Faculty Books

“A fully realized portrait of one woman’s life in all its complexity, by the National Book Award–winning author”

An ordinary life—its sharp pains and unexpected joys, its bursts of clarity and moments of confusion—lived by an ordinary woman: this is the subject of Someone, Alice McDermott’s extraordinary return, seven years after the publication of After This. Scattered recollections—of childhood, adolescence, motherhood, old age—come together in this transformative narrative, stitched into a vibrant whole by McDermott’s deft, lyrical voice.

Our first glimpse of Marie is as a child: a girl in glasses waiting on a Brooklyn stoop for her beloved father to come home from work. A seemingly innocuous encounter with a young woman named Pegeen sets the bittersweet tone of this remarkable novel. Pegeen describes herself as an “amadan,” a fool; indeed, soon after her chat with Marie, Pegeen tumbles down her own basement stairs. The magic of McDermott’s novel lies in how it reveals us all as fools for this or that, in one way or another.

Marie’s first heartbreak and her eventual marriage; her brother’s brief stint as a Catholic priest, subsequent loss of faith, and eventual breakdown; the Second World War; her parents’ deaths; the births and lives of Marie’s children; the changing world of her Irish-American enclave in Brooklyn—McDermott sketches all of it with sympathy and insight. This is a novel that speaks of life as it is daily lived; a crowning achievement by one of the finest American writers at work today.

Accolades:

  • A Publishers Weekly Best Fiction Book of the Year
  • A Kirkus Reviews Best Fiction Book of 2013
  • A New York Times Notable Book of 2013
  • A Washington Post Notable Fiction Book of 2013
  • An NPR Best Book of 2013

A cutting-edge account of the latest science of autism, from the best-selling author and advocate

When Temple Grandin was born in 1947, autism had only just been named. Today it is more prevalent than ever, with one in 88 children diagnosed on the spectrum. And our thinking about it has undergone a transformation in her lifetime: Autism studies have moved from the realm of psychology to neurology and genetics, and there is far more hope today than ever before thanks to groundbreaking new research into causes and treatments. Now Temple Grandin reports from the forefront of autism science, bringing her singular perspective to a thrilling journey into the heart of the autism revolution.

Weaving her own experience with remarkable new discoveries, Grandin introduces the neuroimaging advances and genetic research that link brain science to behavior, even sharing her own brain scan to show us which anomalies might explain common symptoms. We meet the scientists and self-advocates who are exploring innovative theories of what causes autism and how we can diagnose and best treat it. Grandin also highlights long-ignored sensory problems and the transformative effects we can have by treating autism symptom by symptom, rather than with an umbrella diagnosis. Most exciting, she argues that raising and educating kids on the spectrum isn’t just a matter of focusing on their weaknesses; in the science that reveals their long-overlooked strengths she shows us new ways to foster their unique contributions.

From the “aspies” in Silicon Valley to the five-year-old without language, Grandin understands the true meaning of the word spectrum. The Autistic Brain is essential reading from the most respected and beloved voices in the field.


From one of our most universally admired poets: a generous selection from his five acclaimed books of poetry, and an outstanding group of new poems.

From the outset, Brad Leithauser has displayed a venturesome taste for quirky patterns, innovative designs sprung loose from traditional forms. In The Oldest Word for Dawn, we encounter a sonnet in one-syllable lines (“Post-Coitum Tristesse”), a clanging rhyme-mad tribute to the music of Tin Pan Alley (“A Good List”), intricate buried rhyme schemes (“In Minako Wada’s House”), autobiography spun through parodies of Frost and Keats and Omar Khayyám (“Two Summer Jobs”).

In a new poem, “Earlier,” the poet investigates a kind of paradox: What is the oldest word for dawn in any language? The pursuit ultimately descends into the roots of speech, the genesis of art. “Earlier” is part of a sequence devoted to prehistoric themes: the cave paintings of Altamira, the disappearance of the Neanderthals, the poet’s journey with his teenage daughter to excavate a triceratops skeleton in Montana…

The author of six novels as well, Leithauser not surprisingly brings to his verse a flair for compelling narrative: a fateful romantic encounter on a streetcar (“1944: Purple Heart”); the mesmerizing arrival of television in a quiet Detroit neighborhood (“Not Lunar Exactly”); two boys heedlessly, joyfully bidding permanent farewell to a beloved sister (“Emigrant’s Story”).

The Oldest Word for Dawn reveals Brad Leithauser as a poet of surpassing tenderness and exactitude, a poet whose work, at sixty, fulfills the promise noted by James Merrill on the publication of his first book: “The observations glisten, the feelings ring true. These poems by a young, unostentatious craftsman are made to something very like perfection. No one should overlook them.”


Like Robert Frost’s North of Boston, David Yezzi’s Birds of the Air intersperses charged lyrics with longer dramatic narratives. His monologues explore the frenetic pressures of urban life, as a number of memorable characters take stage: the guy who is hired to clear out a dying man’s apartment; the actor stuck in an inadvertently hilarious production of Macbeth and his estranged girlfriend’s tragic end; and the short-order cook who elevates his work to an art form. Like the birds of the air described by St. Matthew, these threadbare denizens of the modern city subsist on the few scraps that fall to them.


