As a 5-year-old growing up in Germany, Ursula Hegi '78, '79G wished she could be invisible, so she could "hear and see everything" going on around her. In adulthood she has achieved perhaps the closest thing to that fantasy that life allows.
Hegi has written an acclaimed series of novels set in the fictional German village of Burgdorf, not far from her native Duesseldorf. And she can "hear and see everything" that happens in the town, because she has created it from her imagination and painstaking research.
Critics have praised all four of the novels in the Burgdorf Cycle—Floating in My Mother's Palm, Stones From the River, The Vision of Emma Blau, and the new Children and Fire (Scribner 2011). Hegi's popularity soared after Oprah Winfrey chose Stones from the River for Oprah's Book Club. The novel became a No. 1 national bestseller and, along with her other books, has helped her win more than 30 grants and awards. Her books have been translated into more than a dozen languages.
Hegi's success has allowed her to continue to write about the subjects that interest her most, which include the weight of history on people with limited power to influence it. In Children and Fire, she filters a complex question through the life of a devoted teacher at a pre-World War II boys' school: What price do we pay for the moral compromises we make to reach cherished goals? Thekla Jansen persuades herself that she is right to support her students' membership in a Hitler Youth group because their participation will bring benefits, such as admission to better schools. But her view begins to change when tragedy strikes her village. Thekla realizes that she hasn't warned her students about the dangers of the Nazis, and wonders if it's too late to make up for having withheld important information. Hegi explores her young teacher's plight in a rich cultural context born of deep research that included riding a horse-drawn cart across tidal flats on the Nordstrand peninsula.
Much of Hegi's fiction has a taproot in a novel set in Germany called The Woman Who Would Not Speak, which she wrote at UNH. That book impressed English professor John Yount enough to send the manuscript to his literary agent.
"It's still unpublished, but it's fed four of my other novels," Hegi says. "There are elements of that novel that are very alive in other books."
Hegi teaches at Stony Brook University, near her Long Island home, where her study faces an inlet that allows her to pursue a passion for kayaking. She's writing a fifth Burgdorf Cycle novel that involves a midwife from Children and Fire, and the book ultimately may surprise her as much as her readers. "When I write, I don't know the ending," Hegi says, "because if I knew that, I wouldn't have to write."
Panorama of Prejudice
John Irving '65 takes on yet another form of social injustice
John Irving '65 is "the patriarch of American fiction," a critic for one of England's most prestigious newspapers wrote recently. That view might surprise fans of Philip Roth, Thomas Pynchon and Don DeLillo--not to mention, anyone who sees the field as a vibrant matriarchy led by Toni Morrison and Joyce Carol Oates.
But consider the evidence. Irving won a National Book Award for his best-known novel, The World According to Garp, and an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for his script of The Cider House Rules. He appears regularly on lists of favorites for the Nobel Prize in literature, which often goes to a writer whose work reflects a concern for human rights. And perhaps no living American novelist has shown a more passionate interest in victims of social injustice, ranging from vulnerable women in Garp and The Cider House Rules to casualties of the Vietnam War in A Prayer for Owen Meany.
In his 13th novel, In One Person (Simon & Schuster, 2012), Irving takes aim at a half-century of prejudices against people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered or questioning their sexual identity. He tells his story in the voice of Billy Abbott, a bisexual writer looking back on his childhood in Vermont and on his struggle for self-acceptance in the five decades that have followed. As a teenager, Billy develops "dangerous crushes" on people--his stepfather, an older transgendered woman, a member of his prep school's wrestling team. At first confused by his desires, he begins to understand their deeper implications after he moves to New York and sees others confront realities like AIDS and gender-reassignment surgery. Billy realizes that he and his New England friends grew up "full of self-hatred for our sexual differences, because we'd had it drummed into our heads that those differences were wrong." As he approaches old age, the question becomes: After years of pain, does he have enough time left to make peace with ghosts that still haunt him?
Irving writes about all of this with an intimacy that caused a reporter for "Entertainment Weekly" to wonder whether his stories sprang from his own early life, which included attending Phillips Exeter Academy. "Was I ever gay or bi?" Irving replied. "No, but did I ever have unwelcome and sort of gripping crushes on the older boys, like probably half of the people who went to all-boy schools? Sure I did."
If Irving writes about experiences he didn't have, he doesn't exploit the suffering of others. Perhaps the greatest achievement of In One Person is that for all its wealth of sexual detail, it never turns voyeuristic. The novel has a panoramic sweep but a simple theme rooted in a remark that a transgendered woman makes to Billy when she believes he may be stereotyping her: "My dear boy, please don't put a label on me--don't make me a category before you get to know me!" Irving makes such a forceful case against easy labels that you sense he might resist--even though it is intended as a high compliment--the honor of being "the patriarch of American fiction." ~
The Kings' Mistresses: The Liberated Lives of Marie Mancini, Princess Colonna, and Her Sister Hortense, Duchess Mazarin
Elizabeth Clark Goldsmith '72 Public Affairs, 2012
In the 17th century, the beautiful, aristocratic Marie and Hortense Mancini fled their tyrannical husbands by donning men's clothing, then flaunted their new liberty in ways that scandalized Europe. Spies, intrigue and high-stakes gambling abound in this scholarly dual biography of the sisters that tells a made-for-Hollywood story.
