In honor of our year-long 70th Anniversary celebration, Syracuse University Press presents two author events this week. Fall 2012 authors, Bill Rezak and Thomas Holliday will each be holding a book talk and signing for an audience of interested readers. If you’re around the area, we invite you to attend these events, engage with our authors, and be part of the celebration! For more information, please contact Syracuse University Press at 443-5541 or email@example.com.
Bill Rezak was president of Alfred State College from 1993 until his retirement in 2003. He was dean of the School of Technology at Southern Polytechnic State University in Marietta, Georgia. Rezak is a mechanical engineer and spent eighteen years in the design and construction of power plants before moving to higher education.
“Rezak re-creates, in novel form, detailed genealogical accounts and emigrations by his Arab and British forebears who share values of ambition, hard work, devotion to family and education.”—James A. Jacobs, author of Transgressions: A Novel
Thursday, Feb. 21 at Barnes & Noble
3454 Erie Blvd. East, Dewitt, NY at 7:00 p.m.
Thomas Holliday has directed multiple productions of over fifty operas, operettas, and musicals in Europe and the United States. He has worked as a composer, conductor, opera educator, writer, and lecturer on operatic subjects.
“Tom Holliday’s astonishingly comprehensive biography of one of America’s preeminent composers makes great reading because it marries the private and the professional, the trials and the triumphs of a long and fascinating career.”—Hal Prince, Tony Award–winning producer and director
Friday, Feb. 22 at Tattered Cover Book Store
1628 16th Street, Denver, CO 80202 at 7:30 p.m.
Book: A Place We Call Home: Gender, Race, and Justice in Syracuse
K. Animashaun Ducre is a dedicated advocate for environmental justice with four years of Greenpeace experience working as a toxics campaigner. She received her PhD in environmental justice at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Currently, she is an assistant professor in the Department of African American Studies at Syracuse University. Her new SU Press book, A Place We Call Home: Gender, Race, and Justice in Syracuse was published this month and is a wonderful addition to the Syracuse Studies on Peace and Conflict Resolution series.
Tell us about your new book, A Place We Call Home.
“My book is part memoir/part research on Black women who lived in depressed urban environments and how they cope.”
Have you always had an interest for environmental justice? What led you to the field?
“I have always had an interest in social justice. As a child growing up in Washington DC and Maryland, my family and I were heavily involved in helping the homeless. Later, when I went to college, I worked on race relations during the height of the Rodney King beating and the acquittal of the officers involved. After graduation, my interest broadened to include both environmental rights and civil rights when I began to work for Greenpeace, an international environmental organization. My work with Greenpeace led to my scholarship and advocacy on environmental justice.”
What was the biggest challenge you encountered while writing this book?
“The biggest challenge in writing this book, aside from carving out time from my teaching and other faculty duties, was finding the courage to present my own voice. Most academic research relies upon a degree of objectivity and a presumption of distance between the researcher and the subject. However, the reader knows by the first few sentences of my book that my life and experience are a significant part of the narrative. Adopting a Black feminist perspective in my research and writing gave me the confidence to present my work in this manner. Writers like bell hooks and the late Audre Lorde were influential in my decision to present my work in this manner.”
What types of research did you conduct before writing this case study? How many years of research?
“I am versed in both quantitative and qualitative research. My dissertation, written in 2005 is based solely on spatial statistics. When I came to Syracuse, I relied upon the resources available in the Department of African American studies to hone my qualitative skills. We are the only department at Syracuse University to house our very own library (the Martin Luther King, Jr.) and specialist librarian, as well as operate our own visual and cultural arts center (the Community Folk Art Center). The Community Folk Art Center hosted the photography exhibition that arose from this research in 2007.”
What did you find most eye-opening about your research?
“I was surprised by how well the participants in the project were familiar with maps. In my experience, understanding maps presents a challenge.”
Describe your favorite experience while writing A Place We Call Home?
“I look forward to the presentation of the participants’ photos each during the project. Some of the photos are featured in the book. It was interesting to see each image and to listen to how each woman presented the photo. Often, the image was not enough to understand the concept – you had to hear each woman discuss the elements of the photo that appealed to her.”
