Acclaimed short story writer Steve Yarbrough, whose works have been included in the Pushcart Prize anthology and The Best American Mystery Stories 1998, once again demonstrates his gift for vividly rendered characters and evocative themes in his latest collection of fiction.
Veneer presents a variety of characters from cultural backgrounds and settings that range from California to Mississippi to Eastern Europe. Yarbrough's sensitive portrayals of loss and longing are individual and unsettling; a disaffected college football coach, a movie star with a "substance problem," and a small-town girl coming to grips with the murder of her mother are just a few examples of the turbulent lives he portrays. In every instance, each character is "constantly searching for some way to bridge the gap, so small and yet so vast, between a right move and a wrong one."
A poignant theme running through this collection is the conflict between appearance and reality. Yarbrough presents the reader with deep narrative layers, juxtaposing the gritty present with nostalgic recollections of an idealized past or hopeful projections into a rosy future. "Veneer," the title piece, beautifully reveals the depth of this conflict. On the surface, the narrator, a married man whose family is away on vacation, enjoys a dinner with a woman who has been a longtime friend. Beneath that "veneer," however, lies a more complex, perhaps troubling, relationship between the two friends, a relationship only partially obscured by the comic recounting of a childhood Independence Day.
Yarbrough is at his best when he offers us brief glimpses into his characters' minds and imaginations, brilliantly exposing subtle vulnerabilities as cracks in the veneer. "Bohemia" follows the travels of two young lovers as they explore Europe. The woman fears that her lover will abandon her, and when she wakes to find him gone one evening, she believes her fear is confirmed. Yet his return does not alleviate her insecurity. The reality of her lover's presence and her continued anxiety emphasize the many layers that constitute the woman's world.
Diverse in locale, character, and content, the stories in Veneer present rare views into the rifts between husband and wife, parent and child, one sibling and another. Crafting these compelling, deceptively simple stories is a writer whose "true subject is the human heart."
During the nineteenth century, British society was making rapid advancements in science and technology. While the men became materially productive, women were expected to be the fulcrums of society's changes. As one means of adjusting to these changes, many women focused on supernaturalism and spirituality.
In Victorian Ghosts in the Noontide, Vanessa D. Dickerson analyzes women's spirituality in a materialistic age by examining the supernatural fiction of Charlotte and Emily Brontë, Elizabeth Gaskell, and George Eliot and provides interpretive readings of familiar texts like Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. Other works by lesser-known authors are also examined.
Technological advances eliminated many of the jobs women were accustomed to doing. This left women looking for their place in society. A sense of "in-betweenness" developed in these women who were now expected to attend not only to the physical but also to the moral and spiritual needs of the family. As an answer to this "in-betweenness" some channeled their power toward the art of writing. Because people in the mid-1800s were so thoroughly engaged in scientific thought and advancements, supernatural folklore and spirituality were disreputable ideas for anyone, especially women, to explore. Ghosts and spirits were tied to old-wives' tales, superstitions, and legends. However, by focusing on these concepts and using fiction as an outlet, women were able to make great strides in being seen and heard. The art of writing functioned as an exploration of their spiritualism in which women discovered expression, freedom, and power.
This perceptive, well-written book will add a new dimension to our understanding of women's supernatural writings of the Victorian era. Scholars of Victorian literature, women's studies, and popular culture will benefit from its insights.
Winner, Missouri Conference on History Book Award, 2001
Victory without Violence is the story of a small, integrated group of St. Louisans who carried out sustained campaigns from 1947 to 1957 that were among the earliest in the nation to end racial segregation in public accommodations. Guided by Gandhian principles of nonviolent direct action, the St. Louis Committee of Racial Equality (CORE) conducted negotiations, demonstrations, and sit-ins to secure full rights for the African American residents of St. Louis.
The book opens with an overview of post-World War II racial injustice in the United States and in St. Louis. After recounting the genesis of St. Louis CORE, the writers vividly relate activities at lunch counters, cafeterias, and restaurants, demonstrating CORE's remarkable success in winning over initially hostile owners, manager, and service employees. A detailed review of its sixteen-month campaign at a major St. Louis department store, Stix, Baer & Fuller, illustrates the groups' patient persistence. Kimbrough and Dagen show after the passage of a public accommodations ordinance in 1961, CORE's goal of equal access was realized throughout the city of St. Louis.
On the scene reports drawn from CORE newsletters (1951-1955) and reminiscences by members appear throughout the text. In a closing chapter, the authors trace the lasting effects of the CORE experience on the lives of its members. Victory without Violence casts light on a previously obscured decade in St. Louis civil rights history.
Although his contributions to philosophy are revered and his writings have been collected, Eric Voegelin’s persona will inevitably fade with the memories of those who knew him. This book preserves the human element of Voegelin by capturing those valuable personal recollections.
Barry Cooper and Jodi Bruhn conducted intensive interviews with Voegelin’s wife, his closest friends, and his first-generation students—many of whom have since passed on—in order to bring to print everything important about his life and personality. American scholars will especially appreciate the glimpses provided by Voegelin’s German colleagues into his life in Munich, as well as the thoughts of his students in Vienna. Reflections of people such as Paul Caringella, Bruno Schlesinger, and Heinz Barazon capture Voegelin’s greatness and shortcomings alike and also shed new light on his philosophical quest for truth.
By descending progressively further into the past, the book takes readers deeper into the essence of Voegelin as reminiscences become more dramatic. Ranging widely from America back to Germany—with recollections of Gestapo intimidation and eventual emigration—the accounts interweave episodes of pathos, humor, fear, rivalry, and ambition. We witness Voegelin’s persistent and partly self-imposed communication problems and impatience with administrative duties, his respect for prudent political actors and public servants, and his genuine affection not only for his colleagues and best students but also for diligent secretaries and empathetic nurses. Through these recollections, key elements of his personality repeatedly emerge: his intelligence, optimism, and integrity, combined with an acute perception of the significance of his work.
This is the most revealing and comprehensive biographical work yet available on a man known to be captivating as a thinker—and now shown to be equally fascinating as a human being. His own publications attest to his mind and methods; Voegelin Recollected provides a deeper understanding of the man himself.
Folklorist Wayland Hand once called Mary Alicia Owen “the most famous American Woman Folklorist of her time.” Drawing on primary sources, such as maps, census records, court documents, personal letters and periodicals, and the scholarship of others who have analyzed various components of Owen’s multifaceted career, historian Greg Olson offers the most complete account of her life and work to date. He also offers a critical look at some of the short stories Owen penned, sometimes under the name Julia Scott, and discusses how the experience she gained as a fiction writer helped lead her to a successful career in folklore.
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