Posts tagged “Books

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Two Days Until Race Day

The Belmont Stakes is coming up this weekend, and we’re all wondering the same thing. Will California Chrome win the Triple Crown? If California Chrome succeeds, he will be the first horse since 1978 and the 12th in American thoroughbred racing history to win the coveted honor. Many fans know the history of the successful, as well as the failed, attempts at the Triple Crown. But what about the history of the sport as a whole? Where and how did American thoroughbred racing begin?

ImageWe know you wish you could fast-forward to know whether California Chrome will pull off the win. But while you wait, become acquainted with the roots of horse racing in New York with The Sport of Kings and the Kings of Crime: Horse Racing, Politics, and Organized Crime in New York, 1865-1913 by Steven A. Reiss.

Reiss explores the beginnings of horse racing through a detailed look into New York’s role as the sport’s capital in the early years of the industry. Examining the connections between horse racing, politics, organized crime, and gambling, Reiss offers a comprehensive account of one of America’s earliest major sports.

Whether or not California Chrome creates history at Belmont, The Sport of Kings and the Kings of Crime will give you a new appreciation for thoroughbred racing.

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A New Season of Reading

Attention all readers! We are excited to share our new Fall 2014 catalog. We have a great lineup of books including biographies, short stories,  literary translations, and many others.

9780815610434Michael Long (author of Beyond Home Plate: Jackie Robinson on Life After Baseball) returns with another inspiring biography. In Gay is Good, Long collects the letters of gay rights pioneer Frank Kameny. These letters are lively and colorful because they in Kameny’s inimitable voice—a voice that was consistently loud, echoing through such places as the Oval Office, the Pentagon, and the British Parliament.9780815633662

Our Director’s Choice book for this season is a fascinating exploration of sacred wampum belts. These belts depict significant moments in the lives of the people in Eastern Woodlands tribes, portraying everything from weddings to treaties. Reading the Wampum conveys the vitality and continuance of wampum traditions in Iroquois art, literature, and community.

9780815633693

We are thrilled to be publishing Monarch of the Square, the first anthology of Muhammad Zafzāf’s work to be translated into English. Regarded as “Morocco’s Tolstoy,” Zafzāf creates stories that bring to life the flavors and sites of Casablanca, and the daily struggle to survive in remote rural villages. Filled with irony, sarcasm, and sympathy, these tales offer profound reflections on the human condition.

 

View the full fall catalog to read about all of our upcoming books.

 


Author Spotlight: Dave Dyer

Book: Steel’s: A Forgotten Stock Market Scandal from the 1920s

Dave DyerDave Dyer is an independent investor and freelance writer.  He is also the author of Steel’s, “a fascinating and thoroughly engaging story of Buffalo-based Steel’s department store told by a master storyteller” as described by Field HorneDyer’s Spring 2013 title was published by the Syracuse University Press in March.

Could you provide the audience with a brief description of Steel’s?

“My grandmother’s brother, Clayton Pickard, vanished in 1923 and I set out to find what happened to him. Through a long string of lucky breaks and coincidences, I learned about him even though he had changed his name. I also learned that he worked for the L. R. Steel Company, and I was again lucky enough to acquire about 20 lbs. of original documents from that company. The box contained newsletters from the early 1920s with thousands of photographs and other documents. It was like finding an unopened time capsule.

The documents gave an inside view of a chain store business run by a very creative and visionary entrepreneur named Leonard Rambler Steel.  The business consisted of 75 retail stores, but the real money maker was his scheme to sell stock in the business. He promoted stock sales by making a silent film about his business…probably one of the first infomercials. The film helped him sell stock to 60,000 people, and they all lost their money when the company went bankrupt in 1923.  Steel had other big ideas, like developing Niagara Falls into a permanent World’s Fair that would be dedicated to the glory of electricity and international commerce, but he never got around to implementing that one.

There were fraud indictments for some of the executives in 1923, but Leonard Rambler Steel died suddenly, at only 44, while he was on a train to seek a loan from Henry Ford to resurrect his company.  Clayton Pickard was not charged, but I expect his disappearance was related to the scandal.  Eventually, all the indictments were dropped and the story was no longer as newsworthy since the charismatic founder was dead.  There is no other account of this story in print and it might have been lost forever if I had not been lucky enough to find that box of documents.”

What went through your mind when you began to discover the stock market scandal?

“I started reading the documents to find out about my grandmother’s brother, but I soon found Leonard Rambler Steel to be more interesting.  At first, I assumed that there must be a book or some historical article on this amazing story, but I could find none. I visited Buffalo a couple of times and found newspaper articles from the 1920s, but nothing recent.

