Books by ALSCW Members

Harvard Self and Soul: A Defense of Ideals by Mark Edmundson
"In a culture that has become progressively more skeptical and materialistic, the desires of the individual self stand supreme, Mark Edmundson says. We spare little thought for the great ideals that once gave life meaning and worth. Self and Soul is an impassioned effort to defend the values of the Soul.

Edmundson guides readers back to the ancient sources of the three great ideals: courage, contemplation, and compassion. Homer’s Iliad presents two contrasting versions of the heroic ideal: Achilles, who risks everything to become the greatest of warriors, and Hector, who sacrifices his life to defend his people. Plato’s quest is for timeless truth: he is the prime example of the authentic thinker, concentrating the ideal of contemplation. The third great ideal, compassion, is embodied by Jesus, the Buddha, and Confucius, who taught loving kindness, forgiveness, and forbearance in a world where such qualities are difficult and sometimes dangerous to espouse.

Shakespeare and Freud are the modern world’s great enemies of these ideals, Edmundson argues. Shakespeare detests chivalry and has little time for faith and philosophy. Freud sees ideals as illusions that will inevitably betray us. But between them, a new ideal arises: imaginative creation, exemplified by Blake and Shelley."
Amazon As If It Were: Poems by Fred Chappell
"Inspired by ancient, modern, and contemporary writings, Fred Chappell’s sprightly new collection of verse, As If It Were, presents tales, anecdotes, pointed stories, and aphorisms to spark the conscience of readers young and old. Playful and even zany, the humor in these poems pulls readers into a world filled with noble lions, crafty foxes, predacious wolves, longsuffering asses, and fashionable peacocks. Chappell illustrates how the fable offers a timeless form of wisdom, surprising us with revelations that challenge what we think we already know, along with fresh observations of daily experiences. With its informal, even nonchalant tone of address and lush, polished language, As If It Were endows homespun materials with alchemical insights."
Amazon Words and Days by Hesiod, translated by A. E. Stallings
"The ancient Greeks revered Hesiod, believing he had beaten Homer in a singing contest and that after his dead body was thrown to sea, it was brought back by dolphins. His Works and Days is one of the most important early works of Greek poetry. Ostensibly written by the poet to chide his lazy brother, it recounts the story of Pandora’s box and humanity’s decline since the Golden Age, and can be read as a celebration of rural life and a hymn to work. Alicia Stallings’s new translation breathes new life into Hesiod’s work, rendering its vivid poetry for a new generation of classics readers."
Amazon The Aeneid by Virgil, translated by David Ferry
"This new translation brings Virgil’s masterpiece newly to life for English-language readers. It’s the first in centuries crafted by a translator who is first and foremost a poet, and it is a glorious thing. David Ferry has long been known as perhaps our greatest contemporary translator of Latin poetry, his translations of Virgil’s Eclogues and Georgics having established themselves as much-admired standards. He brings to the Aeneid the same genius, rendering Virgil’s formal metrical lines into an English that is familiar and alive. Yet in doing so, he surrenders none of the feel of the ancient world that resonates throughout the poem, and gives it the power that has drawn readers to it for centuries. In Ferry’s hands, the Aeneid becomes once more a lively, dramatic poem of daring and adventure, of love and loss, of devotion and death. Never before have Virgil’s twin gifts of poetic language and urgent, compelling storytelling been presented so powerfully for English-language readers. Ferry’s Aeneid will be a landmark, a gift to longtime lovers of Virgil, and the perfect entry point for new readers."
Amazon The Truth of Two by Harry Thomas
"Selected translations by Harry Thomas: Catullus, Li Bai, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Giacomo Leopardi, Salvador Díaz Mirón, Paul Valéry, Antonio Machado, Umberto Saba, Giuseppe Ungaretti, Pedro Salinas, Eugenio Montale, Jorge Luis Borges, Pablo Neruda, Primo Levi, Yves Bonnefoy, Joseph Brodsky."
Amazon Street View: Poems by Maryann Corbett
"Maryann Corbett's Street View is a panorama of views: suburban and urban avenues, shown in leaf and in snow; alleyways where misfits lurk in darkness, but also where "Adonis, charioteer of municipal waste collection, rides with the morning"; and boulevards of old buildings whose elegance remains undeniable, even when "prinked in the clown suit of commerce." Street View also navigates the resiliency and failings of the human body, and the memories of family and pivotal acquaintances that shape viewpoints for good or ill. This is the work of a seasoned poet in command of her craft, and deservedly, a finalist for the 2016 Able Muse Book Award."
Amazon Slavery and Class in the American South: A Generation of Slave Narrative Testimony, 1840-1865 by William L. Andrews
"The distinction among slaves is as marked, as the classes of society are in any aristocratic community. Some refusing to associate with others whom they deem to be beneath them, in point of character, color, condition, or the superior importance of their respective masters." Henry Bibb, fugitive slave, editor, and antislavery activist, stated this in his Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Henry Bibb (1849). In William L. Andrews's magisterial study of an entire generation of slave narrators, more than 60 mid-nineteenth-century narratives reveal how work, family, skills, and connections made for social and economic differences among the enslaved of the South. Slave narrators disclosed class-based reasons for violence that broke out between "impudent," "gentleman," and "lady" slaves and their resentful "mean masters." Andrews's far-reaching book shows that status and class played key roles in the self- and social awareness and in the processes of liberation portrayed in the narratives of the most celebrated fugitives from U.S. slavery, such as Frederick Douglass, Harriet Jacobs, William Wells Brown, and William and Ellen Craft.

