Faculty Books

The stories of Ocean State roll over the reader like a wave. Family pleasures, marriage, the essential moments and mysteries of a seemingly ordinary world that break into magical territory before we can brace ourselves—Jean McGarry puts us in life’s rough seas with what the New York Times has called a “deft, comic, and devastatingly precise” hand.


Warren Ziller moved his family to Southern California in search of a charmed life, and to all appearances, he found it: a gated community not far from the beach, amid the affluent splendor of the 1980s. But the Zillers’ American dream is about to be rudely interrupted. Warren has squandered their savings on a bad real estate investment, which he conceals from his wife, Camille, who misreads his secrecy as a sign of an affair. Their children, Dustin, Lyle, and Jonas, have grown as distant as satellites, too busy with their own betrayals and rebellions to notice their parents’ distress. When tragedy strikes, the Zillers are forced to move to Warren’s abandoned housing development in the desert. In this comically bleak new home, each must reckon with what’s led them there and who’s to blame—and whether they can summon the forgiveness needed to hold the family together.

With penetrating insights into modern life and an uncanny eye for everyday absurdities, Eric Puchner delivers a wildly funny, heartbreaking, and thoroughly original portrait of an American family.


By turns playful and serious, the poems in Dora Malech’s long-awaited second collection, Shore Ordered Ocean, revel in the inherent tensions and pleasures of sense, sound and syntax, reveal the resonance in the offhand utterance, seek the unexpected in aphorism and cliché, and tap into the paradoxical freedom of formality. This is an extraordinary collection of highly idiosyncratic poems that explore place, politics, the body, love, art, and more.


In The Art Student’s War, his sixth novel, Brad Leithauser has brought off a double feat of imagination: a keen and affectionate rendering of an artist as a young woman and a loving historical portrait of a now-vanished Detroit in its heyday.

The story opens on a sunny spring day as a pretty woman, in a crowded wartime city, climbs aboard a streetcar. She is heading home, where another war—a domestic war—is about to erupt.

The year is 1943. Our heroine, Bianca Paradiso, is eighteen and an art student. She goes by Bea with friends and family, but she is Bianca in that world of private ambition where she dreams of creating canvases deserving of space on a museum’s walls. She is determined to observe everything, and there is much to see in a thriving, sleepless city where automobile production has been halted in favor of fighter planes and tanks, and where wounded soldiers have begun to appear with disturbing frequency.

The glorious pursuit of art and the harrowing pursuit of military victory eventually merge when Bea is asked to draw portraits of wounded young soldiers in a local hospital. Suddenly, bewilderingly, she must deal with lives maimed at their outset, and with headlong romantic yearnings that demand more of her than she feels prepared to give. And she must do so at a time when dangerous revelations—emotional detonations—are occurring in her own family.

Rich, humorous, and grippingly written, The Art Student’s War is Leithauser’s finest novel to date—a view both global and intimate in its portrayal of one family caught up in the personal and national drama of the Second World War.


A stunning investigation of the roots of the first moon landing 40 years ago. This illuminating story of the dawn of the space age reaches back to the reactionary modernism of the Third Reich, using the life of “rocket scientist” Wernher von Braun as its narrative path through the crumbling of Weimar Germany and the rise of the Nazi regime. Von Braun, a blinkered opportunist who could apply only tunnel vision to his meteoric career, stands as an archetype of myriad twentieth century technologists who thrived under regimes of military secrecy and unlimited money. His seamless transformation from developer of the deadly V-2 ballistic missile for Hitler to an American celebrity as the supposed genius behind the golden years of the U.S. space program in the 1950s and 1960s raises haunting questions about the culture of the Cold War, the shared values of technology in totalitarian and democratic societies, and the imperatives of material progress.


The Swallow Anthology of New American Poets gathers the work of 35 of the most compelling and talented new poets writing today. Groundbreaking anthologies of this kind come along once in a generation and, in time, define that generation. The Swallow Anthology identifies a group of poets who have recently begun to make an important mark on contemporary poetry, and their accomplishment and influence will only grow with time. The poets of The Swallow Anthology do not constitute a school or movement; rather they are a group of unique artists working at the top of their craft. As editor David Yezzi writes in his introduction, “Here is a group of poets who have, perhaps for the first time since the modernist revolution, returned to a happy détente between warring camps. This is a new kind of poet, who, dissatisfied with the climate of extremes, has found a balance between innovation and received form, the terror beneath the classical and the order underpinning the romantic. This new unified sensibility is no watered–down admixture, no easy compromise, but, rather, the vital spirit behind the most accomplished poetry being written by America’s new poets.”Poets include: Craig Arnold, David Barber, Rick Barot, Priscilla Becker, Geoffrey Brock, Dan Brown, Peter Campion, Bill Coyle, Morri Creech, Erica Dawson, Ben Downing, Andrew Feld, John Foy, Jason Gray, George Green, Joseph Harrison, Ernest Hilbert, Adam Kirsch, Joanie Mackowski, Eric McHenry, Molly McQuade, Joshua Mehigan, Wilmer Mills, Joe Osterhaus, J. Allyn Rosser, A. E. Stallings, Pimone Triplett, Catherine Tufariello, Deborah Warren, Rachel Wetzsteon, Greg Williamson, Christian Wiman, Mark Wunderlich, David Yezzi, and C. Dale Young.


Brad Leithauser’s “most satisfying collection in years” (Library Journal), a bracing poetic journey that begins in a warm, peopled world and concludes in a cooler and more private place, embracing love of the human and natural world in all its states.


The Mower introduces the poetry of British poet laureate Andrew Motion to American readers for the first time. This selection, chosen by Andrew Motion himself, is an outstanding representation of the poet’s varied body of work elegies, sonnets, poems of social and political observation, and unsentimental poems about childhood, post-war England, and natural life composed over the course of three decades.

A significant and consistent feature of Motion’s work, throughout his shifts in style and changes in imaginative topog­raphies, is his signature clarity of observation, his un­willingness to sacrifice intelligibility or embrace opacity. Instead, Motion employs the full power of the English language to do his bidding, and, in love with words as he is, the words cooperate, communicate transforming the intangible, the abstract into intelligible images, associations, and ultimately, knowledge.

In his role as poet laureate for the past ten years, Motion has worked to make poetry more widely available to the general public free of charge (through his online archiving of poets reading their work at The Poetry Archive).


This “wholly attractive volume” that brings together 25 years of “elegantly shaped and voiced creations” (William Pritchard, The Boston Globe) offers a generous sampling of Mary Jo Salter’s five previous award-winning volumes and a collection of superb new poems. A mid-career retrospective of one of the major poets of her generation.


There’s an extraordinary amount of wit and wordplay—outrageous puns, fractured homilies, garbled quotations, double entendres—in this short book. A Most Marvelous Piece of Luck recalls those planetarium shows that, in their vertiginous final minutes, whirl the audience through the cosmos. To say that Williamson is one of the three or four contemporary American masters of light verse may be a less grand pronouncement than it sounds, given how few serious poets these days would aspire to the title. Williamson’s rhymes are likewise dexterous, with a number of unexpected combinations and here and there he comes up with something so neatly preposterous that Byron might have been proud to claim it. The book holds up so well, richly repaying rereading, because there’s a somber, eerie iciness at its core.