preston Tucker, a salesman extraordinaire who announced the building of a revolutionary new car: the Tucker ‘48, the first car in almost a decade to be built fresh from the ground up. Tucker’s car, which would include ingenious advances in design and engineering that other car companies could not match, captured the imagination of the public, and automakers in Detroit took notice. Steve Lehto presents the first comprehensive, authoritative account of the Tucker ’48, its downfall, and its lasting legacy.

russian realismRussian Realisms
by Molly Brunson
$59, paperback, 264 pages
Northern Illinois University Press: Russian Studies/Art History/Literature
In this original study, Molly Brunson traces many paths that converged to form the tradition of nineteenth-century Russian realism. Brunson integrates the lesser-known tradition of Russian painting with the familiar masterpieces of Russia’s great novelists, highlighting both the common ground in their struggles for artistic realism and their cultural autonomy and legitimacy.

you me 9781492638858You and Me, Always
by Jill Mansell
$14.95, paperback, 384 pages
Sourcebooks Landmark: Fiction
On Lily Harper’s twenty-fifth birthday, she receives the last letter written by her deceased mother—all about the first and only love of her life. Before long, secrets begin to emerge, and Lily’s friends and family become involved. In the beautiful Cotswold village of Stanton Langley, nothing will ever be the same again.


come to the tableCome to the Family Table
by Ted & Amy Cunningham
$14.99, paperback, 224 pages
NavPress: Family
Prioritizing mealtime slows us down long enough to enjoy our food, each other, and Jesus. Inspired by the slow food movement, Come to the Family Table seeks to encourage families with intentional strategies to engage one another and create the table as a space for practical ministry to their community.

Courageous Women of the Civil WarCourageous Women of the Civil War: Soldiers, Spies, Medics, and More
by M. R. Cordell
$19.99, hardcover, 256 pages
Chicago Review Press: Juvenile Nonfiction
Courageous Women of the Civil War reveals the exploits of sixteen of these remarkable women who served as medics, spies, battlefield helpers, and even soldiers on the front lines. Meet fascinating figures such as Maria Lewis, a former slave who fled with the Union Army as it swept through Virginia. Disguised as white male soldier, she “put the fear of Hell” into Confederate enemies. Kady Brownell supported her husband’s Rhode Island regiment as a vivandière, training with the soldiers, fighting in battle, and helping the injured. Mary Carroll, a Missouri Rebel, forged a copy of a jail cell key to break her brother out before his scheduled execution.These and other little-known stories are told through gripping narrative, primary source documents, and contextualizing sidebars. Civil War history is woven throughout, offering readers a clear overview of the era and the war.

darkness knows 26213995The Darkness Knows
by Cheryl Honigford
$15.99, paperback, 352 pages
Sourcebooks Landmark: Mystery
It’s October 1938, and radio is king. Vivian Witchell is determined to be a star, and with her new role in the popular detective serial The Darkness Knows, everything she’s dreamed of is finally within her grasp. Until the night she steps into the employee lounge and stumbles upon the body of the station’s biggest—and most reviled—actress. Clutched in the dead woman’s hand is a threatening letter that targets Vivian as the next victim. Suddenly, Viv’s biggest worry isn’t remembering her lines—it’s staying alive.

Stuart_SkidRow_9780226370811_jkt_MBDown, Out, and Under Arrest: Policing and Everyday Life in Skid Row
by Forrest Stuart
$27.50, hardcover, 352 pages
University of Chicago Press: Political Science/Current Events
This book presents a close-up look at the hows and whys of policing poverty in the contemporary United States. Stuart reveals a situation where a lot of people on both sides of this issue are genuinely trying to do the right thing, yet often come up short—sometimes in ways that do serious harm.


The Five Life Decisions: How Economic Principles and 18 Million Millennials Can Guide Your Thinking
by Robert Michael
$20, paperback, 232 pages
University of Chicago Press: Economics/Self-Improvement/
Using basic economic concepts and data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, Robert T. Michael provides a framework for young adults who want to make better decisions about college, career, partners, parenting, and health.