Slavery and Class in the American South explains why social and economic distinctions developed and how they functioned among the enslaved. Noting that the majority of the slave narrators came from the higher echelons of the enslaved, Andrews also pays close attention to the narratives that have received the least notice from scholars, those from the most exploited class, the "field hands." By examining the lives of the most and least acclaimed heroes and heroines of the slave narrative, Andrews shows how the dividing edge of social class cut two ways, sometimes separating upper and lower strata of slaves to their enslavers' advantage, but at other times fueling pride, aspiration, and a sense of just deserts among some of the enslaved that could be satisfied by nothing less than complete freedom.

The culmination of a career spent studying African American literature, this comprehensive study of the antebellum slave narrative offers a ground-breaking consideration of a unique genre of American literature.  
Amazon Holy Moly Carry Me by Erika Meitner
Winner of the 2018 National Jewish Book Award for Poetry

Erika Meitner’s fifth collection of poetry plumbs human resilience and grit in the face of disaster, loss, and uncertainty. These narrative poems take readers into the heart of southern Appalachia―its highways and strip malls and gun culture, its fragility and danger―as the speaker wrestles with what it means to be the only Jewish family in an Evangelical neighborhood and the anxieties of raising one white son and one black son amidst racial tensions and school lockdown drills. With a firm hand on the pulse of the uncertainty at the heart of 21st century America and a refusal to settle for easy answers, Meitner’s poems embrace life in an increasingly fractured society and never stop asking what it means to love our neighbor as ourselves. 
Amazon Losers Dream On by Mark Halliday
We are all losing all the time. Four titanic forces—time, mortality, forgetting, and confusion—win victories over us each day. We all “know” this yet we keep dreaming of beautiful fulfillments, shapely culminations, devotions nobly sustained—in family life, in romance, in work, in citizenship. What obsesses Halliday in Losers Dream On is how to recognize reality without relinquishing the pleasure and creativity and courage of our dreaming.
            
Halliday’s poetry exploits the vast array of dictions, idioms, rhetorical maneuvers, and tones available to real-life speakers (including speakers talking to themselves). Often Halliday gives a poem to a speaker who is distressed, angry, confused, defensive, self-excusing, or driven by yearning, so that the poem may dramatize the speaker’s state of mind while also implying the poet’s ironic perspective on the speaker. Meanwhile, a few other poems (for instance “A Gender Theory” and “Thin White Shirts” and “First Wife” and “You Lament”) try to push beyond irony into earnestness and wholehearted declaration.  The tension between irony and belief is the engine of Halliday’s poetry. 
Amazon Mind Over Memes: Passive Listening, Toxic Talk, and Other Modern Language Follies by Diana Senechal
Too often our use of language has become lazy, frivolous, and even counterproductive. We rely on clichés and bromides to communicate in such a way that our intentions are lost or misinterpreted. In a culture of “takeaways” and buzzwords, it requires study and cunning to keep language alive.

In Mind over Memes: Passive Listening, Toxic Talk, and Other Modern Language Follies, Diana Senechal examines words, concepts, and phrases that demand reappraisal. Targeting a variety of terms, the author contends that a “good fit” may not always be desirable; delivers a takedown of the adjective “toxic”; and argues that “social justice” must take its place among other justices. This book also includes a critique of our modern emphasis on quick answers and immediate utility.

By scrutinizing words and phrases that serve contemporary fads and follies, this book stands up against the excesses of language and offers engaging alternatives. Drawing on literature, philosophy, social sciences, music, and technology, Senechal offers a rich framework to make fresh connections between topics. Combining sharp criticism, lyricism, and wit, Mind over Memes argues for judicious and imaginative speech.
Amazon The Lake on Fire by Rosellen Brown
The Lake on Fire is an epic narrative that begins among 19th century Jewish immigrants on a failing Wisconsin farm. Dazzled by lore of the American dream, Chaya and her strange, brilliant, young brother Asher stow away to Chicago; what they discover there, however, is a Gilded Age as empty a façade as the beautiful Columbian Exposition luring thousands to Lake Michigan’s shore. The pair scrapes together a meager living―Chaya in a cigar factory; Asher, roaming the city and stealing books and jewelry to share with the poor, until they find different paths of escape. An examination of family, love, and revolution, this profound tale resonates eerily with today’s current events and tumultuous social landscape. The Lake on Fire is robust, gleaming, and grimy all at once, proving that celebrated author Rosellen Brown is back with a story as luminous as ever.