What is the most beneficial aspect of your occupation?
“I like teaching. I like challenging my students to think critically about society. I also like research – asking questions and seeking answers. I have worked on different dimensions of environmental justice – from calculating the amount of air pollution with statistics, to browsing through old plantation records at an archive, to analyzing photographs by the women in this Photovoice project.”
What can we expect from you next?
“Speaking of old plantation records, I have accumulating information about a sugar plantation in Southern Louisiana that later was bought by a chemical manufacturer. I want to highlight this connection between plantation-to-plant and this particular site’s effect on the Black community that surrounds it. I think there are some interesting parallels between the oppression of slavery and the oppression of a polluting industry. I’m also working on edited volume that looks at environmental injustice and schooling – my chapter focuses on case studies where hazardous industry are located near elementary schools and we can do to prohibit this.”
For more information on K. Animashaun Ducre’s new book, A Place We Call Home, visit the Syracuse University Press website or attend her book talk on Thursday, February 7th at the Community Folk Art Center in Syracuse, NY. See the Events page for more details on this upcoming event.
Cynthia Littleton is deputy editor at Variety and coauthor of Season Finale: The Unexpected Rise and Fall of the WB and UPN. Her new, fall 2012 title TV on Strike: Why Hollywood Went to War over the Internet is in the SU Press Television and Popular Culture series and has received wonderful reviews. Friday, November 16th Littleton discussed her new book on the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. Watch here.
TV on Strike comes out at the end of the year and is now available for pre-order at the Syracuse University Press website.
Briefly tell us about TV on Strike: Why Hollywood Went to War over the Internet.
“The book looks at the upheaval in the television business during the past decade through the prism of the 100-day strike by the Writers Guild of America in late 2007-early 2008. The strike was a fight about many of the issues that are roiling Hollywood – digital distribution, changing viewer behavior, competition from lower-cost entertainment alternatives and shrinking margins in traditional profit centers. I realized about a month after the strike ended that the story of the conflict, and the colorful characters who drove it, provided the perfect framework to examine what would otherwise be an unwieldy subject, namely the transformation of the television business.”
As a deputy editor at Variety and an author, has the digital transition you discuss in your book affected your life in any way? How?
“Uh – yes. My day job has changed immensely with the mandate to stay on top of news 24/7 on the Web. Now reporters wind up writing every breaking news story at least two or three times. You write the bare-bones version to post immediately on the web. Then you flesh that out a little bit more – maybe two or three more write-throughs depending on the magnitude of the story. And then you turn around and write a version for the print edition the next day. You wind up doing what journalist call a “second day lead” even on the first print edition of the story. You can’t just put in print the same story you posted online the day before if you want to give readers an incentive to read the paper. It’s monstrously complicated, and on the business side, there has been much trial and error in determining the best way to ensure that journalistic content is properly monetized. It’s tough!”
What did you find most shocking about the labor dispute of 2007?
“The lack of communication and outreach from both labor and management in the run-up to the contract negotiations. I believe the Hollywood studios were remiss in not proactively addressing some compensation issues that they knew would be flashpoints for writers. This was a time when the industry needed executive leadership, but for various reasons, it didn’t happen.”
What was your main source of information for research?
“My own first-hand reporting on the strike – I spent a lot of time walking in picket lines outside studio gates between Nov. 2007-Feb. 2008 – and my own reporting on the changing nature of the television business. I also relied heavily on the good work of my colleagues at Variety and other media outlets. After the fact, I did a lot of lengthy interviews with key players who took time to reflect on the strike experience. Some of them were very candid, even about their own shortcomings, and I’m very grateful to them.”
What was the most challenging obstacle you encountered while writing TV on Strike?
“There were a few people connected to the Writers Guild that I hoped to interview at length to get their perspective on the strike, but they declined to participate even after multiple appeals bordering on begging. One person in particular I nearly tackled at an industry awards show, but I couldn’t convince him.”
What book(s) are you reading now?
“Lately I’ve been reading a lot of Sherlock Holmes stories and novels. Really enjoy those intricate mysteries. Over the summer I read Thackeray’s “Vanity Fair” and thoroughly enjoyed it.”
