Nonfiction, April 26, 2019 | Xpress Reviews

For readers involved in prison educational programs; a must-read for anyone interested in the Holocaust; a wonderful defense of free will; highlighting 200-plus women authors of African descent; for readers attraced to medical mysteries; ten interviews with the late musician Prince; for Tchaikovsky students

Week ending April 26, 2019

Adnan, Etel. Time. Nightboat. May 2019. 144p. tr. from French by Sarah Riggs. ISBN 9781643620046. pap. $15.95. POETRY
The multi-award-winning Lebanese American author/painter Adnan ( Night) is considered one of the most exciting voices in contemporary poetry. Her stunning poems tackle personal and existential issues ranging from war, death, nostalgia, alienation, and loss to friendship and love. In this sequence of poetic correspondence, time and memory bounce off each other, with Adnan brooding upon past and present, here and there, detecting sparks in the most shadowy objects. A poet of motion, she can transform simple details into rays of energy and meaning. The poems take the form of aphorisms throbbing with depth and insight—“armed with this disappointment, we manage/ to bear the unbearable”—and their dense pictorial expressiveness and the vivid surreal language recall the presence of French poet Rimbaud: “The sun came out at night/ to go for a stroll and the dive crossed/ the room.” Fragmented yet lucid, these pieces evoke the structure of dreams.
VERDICT Adnan’s charming poems, beautifully translated from the French, take readers on a journey in which things and ideas are always metamorphosed anew and fresh. A joyous read; highly recommended.—Sadiq Alkoriji, Broward Cty. Lib. Syst., FL

Appleman, Deborah. Words No Bars Can Hold: Literacy Learning in Prison. Norton. Jun. 2019. 192p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780393713671. $23.95; ebk. ISBN 9780393713688. ED
Appleman (educational studies, Carleton Coll.; Critical Encounters in Secondary English, 3d ed.) has for 12 years taught writing to inmates in a high-security men’s prison and here delves into the complexity of working with this population. She conveys the joys—engaged students who express themselves clearly and passionately through their writing—as well as the day-to-day challenges. The author makes a strong argument for providing prisoners with education and enumerates ways in which the prison structure restricts these opportunities. She includes examples of her students’ writings, which illustrate their experiences and demonstrate how their education has helped them hone their skills. Appleman repeatedly cites Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, which would make an excellent companion read.
VERDICT A practical, well-grounded discussion for readers interested or involved in prison educational programs.—Amber Gray, Fogler Lib., Univ. of Maine, Orono

redstarFried, Hédi. Questions I Am Asked About the Holocaust. Scribe. Apr. 2019. 160p. tr. from Swedish by Alice E. Olsson. ISBN 9781947534599. $20; ebk. ISBN 9781925693447. MEMOIR
Fried, a 94-year-old Holocaust survivor, wants to ensure that people continue to remember the Holocaust as the last generation of survivors die. After retiring from a career as a psychologist, Fried wrote her best-selling autobiography, Fragments of a Life: The Road to Auschwitz, and began lecturing on the subject in schools and universities. Here the author relays the questions most frequently asked by students following her presentations and provides insightful answers. The result reads as an engaging conversation with a witness to history, as Fried shares memories and wisdom. Historical moments and their ramifications come to life. Fried is both intensely brave and immensely human and compellingly argues that we all carry the responsibility to make sure history does not repeat itself. She relates the Holocaust to current events and finds the same pattern—charismatic leaders exploiting people’s discontent by offering simple responses to complex queries.
VERDICT This eloquent book is a must-read for both teens and adults interested in the Holocaust.—Beth Dalton, Littleton, CO

Joyce, Anna. Hand Dyed: A Modern Guide to Dyeing in Brilliant Color for You and Your Home. Abrams. Mar. 2019. 160p. photos. ISBN 9781419734281. $29.99; ebk. ISBN 9781683355144. FIBER CRAFTS
Joyce’s second book ( Stamp, Stencil, Paint: Making Extraordinary Patterned Projects by Hand ) explores the craft of hand dyeing using indigo and fiber-reactive dyes. Part 1 introduces the reader to different types of dyes and fibers, basic terminology, tools and materials, the creation of different patterns on cloth, and methods that produce a variety of colors. Part 2 outlines 26 projects, ranging in difficulty from beginner to experienced, to make for the home or for personal attire. Each piece has step-by-step instructions accompanied by useful colorful photographs. Joyce includes material on the traditional Japanese shibori dyeing technique. Tie-dye is also covered with a fresh and contemporary perspective. The author achieves her goal of offering an updated approach to making simple, useful, and pretty designs on an assortment of fabrics. Because these dyeing processes take up a minimum of work space, this book is suitable for home hobbyists.
VERDICT A wide range of crafters and textile artists should find this to be a useful resource.Deborah A. Broocker, Georgia Perimeter Coll. Lib., Dunwoody