The documents revealed an unusual company; women in management and some employees in their eighties. When I started reading about the movie, I was hooked.  The movie was released in 1922 and it was 3 hours long. It was shown for free all over North America to generate leads for his stock selling scheme. He made 50 copies of the 10-reel film, and each one had a different ending; each ended with views of his store in the locality where it was shown. He anticipated the value of localization in advertising and this amazing insight was what convinced me that the story needed to be researched and documented.”

When did you decide to research your great uncle, Clayton Pickard?

“My grandmother had always wondered about her vanished brother and I thought it would be easy to resolve the mystery since so many old records are now digitized and searchable. I did not anticipate that he would change his name!

Also, my grandmother always told me that I was a lot like Clayton. When you grow up hearing something like that, you remember it.  Finally, when I was digitizing some old family photos, my wife commented that I really do look a bit like him.”

steelsAre there any unresolved questions you have regarding your findings?

“Yes, I would love to know what happened to all 50 copies of the film.  When the company went bankrupt, they were scattered all over the country in small town movie houses. Some were probably not returned because there was no company to return them to.  Is there a much deteriorated copy still in some attic?

The last showing was in the Erie County prosecutor’s office looking for evidence of fraud, but they have not been able to locate it now.  I offered to spend a couple of days just opening boxes in their long-term storage area, but they were prudent enough not to take me up on that.”

As an independent investor, how did writing Steel’s influence you in relation to your work?

“I have been fascinated with the stock market for over 30 years and I specialize in analyzing small growth companies with unique technology for some niche market.  I love to find a creative company with an idea that actually works. I was the ideal person to appreciate the documents that I found.”

What do you hope the audience takes from your story?

“Sometimes failure is more interesting than success, especially when the person who failed had the talent needed to succeed.  And, to quote Leonard Rambler Steel,

“The line between success and failure is so finely drawn that often all that is required is one step forward to land on the winning side.”  L. R. Steel, December 24, 1920′”

What can we expect next from you?

“First, I would love to see Steel’s made into a movie or TV show. The characters are so vivid and a film based in Buffalo when it was a boom town in the 1920s just might work. If anyone knows an agent who could make this happen, I’m available. Also, if the publication of the book happens to turn up a copy of the lost silent film (hey, I’ve been lucky on everything else) that would be a nice ending.

Although Steel’s is my first book, I have several hundred other shorter publications, mostly magazine articles, newspaper editorials, and lots of stock market newsletters and commentary. I am about half way through a second book called, I Knew a Guy Who Worked Once.  It is a guide for people who want to reach escape velocity from corporate life by using aggressive investing techniques.  It is based on some investment courses that I taught and I hope it will be one of the few humorous investment books.

I have two other projects in the planning stage. One is a history book about the influence of weather on history.  There has been lots of recent discussion about mankind’s potential effect on the weather, but less about the effect of weather on human events.  I am interested in things like the sudden hurricane that saved Washington, DC, from being burned by the British in August, 1814 or the tornado that helped General “Mad” Anthony Wayne win the Battle of Fallen Timbers in 1794.  Also, my wife and I are planning a book about how to turn underutilized urban land into public parks. We have done this once and created a 22-acre urban nature preserve.  We are now in the process of repeating this with a smaller parcel that will be used as a dog park. We hope to document the lessons we have learned.”

For more information on Dave Dyer’s Steel’s, visit the Syracuse University Press website.  It is available for sale now!


Author Spotlight: Peter Makuck

Book: Allegiance and Betrayal: Stories

CapturePeter Makuck is Distinguished Professor Emeritus at East Carolina University.  He is the author of Long Lens: New and Selected Poems and two collections of short stories, Breaking and Entering and Costly Habits.  His poems, stories, and essays have appeared in the Georgia Review, Hudson Review, Poetry, Sewanee Review, the Nation, and Gettysburg Review.

Tell us about Allegiance and Betrayal.

“Like writing itself, putting together a collection of stories is yet another process of discovery.  You become aware of unifying themes in your work, as well as certain obsessions.  I discovered that fiction not included in my two previous collections, plus more recent stories, have in common family matters and friendships, as well as themes of allegiance and betrayal.  Some of these stories also have coastal settings in common.”

What made you choose to write your book in a post-World War II setting?  Has this time period always interested you?

“I came of age in post-World War II America.  I was about five when the war ended. I can remember my grandfather spreading the news, yelling, neighbors cheering, singing, drinking, and dancing in the street in front of our house when victory was declared.”

Do you think your theme of family is strengthened by the World War II setting?

“Well, it’s almost a cliché but nonetheless true that post-war America in the 1950s is a setting dominated by two-parent families, stay-at-home mothers, and safe neighborhoods where kids played ball in the streets, rode bikes, and climbed trees together.  For me, it was also a time of parochial education reinforced by the family’s traditional Roman Catholicism.”