Among the Powers of the Earth: The American Revolution and the Making of a New World Empire
by Eliga H. Gould, professor of history Harvard University Press, 2012
After the American Revolution, the United States struggled to be taken seriously. Gould shows how this had an ironic result for Americans by the start of the Civil War: "Though at war with each other, they were at peace with the world."
Farthest North: America's First Arctic Hero and His Horrible, Wonderful Voyage to the Frozen Top of the World
In this e-book, Balf tells the remarkable story of Elisha Kent Kane, who from 1853-1855 led an Arctic expedition to look for the lost polar explorer Sir John Franklin. He didn't find him but deservedly became a national hero.
In this engaging memoir, an art historian recalls living at the East Hampton homestead that the artist Lee Krasner had shared with her late husband, Jackson Pollock, America's most influential abstract painter.
Evidence that We Are Descended from Chairs: Poems
by Andrew Merton '67, professor of English Accents Publishing, 2012
Sylvia Beaupre '64 Tavern Village Tales: A New England Footprint
Tavern Village Tales is the story of a New Hampshire village—a journey across three centuries in one place—told in nonfiction with a wisp of fiction and poetry. The author, whose childhood teetered on the cusp of the demise of the ice box, the outhouse and the running board, lives in her childhood home and writes from both historical and personal perspectives. In a lyrical weave of history and nature, the narrative connects the recent history of the village with the distant past. Men of war and men of peace make the village their home. A man arrives with nothing more than a jug and an axe, and leaves the legacy of an inn. Although a woman dies in a mysterious drowning, women create a center for the pulse of the village and step out into a wider world. Children wander from tree to meadow to brook, while a foster child longs to make the village his permanent home. Special animals, from spotted salamander to hobbled calf, color village history. A strong sense of place abides throughout these tales of people, animals and the natural world. Many photos accompany the text.
Above all, Tavern Village Tales is an invitation to rest the itinerant spirit, to settle down, if only for a little while, in one place—a postage-stamp village—and let time go by.
See at wearehistoricalsociety.org
Patricia Cummings, quilter, quilt historian and writer offers you a glimpse into the history and poetry of sweetheart and mother pillows. Over 200 pillows tell the stories of war and faraway places and points of history connect the textiles to real people and events.
Sweetheart and Mother military pillow covers provide a point of departure for the study of World War I and II and the years of Civilian Conservation Corps camps of the twentieth century. These often charming military collectibles are an important glimpse into the past. Through detailed captions and text that accompany 247 images, invaluable information is provided about individual bases and camps and distinguished military leaders, as well as specific historical events. The author also discusses the types of fibers used to create the pillows, the names of their manufacturers, and origins of terms such as "Doughboy." Another fascinating part of some of the pillow covers is their poetry, which is offered in its entirety. This book will be of great interest to textile enthusiasts, collectors of military artifacts, museums, and students and teachers of history. This one-of-a-kind landmark study of these objects of material culture will continue to be a valued resource in years to come.
See at amazon.com
Anne Macdonald '79 Deadlines Are Murder: A Sam Monroe Mystery
Former banker turned budding romance novelist Sam Monroe is wanted in the murder of her soon to be ex-husband's grad assistant and lover, Ariella Fantini. Ariella is murdered while Sam is in Florida celebrating both her mother's birthday and the publication of her first novel. Sam swiftly proves that she is just about the only person who could not have committed the murder. This swift change in her status from primary murder suspect to a person of interest has other consequences. Ariella's father, a mob boss on the run, makes Sam an offer she doesn't know how to refuse, help solve the murder of his daughter by using her connections in the English Department at the University. Since Mr. Fantini is on the most wanted lists of the Boston Police and the FBI, he needs to watch out for his own back.
Sam puts together a list of potential suspects that includes a jealous ex-boyfriend, a plagiarist who is using Ariella's work and Rick, Sam's soon to be ex. A local news reporter with connections to a friend of Ariella's becomes involved too. When this friend is murdered for Ariella's journal and Sam's home is ransacked and her life threatened, it becomes clear that Sam is more prey than hunter. Mr. Fantini and his ever present bodyguard, the police and Sam's friends and family realize that Sam is in danger and scramble to find her before she becomes the next victim.