Is there a famous individual you’ve looked up to as a role model throughout your life?
“I have always admired Linda Ellerbee, in her various news anchor incarnations. When I was a kid I wanted to grow up to be some combination of Jack Kerouac, Andy Warhol, Truman Capote and Patti Smith. More recently, as a member of the Unitarian faith, I have come to idolize Abigail Adams.”
What can we expect from you next?
“Finishing “TV on Strike” was a long and hard process. I’m looking forward to a long period of having my nights free to reacquaint myself with my husband. But I admit I have been nursing an idea for novel…”
“Every day Cynthia shows us how smart and well informed she is with her reporting. What we didn’t know is just how compelling a storyteller she is! If you are in the entertainment industry or aspire to be this book is a MUST READ page turner. The players come to life and the events of the Writer’s strike provide the prism for Cynthia’s explanation of how the entire entertainment eco-system really works. In the lightning fast constantly changing entertainment universe this book helps us to understand ‘why’ and ‘how’ it is all happening. Bravo Cynthia!” —Warren Littlefield, TV producer, past President NBC Entertainment
William D. Rezak was president of Alfred State College from 1993 until his retirement in 2003. He was also formerly the dean of the School of Technology at Southern Polytechnic State University in Marietta, Georgia. Before his tenure in higher education, Rezak was a mechanical engineer and spent eighteen years in the design and construction of power plants. He has now channeled his attention to writing and his new title, The Arab and the Brit: The Last of the Welcome Immigrants, comes out this December.
Tell us about your upcoming book.
“For years when asked my nationality I responded that my father was Palestinian, my mother was British and that I am American. My father came to the US as a small child. My mother’s parents were destitute children in Victorian England and were sent to Canada separately alone into indentured servitude at the ages of 10 and 16. They met and married and moved to upstate New York. The stories of the adventures of my ancestors as they found their way to the New World are fascinating. With immigration such a controversial subject today, my family’s story may not be unique, but it is uniquely American.”
What was your favorite chapter to write?
“Writing about my paternal grandfather’s life in Palestine and the chain of events that led to his and my grandmother’s decision to flee from Ottoman rule to the US has always captivated me. My maternal grandparents’ challenges in servitude in Canada were no less harrowing. My maternal grandfather, after who I am named, came to the New World all alone at age 10 to live with strangers. His is a compelling experience, as well.”
Did you encounter any struggles along your writing process? If so, what were they?
“Writing about my family’s journey to America was the proverbial labor of love. As the reader will learn, it required extensive research about the Middle East, Victorian England, Canada and Syracuse.”
Is there a lesson that can be learned from your novel of trial and triumph?
“American policy (or lack thereof) today seems to lose sight of the fact that this country was built upon the labor and entrepreneurial spirit of foreigners who have always flocked to our shores of opportunity. Today we have become paranoid about the intent and attitudes of those who wish to be part of the American success story. People from all over the world wish to come to America to work hard and build wealth for their families. Without their contributions we would not have food on our tables or be able to construct our homes and buildings or care for our infrastructure. America needs to remember how immigrants have built our country as it gropes for answers to today’s immigration challenges.”
How would you describe your writing style?
“I am a minimalist writer. I enjoy presenting a compelling story succinctly and cogently with little flowery language. I want the reader to be captivated without being burdened. I want to learn things in my own reading without a lot of superfluous information. This informs my writing.”
Name one of your role models? How have they influenced your life?
“Winston Churchill is one of my heroes. He suffered great successes in his life of leadership after experiencing great failures. And yet, he kept striving for his goals and for positive outcomes. He was a source of inspiration to me during the roller coaster years of my college presidency.”
Are you planning to write another novel in the future?
“The Arab and the Brit ends in 1951 when I was a child. I intend to write about my own life, about my years as a college president and about the Arab-Israeli conflict.”
For more information on Rezak’s “classic page turner,” as described by Alfred University’s Edward Coll,visit the Syracuse University Press website.
