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Donald Lystra’s first novel, Season of Water and Ice, was the winner of the 2009 Midwest Book Award for fiction, making a nice publicity splash for our fiction imprint, Switchgrass, which proudly published it. The book garnered lots of publicity too, earing praise for Switchgrass in the pages of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the Detroit Free Press, Time Out Chicago magazine, and other venues. This volume gathers a bracing selection of short stories by Lystra that are very much cut from the same cloth as his highly acclaimed novel. The stories in Something That Feels Like Truth confound expected plot turns, and Lystra develops his characters patiently and naturally, bringing them into convincing and honest actions. Lystra was a career engineer before retiring and launching a second career as a writer: I like to think this is why his fiction operates with such mathematical precision. Every plot point in every story here holds an integral part in the imbuing of its beauty and meaning. You can also tell Lystra has read a lot of Hemingway and Chekov: and that he aspires to be an inheritor of their effectively concise tradition. But there’s a touch of Cheever in Lystra’s stories as well: what that master storyteller did for the suburbs of New York, Lystra does for the Midwest.
Culture, Practice, and Science
Thanks to the opening of archives and the forging of exchanges between Russian and Western scholars interested in the history of medicine, it is now possible to write new forms of social and political history in the Soviet medical field. Using the lenses of critical social histories of healthcare and medical science, and looking at both new material from Russian archives and interviews with those who experienced the Soviet health system, the contributors to this volume explore the ways experts and the Soviet state radically reshaped medical provision after the Revolution of 1917. Soviet Medicine presents the work of an international group of leading scholars. Twelve essays—treating subjects that span the 74-year history of the Soviet Union—cover such diverse topics as how epidemiologists handled plague on the Soviet borderlands in the revolutionary era, how venereologists fighting sexually transmitted disease struggled to preserve the patient’s right to secrecy, and how Soviet forensic experts falsified the evidence of the Katyn Forest massacre of 1940. This important volume demonstrates the crucial role played by medical science, practice, and culture in the shaping of a modern Soviet Union and illustrates how the study of Soviet medical history can benefit historians of medicine, science, the Soviet Union, and social and gender historians.
Doug Crandell is a maestro in multiple genres: the author of critically-acclaimed true crime books, devilishly charming memoirs, and tragicomic works of fiction about small-town life that are leavened in equal measure with poignancy and humor. Enter They’re Calling You Home, Crandell’s latest novel. This is the story of Gabriel Burke, a writer who is alienated from everyone he loves for exposing a discomforting family secret in a bestselling memoir. Divorced from his wife, estranged from his daughter, and loathed by his alcoholic brother, Burke must confront all of them when he returns to his hometown in Smallwood, Indiana to chronicle the story of a gruesome mass murder there. Thus begins this intricately woven tale of redemption and forgiveness, of men paying the wages of masculinity, of sons coming to grips with the sins of their fathers, and of one writer grappling with the burdens of journalistic integrity. Throughout this deftly crafted work, secrets present a hall of mirrors through which Burke must constantly navigate: the secret of his father’s sex crimes, the furtive steps his family takes to deny them, and the surreptitious efforts of State and local officials as they try and cover up the murder case he’s investigating. Part road trip, part who-dunnit, part voyage of self discovery, Crandell’s moving novel is ultimately the story of a journey in which the only possible destination is its starting point—home.
The Comely Cook , Vanka Kain, and "Poor Liza"
For those who cannot read the language of the original texts, the lively and varied world of eighteenth-century Russian literature has been largely inaccessible. In this valuable collection, expert translator David Gasperetti presents three seminal tales that express the major literary, social, and philosophical concerns of late-eighteenth-century Russia. The country’s first bestseller, Matvei Komarov’s Vanka Kain tells the story of a renowned thief and police spy and is also an excellent historical source on the era’s criminal underworld. Mikhail Chulkov’s The Comely Cook is a cross between Moll Flanders, with its comic emphasis on a woman of ill-repute who struggles to secure her place in society, and Tristram Shandy, with its parody of the conventions of novel writing. Finally, Nikolai Karamzin’s “Poor Liza,” the story of a young woman who kills herself over a failed love affair, set the standard for writing sentimentalist fiction in Russia. Taken as a whole, these three works outline the beginnings of modern prose fiction in Russia and also illuminate the literary culture that would give rise to the Golden Age of Russian letters in the middle of the next century.
From the moment of Lev Trotsky’s sensational and unannounced arrival in Oslo harbor in June 1935 he became the center of controversy. Although it was to be the shortest of his four exiles, this period of his life was a significant one. In Norway he increased his effort to create a Fourth International, encouraging his international followers to challenge Stalin’s dominance over world communism. He also wrote his last major book, The Revolution Betrayed, in which he presented himself as the true heir to the Bolshevik Revolution. At the Moscow show trial of August 1936 Trotsky was accused of being an international terrorist. Wishing to maintain good relations with its powerful neighbor, the Norwegian cabinet placed him under house arrest. Internment followed. He became the subject of political dispute, and in the national election that October, the issue threatened the very existence of Norway’s first permanent socialist administration. After the election, the Labor government was determined to expel him, and Mexico proved willing to offer a final refuge. Trotsky in Norway presents an enlightening account—the first complete study in English—of Trotsky’s asylum in Norway and his deportation to Mexico. In the numerous biographies of Trotsky, coverage of his Norwegian sojourn has been inadequate and in some cases erroneous. A revised and updated edition of Høidal’s highly regarded Norwegian work, this book incorporates information that has since become available. In lucid prose, Høidal presents new biographical details about a significant period in Trotsky’s life and sheds light on an important chapter in the history of international socialism and communism.
The Enlightenment privileged vision as the principle means of understanding the world, but the eighteenth-century Russian preoccupation with sight was not merely a Western import. In his masterful study, Levitt shows the visual to have had deep indigenous roots in Russian Orthodox culture and theology, arguing that the visual played a crucial role in the formation of early modern Russian culture and identity. Levitt traces the early modern Russian quest for visibility from jubilant self-discovery, to serious reflexivity, to anxiety and crisis. The book examines verbal constructs of sight—in poetry, drama, philosophy, theology, essay, memoir—that provide evidence for understanding the special character of vision of the epoch. Levitt’s groundbreaking work represents both a new reading of various central and lesser known texts and a broader revisualization of Russian eighteenth-century culture. Works that have considered the intersections of Russian literature and the visual in recent years have dealt almost exclusively with the modern period or with icons. The Visual Dominant in Eighteenth-Century Russia is an important addition to the scholarship and will be of major interest to scholars and students of Russian literature, culture, and religion, and specialists on the Enlightenment.
Balladeer of the city’s broken and forgotten men, Joseph G. Peterson looks for inspiration in urban side streets and alleys, where crooked schemes are hatched, where lives end violently, and where pretty much everyone is up to no good. Depicting the lives of people who have woefully lost their way in the world—criminals and victims, the unemployed and unemployable, the neglected and the indigent, the lonely and the alone—Peterson nonetheless brings a poet’s touch to his work, which is redolent with allegory, allusion, and Nabokovian wordplay. His last novel, Beautiful Piece, garnered praise from across the literary spectrum. Enter Wanted: Elevator Man, his powerful and ambitious new novel and the story of Eliot Barnes Jr., a man at the end of his proverbial rope.