List, Christian. Why Free Will Is Real. Harvard Univ. May 2019. 224p. ISBN 9780674979581. $24.95. PHIL
Free will has been a highly discussed topic in philosophy since the time of ancient Greek philosophers. Do we freely choose our actions, or are they predetermined? Or is our choice simply a subconscious activity in our brains? List (philosophy, London Sch. of Economics) argues that free will is not explained away through science by looking at the activity in our brain “in a purely physical manner.” Instead, while free will may emerge from the physical world, we need to examine it through a psychological view to understand its properties. List’s book is short, and he explains that it isn’t a “full-fledged theory of free will.” In five chapters, he gives the reader a background on free will, the challenges to free will, and his defense of why free will is real.
VERDICT A wonderful defense of free will accessibly written for readers new to the topic, List’s short analysis is a strong addition to discussions of this still relevant topic in philosophy.—Scott Duimstra, Capital Area Dist. Lib., Lansing, MI

redstarNew Daughters of Africa: An International Anthology of Writing by Women of African Descent. Amistad: HarperCollins. May 2019. 1040p. ed. by Margaret Busby. ISBN 9780062912985. $32.99; pap. ISBN 9781912408016. $25; ebk. ISBN 9780062912992. LIT
Henry Swanzy Award winner Busby first published the groundbreaking Daughters of Africa in 1992, a collection containing more than 200 women authors of African descent and spanning an enormous range of chronology, genres, and geographical terrain. This updated compilation is equally ambitious in scope, again highlighting 200-plus writers, none of whom were featured in the previous volume, some of whom were not even born at the time of the earlier release. As with its predecessor, this is perhaps meant to be enjoyed two or three authors at a time. There will be familiar names such as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Edwidge Danticat, and Zadie Smith; however, the greatest pleasure comes in discovering lesser-known treasures by authors including Barbara Jenkins, Diana Ferrus, Sade Adeniran, and Yvvette Edwards. Although most of the entries are only a few pages, thankfully, the majority of poems, stories, essays, and plays are complete.
VERDICT This volume, as well as the earlier one if libraries don’t already own it, is highly recommended.—L.J. Parascandola, Long Island Univ., Brooklyn

Newby, Kris. Bitten: The Secret History of Lyme Disease and Biological Weapons. Harper Wave. May 2019. 336p. photos. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9780062896278. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062896292. HEALTH
Interweaving her own narrative as a chronic Lyme disease sufferer and interviews with microbiologists and security experts, Stanford University science writer and documentary producer Newby (Under Our Skin) shows possible connections between Lyme (and other tick-borne diseases) and biowarfare experiments gone wrong. Her star interviewee, Wilhelm “Willy” Burgdorfer, medical entomologist, elevates the narrative. Codiscoverer of the Lyme disease–causing agent within deer ticks with Alan Barbour, Burgdorfer began revealing later in his life the beliefs that the work he did at the NIAID Rocky Mountain Laboratories in Montana, weaponizing ticks to spread biological warfare agents, was directly related to the rapid expansion of Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and the difficulty in identifying and treating Lyme quickly and easily. Many other Lyme disease texts aim to educate readers on the symptoms, cures, and symptom mitigation; this text touches briefly upon the medical aspects but resides firmly in the mystery/conspiracy camp. Readers interested in medical mysteries and government cover-ups will enjoy this quick read.
VERDICT This is a take-to-the-beach thriller, just be sure to stay away from tick habitats!—Rachel M. Minkin, Michigan State Univ. Libs., East Lansing

Prince. Prince: The Last Interview and Other Conversations. Melville House. Mar. 2019. 144p. ISBN 9781612197456. pap. $16.99; ebk. ISBN 9781612197463. MUSIC
As author Hanif Abdurraqib (Go Ahead in the Rain) wisely states in the introduction to this latest entry in the “Last Interview” series, “If there’s a bright spot in the absence death leaves, it is this one—people recalling their encounters with figures who could seem entirely mythological.” Collecting ten interviews (both Q&As and narrative-style pieces) with the late musician Prince (1958–2016) published between 1976 and 2015, the work provides insight into his personal identity, religion, and thoughts on music. Readers not only will learn facts about the singer’s life but also get a sense of who he was. They will discover some of the difficulties that Prince’s interviewers faced—the artist made journalists work for publishable content. Noteworthy selections include Prince’s first television interview, for MTV in 1985, and a 1997 interview following the launch of his website in which he offered his opinions on the Internet.
VERDICT A fast, easy read that will appeal both to fans and those unfamiliar with the artist.—Elizabeth Berndt-Morris, Loeb Music Lib., Harvard Univ., Cambridge, MA

Suchet, John. Tchaikovsky: The Man Revealed. Pegasus. Jun. 2019. 288p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781643131337. $29.95; ebk. ISBN 9781643131702. MUSIC
Suchet’s (Verdi: The Man Revealed; The Treasures of Beethoven) biography of 19th-century Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky delves surprisingly deep for being relatively brief. The author’s journalist’s eye is keenly focused and benefits from the unprecedented availability of Tchaikovsky’s voluminous correspondence, previously heavily censored and largely unavailable in English. Tchaikovsky’s homosexuality, in particular, has long been acknowledged, though critics have often skirted the question of whether it influenced his music. Suchet has his own opinion but is careful not to belabor it; his treatment is as thoughtful and reflective as was the composer himself. Much here will be familiar to readers who already know the broad details of Tchaikovsky’s life: frequent critical opprobrium or disinterest and its effect on the composer’s opinions of his work, his disastrous marriage, his lengthy correspondence with his patron Nadezhda von Meck and its abrupt ending, and the controversy concerning his death. These biographical details are interwoven with discussion of his works and musical process, presenting a fine starting point for further exploration.
VERDICT An informative and lucid treatment. For Tchaikovsky students and fans and those interested in the history of Russian music.—Genevieve Williams, Pacific Lutheran Univ. Lib., Tacoma

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