Category Archives: Uncategorized

Author Jay Heinrichs on Rhetoric and the “Why” of Words

9780804189934By Jay Heinrichs, author of Thank You for Arguing, Third Edition (Three Rivers Press, July 2017).

Adding rhetoric to a literature syllabus can spark something surprising in students.

Few people can say that John Quincy Adams changed their lives. Those who can are wise to keep it to themselves. Friends tell me I should also stop prating about my passion for rhetoric, the 3,000-year-old art of persuasion.

John Quincy Adams changed my life by introducing me to rhetoric. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

On Being a Deaf Writer

9780812986396By Sara Nović, author of Girl at War: A Novel (Random House Trade Paperbacks, March 2016)

Recently my first novel became an audiobook to which I cannot listen. This is not a complaint, exactly; to write a book someone wants to publish in any format is a writer’s dream. But to hold some disc that contains a thing I made, transformed into a thing I can no longer understand, is a quandary few writers experience. To be a Deaf writer is to make a certain kind of shortlist.

Growing up with a progressive hearing loss, I was educated in spoken English alongside my hearing peers; when that became too difficult I learned American Sign Language (ASL) and had interpreters in class. Still, the linguistic modality in which I am most fluent is written English, because in it I have the most access and the most control. When I’m writing I need not be translated for a hearing audience. When I’m reading a book sounds and words are clear; paper never covers its mouth or turns its head. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Psychological Forces That Undermine Our Criminal Justice System

9780770437763by Adam Benforado, author of Unfair: The New Science of Criminal Justice (Crown, June 2015)

The death of Trayvon Martin in 2012, and his killer’s subsequent acquittal, led many to condemn our criminal justice system as fundamentally broken. And in the wake of high-profile cases in New York, Cleveland, and Ferguson, questions about how the law reflects—and exacerbates—racial and economic disparities have continued to dominate the national conversation. As a society, we are desperately trying to make sense of rampant gun violence, police brutality, overcrowded prisons, and widening inequality. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Author Essays, Uncategorized

Re-thinking Nature’s Aliens: How True Bio-diversity Benefits Us All

9780807033685By Fred Pearce, author of The New Wild: Why Invasive Species Will Be Nature’s Salvation (Beacon Press, April 2015)

Alien species are taking over nature. Rogue rats, predatory jellyfish, suffocating super-weeds, snakehead fish wriggling across the land–all are headed for an ecosystem near you. These biological adventurers are travelling the world in ever greater numbers, hitchhiking in our hand luggage, hidden in cargo holds and stuck to the bottom of ships. Our modern, human-dominated world of globalized trade is giving footloose species many more chances to cruise the planet and set up home in distant lands. Some run riot, massacring local species, trashing their new habitats and spreading diseases. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

A Dispatch from the Medication Generation

978-0-8070-0145-5By Kaitlin Bell Barnett, author of Dosed: The Medication Generation Grows Up (Beacon Press, September 2014)

As the number of young people treated with psychiatric medications has risen sharply over the past couple of decades, the issue of treating kids has become a hot-button issue.

A growing chorus of critics point fingers at doctors who are allegedly too quick to pathologize ordinary childhood struggles as mental illness, and at parents allegedly too quick to medicate their children—all in the absence of scientific evidence about the drugs’ long-term effects. Mental health advocacy groups counter with anti-stigma campaigns urging people to seek help, and big pharma continues to aggressively push its drugs for more and more pediatric indications. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

How “The Cancer of War” Alters the DNA of Nations

978-1-59051-505-1By Shahan Mufti, author of The Faithful Scribe (Other Press, September 2013).

As a writer of narrative non-fiction, I’m always searching for the most compelling characters to carry the story. In the years that I covered war as journalist from the front lines in Pakistan, a country that I call home, there were always plenty of them to choose from. War always offers extraordinary characters. There are plenty of violent, bloodthirsty villains and then there are those larger than life heroes, capable of compassion and goodness that can only be drawn from the madness of war.

Yet I repeatedly found myself drawn those characters living ordinary lives, navigating the extraordinary landscape of war: the real estate agent who finds that the war attracts speculative buyers, which allows him to make a profit of his nation’s misery; the curator who watches the collection of ancient artifacts bleed out of his museum and witnesses his culture sapped of its history; a gutsy boxer who tries to deliver hope in his fight but crumbles under the weight of his own expectation. War, I found through these characters’ lives, wasn’t always about choosing between life and death. For most people, war is about figuring out a way to survive. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Author Essays, Uncategorized

Kinder Than Solitude: Mystery, Tragedy and Friendship with Yiyun Li

978-1-4000-6814-2By Yiyun Li, author of Kinder Than Solitude: A Novel (Random House, February 2014).

When I left China in the mid 1990s, it was still a country largely unknown to the West. Americans sometimes asked me if I had ever eaten chocolate before, or if my parents had arranged a marriage for me. But over the past twenty years, with rapid changes in technology, the world seems to have become a smaller place. A photographer in Madrid told me that he had a language partner, a high school student in Wisconsin, and he practiced English on Skype with the student, and the student practiced Spanish with him. A woman I met in London makes a living by teaching English long-distance to Chinese business people. At a playground the other day, a man was using FaceTime with his family in Europe: he showed his children on swings, and his brother and sister-in-law showed an album of their traveling in Senegal, all on their iPhone screens. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Recommendations, Uncategorized