Leo Durocher - Paul Dickson

Staff Pick
Paul Dickson's Leo Durocher: Baseball's Prodigal Son portrays the bittersweet life of the man who famously said, "Nice guys finish last.”  Durocher's career can perhaps be summed up by his 1951 success as manager of the Giants, defeating the Dodgers in the "Miracle of Coogan's Bluff", and by his failure as manager of the 1969 Cubs when they blew a late season lead to the "Miracle Mets."  Durocher’s role in the integration of baseball, his on-the-field off-the-field life, and his tempestuous relationships with movie stars, gamblers, baseball authorities, and sportswriters form part of this story of a bygone era.

Upstream: Selected Essays - Mary Oliver

Staff Pick

“I would say that there exist a thousand breakable links between each of us and everything else, and that our dignity and our chances are one,” so writes Mary Oliver in an essay on the hope that lies within winter’s darkness.  It is a sentiment expressed everywhere in Mary Oliver’s deceptively simple poetry.  And so too in her deceptively simple prose, as is clear in her collection of essays, Upstream.  In meditations on the natural world and on the everyday sensibilities contained within daily life, she notes those breakable links as well as the underlying bonds of oneness. Oliver explores this further in critical essays on writers who serve as her forerunners—Emerson, Whitman, Wordsworth—and in an essay on Poe whose pessimism might seem to stand opposite the affirmation that defines her work.  But in his work she sees the same transcendental linkages between life and death, despair and hope, the same striving to overcome the artifice of writing by grasping the real.  She continues in the passage quoted above:

“The farthest star and the mud at our feet are family; and there is no decency or sense in honoring one thing, or a few things, and then closing the list.  The pine tree, the leopard, the Platte River, and ourselves -- we are at risk together, or we are on our way to a sustainable world together.  We are each other’s destiny.”

Upstream: Selected Essays By Mary Oliver Cover Image
ISBN: 9781594206702
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Penguin Press - October 11th, 2016

Birth of a Dream Weaver: A Writer's Awakening - Ngugi Wa Thiong'o

Staff Pick

A small scene in Birth of a Dream Weaver has the author refusing to drink a beer just because it is a thing to do when setting off to college.  The moment passes quickly, but it speaks to the Ngugi’s ability to resist pressures to conform and serves as a precursor to his subsequent ability to resist the dictates of those in power and resist pressure to compromise his writing.  This third volume of his memoirs covers his passage from village life to university, from British colonial subject to citizen of independent Kenya. Along the way he tells of the brutality of British rule, of the racism of a settler colony and the cost of that legacy in the corruption and violence of those who subsequently betrayed the promise of independence. Yet this is a writer’s memoir.  Ngugi’s first dramatic work provides a key to his later novels as he comes to see literature as a form of social engagement, as a celebration of the lives of those trod underfoot. He pierces through the veil by combining aspects of a European cultural inheritance with elements of traditional West African culture.  Ngugi’s trenchant criticism of Isak Dinesen, nuanced reading of Joseph Conrad, meetings with Langston Hughes and Chinua Achebe, appreciation of Whitman, frame his work in a larger literary context. Birth of A Dream Weaver is a celebration of the dreams that produce art that in turn produces dreams for a more just world.

Birth of a Dream Weaver: A Writer's Awakening By Ngugi Wa Thiong'o Cover Image
ISBN: 9781620972403
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: New Press - October 4th, 2016