9780830846085The Gift of Hard Things: Finding Grace in Unexpected Places
by Mark Yaconelli
$16, paperback, 151 pages
InterVarsity Press: Self-Help
In many ways society teaches us to try to have everything under our control. If we are honest, we tend to think that this can be true even of our spiritual lives. Using extraordinary stories from his own life and the lives of others, Yaconelli offers a narrative journey through ways in which disappointments have turned into gifts. In these pages are is wealth of spiritual practices that will carry us deeper into the grace we find in unexpected places.

9780807533888_IsItSukkotYetIs It Sukkot Yet?
by Chris Barash;
 illustrated by Alessandra Psacharopulo
$16.99, hardcover, 32 pages
Albert Whitman: Picture Books
The first sights of fall arrive—pumpkins, gourds, and colorful leaves—and that means Sukkot
is almost here. Sukkot is the Jewish holiday celebrating the fall harvest and commemorating the time when the children of Israel spent forty years wandering the desert and living in temporary shelters (rebuilt as a sukkah during Sukkot). Soft illustrations and thoughtful, gentle text pair for a charming invitation for children to celebrate the joyful holiday.

lennon vs usaJohn Lennon vs. The USA
by Leon Wildes, foreword by Michael Wildes
$35, hardcover, 267 pages
Ankerwycke: History/Legal Studies
For the first time, noted New York immigration attorney Leon Wildes tells the incredible story of this landmark case—John Lennon vs. The U.S.A.—that set up a battle of wills between John Lennon, Yoko Ono, and President Richard Nixon. Although Wildes did not even know who John Lennon and Yoko Ono were when he was originally retained by them, he developed a close relationship with them both during the eventual five-year period while he represented them and thereafter. This is their incredible story.

KanferF16A Prairie State of Mind
by Larry Kanfer
$34.95, hardcover, 128 pages
University of Illinois Press: Photography
With A Prairie State of Mind, celebrated photographer Larry Kanfer shows the American heartland as he can, taking readers over fields fertile and fallow and through the eternal cycle of the seasons.

9781250089588Sorrow Road
by Julia Keller
$25.99, hardcover, 368 pages
Minotaur Books: Fiction
In 1944, three young men from a small town in West Virginia are among the American forces participating in D-Day, changing the fortunes of the war with one bold stroke. How is that moment aboard a Navy ship as it barrels toward the Normandy shore related to the death of an old man in an Appalachian nursing home seventy-two years later? In Sorrow Road, the latest mystery from Pulitzer Prize-winning local author Julia Keller, two stories—one set in the turbulent era of World War II and one in the present day—are woven together to create a piercingly poignant tale of memory and family, of love and murder.


9780226396699The Art of the Blues: A Visual Treasury of Black Music’s Golden Age
by Bill Dahl
$35, hardcover, 224 pages
University of Chicago Press: Art/Music
This stunning book charts the rich history of the blues, through the dazzling array of posters, album covers, and advertisements that have shaped its identity over the past hundred years. The blues have been one of the most ubiquitous but diverse elements of American popular music at large, and the visual art associated with this unique sound has been just as varied and dynamic. There is no better guide to this fascinating graphical world than longtime music journalist and historian Bill Dahl.