“That feeling of becoming a new person in a different place, even if it’s an illusion, is intoxicating to me, and always has been. I love writing about places, but only places where I don’t belong.”—James Arthur

Awakening is the theme of this fiery debut about the “ghost world” of shadows and personae. A sense of history, politics, and place is an integrated and integral part of the whole, alive with stirring accounts of travel, intimate moments of solitude, and encounters with the ineffable. Romantic in spirit and contemporary in outlook, James Arthur writes exciting, rhythmical, elastic poems.


Andrew Motion’s new book opens with a sequence of war poems (first published as the pamphlet Laurels and Donkeys, on Armistice Day 2010), drawing on soldiers’ experiences of war from 1914 until today – beginning with a story about Siegfried Sassoon and moving via World War Two and Korea to the recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many of the poems are in the voices of combatants, others are based on memories of the poet’s father, who landed at D-day and fought in France and Germany. The poems combine understatement with a clear-eyed and unswerving candour.

The Customs House has other rooms: a group of topographies, mapping moments in a marriage against the contingencies of place and family history; and several ‘found poems’, in which the poet collaborates with his source, mixing what is there already with what is about to be there: whether a remarkable sonnet sequence on the last days of the Baroque genius Francesco Borromini, or in other poems a richly imagined extrapolation from the silent premises of a painting.


A rip-roaring sequel to Treasure Island—Robert Louis Stevenson’s beloved classic—about two young friends and their high-seas adventure with dangerous pirates and long-lost treasure.

It’s almost forty years after the events of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island: Jim Hawkins now runs an inn called the Hispaniola on the English coast with his son, Jim, and Long John Silver has returned to England to live in obscurity with his daughter, Natty. Their lives are quiet and unremarkable; their adventures have seemingly ended.

But for Jim and Natty, the adventure is just beginning. One night, Natty approaches young Jim with a proposition: return to Treasure Island and find the remaining treasure that their fathers left behind so many years before. As Jim and Natty set sail in their fathers’ footsteps, they quickly learn that this journey will not be easy. Immediately, they come up against murderous pirates, long-held grudges, and greed and deception lurking in every corner. And when they arrive on Treasure Island, they find terrible scenes awaiting them—difficulties which require all their wit as well as their courage. Nor does the adventure end there, since they have to sail homeward again…

Andrew Motion’s sequel—rollicking, heartfelt, and utterly brilliant—would make Robert Louis Stevenson proud.


Nuclear energy, X-rays, radon, cell phones… radiation is part of the way we live on a daily basis, and yet the sources and repercussions of our exposure to it remain mysterious. Now Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Wayne Biddle offers a first-of-its-kind guide to understanding this fundamental aspect of the universe. From fallout to radiation poisoning, alpha particles to cosmic rays, Biddle illuminates the history, meaning, and health implications of one hundred scientific terms in succinct, witty essays. A Field Guide to Radiation is an essential, engaging handbook that offers wisdom and common sense for today’s increasingly nuclear world.


When members of a private club in Boston, led by Dr. Edward Shaw, create a chemical formula that will modify their DNA to ensure themselves eternal life, something goes horribly wrong. And the formula turns those who take it into zombies. Mayhem ensues.


In one of his letters Hart Crane wrote, “Appollinaire lived in Paris, I live in Cleveland, Ohio,” comparing—misspelling and all—the great French poet’s cosmopolitan roots to his own more modest ones in the midwestern United States. Rebelling against the notion that his work should relate to some European school of thought, Crane defiantly asserted his freedom to be himself, a true American writer. John T. Irwin, long a passionate and brilliant critic of Crane, gives readers the first major interpretation of the poet’s work in decades.

Irwin aims to show that Hart Crane’s epic The Bridge is the best 20th-century long poem in English. Irwin convincingly argues that, compared to other long poems of the century, The Bridge is the richest and most wide-ranging in its mythic and historical resonances, the most inventive in its combination of literary and visual structures, the most subtle and compelling in its psychological underpinnings. Irwin brings a wealth of new and varied scholarship to bear on his critical reading of the work?from art history to biography to classical literature to philosophy?revealing The Bridge to be the near-perfect synthesis of American myth and history that Crane intended.

Irwin contends that the most successful entryway to Crane’s notoriously difficult shorter poems is through a close reading of The Bridge. Having admirably accomplished this, Irwin analyzes Crane’s poems in White Buildings and his last poem, “The Broken Tower,” through the larger context of his epic, showing how Crane, in the best of these, worked out the structures and images that were fully developed in The Bridge.

Thoughtful, deliberate, and extraordinarily learned, this is the most complete and careful reading of Crane’s poetry available. Hart Crane may have lived in Cleveland, Ohio, but, as Irwin masterfully shows, his poems stand among the greatest written in the English language.