by Rita Bullwinkel '11 (A Strange Object)
"People kept dying and I was made to sleep in their beds." This is the first line of "Burn", one of 17 stories in this witty, intriguing, and often unsettling debut collection. Here, the narrator, Joe Engle, keeps being asked to comfort recently widowed wives whose ghostly husbands come back to confront him. You'll also encounter a girl with a blackened tongue and a child-eating church. These stories have surreal, just left-of-center power that quickly accumulates.
Asking For A Friend: Three Centuries of Advice on Life, Love, Money, and Other Burning Questions from a Nation Obsessed
by Jessica Weisberg '06 (Nation Books)
In this lively ride, Weisberg profiles 16 iconic advice-givers from across the centuries. You'll meet the men who toiled from the 1600s to the 19th century (John Dunton and Benjamin Franklin), 20th century women who wrote as if their readers were dear friends (Dear Abby and Ann Landers), the credentialed experts (Dr. Benjamin Spock and Elizabeth Kübler-Ross), and an entertaining selection of today's contemporaries (including Miss Manners). Along the way, Weisberg discovers that most advice-givers were, and are, somewhat liberal and extremely confident, and they all helped shift society's goals.
Radiation Nation: Three Mile Island and the Political Transformation of the 1970's
by Natasha Zaretsky '96 AM, '03 PhD (Columbia)
At 4 a.m. on Wednesday, March 28, 1979, a valve at Three Mile Island was left open and the nation's worst nuclear power disaster had begun. In this cultural study of the aftermath, Zaretsky, a history professor at Southern Illinois University, argues that the disaster fostered an ecological movement led by area women who were worried about radiation threats to the health of both them and their families. These anxieties in turn helped muddy any late-1970s political distinctions between the left and the right.