WelkerF16Baring Witness: 36 Mormon Women Talk Candidly About Love, Sex, and Marriage
by Holly Welker (ed.)
$19.95, paperback, 320 pages
University of Illinois Press: Religion/Current Events
In Baring Witness, Welker and thirty-six Mormon women speak to a diversity of life experiences: what happens when one partner rejects Church teachings; marrying outside one’s faith; the pain of divorce and widowhood; the horrors of spousal abuse; the hard journey from visions of an idealized marriage to the everyday truth; sexuality within Mormon marriage; how the pressure to find a husband shapes young women’s actions and sense of self. An unflinching look at the earthly realities of an institution central to Mormon life.

boy 9Boy, 9, Missing
by Nic Joseph
$15.99, paperback, 336 pages
Sourcebooks Landmark: Fiction
This suspenseful debut explores the ramifications of revenge, justice, and the aftermath of a terrible night in the lives of two families. It should have been just a quiet evening with friends. But Francis lost his brother that night in what was ruled a tragic accident. He’s tried to move on in the past twenty-three years, even though his father certainly hasn’t. Indeed, his father still blames the lone witness, Sam, the nine-year-old son of friends. Perhaps if Sam would have just said something, anything, about what happened that night, but Sam still seems unable—or unwilling—to utter a word about the accident. And now, twenty-three years later, Sam’s own nine-year-old son has disappeared.

chicago block 9780226385853Chicago’s Block Clubs: How Neighbors Shape the City
by Amanda I. Seligman
$30, paperback, 312 pages
University of Chicago Press: History/Social Science
Omnipresent yet evanescent, block clubs are sometimes the major outlets for community organizing in the city—especially in neighborhoods otherwise lacking in political strength and clout. Drawing on the stories of hundreds of these groups from across the city, Seligman vividly illustrates what neighbors can—and cannot—accomplish when they work together.

9780226384429Debating Darwin
by Robert J. Richards and Michael Ruse
$30, hardcover, 320 pages
University of Chicago Press: Science/History
Charles Darwin is easily the most famous scientist of the modern age, and his theory of evolution is constantly referenced in many contexts by scientists and nonscientists alike. And yet, despite how frequently his ideas are evoked, there remains a surprising amount we don’t know about the father of modern evolutionary thinking, his intellectual roots, and the science he produced. Debating Darwin seeks to change that, bringing together two leading Darwin scholars—Robert J. Richards and Michael Ruse—to engage in a spirited and insightful dialogue, offering their interpretations of Darwin and their critiques of each other’s thinking.

grant parkGrant Park
by Leonard Pitts
$16, paperback, 408 pages
Agate Bolden: Fiction
This is the first paperback edition of Grant Park, the critically acclaimed third novel by Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Leonard Pitts, Jr. Pitts delivers a powerful, emotionally resonant story that follows two veteran journalists whose personal stories extend from Martin Luther King’s final days in Memphis to the 2008 presidential election of Barack Obama.

natural heritage illinoisThe Natural Heritage of Illinois: Essays on Its Lands, Waters, Flora, and Fauna
by John E. Schwegman
$24.50, paperback, 240 pages
Southern Illinois University Press: Nature
A collection of ninety-four essays on the lands, waters, plants, and animals of Illinois, this book discusses how wind, water, glaciers, earthquakes, fire, and people have shaped Illinois’ landforms, natural habitats, and rivers and streams, and the ways in which native plants and animals have thrived, survived, or died out.

VirginityofFamousMen_HC_r7The Virginity of Famous Men
by Christine Sneed
$26, hardcover, 320 pages
Bloomsbury USA: Fiction/Stories
The Virginity of Famous Men, award-winning story writer Christine Sneed’s deeply perceptive collection on the human condition, features protagonists attempting to make peace with the paths they have taken thus far. Long intrigued by love and loneliness, Sneed leads readers through emotional landscapes both familiar and uncharted. These probing stories are explorations of the compassionate and passionate impulses that are inherent in—and often the source of—both abiding joy and serious distress in every human life.

