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Strangers to Ourselves

In Strangers to Ourselves, a powerful and gripping debut, Rachel Aviv raises fundamental questions about how we understand ourselves in periods of crisis and distress. Drawing on deep, original reporting as well as unpublished journals and memoirs, Aviv writes about people who have come up against the limits of psychiatric explanations for who they are. She follows an Indian woman, celebrated as a saint, who lives in healing temples in Kerala; an incarcerated mother vying for her children’s forgiveness after recovering from psychosis; a man who devotes his life to seeking revenge upon his psychoanalysts; and an affluent young woman who, after a decade of defining herself through her diagnosis, decides to go off her meds because she doesn’t know who she is without them. Animated by a profound sense of empathy, Aviv’s exploration is refracted through her own account of living in a hospital ward at the age of six and meeting a fellow patient with whom her life runs parallel—until it no longer does.

Home Bound

A multifaceted globe-spanning exploration of identity, family, belonging, and the meaning of home.

In this singular and intimate memoir of identity and discovery, Vanessa A. Bee explores the way we define “home” and “belonging” from her birth in Yaoundé, Cameroon, to her adoption by her aunt and her aunt’s white French husband, to experiencing housing insecurity in Europe and her eventual immigration to the US. After her parents’ divorce, Vanessa traveled with her mother to Lyon and later to London, eventually settling in Reno, Nevada, as a teenager, right around the financial crisis and the collapse of the housing market. At twenty, still a practicing evangelical Christian and newly married, Vanessa applied to and was accepted by Harvard Law School, where she was one of the youngest members of her class. There, she forged a new belief system, divorced her husband, left the church, and, inspired by her tumultuous childhood, pursued a career in economic justice upon graduation.

Vanessa’s adoptive, multiracial, multilingual, multinational, and transcontinental upbringing has caused her to grapple for years with foundational questions such as: What is home? Is it the country we’re born in, the body we possess, or the name we were given and that identifies us? Is it the house we remember most fondly, the social status assigned to us, or the ideology we forge? What defines us and makes us uniquely who we are?

Organized unconventionally around her own dictionary-style definitions of the word “home,” Vanessa tackles these timeless questions thematically and unpacks the many layers that contribute to and condition our understanding of ourselves and of our place in the world.

Slenderman

On May 31, 2014, in Waukesha, Wisconsin, two twelve-year-old girls attempted to stab their classmate to death. Their violence was extreme but what seemed even more frightening was that they committed their crime under the influence of a figure born by the internet: the so-called “Slenderman.” Yet the even more urgent aspect of the story, that the children involved suffered from undiagnosed mental illnesses, often went overlooked in coverage of the case. This is the full story told for the first time in deeply researched detail, using court transcripts, police reports, and exclusive interviews. Both a page-turning true crime story and search for justice, Slenderman examines the failures of the American judicial system, the trials of adolescence, and the power of the internet.

Maybe We’ll Make It

When Margo Price was nineteen years old, she dropped out of college and moved to Nashville to become a musician. She busked on the street, played open mics, and even threw out her TV so that she would do nothing but write songs. She met Jeremy Ivey, a fellow musician who would become her closest collaborator and her husband. But after working on their craft for more than a decade, Price and Ivey had no label, no band, and plenty of heartache. Maybe We’ll Make It is a memoir of loss, motherhood, and the search for artistic freedom in the midst of the agony experienced by so many aspiring musicians: bad gigs and long tours, rejection and sexual harassment, too much drinking and barely enough money to live on. Price, though, refused to break, and turned her lowest moments into the classic country songs that eventually comprised the debut album that launched her career. In the authentic voice hailed by Pitchfork for tackling “Steinbeck-sized issues with no-bullshit humility,” Price shares the stories that became songs, and the small acts of love and camaraderie it takes to survive in a music industry that is often unkind to women. Now a Grammy-nominated “Best New Artist,” Price tells a love story of music, collaboration, and the struggle to build a career while trying to maintain her singular voice and style.

Fieldwork

Not long after Iliana Regan’s celebrated debut, Burn The Place, became the first food-related title in four decades to become a National Book Award finalist, her career as a Michelin-star-winning chef took a sharp turn north. Long based in Chicago, she and her new wife, Anna, decided to create a culinary destination, the Milkweed Inn, located in Michigan’s remote Upper Peninsula, where much of the food served to their guests would be foraged by Regan herself in the surrounding forest and nearby river. Part fresh challenge, part escape, Regan’s move to the forest was also a return to her rural roots, in an effort to deepen the intimate connection to nature and the land that she’d long expressed as a chef, but experienced most intensely growing up.