Book: Picturing Disability: Beggar, Freak, Citizen and Other Photographic Rhetoric
Currently a Distinguished Professor of Emeritus of Social Science and Education at Syracuse University, Robert Bogdan is back with a new book revisiting his work on historical disability photographs. Well-known for his work in disability studies, he has won numerous awards for his writing, and received an honorary doctorate degree from Stockholm University. Bogdan is the author of Freak Show: Presenting Human Oddities for Amusement and Profit, Beauty and the Beast: Human-Animal Relations as Revealed in Real Photo Postcards, 1905–1935, Adirondack Vernacular: The Photography of Henry M. Beach, and Real Photo Postcard Guide: The People’s Photography. His latest book will be out this October.
Tell us about your upcoming book, Picturing Disability: Beggar, Freak, Citizen and Other Photographic Rhetoric?
“Picturing Disability looks at the various ways people with disabilities have been depicted in photographs. Each chapter looks at a different set of depictions produced for different reasons by different people. There are chapters on “freak show” souvenirs, begging solicitations, charity drives, art photography, clinical renderings, product advertising, institutional propaganda and muckraking, and photos found in family albums. There are over 250 illustrations that are integrated into the text.”
What made you want to revisit the topic of disability again, after having written about it in your book Freak Show?
“Since writing Freak Show I have pursed an interest in the history of photography and have collected historical images of people with disabilities. I have also visited many collections of antique photographs. In the back of my mind I was working on Picturing Disability for a long time. Disability Studies has always been an interest and I thought that Freak Show was only a start in looking at depictions of disability.”
Was the research involved in compiling this book similar or different to your previous research for your other books?
“It was similar in the sense that I hunted down multiple sources of old photographs and reviewed thousands of them in my research. Since I had been collecting images of people with disabilities for over twenty-five years and there were not many archives that had such images I relied more on my own collection than in previous work.”
What aspect of working on a book project do you enjoy the most? Do you follow the same process with every book or does each book project unfold in a different way?
“I love finding and examining images that open up new insights into what I am researching. In my last two books I follow more of less the same process. I study thousands of images and start sorting them according to categories that emerge by looking at how the images are the same and different. Then I begin refining the categories and writing about them. The categories get modified, merged, refined and elaborated upon.”
Why did you choose to put more of an emphasis and focus on who was behind the camera than the specific individuals in the photos?
“All photographs are taken under different circumstances and for different purposes by people with a variety of points of view. People interested depictions of people with disability seldom take that into account the picture takers. Most are interested in making judgments about whether the pictures are complimentary or slanderous, or are concerned with how the depictions fit into contemporary theory. I chose my approach because I thought it was missing and made sense to me.”
What do you enjoy most about studying photography and its impacts on culture?
“Thinking through the connection between the different ways photographers operated and how the pictures they took are related.”
What do you hope this book will accomplish or help with in current and future disability studies?
“I hope it will generate interest in disability studies and expand how people in this field approach the study of disability representation.”
The fall 2012 title, Picturing Disability: Beggar, Freak, Citizen and Other Photographic Rhetoric, by Robert Bogdan with Martin Elks and James Knoll is available for pre-sale now. Visit the Syracuse University Press website for more information.
“The stunning archive of images that Bogdan and his co-authors have amassed is a major contribution to the growing body of analysis of disability representation in photography. This book brings incisive, expert historical perspective to more familiar terrain and at the same time opens up important new avenues of exploration.”—Susan Schweik, University of California at Berkeley
Photo: Charles Tripp, ” The Armless Wonder,” 1885. Photograph by Eisenmann. Cabinet card, Bogdan Collection.
As a reporter in the Washington, DC, bureau of the McClatchy newspaper chain, you may be familiar with this week’s Author, Michael Doyle. He holds a master’s degree in government from Johns Hopkins University and a master of studies in law from Yale Law School, where he was a Knight Journalism Fellow. Doyle is the author of The Forestport Breaks: A Nineteenth- Century Conspiracy along the Black River Canal. His new fall 2012 title, Radical Chapters: Pacifist Bookseller Roy Kepler and the Paperback Revolution, comes out this month.
Tell us about your upcoming book, Radical Chapters: Pacifist Bookseller Roy Kepler and the Paperback Revolution?
“Radical Chapters explores the life and times of an extraordinarily influential and much beloved pacifist, whose West Coast bookstore became ground zero for multiple social, musical and technological revolutions. Through Roy Kepler’s experiences, many colorful chapters of 20th century U.S. history come alive.