—Kelli Christiansen



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A Life Lived Thoroughly

CBR_Logo2Black Dove:
Mama, Mi’jo and Me

by Ana Castillo

Best known for her fiction and poetry, Ana Castillo takes a retrospective look at her life in Black Dove: Mama, Mi’jo and Me, a collection of essays. While some of essays were previously published throughout the years, most were written specifically for this collection. All of them weave together to tell Castillo’s life story and that of the two people who have changed her life the most: her mother and her son.

castillo black doveUnsurprisingly to readers familiar with Castillo’s work, she devotes much of this collection to the strong women in her family. Readers get a glimpse of Castillo’s migratory origins, starting with her mother, who was born in Nebraska but forced to move back to Mexico in poverty. Castillo’s own Chicago upbringing goes back to a time of youth protest (e.g., the Vietnam War), Martin Luther King’s murder, and Iceberg Slim novels. We learn of Castillo’s humble, working-class roots, her early will to explore worlds outside of herself, and parents who, despite wanting the best for their children, remained distant after their long days as factory workers.

A few essays later, following Castillo’s turbulent entrance into young womanhood, she discusses her struggles as a single, feminist mother raising a son. The journey to nurture a child in a world hostile to black and brown children proves to be a rocky one. Moments of pride mingle with moments of fear and anguish, the culmination of which is revealed when her son, whom she affectionately calls Mi’jo, is sentenced to jail time. Castillo ends the book by coming full circle with the end of her mother’s life and the end of her role as a daughter.

Black Dove is equal parts memoir and family portrait. Castillo narrates her full life with humor and a touch of self-deprecation. Describing a near-death experience in “When I Died in Oaxaca,” Castillo writes, “I may have just suffered the humiliation as a Mexican American not knowing who the Mexican president was at the hour of my death but that didn’t mean my lover had to start treating me like a total gringa.”

If Castillo can’t make sense of life’s events, she can at least make some light of them. Her essays describe injustice in its many forms (e.g., the immigrant’s exploited labor, police surveillance, the prison industrial complex). Castillo also navigates her many identities, each one with its own triumphs and heartbreaks. As a daughter, Castillo reflects on her yearning to know and be close to her mother. As a mother, Castillo reflects on her yearning to prepare and protect her son—now grown with a family—as she knows how, and whether that is enough. As a Chicana, Castillo reflects on her own breed of American. Those identities merely scratch the surface of a complex, dynamic individual.

black doveGiven the largely chronological order of the essays, a few of them seem a touch out of place, such as the piece about Castillo’s near-death experience and a piece toward the end of the book in which she reflects on religion. A few essays may take readers out of the natural flow of Black Dove, though they probably read well on their own.

Even while Castillo writes to us as a woman of many identities, the one she emphasizes most is that of a singular person with a story—a story not necessarily worth more or less than anyone else’s, but one that hopefully stays with people similar and different from her. In the book’s introduction, Castillo addresses other Americans and insists that, in spite of differences in origins or politics, as countrypeople we have more in common than we like to believe.

It’s hard to pinpoint just one thing that makes Black Dove worth while, but the sincerity in these pages makes Black Dove an accessible read, both for those familiar and those unfamiliar with Castillo’s work.

Three-Star Review

May 2016, The Feminist Press at CUNY
$16.95, paperback, 350 pages
ISBN: 978-1-55861-923-4

—Reviewed by Ola Faleti

Read more about local poet, novelist, and essayist Ana Castillo.



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Local Author Spotlight: Gint Aras Has Soul

CBR_Logo2Oak Parker Gint Aras has been spending much of the past few months out and about talking with readers, whether during Independent Bookstore Day at Volumes Bookcafe or at the live lit event “That’s All She Wrote” at Great Lakes Tattoo in West Town (or during an upcoming “Local Author Night” at The Book Cellar).

So goes the business end of the writer’s life, which Aras understands and accepts, even if he’d rather be writing than marketing. “It’s a double-edged sword,” he says. “But I’ve never had an experience where a publisher published my book and then relieved me of all marketing duties.”

the fugueThese days, Aras’s marketing duties revolve around his latest title, The Fugue, published in February by local house Tortoise Books.

Originally placed with Chicago Center for Literature and Photography, The Fugue found a home at Tortoise Books after Jerry Brennan scooped it up when the publication rights became available again. The long route to publication for The Fugue is something of a story in and of itself.

