Washed Away: How the Great Flood of 1913, America’s Most Widespread Disaster, Terrorized a Nation and Changed it Forever
By Geoff Williams
This book chronicles the events leading up to, during, and after the Great Flood of 1913. It began on March 23 with a series of tornadoes, but then unprecedented rains began falling and continued to pummel a wide area of the country (including Ohio). This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Great Flood, and the author gives us horrifying glimpses as heroes and villains emerge from the catastrophe. Mother Nature claimed more than 700 lives during her rampage, with millions more homeless and in despair.
Storm Kings: The Untold Story of America’s First Tornado Chasers
By Lee Sandlin
This book tells the story of weather-obsessed individuals whose groundwork made the science of meteorology possible. The population’s interest in North America’s tornadoes is as old as civilization. As population centers began to fan out into the Midwest, reports of strange, singing storms that left pure destruction piqued the interest of a number of individuals, including Benjamin Franklin. The author’s vivid descriptions of some of the devastating tornadoes from the country’s past are truly frightening. Storms such as these demanded an explanation, and the stories of the men who investigated “whirlwinds” is a fascinating read.
By Marly Youmans
(Adult Non-fiction; Poetry)
Ask yourself what is missing from the current crop of popular Post-Apocalyptic tales like Hunger Games and The Road? If you said epic poetry (and even if you didn’t), then you need to check out Thaliad by Marly Youmans. She tells the story of 7 children who survive the “Fire” that wipes out humanity. Led by the remarkable 12year-old Thalia, they experience hardships, shocking betrayal, prophetic visions, violence, love, death and birth. The story of what they endure to found a new community is told in an unrhymed cadence that lends a mythic quality, but reads smoothly and naturally.
Looking for the Gulf Motel
By Richard Blanco
(Adult Non-fiction; Poetry)
Most people, if asked, would have difficulty naming a contemporary poet. But if you watched Barack Obama’s second inauguration, then you know Richard Blanco. The first Hispanic and first openly gay poet to read at a presidential inauguration, Richard Blanco shows himself in this new collection to be an engaging and accessible poet. This is a memory book and an immigrant story of his Cuban-American upbringing and his family’s efforts to assimilate. The title poem has the adult narrator returning to the vacation spot of his childhood. The refrain, “There should be nothing here I don’t remember…” is at odds with the reality of what he sees. Instead he must recall the past and “pretend for a moment, nothing lost is lost”. But what he does recover again and again in this collection is vivid, sensual, and often funny. “Betting on America” has the whole family gathering to watch the Miss America pageant, with grandmother as the bookie, and everyone choosing their favorite; the young narrator bets on Miss Wisconsin”… because/I was as blond as she was, and I knew/that’s where the cheese came from.” When Miss Ohio is crowned “queen of our country” no one can answer when Mama asks “Donde esta Ohio?”
By Dave Lucas
(Adult Non-fiction; Poetry)
Northeastern Ohio has produced its share of great poets. Hart Crane, Kenneth Patchen, and Rita Dove come to mind. Cleveland native Dave Lucas looks set to join the pantheon in his debut collection. His strength is his engagement with the post-industrial landscape of the Rust-belt. In the first poem of this collection, “Midst of a Burning Fiery Furnace”, he declares his intentions: “…Let them burn/ the dark night livid, my poor republic/of ingot and slag. I am also seething/ in my depths, I too have come to forge.” Every Cleveland poet needs a burning river poem and “River on Fire” is a good one. Lucas gives us echoes of the Old Testament when he concludes “Go down and tell them what you have seen:/that the river burned and was not consumed.” But its not all decaying mills. Nature poems like “Beach-Pea”, “Steelhead”, and “To the Lake” show the natural world mirroring the hardscrabble tenacity and defiance of people struggling to survive and comeback. There is hope. In “Midwestern Cities” he proclaims, “the billboards declare The Second Coming/could come at any second. From anywhere, /Akron or Grand Rapids. From Gary, Kenosha, Duluth.” Or Warren?
