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University of Iowa Press
An Artist's Memoir
Confessions of a Left-Handed Man is a bold, unblushing journey down roads less traveled. Whether recounting his work driving a furniture delivery truck, his years as a caricaturist, his obsession with the Titanic that compelled him to complete seventy-five paintings of the ship (in sinking and nonsinking poses), or his daily life as a writer, from start to finish readers are treated to a vividly detailed, sometimes hilarious, often moving, but always memorable life.
Harnessing techniques of the cinematic and audio arts, Book’s poems splice, sample, collage, and jump-cut language from an array of sources, including slave narratives, Western philosophy, hip hop lyrics, and the diaries of plantation owners. In fusing disparate texts, each poem in this collection attempts to create a community in language. Thus, at its core, the project is utopic—or more precisely, to borrow from Duke Ellington—the project is “blutopic.”
The book’s anchoring series contains an apocryphal narrative grounded in the journey of the Middle Passage and an older mythic history from the West African epic of Sundiata. Here elements of Afrofuturism coagulate with an R&B grin as social forces challenge a sense of personhood, prompting free-jazz inflected conversations between the pieces of a shattered, polyvocal self.
Here is a world poet of the Sonic Global South sheathed in a Northern Hemispheric glow suit, high “on Coltrane, on Zeus” but also on the old and new schools of Descartes, M.I.A., Cecil Taylor, Gilbert Ryle, Freud, and Jay Z, among others—or as one poem puts it, the “aural truths.”
Selections from Horace Traubel's Conservator, 1890-1919
It is now difficult to imagine that, in the years before Whitman's death in 1892, there was real doubt in the minds of Whitman and his literary circle whether Leaves of Grass would achieve lasting fame. Much of the critical commentary in the first decade after his burial in Camden was as negative as that in Boston's Christian Register, which spoke of Whitman as someone who “succeeded in writing a mass of trash without form, rhythm, or vitality.”That the balance finally tipped toward admiration, culminating in Whitman's acceptance into the literary canon, was due substantially to the unflagging labor of Horace Traubel, famous for his nine volumes of Whitman conversations but less well known for his provocative monthly journal of socialist politics and avant-garde culture, the Conservator.Conserving Walt Whitman's Fame offers a generous selection from the enormous trove of Whitman-related materials that Traubel included in the 352 issues of the Conservator. Among the revelatory, perceptive, and often entertaining items presented here are the most illuminating of the Conservator's more than 150 topical essays on Whitman and memoirs by many of his friends and literary cohorts that shed new light on the poet, his work, and his critical reception. Also important is the richer understanding these pages afford of Horace Traubel's own sophisticated, deeply humane, and feisty views of America.
In Control Bird Alt Delete, the reader is invited to explore strange landscapes: some based on the ruins of New England and others following the architectural prints of the unconscious. The reader walks through woods filled with cellar holes, rock walls, and lilac bushes, and is made to think of people gone missing. Robert Frost meets Times Square. Nature intrudes in unexpected ways on domestic settings—and vice versa—domestic and industrial settings appear in bits inside the pastoral. Birds, one-dimensional but strangely wise, flit back and forth and rebelliously tape up their songs. The senses are thoroughly blended, leading to strange combinations and sensory experiences, to states of mindfulness and blizzard distraction.
All the while, the unconscious threatens to intrude, with its underlined places, its trap doors inside ordinary conversations, the mazes it hangs up like “welcome home” banners next to people’s mouths while they speak. The reader follows the first-person I through mazes, office spaces, and coils of highway traffic, hoping for some redemption, some sort of answer to all the deletion.
Turkish-German Literatures from Nadolny to Pamuk
Moving deftly from the theoretical literature to the texts themselves, Mani’s groundbreaking study explores these conflicts and dialogues and the resulting cultural hybridization as they are expressed in four novels that document the complexity of Turkish-German cultural interactions in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. His innovative readings will engage students of contemporary German literature as well as illuminate the discussion of minority literature in a multicultural setting.
As Salman Rushdie said in the 2002 Tanner Lecture at Yale, “The frontier is an elusive line, visible and invisible, physical and metaphorical, amoral and moral. . . . To cross a frontier is to be transformed.” It is in this vein that Mani’s dynamic and subtle work posits a still evolving discourse between Turkish and German writers.
Advice from an Unrepentant Novelist
Beginning with “The Writer’s Wonderland—Or: A Warning” and ending with “You’ve Published a Book—Now What?” The Creative Writer’s Survival Guide is a must-read for creative-writing students and teachers, conference participants, and aspiring writers of every stamp. Directed primarily at fiction writers but suitable for writers of all genres, John McNally’s guide is a comprehensive, take-no-prisoners blunt, highly idiosyncratic, and delightfully subjective take on the writing life.
McNally has earned the right to dispense advice on this subject. He has published three novels, two collections of short fiction, and hundreds of individual stories and essays. He has edited six anthologies and worked with editors at university presses, commercial houses, and small presses. He has earned three degrees, including an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and taught writing to thousands of students at nine different universities. But he has received far more rejections than acceptances, has endured years of underpaid adjunct work, and is presently hard at work on a novel for which he has no guarantee of publication. In other words, he’s been at the writing game long enough to rack up plenty of the highs and lows that translate into an invaluable guide for anyone who wants to become a writer or anyone who is already a writer but doesn’t know how to take the next step toward the writing life.