Aras finished a draft of the manuscript in 2006. He spent a year pitching the project, to no avail. A literary agent expressed some interest, having him rewrite and rejigger, but in the end wasn’t 100 percent behind the novel. So he stuck it in the proverbial drawer and moved on to other projects.

During the past decade, Aras has published several pieces of short prose as well as the book Finding the Moon in Sugar, building his platform and developing as a writer. But that’s not all.

“I kind of grew up writing this book,” Aras says of The Fugue.

After spending the better part of a decade under his bed, the manuscript proved something of a revelation. “The man who was forty-two years old and opened up the book for the first time in five years and read the words that he had written himself when he was twenty-six was quite surprised.”

Surprised at how much he had grown, and surprised at how much he knew then.

What he found was a manuscript with a mature voice despite its author’s relatively young age. He found a story full of drama, intrigue, pathos, and depth. Despite fears of ineptitude, despite self-denial and self-hatred, and despite dismissing his skills as a writer, “I opened up the book and thought, ‘Hey, this guy actually has something to say.’”

gint aras

Author Gint Aras

It was, Aras says, “a realization that I didn’t know myself very well.”

The opportunity to reinvestigate his old text showed Aras that his fears were unfounded. It showed that The Fugue had, in fact, been written by a very mature self.

They say that time and space can help writers. They say that setting aside a manuscript for a few days, a few weeks, a few months—or even a few years—can lend the kind of distance that allows a writer to see the manuscript anew, with fresh, ostensibly more objective eyes. This proved to be exactly the case for Aras.

Not that writing and rewriting and pitching and publishing came entirely easy. Some parts were difficult to write about; some came freely. There was some work involved in structuring it, formalizing it, and disciplining it. “The Fugue is a disciplined release of energy,” Aras says. “That was hard. That was really, really hard.”

The novel, which is set in Cicero and spans three generations and more than fifty years, is full of stories—stories he learned while sitting at family dinner tables, while fishing with his grandfather, while listening to people talk over cake and coffee after church. Stories that were full of nostalgia and romance. The Fugue also is full of the stories that were never told to him, stories where he had to fill in the blanks.

Much of these stories revolve around art and war, around alcoholism and abuse, powerful stories told to him by “old men in bars, when they were really drunk and when their defenses were down.”

“Those kind of stories were actually much more common than I realized,” Aras says.

It is these stories that fill the pages of The Fugue, a quintessentially Chicago tale where place and setting become the tie that binds, a character of its own. A character with its own smell and rhythm, its own sunset, its own gravel-ridden streets. Its own soul.

finding the moonSoul, as it happens, is important to Aras, as a reader and as a writer—especially at a time when, as he recently wrote in a blog post, we are constantly barraged with an “embarrassing maelstrom in our daily rhetoric.”

In times such as these, Aras says, “the most radical thing that a writer can be right now is sincere and fearless.”

Sincerity and fearlessness is what Aras strives for, and what he instructs his students to strive for as well. To be honest and raw is important—crucial even, especially when so much literature is full of contrivance.

“It’s time to be honest about ourselves and to be sincere about our honesty and to not fear the consequences,” Aras says. “If you have it in you to share some sparkle of beauty with others and you refuse to do it because you’re afraid of being criticized by the people who loathe you, they’ve won.”

At a time when “winning” seems utmost on people’s minds, it’s likely fair to say that Aras himself is winning the battle of writing with sincerity, no matter the consequences. Not that he has much to fear. The Fugue has been praised as nimble, spellbinding, alluring, and seamless, a “must read” that crosses generations and genres.

That’s some high praise for a novel that took a decade to see the light of day, written by someone who deeply questioned his abilities as an author—one who has something to say and isn’t afraid to say it.

—Kelli Christiansen

Learn more about Gint Aras and his work.


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