New Releases - Fall 2017
Dinner at the Center of the Earth
Nathan Englander ’91, LittD ’17 (Alfred A. Knopf, 2017)
Rooted in historical fact, this novel is a political thriller and love story that unfolds in the highly charged territory of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and pivots on the complex relationship between a secret prisoner and his guard. Englander, in his first novel in a decade, weaves together vastly different lives in this powerful and suspenseful portrait of a nation riven by insoluble conflict. In the words of National Book Award Winner Colson Whitehead, “Nathan Englander’s latest is, as usual, superb: a work of psychological precision and moral force, with an immediacy that captures both timeless human truth as well as the perplexities of the present day.”
Martin Zehr ’72 (ZenRider Press, 2017)
On the surface, it sounds like a midlife crisis. Gregory Barth, a middle-aged professional tired of his humdrum routine, decides to head out onto the open road for a vacation like no other. As his motorcycle brings him into contact with the byways of the American West, he meets characters he could never have imagined and rediscovers what it’s like to have intimate feelings for a woman. The Desplazados is the tale of one man’s encounters with different worlds that ultimately change his own. Zehr is a psychologist with the Marion Bloch Neuroscience Institute in Kansas City, Mo. His motorcycle travels have earned him membership in the Iron Butt Association, requiring the completion of a 1,000- mile ride in 24 hours.
Evolution’s Bite: A Story of Teeth, Diet, and Human Origins
Peter S. Ungar ’85 (Princeton University Press, 2017)
You can learn a lot from looking at teeth. It goes far beyond a person’s hygiene, or lack thereof. According to Ungar, our mouths carry the legacy of our evolution. Teeth are like living fossils that can be compared to those of our ancestors, teaching us how we morphed into our current human form. Ungar, a noted paleoanthropologist, describes how a tooth’s “foodprints” — distinct patterns of microscopic wear and tear — give details about what an animal ate in the past. These clues, combined with research in paleoclimatology, show climate change altering the food options available to our ancestors. Ungar has returned to Binghamton University as a guest speaker in the Evolutionary Studies program. He is distinguished professor of anthropology and director of the Environmental Dynamics program at the University of Arkansas.
What’s Mom Still Got to Do with It?
Ilana Tolpin Levitt ’86 (Ilana Levitt, 2017)
Many people picture a counseling session as a therapist listening to someone talking about her mother. It’s a stereotypical view, but with a ring of truth. Levitt, a licensed clinical career counselor and human resources executive, says the mother-daughter relationship is so primal and complex that it can drive a woman to a particular job, dictate how she leads and influence how she relates to colleagues. Levitt wants to help women better understand the mother-daughter relationship, and give a fresh perspective to workplace challenges and unmet goals.
Pola Negri: The Hollywood Years
Tony Villecco ’98 (CreateSpace, 2017)
During the silent and golden eras of Hollywood and European film, Pola Negri became a household name. Born Apolonia Chalupec in Poland, the petite actress was the first European star to be invited to Hollywood, where she became known for her tragedienne and femme fatale roles. Villecco, a tenor and an arts writer, collaborates with historian Kevin Brownlow to recap the life of a woman who, during her heyday, set fashion trends and was the richest woman in the film industry.
Find the Fire
Scott Mautz ’91 (AMACOM, 2017)
Once upon a time, we had to decide what we wanted to be when we grew up. We chose a career path that gave us a sense of purpose. Learning something new and making things happen made it worth getting out of bed in the morning and heading to the office. Sadly, those good feelings didn’t last, and work became associated with dread. How did this happen? Can we have a do-over? Mautz, a renowned inspirational speaker who delivered the keynote address at the 2016 Binghamton University Alumni Leaders Conference, wants to help rekindle the fire in your belly. His book identifies “anti-muses” that sap energy and optimism, and shares how you can counter these forces to feel rejuvenated in your work.
ABC’s of How You and I See
Ilana Gelfond-Polnariev ’97 and Bernard Polnariev (DiggyPod, 2017)
Gelfond-Polnariev, an associate clinical professor at the SUNY College of Optometry in New York City, co-wrote this book for kids ages 3 to 10; however, parents will also find this book informative and interesting. This kid-friendly book on vision and learning has been well-received by parents, teachers, eye doctors, occupational therapists and coaches.
Corrie (Wachob) Wang ’00 (Freeform, 2017)
Kyla Cheng’s life is too good, and someone was determined to take her down. Cheng is on track to be class valedictorian, she’s president of her community club, a debate champion, has an attractive boyfriend and, with her three highpowered best friends, rules the roost at her tony Brooklyn high school. A video of Cheng having a tryst with her English teacher makes its way to the school’s website. Problem is, she’s not the female in the video, which has gone viral and created a mess of epic proportions for Cheng to clean up. Booklist praises Wang’s work for “snappy dialogue, a keen empathy for the pressure cooker of high school, and a wryly self-conscious narrative tone …”
The Cambridge Introduction to Contemporary American Fiction
Stacey Olster ’74 (Cambridge University Press, 2017)
This wide-ranging study explores fiction written over the past 30 years in the context of the political, historical and cultural changes that have distinguished the contemporary period. Focusing on both established and emerging writers, the book investigates the concept of what constitutes an “American” author. Chapters are devoted to the American historical novel, regional realism, the American political novel, the end of the Cold War and globalization, 9/11, borderlands and border identities, race, and the legacy of postmodern aesthetics. Olster is a professor of English at Stony Brook University.
North Mountain Rambling
David Kraai ’99 (Fine Country Folk Recordings, 2017)
This album was recorded in the basement of the legendary Big Pink, the house near Woodstock, N.Y., in which Bob Dylan and The Band recorded The Basement Tapes 50 years ago. Kraai’s album is the first release to be recorded there since then. Special guests on the album include Dylan bandmates Rob Stoner (Desire, Hard Rain, At Budokan, Live 1975) and Eric Weissberg (Blood on the Tracks, “Dueling Banjos”). This is multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter Kraai’s fourth album of original songs, which are a melting pot of country, folk and rock.