The Emancipation of Cecily McMillan: An American Memoir - Cecily McMillan

Staff Pick

Few book accounts of Occupy Wall Street give any kind of in-depth look at the movement and the controversies that swirl around it. And it is equally rare to read first-hand accounts of women imprisoned at New York’s Rikers Island. The Emancipation of Cecily McMillan does both and the book would be worthy of reading on that account alone. But her memoir provides more. McMillan describes her upbringing and youth in Texas and Georgia, family difficulties, financial hard times leading her brother in prison for drugs, her to political engagement—and on to New York and Occupy, the swirl of activism striving to be effectual without giving up its values.  She recounts how that commitment led to her victimization by police and by a legal system that has long abjured the notion of innocent before proven guilty—and thus to her stint in prison. There she comes to a deeper appreciation of the lives and struggles of others, a deeper appreciation of herself.  McMillan becomes a voice for women rendered silent, not speaking for them but rather through them and discovering thereby a stronger sense of self to accompany her commitment to activism.  The book concludes with a statement she made upon her release that explains her memoir’s title: “The guards didn’t free me that day, the women did.  Their demands were my emancipation proclamation.”

The Emancipation of Cecily McMillan: An American Memoir By Cecily McMillan Cover Image
ISBN: 9781568585383
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Bold Type Books - August 9th, 2016

The Other Paris - Luc Sante

Staff Pick

Paris has long held a special place in the imagination as a city of beauty and glamour. There is a tendency in literature, film, and art to give the city a romantic aura.  But behind that surface another Paris has long existed, a gritty place with its hidden corners that lie a world apart from the dream city of tourists’ imagination.  Focusing on the 19th and first half of the 20th centuries, The Other Paris documents that world—a world of crime, drugs, drinking and violence; of poverty, labor revolt, anarchism and socialism; and of cabaret, popular entertainment, sex, and prostitution. Using literary works, memoirs, newspaper accounts, and contemporary photos and illustrations, Sante brings to life a way of life that was ever near the lives of wealth and style shared by the elite, even if kept apart from them. Sante never patronize those whom he discusses, and he does not romanticize the harshness of the life gone by. But his work is a reminder that in past times, the poor at least had claim to the streets they inhabited. Today, poverty and wealth again sit side by side, but in Paris as elsewhere, those without are pushed away, undermining even “high” culture. Sante has produced a book documenting that loss, alongside documenting resilience.

The Other Paris By Lucy Sante Cover Image
ISBN: 9780374536459
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - October 18th, 2016

Bestiary: Poems - Donika Kelly

Staff Pick

A debut work, Donika Kelly’s Bestiary is filled with poems of imaginary creatures, of real animals acting in imagined ways -- yet her words and vision remain firmly rooted in the endless realm of possibility.  Life is filled with transformations; those who try to freeze moments (or people, or ideas, or relationships) fail to understand the world of pain and yearning around them -- a world that comes vividly alive in this slender volume.  She says in the last stanza of her poem “Commandments”:

Wings mean you are alive
and someone is not.  Alive means
you swallow each day like a stone.

Nothing neat, nothing easy, nothing final.  Instead we have poems that, though written in absolutely clarity, are hard to grasp -- and thus last longer, and provoke more reflection, than the repetition of simple verities.

Bestiary: Poems By Donika Kelly Cover Image
ISBN: 9781555977580
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Graywolf Press - October 11th, 2016