Roy survived a series of World War II conscientious objector camps. He led the War Resisters League. He helped establish the nation’s first listener-sponsored radio station. He helped his close ally Joan Baez start a world-famous peace institute. He directed one of the first and largest free universities of the 1960s. He guided key Vietnam War protests.
And Roy sold books, lots and lots of books. Starting in 1955, when paperbacks were still considered low-class and slightly scandalous, Kepler’s Books & Magazines served as a West Coast hub for curious people of all stripes and colors. The Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia got his start at Kepler’s. Apple Computer’s Steve Wozniak and other Silicon Valley thinkers would buy their books there. Future booksellers got hands-on training.
Throughout his life, Roy had a knack for being where the action was, or was about to be. He was both an acutely intelligent observer of the passing scene, and an active participant in it. In Radical Chapters, I use his personal story as an entrée into these broader adventures.”
What inspired you to write this book?
“I grew up going to Kepler’s. Living in the San Francisco Bay Area, I began regularly hanging out at the bookstore when I was about 12. I was an avid reader, simply voracious, and I loved drifting through the stacks of all these books. There was also something, I don’t know, illicit about the experience; the workers were shaggy, and some of the newspapers and magazines found on the racks were kind of disreputable. The whole scene appealed to me.
After college, I was working at the Palo Alto Weekly newspaper, and I found myself doing stories about Bay Area people who had some connection to Kepler’s. I’d write a profile of an author like Gurney Norman, or his then-wife, the dancer Chloe Scott, and I would learn they used to hang with Ken Kesey back in the day. Or I would write about a reunion of the Midpeninsula Free University, and they would seem really interesting. Once, I drove up to Roy’s home, about three hours away, and interviewed him at length.
For whatever reason, I held on to all this material, for years. Finally, while I was doing a week-long fellowship at Stanford’s Hoover Institution, shortly after SU Press had just published my first book, I realized that I had all this material with which I could start my next book topic. I called Roy’s son up and made my pitch, and pretty much started that very day.”
What kind of research did you have to do?
“The foundation of the book, that which makes it possible, comes in the Roy Kepler Papers, on file at the Swarthmore College Peace Collection. Roy was a bit of a pack rat, and an invaluable batch of clippings, letters, files, photos and other documents are jammed into six or seven boxes. I would go up to Swarthmore every few months, spend a day paging through the documents; and, the great thing was, Swarthmore is also the home for many, many other invaluable records from various peace movements. So once I had worked my way through Roy’s materials, I could shift over to the War Resisters League, or Civilian Public Service, or something else altogether.
The archival records are the basis for the book. I used a lot of other standard investigative reporting techniques to flesh it out. I filed Freedom of Information Act requests to obtain FBI records, I scoured through court and bankruptcy records, obtained birth and death certificates, scrolled through Census microfilm and conducted lots of interviews. The existing literature, including doctoral dissertations, as well as contemporaneous newspaper accounts helped out a lot. I spent considerable time at the Library of Congress; sometimes, I admit, playing hooky while I was supposed to be doing my day job.”
Do you have a specific writing style?
“I am a newspaper reporter, by profession, and I think I bring a newspaper style, with all its strengths and weaknesses, to the task of writing a book. That is, I try to emphasize clarity and directness; I like anecdotes and concrete, specific detail. I am not a big one for abstraction or theorizing, nor do I like the baroque and orotund. I prefer a fairly stripped down prose, muscular where possible. I believe this helps bring a certain reader-friendliness to the text. And what usually happens, when I read one of my favorite writers, like Robert Stone or Tobias Wolff, is my writing temporarily adopts some of their personality.”
What is the best advice you can give to aspiring reporters and writers?
“In addition to my reporting, I teach introductory and advanced news writing at The George Washington University. My basic advice is to learn by doing; write story after story, get them ruthlessly edited, and then go back and write again. Each story will whittle away one more niggling imperfection.