Do you have a personal connection to any of the stories in Allegiance and Betrayal?

“Most my stories are triggered by what I’ve experienced, witnessed, or know.  Pedro Almodovar, the Spanish film director, says that everything not autobiography is plagiarism.  But I doubt he means literal autobiography.  An incident in your life might just be a starting point.  You develop, add characters, expand, and lie (Picasso said that art is the lie that make you see the truth).  If you have promising raw material in front of you, why bother to invent?  The odds are that you will have a more compelling connection with what you have actually seen or experienced, an enthusiasm that might well be contagious to a reader.  A friend once told me he knew where one of my stories came from and proceeded to describe the event.  I told him he was right, but wasn’t my version a lot more interesting than what actually happened?  On the other hand, my mother was hurt by my first published story where I hadn’t invented enough to disguise real events and people.  In graduate school, hungry to get into print, I expanded on an incident in the extended family.  I had already published a poem about my grandfather’s death that my parents and the rest of the family were quite happy about.  But I had no intention of showing them the story.  An old high school friend, however, noticed my name on the cover of a journal just shelved in the Yale bookstore, bought two copies, and dropped one at my father’s gas station.  Big mistake.  A learning experience, as they say.  The story made a splash and got me letters of interest from a few agents, but I never reprinted it and I promised myself never to let something like that happen again.”

allegianceWhat kind of research did you have to conduct in order to write this book?

“Very recently I did some research about tarot cards and fortune telling—something I needed for a scene in a story still not quite finished.  But normally, I write about what I know.  In this new collection, there are several stories about deep-sea fishing and scuba diving. I’ve done that a lot.  No research necessary.  At an AWP conference some years ago, I was talking to two poets about scuba diving.  A few weeks later I got a phone call from one of them who wanted to write a poem about the subject and asked me a lot of questions, especially about what you heard while underwater.  The residual prankster in me was tempted to lie, say something about the plucking of harp strings and that once I heard Paul McCartney and the Wings singing “Band on the Run,” likely coming from a boat anchored nearby.  But I didn’t.  All to say, you risk losing an authoritative voice if you flub the details.  The old workshop wisdom: Write about what you know.”

You have written significantly more poetry than stories.  Do you ever wish you wrote more stories, or do you prefer poetry?

“That’s a good question.  I’m really addicted to both even though I’ve written more poetry, perhaps because I edited a poetry journal for thirty years or so.  I also write essays and a lot of reviews.  The plus is that if you are working in a number of genres, you don’t get blocked.  If you get stuck on a poem or a story, say, put it on the back burner, and turn to a review.  When working on something else, I find the problem with the poem or story will often solve itself.  I also like to write stories because it gives my sense of humor a chance to exercise.  I like to laugh, but I don’t have the talent to write funny poems.  The short story allows me to have characters interact in humorous ways.”

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

“I came to reading and writing late.  I was an action junkie in high school, an average student at best, and faked my way through.  I thought nothing could be more boring than quietly hunkering down to read a book.  And I didn’t.  In college freshman English, one of our first assignments was to read a short story by William Faulkner, “Barn Burning,” then write an essay.  I loved Faulkner’s vocabulary and use of language.  I said to myself, “Man, what have I been missing!”  A week later, our teacher told the class he was going to read two of the best essays, examples of quality writing he expected from everyone.  To my great surprise, one of the essays was mine.  I’d never been praised for anything in high school, nor did I deserve to be.  Now I had a new identity.  My teacher urged me to join the staff of the literary magazine, and I did.  I suppose you could draw a fairly straight line from that short story in freshman comp to my doctoral dissertation on Faulkner.  All along the way I was writing poetry, reviews, and fiction as well.”

Has your writing career affected your style of teaching English at East Carolina University in any way? If so, how?

“I never had the benefit of a creative writing course.  Few colleges and universities offered them when I was a student.  So my writing career certainly had an influence on the way I taught fiction and poetry writing courses.  I would talk about what I had slowly learned the hard way, through trial and error, talk about clichés, revision, narrative structure, round and flat characters, sound, rhythm, imagery, scene, dialogue etc.  On the other hand, when teaching a course on Shakespeare, Faulkner, Hemingway, Welty, O’Connor, or a course on Modern or Contemporary poetry, I’d revert to my academic training as a literary critic but still try to make the lectures lively as possible in order to interest students in these great writers.”

Peter Makuck’s Allegiance and Betrayal was published this April.  For more information or to purchase a copy (at our 30% SPRING SALE discount), visit the Syracuse University Press website.


What Book Would You Give Your Mother?

Here are the results from our SU Press Staff Survey on book suggestions for Mother’s Day!  We shared our ideas, now we want to hear from you!