In the sections The Decision to Become a Writer, Education and the Writer, Getting Published, Publicity, Employment for Writers, and The Writer’s Life, McNally wrestles with writing degrees and graduate programs, the nuts and bolts of agents and query letters and critics, book signings and other ways to promote your book, alcohol and other home remedies, and jobs for writers from adjunct to tenure-track. Chapters such as “What Have You Ever Done That’s Worth Writing About?” “Can Writing Be Taught?” “Rejection: Putting It in Perspective,” “Writing as a Competitive Sport,” “Seven Types of MLA Interview Committees,” “Money and the Writer,” and the all-important “Talking about Writing vs. Writing” cover a vast range of writerly topics from learning your craft to making a living at it. McNally acts as the writer’s friendly drill sergeant, relentlessly honest but bracingly cheerful as he issues his curmudgeonly marching orders. Alternately cranky and philosophical, full of to-the-point anecdotes and honest advice instead of wonkish facts and figures, The Creative Writer’s Survival Guide is a snarky, truthful, and immensely helpful map to being a writer in today’s complex world.
A Year of Investing, Death, Work, and Coins
“Here in a glittering series of personal essays, occasioned by the year of his father's death, Don Nichols transcends all of his distinguished books on investing by investing himself in a journal-like story of that year, eloquently bearing witness to the complex ways that his life, his thoughts, and his feelings were profoundly influenced by the legacy of loss. Anyone who cares about the ultimate significance of investment, work, and the intricacies of family life will surely find this a compelling book.”—Carl H. Klaus, author of Taking RetirementIn 1998, Don Nichols returned regularly to Iowa from his life and job in Washington, D.C., to be with his dying father and to oversee his parents‘ investments. A veteran investor and investment author, Nichols found that managing the portfolio entrusted to him brought a larger understanding of mortality, family, love, work, and the choices he had made as “an agri-kid who took the road out of town and kept going.” In this insightful and money-wise book that grew out of that experience, he merges the emotions of a dutiful son with the actions of a knowledgeable investor.
Nichols uses money in myriad forms—a grandfather‘s silver dollar, stocks and bonds, salaries, pallets of coins at the U.S. Mint, on-the-job dealings with coin collectors—as touchstones for reflections on relationships, motives, and a career "like one of those moving walkways in airports." His father's health is measured, tested, and evaluated in part by the health of his finances; at the same time, the turmoil and mystery surrounding both money and relationships are reflected in this memorable story.
Wry, unsentimental, and financially savvy, Currency of the Heart is about rediscovering family, managing a portfolio, honoring promises, grieving, and healing; it is about a father and a son who once “fought like medieval villagers in a Thirty Years‘ War” and the deepening bond between a middle-age son and his aging mother. It is a multilayered story for everyone who will manage, financially and emotionally, a parent's death.
The Civil War Letters of William Henry Harrison Clayton
William Henry Harrison Clayton was one of nearly 75,000 soldiers from Iowa to join the Union ranks during the Civil War. Possessing a high school education and superior penmanship, Clayton served as a company clerk in the 19th Infantry, witnessing battles in the Trans-Mississippi theater. His diary and his correspondence with his family in Van Buren County form a unique narrative of the day-to-day soldier life as well as an eyewitness account of critical battles and a prisoner-of-war camp.
Clayton participated in the siege of Vicksburg and took part in operations against Mobile, but his writings are unique for the descriptions he gives of lesser-known but pivotal battles of the Civil War in the West. Fighting in the Battle of Prairie Grove, the 19th Infantry sustained the highest casualties of any federal regiment on the field. Clayton survived that battle with only minor injuries, but he was later captured at the Battle of Stirling's Plantation and served a period of ten months in captivity at Camp Ford, Texas.
Clayton's writing reveals the complicated sympathies and prejudices prevalent among Union soldiers and civilians of that period in the country's history. He observes with great sadness the brutal effects of war on the South, sympathizing with the plight of refugees and lamenting the destruction of property. He excoriates draft evaders and Copperheads back home, conveying the intra-sectional acrimony wrought by civil war. Finally, his racist views toward blacks demonstrate a common but ironic attitude among Union soldiers whose efforts helped lead to the abolition of slavery in the United States.
Encompassing a vast gamut of personalities, situations, and emotions, these stories penetrate our motives for doing what is right. Often there is no right or wrong, and the characters' motives for the choices they make are as diverse as the childhood memories they cherish and abhor. In the end, this book probes individual impulse and responsibility, creating stories so unerringly authentic that they become—irrepressibly—part of everyone who reads them.
"The Darkness of Love" narrates three days in the life of a black policeman, distressed by his inner fears of racism and irresistibly attracted by his wife's sister. In "Dancing in the Movies" a college student returns to his hometown, where he finds his girlfriend—a heroin addict—and tries to convince her to overcome her habit. There are stories of men at war, of lovers trying to begin a relationship, of others trying to sustain their love. Each story revolves around characters with a choice to make, and Robert Boswell renders these characters in all of their fine, vulnerable, and relentless attributes.
With this prize-winning collection, Boswell proves himself a mature craftsperson, weaving stories both poignant and profound. Each story is a vision of life, alternately dark and joyous, gritty and hopeful.