Here, There, Elsewhere: Stories From the Road
By William Least Heat-Moon
From the author of Blue Highways; River Horse: and other acclaimed non-fiction works, Here, There, Elsewhere is a collection of personal essays, and travel pieces originally written for various magazines, over the last 30 years. Heat-Moon has travelled everywhere in the United States – in fact, claims to have visited EVERY U.S. county – not just every state. The works in this book include encounters and reflections while visiting various countries: England, Japan, the Yucatan, etc; and several locations in the United States: Kansas; Yosemite; Mississippi; etc. His writing is engaging, the sentences well-crafted; and even though his vocabulary can be challenging – its kind of refreshing to have to challenge one’s brain encountering an unfamiliar word or phraseology, unlike so much “dumbed down” writing today.
Searching for Sugar Man
(Documentary / DVD)
This story is unbelievable, but true. Sixto Rodriguez was a Detroit singer/songwriter in the 1970’s but for some reason, his recordings never caught on. The career potential that so many felt he possessed never amounted to anything. Rodriguez left the music industry, forgotten in the U.S. However, in South Africa, his work was flying off the shelves, and he was embraced as the voice of the anti-apartheid movement. He was bigger than Elvis, yet fans knew nothing about the artist. Legends grew that he had died tragically. Finally, two South African fans decided to find out what really happened to Rodriquez, the voice of their generation.
How the Irish Saved Civilization: the Untold Story of Ireland's Heroic Role From the Fall of Rome To the Rise of Medieval Europe
By Thomas Cahill
Every year millions of Americans celebrate St. Patrick's Day, but they may not be aware of how great an influence St. Patrick was on the subsequent history of civilization. Not only did he bring Christianity to Ireland, he instilled a sense of literacy and learning that would create the conditions that allowed Ireland to become "the isle of saints and scholars" -- and thus preserve Western culture while Europe was being overrun by barbarians. In this entertaining and compelling narrative, Thomas Cahill tells the story of how Europe evolved from the classical age of Rome to the medieval era. Without Ireland, the transition could not have taken place. Not only did Irish monks and scribes maintain the very record of Western civilization -- copying manuscripts of Greek and Latin writers, both pagan and Christian, while libraries and learning on the continent were forever lost -- they brought their uniquely Irish world-view to the task.
Rust Belt Chic: the Cleveland Anthology
Richey Piiparinen & Anne Trubek, eds.
A collection of essays from new authors and established ones ( Connie Schultz; Michael Ruhlman; etc.) about life in the (maybe?) recovering Rust Belt city of Cleveland. Stories of growing up in Little Italy; or coming to Cleveland for the first time as a newlywed; about blight and boosterism; pierogis and blue-collar barflies. Included are memorable portraits of a couple Cleveland celebrities: rock journalist Jane Scott; and comic book writer/media personality Harvey Pekar, of “American Splendor” fame. Some of the essays in the anthology work better than others, naturally, but overall Rust Belt Chic is a unique collection of observations about the big city on the North Coast.
Vivian Maier: Out of the Shadows
By Richard Cahan and Michael Williams
(Adult Nonfiction: Photography)
In 2007 Vivian Maier, an 83-year-old amateur photographer, fell behind on the rent for the storage lockers where she housed over 100,000 prints and negatives. The contents of her lockers were auctioned off for about $250. Two years later, in April 2009 Vivian died. Six months later one of the buyers posted a small fraction of her work on the internet. Almost immediately the “nanny photographer”, who died in obscurity, became a worldwide sensation. For 40 years she spent her days walking, with her Rolliflex, and photographing strictly for herself. As a street photographer she had a remarkable eye. It is easy to see the intelligence at work behind the lens. These images communicate a wry world view. This book is the first retrospective of what turned out to be a remarkable life’s work, and the story of how this “Emily Dickinson” of photography was saved from obscurity.
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