September 2015 Articles

The Reading Room

BooksAfter the Tall Timber: Collected Nonfiction, Renata Adler ’59 (New York Review Books 2015).
Calling this collection of work from the past two decades “a mix of poignant and unrelenting,” NPR reviewer Juan Vidal writes, “For more than 50 years, Adler has shown that bravery is one of the most important qualities a writer can possess. That courage, that commitment to telling the truth at all cost—and with language that is so consistently dazzling—is one of the qualities I respect most about her.”

With a brilliant literary and legal mind, Adler parses power by analyzing language—of courts, of journalists, of political figures, of the man on the street—and unravels the tangled narratives that pass for the resolution of scandal and finds the threads that others miss. The more recent pieces are concerned with, in Adler’s own words, “misrepresentation, coercion, and abuse of public process, and, to a degree, the journalist’s role in it.”

Red & White Quilts: Infinite Variety, presented by the American Folk Art Museum (Skira Rizzoli 2015). Elizabeth V. Warren ’72 with Maggi Gordon, foreword by Martha Stewart. Joanna S. Rose ’52 amassed this incomparable and historically significant collection of 650-plus quilts over five decades. In 2011, as a gift for her 80th birthday, her husband funded an exhibition in the Park Avenue Armory that more than 26,000 people saw in just six days. The book includes photos of the quilts and of the award-winning installation by Thinc Design.

The Sage of Waterloo, Leona Francombe ’78 (W. W. Norton & Company 2015). “Move out from the towering presence of Watership Down, suspend your disbelief and enjoy the bold conceit of seeing a pivotal moment in history from the height of a blade of grass,” writes the New York Times. The novel’s narrator—a white rabbit named William—lives on a Belgian farm where the Battle of Waterloo was waged. Attuned to the ghosts of war, William reflects on the battlefield carnage and the ways it reverberates into the present.

Move: Putting America’s Infrastructure Back in the Lead, Rosabeth Moss Kanter ’64 (W. W. Norton & Company 2015). “America has been waiting for a call to think big and act big as we envision our transportation future,” writes Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick. “Kanter’s important book is it.” More than a treatise on repairing roads and bridges, this book poses fundamental questions about how our cities and states work. Writes The New York Times, “Her recommendations, if realized, could make America more efficient and more environmentally sound, with greater economic opportunity and the health benefits that will flow from these investments.” A professor at Harvard Business School, Kanter directs Harvard’s Advanced Leadership Initiative.

Sadly, we report the death of Alison Baker ’62. A writer and oral historian who lived in New York, Baker died on May 10 in Tangier, Morocco. Her book It’s Good To Be a Woman, Voices from Bryn Mawr, Class of ’62 was a tremendously popular read among Mawrters of all ages. It captured the stories of her classmates as they navigated the turbulent ’60s and paved the way for the next generation of women. Her previous book was Voices of Resistance: Oral Histories of Moroccan Women (SUNY Press, 1998). Our thoughts are with her family and her classmates, whom she so clearly loved and admired.

More Books from Bryn Mawr Alumnae/i

Memories of the Quaker Past: Stories of Thirty-Seven Senior Quakers, edited by Christine Ayoub ’42 (Xlibris 2014). In excerpts from interviews of senior members of the State College Friends Meeting, this book recounts stories about the Great Depression, WWII-era Civilian Public Service camps, and the Friends Ambulance Unit near the Chinese border.

Bookmarked: Reading My Way from Hollywood to Brooklyn, Wendy Westbrook Fairey ‘64 (Arcade Publishing 2015). Since childhood, Fairey has escaped into novels: E. M. Forster’s Howards End helped her cope with a failing marriage. Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Ramsay taught about love and memory. Like George Eliot’s Daniel Deronda, she learned as an adult of her Jewish heritage—and the identity of her real father. Fairey shows how reading can be both a source of pleasure and the key to a richly self-examined life.

The Restoration of the Roman Forum in Late Antiquity: Transforming Public Space, Gregor Kalas, M.A. ’93, Ph.D. ’99, (University of Texas Press 2015). The first comprehensive examination of the Roman Forum in late antiquity, this book explores the cultural significance of monuments and statues in Rome’s preeminent public space during the fourth and fifth centuries CE.

Every Father’s Daughter: Twenty-Four Women Writers Remember Their Fathers, edited by Margaret McMullan (McPherson & Company 2015). Phillip Lopate P’16 wrote the introduction for this collection of personal essays. Contributors include Alice Munro, Jayne Anne Phillips, Ann Hood, Bobbie Ann Mason, Maxine Hong Kingston, and Lopate’s daughter Lily Lopate ’16.

Afterwar: Healing the Moral Wounds of Our Soldiers, Nancy Sherman ’73 (Oxford University Press 2015). Sherman argues that psychology and medicine alone are insufficient to staunch the severe emotional wounds of soldiers returning home from war. Trained in both ancient ethics and psychoanalysis, she brings 20 years of experience with the military to this illuminating and compassionate study of veterans in a state of moral anguish, and the paths they must carve to restore hope.

The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake, Robin Newman ’89, illustrated by Deborah Zemke (Creston Books 2015). When Miss Rabbit’s carrot cake goes missing on Farmer Ed’s farm, two hard-nosed mouse detectives work their beat from a shoebox at the back of the barn. Detectives Wilcox and Griswold do what it takes to find out whodunit in this charmer that rated a starred Kirkus review.

Waldenstein, Rosalie Osmond, M.A. ’64 (Seraphim Editions 2013). In this first novel, the people of a small German community in early 20th-century Nova Scotia survive hardship through their unquestioning Lutheran faith. But when a prominent community leader fathers a child by his neighbor’s daughter and a new clergyman arrives, they find their faith shaken.



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