There are, of course, plenty of specific lessons to convey. Some are specific to reporting, the gathering of facts: Ensure accurate quotes, obtain original source documents, use archives, pry open records through freedom of information requests, question assumptions. Some are specific to writing, like the necessity of writing actively instead of passively. But when it comes to the single best advice, it’s to write more in order to write better.”
What authors have been most influential to your life or writing style?
“I read “Studs Lonigan” by James T. Farrell when I was 12, and it changed my life. Or, at least, it changed my whole way of thinking of myself. I had always been a big reader, gobbling up books by the armload, but “Studs Lonigan” somehow opened my eyes. It made me think of myself as a serious reader, someone ready for the big leagues; plus, it was a thoroughly gripping tale of these sympathetic losers. About the same time, my dad gave me “Catch-22,” which I must have read a dozen times; it somehow seemed to be a gift from the world of men, like there was a really important lesson buried in there amid the jokes.
I keep falling in love with different writers and try to lift something from their approach; I mentioned Tobias Wolff and Robert Stone earlier. I had a serious thing for Graham Greene, and roared through all of his works; same with the early John LeCarre.”
What do you hope the reader gains from this book?
“Pleasure, insight, information and their money’s worth.”
For more information on Doyle’s new book, Radical Chapters, or to purchase a copy, visit the Syracuse University Press website.
“A good bookstore is a garden of ideas, and Kepler’s was one of the best. Nourished by Roy Kepler’s curiosity, sense on social justice, and kindliness, it particularly fed the minds of young beatniks like Jerry Garcia, Robert Hunter, and Willie Legate.” – Dennis McNally, author of A Long Strange Trip: The Inside History of the Grateful Dead
Book: Lake Effect: Tales of Large Lakes, Arctic Winds, and Recurrent Snows
Mark Monmonier is a Distinguished Professor of Geography at Syracuse University. He is also the author of fifteen books, including How to Lie with Maps; Air Apparent: How Meteorologists Learned to Map, Predict, and Dramatize Weather; Spying with Maps: Surveillance Technologies and the Future of Privacy; and Coast Lines: How Mapmakers Frame the World and Chart Environmental Change. His most recent article in the July/August 2012 issue of WEATHERWISE was adapted from his Syracuse University Press book, Lake Effect, coming out next month.
“Mark Monmonier has delighted readers for years with book after book showing how geography and weather have shaped human history. . . . He’s turned his flair for narrative to the story of the lake effect weather that rules his native upstate New York. . . . Enter his world and you’ll be glad you did.”
— William H. Hooke, Policy Program Director, American Meteorological Society
Tell us about your upcoming book, Lake Effect: Tales of Large Lakes, Arctic Winds, and Recurrent Snows?
“Lake Effect was written for educated lay readers curious about this intriguing weather phenomenon as well as for residents of the Great Lakes snowbelts who want to explain our distinctive winters to friends and relatives outside the region. I use seven chapters with one-word titles—Recipe, Discovery, Prediction, Impacts, Records, Change, and Place—to answer seven key questions: What ingredients are required for lake-effect snow? Why did late-nineteenth-century geography textbooks ignore the snowbelts? How has technology improved the forecaster’s ability to predict lake snow? How well do snowbelt residents and local governments cope with frequent, sometimes massive snowfalls? Why are reports of record snowfall sometimes controversial? How will lake-effect snow be affected by climate change? Why is seasonality a distinguishing characteristic of places near the Great Lakes?”
How long have you lived in Upstate New York?
“I’ve lived Upstate since 1970, when I joined the geography faculty at SUNY Albany. I’ve been in Central New York since 1973, when I took a job at SU.”
Do you recall how your interest in geography and weather originated?
“My interest in geography reflects a fascination with maps that began back in high school, when I started collecting railroad maps, highway maps, and U.S. Geological Survey topographic maps, particularly older editions from the 1890s and 1900s. A strong interest in weather emerged in the early 1980s, when I noticed the increased frequency and variety of weather maps in newspapers and on television.”