Book Reason
The Photographed Cat
Picturing Close Human-Feline Ties, 1900–1940

Arnold Arluke and Lauren Rolfe

 

She loves my cat
Improbable Women
Five Who Explored the Middle East

William Woods Cotterman

 

We’re both on a journey and can see ourselves in one of these women
Sheva’s Promise
Chronicle of Escape from a Nazi Ghetto

Sylvia Lederman

 

Female strength
Beyond Home Plate
Jackie Robinson on Life after Baseball

Edited by Michael G. Long

 

It’s hot right now!
Selections from The Art of Party-Crashing
in Medieval Iraq

al-Khatib al-Baghdadi
Translated from the Arabic and illustrated by Emily Selove

 

It’s funny and she would find it so too
Different Kinds of Love
Leland Bardwell

 

Looks funny and interesting
Walking Seasonal Roads
Mary A. Hood
It will make her travel or at least consider it more!

The Fall 2013 Catalog is Now Available!

Fall 2013 catalogAttention readers!  The Fall 2013 Catalog has arrived and just in time for Graduation and Mother’s Day.  This season we offer a number of wonderful trade and scholarly titles.  Be sure to take some time to browse the online catalog on the Syracuse University Press website.  Remember, online orders on ALL books are 30% off during the month of May for our Spring Sale so take advantage of the limited-time discounts (05spring13).  Books make the perfect gift for a new graduate, special mom or simply even a little treat for yourself!

Top Picks:

Unknown Museums of Upstate New York: A Guide to 50 Treasures
By Chuck D’Imperio

Unknown Museums of Upstate NYUnknown Museums of Upstate New York is an informative and entertaining guide to the rich resources available at fifty small, often overlooked, regional museums. Even those familiar with the upstate area will likely have never visited and perhaps never heard of some of the treasures this guide unearths, such as the Catskill Fly Fishing Museum, the Kazoo Museum, and the Robert Louis Stevenson Cottage and Museum. D’Imperio tells each museum’s story, in light of its cultural and historical relevance, and he provides a wealth of information about the museums as places of interest to visit, not just to read about. In addition to information on ticket prices, hours of operation, and travel directions, Unknown Museums of Upstate New York highlights key information about the collections and offers suggestions for how visitors can make the most of their visit, listing nearby and related venues of interest to the regional explorer. Each of these museums deserves a visit, but you won’t find any of them in New York City. They’re some of the gems of Upstate New York, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find them without this guide.

Poets Translate Poets: A Hudson Review Anthology
Edited by Paula Deitz, with an Introduction by Mark Jarman

Poets Translate PoetsPoets Translate Poets originates from the perception that while the poetry translated in the Hudson Review over the years—from ancient Greek to contemporary Russian—constitutes a history of world literature, the translators themselves are among the most distinguished American and British poets. These poems belong as much to them as to the original authors.

The collection features eighty-three poems in twenty-four languages, translated by sixty writers; it represents the best of more than five hundred translated works originally published in the Hudson Review over the last seven decades. The value of this anthology lies in the artistry of its translators, including William Carlos Williams and Marianne Moore, combined with the range of its originals, from classical epics to Old French, Middle English, and medieval Japanese, to lesser-known twentieth-century works by Bulgarian and Swedish poets. Among its translations are Ezra Pound’s remarkable re-creation of Sophocles’s Women of Trachis and Richard Wilbur’s transformation of Pierre Corneille’s alexandrines into English heroic couplets in Le Cid.  Beyond the pleasures it provides as a collection of world poetry translated for an English reader, Poets Translate Poets offers a privileged exploration of the craft of translating poetry.

The Photographed Cat: Picturing Close Human-Feline Ties, 1900–1940
By Arnold Arluke and Lauren Rolfe

The Photographed CatWith more than 130 illustrations, The Photographed Cat: Picturing Close Human-Feline Ties, 1900–1940 is both an archive and an analytical exploration of the close relationships between Americans and their cats during a period that is significant for photography and for modern understandings of animals as pets. This volume examines the cultural implications of feline companions while also celebrating the intimacy and joys of pets and family photographs. In seven thematic sections, Arluke and Rolfe engage with the collection of antique images as representations of real relationships and of ideal relationships, noting the cultural trends and tropes that occur throughout this increasingly popular practice. Whether as surrogate children, mascots, or companions to women, cats are part of modern American life and visual culture. Entertaining, smart, and filled with a collector’s trove of wonderful images, The Photographed Cat pays homage to the surprising range of relationships we have with cats and offers thoughtful consideration of the ways in which we represent them.


SU Press Spring Sale

Save 30% on ALL SU Press online orders during the month of May.  For the discount, enter the code 05spring13 at checkout.  The sale ends May 31 so don’t miss out on the savings.  You can never have enough books – start shopping now!Spring Sale