Reviews | Short Takes
Asian-American X. Edited by Arar Han and John Hsu, with an essay by Jeffrey Ruta Willis ’00. Ann Arbor, Mich: University of Michigan Press, 2004. 248 pp. $65 hardcover.
In his essay, “Language and Identity,” Willis recounts his education in Japan and America, focusing on the adaptations of language that new social situations forced on him. With strings of well-assembled anecdotes ranging from conversations with his family in Kobe to his teammates at Amherst, he shows readers how he learned, through language, to create a bicultural identity. Willis is studying at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.
Before You Know Kindness. By Christopher Bohjalian ’77. New York: Shaye Areheart Books, 2004. 422 pp. $25 paperback.
Bohjalian’s first novel in nearly three years, Before You Know Kindness follows the Seton family as they meet at their country home in New Hampshire to spend a week together playing tennis, badminton and golf. However, in their 11th summer together everything changes when a hunting rifle winds up in exactly the wrong hands at precisely the wrong time. Before You Know Kindness blends complex family characters, the contemporary issues of gun control and animal rights, and an incident that will haunt a family forever.
The Blind Prophet of Archerland. By Herbert R. Coursen Jr. ’54. Waldoboro, Maine: Goose River Press, 2004. 126 pp. $39.90 hardcover.
John N. Cole of Maine’s Sun-Journal says The Blind Prophet of Archerland is “a free-flowing tale of good and evil, heroes, heroines, villains, monsters and magic, [with] all the action, all the sinister devices of darkness and the bright lights of virtue that give such fables their profound capacity to carry us off to another world….It incorporates a poetic and philosophic contemplation of the nature of truth and a thumbnail history of Christianity.” This is Coursen’s sixth book in a series of fantasy adventures. He teaches at the University of Maine, Augusta.
The Columbia Anthology of Modern Korean Poetry. Edited by David R. McCann ’66. New York: Columbia University Press, 2004. 192 pp. $52.50 hardcover.
Korea’s modern poetry is filled with many different voices and styles, subjects and views, moves and countermoves, yet it remains relatively unknown outside of Korea itself. This is in part because the Korean language, a rich medium for poetry, has been ranked among the most difficult for English speakers to learn. The Columbia Anthology of Modern Korean Poetry is the only up-to-date, representative gathering of 20th-century Korean poetry in English. McCann, the Korea Foundation Professor of Korean Literature at Harvard, presents 228 poems by 34 modern Korean poets, making this collection far more generous than previous anthologies.
Grow Your Communication Skills: Communication Fundamentals That Will Create More Win-Win Opportunities in Your Life. By David W. Holmes ’37. Cabin John, Md.: Seven Locks Press, 2004. 98 pp. $14.95 paperback.
Holmes, who was a senior manager at the DuPont Company for 37 years, wrote Grow Your Communication Skills as a practical guide for improving the way people interact in a business setting. The book covers techniques ranging from body language to writing, and offers plentiful advice for veterans and novices of all vocations. Holmes is a member of SCORE, the Service Corps of Retired Executives, a volunteer organization that offers counseling to both small-business owners and those considering entering the business world.
The HR Answer Book: An Indispensable Guide for Managers and Human Resources Professionals. By Shawn Smith ’80 and Rebecca Mazin. New York: AMACOM Books, 2004. 256 pp. $24.95 hardcover.
Shawn Smith and Rebecca Mazin have written a handbook to help business owners, managers and human-resources officers navigate the deep and often turbulent waters of employment law and policy. Drawing on Smith’s experience as the president of Next Level Consulting, the book uses a question-and-answer format to address key areas such as employee selection, policies, performance management, training, employee relations and retention, compensation, benefits, major employment laws, termination and difficult issues such as e-mail monitoring and workplace violence. Understanding these issues, Smith says, can help companies avoid a host of legal and managerial problems.
The Mindful Coach: Seven Roles for Helping People Grow. By Douglas Silsbee ’75. Marshall, N.C.: Ivy River Press, 2004. 320 pp. $32.95 hardcover.
Emphasizing a potent combination of self-awareness, partnering and the skillful deployment of coaching roles, The Mindful Coach provides an essential roadmap for anyone responsible for supporting the development of people. Silsbee, an internationally known consultant and executive coach, unites modern Buddhist perspectives on mindfulness with the Septet Model, an architecture for entering and navigating the coaching relationship.