“In the mid-1980s my research expanded to include the history of cartography, and in 1999 I published a book on the history of weather mapping. Around 2005 I became curious about early attempts to map lake-effect snow, and was surprised to learn that the Great Lakes snowbelts were not apparent on climate maps until around 1915—the snow was there all along, of course, but meteorologists had been melting it and lumping it together with rainfall. A few years ago I worked up an outline for a book on lake snow that also looked at forecasting, impacts, year-to-year variation, climate change, and extreme seasonality. Also, my academic interest in the history and use of geospatial technology inspired an interest in the use of satellites, radar, and computer modeling to monitor and better understand lake-effect snow.”
Do you have a specific writing style?
“I try to write clearly and tell interesting stories. Clarity requires sentences and paragraphs that readers can easily decode, which means using plain English wherever possible, avoiding unnecessary jargon or needless abstraction, and making certain readers know where the story is going. My writing is closely tied to a careful search for relevant sources, which never fail to yield telling anecdotes that help keep readers’ attention. Also, I try to work on whatever book I’m writing at least an hour or two most days, and to reread and rework the chapter I’m working on at least once a week. Writing is a slow process: akin to rowing a boat across the Atlantic. Five miles a day, and you eventually get there.”
What books have influenced your life most?
“The single most influential book is Style: Toward Clarity and Grace, by Joseph S. Williams, who offers a straightforward strategy grounded in research on how people read. I use this book in my graduate seminars and recommend it highly to anyone eager to communicate challenging ideas to a wider audience. A second influential book is The All-American Map: Wax Engraving and Its Influence on Cartography, which turned my attention to the history of cartography. I introduced myself to its author, the late David Woodward, and recruited him as associate editor when I became editor of The American Cartographer. David and the late J.B. Harley had founded the History of Cartography in the mid-1970s, and when the opportunity arose, I eagerly signed on as editor of Volume Six (Cartography in the Twentieth Century), which is organized as an encyclopedia. I’ve been working on Volume Six since the mid-1990s, and am relieved it’s on track for publication in late 2014.”
Did you learn anything from writing your book? If so, what was it?
“Quite a bit: enough to inspire a new course, Geography 400/600, The Geography of Snow, which I taught in Spring 2012, and will offer again next semester (when I hope we’ll have sufficient snow for a decent class field project). And because my research for Lake Effect required a close look at a long series of daily snowfall records for several snowbelt weather stations, I now have a fuller appreciation of climate change. And as a map historian, I have a greater understanding of bureaucratic factors that help explain what gets mapped and when. Creating Lake Effect reinforced my belief that a good way to understand something is to write a book about it.”
Mark Monmonier’s book, Lake Effect: Tales of Large Lakes, Arctic Winds, and Recurrent Snows, is available for pre-order on the Syracuse University Press website and is coming out this September.
Thomas Holliday has directed multiple productions of over fifty operas, operettas, and musicals in Europe and the United States. He has worked as a composer, conductor, opera educator, writer, and lecturer on operatic subjects. His book Falling Up: The Days and Nights of Carlisle Floyd, The Authorized Biography will be published in the fall.
On the Nightstand Now:
“Jan Wallentin: Strindberg’s Star. Intriguing but chaotic, and not very elegantly translated; but l’ll read most anything about the inexplicable and clinically insane Nazis, especially the Holocaust, about which I mean to write one of these days.”
On the Office Floor:
“(don’t even ask about the shelves) Fiction: Andrew Miller: Pure, Chris Pavone: The Expats, Patricia Highsmith: Ripley Under Water, Strangers on a Train, The Price of Salt (I’ve already read all the other wonderfully creepy Ripley books).
Nonfiction: Christoph Wolff: Mozart at the Gateway to his Fortune, Erik Larson: In the Garden of Beasts, Nicholas Delbanco: Lastingness: The Art of Old Age, The Autobiography of Mark Twain, V. 1, Glenn Watkins: The Gesualdo Hex, Stephen Greenblatt: The Swerve.”
Favorite Childhood Book:
“Holling C. Holling: Minn of the Mississippi.”
Top Five Favorite Authors:
“Hesse, Balzac, Dickens, Stephen King, Hemingway.”
“Pretty much the same crowd, except for Hemingway. That would just be asking for trouble; and King has sworn off the sauce. So I’d probably add someone like Michael Frayn to bring some laughter to the room or Mark Twain. And though he’s a composer, Mozart would have to be included. He’s the one I’d most like to have known; but through his music, we all do.”