As Regan explores the ancient landscape of Michigan’s boreal forest, her stories of the land, its creatures, and its dazzling profusion of plant and vegetable life are interspersed with her and Anna’s efforts to make a home and a business of an inn that’s suddenly, as of their first full season there in 2020, empty of guests due to the covid-19 pandemic. She discovers where the wild blueberry bushes bear tiny fruit, where to gather wood sorrel, and where and when the land’s different mushroom species appear—even as surrounding parcels of land are suddenly and violently decimated by logging crews that obliterate plant life and drive away the area’s birds. Along the way she struggles not only with the threat of covid, but also with her personal and familial legacies of fear, addiction, violence, and obsession—all while she tries to conceive a child that she and her immune-compromised wife hope to raise in their new home.

With Burn The Place, Regan announced herself as a writer whose extravagant, unconventional talents matched her abilities as a lauded chef. In Fieldwork, she digs even deeper to express the meaning and beauty we seek in the landscapes, and stories, that reveal what informs, shapes, and nurtures our lives.

Waging a Good War

With a masterful command of storytelling, Ricks deftly narrates the movement’s triumphs and defeats. He follows King and other key figures from Montgomery to Memphis, demonstrating how the philosophy of nonviolence encompassed active and even aggressive methods of confronting the Movement’s adversaries, both on the ground and in the court of public opinion. While bringing legends such as Fannie Lou Hamer and John Lewis into new focus, Ricks also highlights lesser-known figures who played critical roles in fashioning nonviolence into a potent weapon—the activists James Lawson, James Bevel, Diane Nash, and Septima Clark foremost among them. He also offers a new understanding of the Movement’s later difficulties as internal disputes and white backlash intensified. Rich with fresh interpretations of familiar events and overlooked aspects of America’s civil rights struggle, Waging a Good Waris an indispensable addition to the literature of racial justice and social change—and one that offers vital lessons for our own time.

Sink

“A brilliant and brilliantly different” (Kiese Laymon), wrenching and redemptive coming-of-age memoir about the difficulty of growing up in a hazardous home and the glory of finding salvation in geek culture by Joseph Earl Thomas, winner of the 2020 Chautauqua Janus Prize.

Windfall

Author Erika Bolstad was shocked to learn she had inherited mineral rights in North Dakota in the throes of an oil bonanza. Determined to unearth the story behind her unexpected inheritance, she followed the trail to her great-grandmother, Anna, who her family had painted to be a courageous homesteader who paved her way in the unforgiving American West.

But, Bolstad discovers a darker truth about Anna than her family had ever shared. With journalistic rigor, she unearths a history of environmental exploitation and genocide as well as the modern-day consequences of the Great Plains Dream: we could be rich.

Good Enough Parenting

To build healthy and lasting parent-child relationships, parents need practical strategies that meet their child’s needs and the circumstances that affect their families. Written for parents of children from toddlers to teens, this book gives parents a science-based plan to help their children grow up to be emotionally healthy adults. A parent’s job unfolds and shifts over time. Concerns about sleep become worries about tantrums; anxieties about sharing become fears about grades and acting out in school. These concerns are natural, but many parents struggle to handle it all. Some feel drained, some lash out, and some feel like the worst parents in the world. This book might be time to recalibrate. This book aims to help unwind any confusion you may feel as a parent and create greater confidence as you embrace this fulfilling but challenging role.

Wolf Hustle

Cin Fabré didn’t learn about the stock market growing up, but from her neighborhood and her immigrant parents, she learned how to hustle. At only nineteen years old, she pushed herself into brokerage firm VTR Capital a subsidiary belonging to Jordan Belfort aka the Wolf of Wall Street. During her ascent from cold caller to stockbroker—the only Black woman to do so at the firm—Cin endured constant sexual harassment and racism. Being a broker offered financial gain but no protection as Fabré continued to face propositions from other brokers and clients who believed that their investment money was a down payment on her body. In Wolf Hustle the author examines her years spent trading frantically—and hustling successfully—and Fabré grapples with what is most meaningful in life, ultimately beating Wall Street at its own game.