On a Flying Fish. By David Applefield ’78. Niagara Falls, N.Y.: Mosaic Press, 2003. 279 pp. $18 paperback.
In this wildly imaginative display of storytelling, an obsessive book editor abandons the pressures of his professional life and seeks contemporary Bohemia in the über-rational city of Frankfurt accompanied by his enigmatic girlfriend, their barkless basenji dog and an unpublishable manuscript of questionable origin and multiple voices. Throughout the book, Applefield, who teaches at the Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris and represents the Financial Times in West Africa, follows the bittersweet conflict between domesticity and the pursuit of an artful life.
Psychology’s Grand Theorists: How Personal Experiences Shaped Professional Ideas. By Amy Demorest, professor of psychology. Mahwah, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2004. 208 pp. $49.95 hardcover.
In Psychology’s Grand Theorists, Demorest argues that the three dominant schools of psychology—the psychodynamic, behavioral and phenomenological—have resulted in large part from the personal experiences of their originators. Through a close examination of letters, diaries, biographies, autobiographies and professional writings, the book explores how the lives of Sigmund Freud, B.F. Skinner and Carl Rogers influenced the divergent theories they developed. Intended as a supplement in courses on personality, clinical psychology and/or the history of psychology, Psychology’s Grand Theorists will also be of interest to clinicians or counselors who use one or more of these theoretical models in their therapeutic work.
Sense and Nonsensibility: Lampoons of Learning and Literature. By Lawrence Douglas, associate professor of law, jurisprudence and social thought, and Alexander George, professor of philosophy. New York: Fireside Books, 2004. 192 pp. $9.95 paperback.
Douglas and George, widely published humor columnists, take on the lighter side of academia and poke fun at everyone from spoof-proof scholars to pompous professors. A singular collection that brings together their most popular pieces and many new ones, Sense and Nonsensibility bills itself as “the thinking person’s take on the life of the mind in today’s increasingly mindless age.” This irreverent send-up of highbrow literary culture includes such pieces as “The Academy Awards for Novels,” in which categories run from “Best Female Protagonist—Doomed” to “Best Narrator—Unreliable.”
Tipsy in Madras: A Complete Guide to ’80s Preppy Drinking. By Matthew Walker ’95 and Marissa Walsh. New York: Berkley Publishing Group, 2004. 200 pp. $14.95 paperback.
The ’80s may be over, but the preppy attitude that pervaded the era lives on in classic drinks with a kick. Tipsy in Madras will help readers “prep” their bar, discern the brands to have on hand, mix their drinks and delve into the timeless lifestyle. The book answers such essential preppy questions as: “Do Brahmins drink beer?” and “To monogram or not to monogram?” Although the book offers commentary on a ritzy and exclusive lifestyle, it is not ritzy and exclusive itself; rather, it is light-hearted and amusing, offering as much critique as commentary on the plaid-collar lifestyle and its favorite ways to get tipsy.
Violet Island and Other Poems. Reina María Rodríguez. Translated by Kristin Dykstra ’92 and Nancy Gates Madsen. Los Angeles: Green Integer Press, 2004. 204 pp. $12.95 paperback.
This bilingual anthology includes poems that can be difficult to find in Spanish-language publications. It is also the first substantive resource for English-language readers interested in the award-winning contemporary Cuban writer, known not only for her powerful writing but also for her cultural activism in Havana. The collection draws from five books and ranges across two decades of Rodríguez’s work. Dykstra, assistant professor of English at Illinois State University, also provides an essay that combines biographical and historical context and her own observations from close readings of these and other Rodríguez works.
William Bradford: Sailing Ships and Arctic Seas. By Richard C. Kugler ’52. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2003. 178 pp. $50 hardcover.
This volume presents 78 paintings by William Bradford (1823-92), from early ship portraits and harbor scenes to the arctic views that would earn him the accolade “Painter of the Polar World.” Three authoritative essays provide new information on a career that began in the whaling port of New Bedford in the 1850s, included seven voyages to Labrador and the arctic in the 1860s, and later attracted the patronage of Queen Victoria and San Francisco railroad barons. Richard C. Kugler is director emeritus of the New Bedford Whaling Museum in Massachusetts.
—Compiled by Samuel Masinter ’04