Top Evangelist Book:
“Michael Pollan: The Omnivore’s Dilemma. Book I’ve bought for the cover. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever done that. Though an inveterate browser in book and record stores (or at least when we had record stores), I usually know what I’m looking for, or buy a new title or a subject in which I’m already interested.”
Book That Changed My Life:
“Hermann Hesse: Siddartha.”
“From Hesse’s diary from November 1920: ‘Concerning this day, at the top of this page from the varied pages of my life, I would like to write one word, a word like ‘world’ or ‘sun,’ a world full of magic, sound, and fullness, fuller than full, richer than rich, a word with the meaning of complete fulfillment, complete knowledge.Then the word occurs to me… I write it in large letters at the top of this page: MOZART. It means: the world makes sense, and it is perceivable in the likeness of music.’”
Book You Most Want to Read Again for the First Time:
“T.H. White: The Once and Future King.”
Questions Inspired by the “Book Brahmin” series on Shelf Awareness.
Author of The Time Remaining, Samuel John Hazo was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Lebansese and Assyrian immigrants. During his early childhood, his mother died and his aunt took over as the primary caretaker of him and his brother. Hazo attributes his passion and path of discovery through writing to his aunt, who made education a top priority from him and his brother. In The Time Remaining, Hazo ideally depicts the Palestinian issue through a fight between natural law and the law of love, which is a human rights issue in the modern day Israeli government.
Most of your works seem to be personal reflections and relevant to your life. Was The Time Remaining inspired by a personal struggle?
“The Time Remaining is essentially a love story that becomes interwoven with the plight of the Palestinians in the Middle East. The main character, Dodge Gilchrist, having been disappointed in love in his twenties, has more or less resolved that he will not become love’s victim again. He resists his feelings for Raya for that reason. But he is fighting a natural law, and the law of love eventually wins. The often involuntary but undeniable response of a person to genuine love is a theme that has always drawn me. Likewise, the plight of the Palestinians is based on the refusal of the Israeli governments to recognize the human rights to which the Palestinians and all other human beings are entitled. Such rights—like love—will eventually prevail, despite all resistance to the contrary.”
“Any writer will tell you that he writes in whatever form his inspiration dictates. The writing of poems has, of course, helped me to refine whatever skills I have as a writer, but the theme of The Time Remaining came to me in the form of the characters and the struggle in which the characters found themselves.”
What do you hope the reader gains from this book?
“I hope the reader identifies with the love of Gilchrist and Raya first of all. Then I hope that the reader gains a more human insight into the Palestinian issue, which is for me one of the foremost if not the foremost human rights issue in the world today.”
You express much of your wisdom and expression of feeling through your works. Is The Time Remaining meant to advise others to discover what is most important in their lives?
“I shun messages. I let the characters tell their story in dialogue and action. What people will draw from that I’ll never know, but I hope it will be both enlightening and a pleasure.”
Samuel Hazo’s book will be published this Fall. Pre-Order at the Syracuse University Press website.
For those of you who have been patiently waiting for Syracuse University Press’ new book list, the time has come! Our Fall/Winter 2012 book catalog is now available on our website. This season, we are pleased to announce a variety of different books, ranging from topics such as Television and Pop Culture to Peace and Conflict Resolution. There is sure to be a read of interest out there for everyone!
If you’re looking for an award-winning title, make sure to check out “Tree of Pearls, Queen of Egypt,” translated from Arabic by Samah Selim. This classic novel, originally published in 1914, unravels the adventurous story of a famous Arab queen. As the winner of the King Fahd Center for Middle East and Islamic Studies Translation of Arabic Literature Award, this book is without a doubt an irresistible read.
If you are an Upstate New York native or, like us, reside in Syracuse, you must read “Lake Effect: Tales of Large Lakes, Artic Winds, and Recurrent Snows.” Mark Monmonier, a Syracuse University professor, offers a detailed examination of Lake Effect Snow and the social impacts of extreme weather. Scientific American reviews it as “an artful and funny book, which like any good map, packs plenty in little space.”
View our full Fall/Winter 2012 Catalog on our website to find these two books, as well as many other new titles.