See at amazon.com anneswritinglife.wordpress.com
Ron Moore '71, '72G Our Transplant Journey: A Caregiver's story
Our Transplant Journey: A Caregiver's Story is a deeply personal account of the highs, lows, challenges and triumphs resulting from organ transplantation, written from author Ron Moore's perspective as a caregiver for his wife, Kathy. It traces their journey from diagnosis through transplant and recovery, describing the struggles, battles and victories along the way, with a detailed daily narrative following their progress through the most difficult periods.
Despite a generally positive experience of doctors and hospitals throughout, Ron and Kathy discovered valuable lessons over the course of their journey that they wish others had shared with them at the outset. These 50 lessons learned are described in the book, some very simple, some very painful, and a few potentially deadly.
Some of the more general, yet crucial, lessons include the recognition that:
most doctors are very specialized and their diagnoses and orders can, at times, lack "systems level", whole body consideration;
contraindicated orders relative to other specialists' recommendations are not uncommon;
doctors can be wrong a significant percentage of the time;
diagnostic tests can be wrong as well, and have statistical accuracy rates which must be considered, and;
drug side-effects and interactions are a far bigger problem than most people—including doctors—realize.
In sharing their experience through Our Transplant Journey: A Caregiver's Story, Ron and Kathy hope to provide support and practical advice for other transplant patients and their caregivers, as well as doctors and medical professionals, in an effort to help others' transplant journeys reach a positive outcome.
See at amazon.com
Mike Proulx '95 Social TV: How Marketers Can Reach and Engage Audiences by Connecting Television to the Web, Social Media, and Mobile
When Beyoncé revealed her baby bump live at the 2011 VMAs, 8,868 tweets burst into the Twitterverse over the course of a single second. And the charming Volkswagen "Darth Vader" commercial, where a boy thought he used "the Force" to start his dad's Passat, inspired people to go online and view the 60-second spot 45 million times. The Internet didn't kill TV! It has become its best friend.
Americans are watching more television than ever, and we're engaging online at the same time that we're tuning in. Social media has created a powerful "backchannel," fueling the renaissance of live broadcasts. Mobile and tablet devices allow us to watch on-demand television whenever and wherever we want. And connected TVs blend Web and television content onto the big screen bringing us back into our living rooms.
Social TV takes a fresh look at television as it sheds its "traditional media" stigma and helps brands navigate TV as a fertile "new media" filled with many emerging opportunities to reach audiences. Advertisers can no longer count on TV programs alone—they must redefine television as a cross-channel media experience to ensure that their brand transcends devices, applications, and screens.
The book's co-author, Mike Proulx, graduated from UNH in 1995 with a B.S. in Business Adminstration from WSBE. He is a Senior Vice President and the Director of Social Media at Hill Holliday, based in Boston, where he leads a team with a focus on cross-channel integration and social media.
Mike conceived, produced, directed, and co-host the TVnext summit which took place in early 2011 and 2012 and is also the host of the social TV web series, The Pulse on Lost Remote. He holds a Masters degree in Computer Information Systems from Bentley University and can be found on Twitter at @McProulx.
See at amazon.com
Dan Sperduto '00G (Ben Kimball, co-author) The Nature of New Hampshire: Natural Communities of the Granite State
This illuminating and instructive book explores New Hampshire's stunning mosaic of natural communities. In photos, drawings, and accessible text, The Nature of New Hampshire takes you on a tour of landscapes as varied as alpine meadows, tidal marshes, riverbanks, forests, ponds, dunes, and cliffs. Readers will gain a new understanding and appreciation for the state's exceptional natural heritage. Natural communities are recurring associations of plants and animals found in particular physical environments. They are the dynamic habitats in which native species live. Based on more than twenty years of ecological research, the New Hampshire Natural Heritage Bureau developed the classification of the nearly 200 natural community types presented in this essential guide. The communities are organized into eight categories: alpine and subalpine, rocky ground, forests, peatlands, swamps, marshes, river channels and floodplains, and seacoast.
With gorgeous photographs, informative text, and recommended places to visit, The Nature of New Hampshire provides an important common language for conservation planning and informed land stewardship. Whether used as a field guide or an at-home resource, this book will help readers reconnect with their surroundings, and understand the places they value.
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Janice Rand Tucker '56 The Sun Still Shines: Living with Chronic Illness
Drawing from sources as diverse as Helen Keller, Michael Fox, and Henry David Thoreau, Janice courageously shares her personal journey dealing with chronic illness. After thirty years of research and journal keeping, she writes of her struggle from despair and soul searching to ultmately a spirit of acceptance and most importantly—hope. In a gripping, practical, and moving book, she reveals what life is like living with scleroderma. She shares stories of friends who wrestle with chronic illness, offering helpful suggestions on how to cope—with inspiration from philosophers, spiritual leaders and health care professionals—topped with a touch of humor.
See at amazon.com