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From why men don’t dance to Hemingway, UC Davis authors offer a variety of summer reads

June 17, 2014

Six book covers

This summer's selection ranges from essays on Hemingway and economic history to archival letters from UC Davis Pulitzer Prize winner Gary Snyder.

Few subjects escape the eyes and pens of University of California, Davis, faculty and alumni. Recent books include a look at the demise of movie musicals by an economic historian, an examination of how medieval scholars attempted to understand same-sex orientation, a new novel with a mystery by MacArthur “Genius” winner Yiyun Li and a collection of half a century of writing on Hemingway. Regardless of what you’re interested in, UC Davis has it covered.

“Roadshow! The Fall of Film Musicals in the 1960s” by Matthew Kennedy (Oxford University Press, $35, 320 pages). After the back-to-back movie musical mega hits “Mary Poppins,” “My Fair Lady” and “The Sound of Music,” nearly every studio rushed to produce their own mammoth musicals, but nearly sunk the industry in red ink and ridiculousness. Matthew Kennedy, who received his anthropology degree from UC Davis in 1992, tracks the financial and artistic fiascos that followed including, “Doctor Dolittle,” “Finian's Rainbow,” “Sweet Charity” and “Paint Your Wagon.” Equal parts film history, character studies and critical analysis, “Roadshow!” is a cautionary tale of blind faith and bad timing, the publisher says. More information from the publisher: http://bit.ly/1s6LQxv.

“Sorry I Don't Dance: Why Men Refuse to Move” by Maxine Leeds Craig (Oxford University Press, $24.95, 256 pages). In “Sorry I Don't Dance” Maxine Leeds Craig, professor and director of women and gender studies, uncovers why men, or at least white men, decided to depart the dance floor during the past several decades. Men of all races danced for much of the 20th century, but through suburbanization, homophobia and fragmentation of popular music, dancing became associated with women, youths and ethnic minorities driving white men from the dance floor, according to Craig. The book combines interviews, participant observation and archival research to discover why many white men can’t or won’t dance. For more information go to: http://bit.ly/1pJdwV2.

“Distant Neighbors: The Selected Letters of Wendell Berry and Gary Snyder” by Wendell Berry, Gary Snyder, Chad Wriglesworth, editor, (Counterpoint, $30, 352 pages.) In the late 1960s two founding members of the counterculture, Gary Snyder in Northern California and Wendell Berry in rural Kentucky, had yet to meet, but they knew each other's work and began a correspondence. Between 1973 and 2013 they exchanged more than 240 letters and these make up “Distant Neighbors.” In the letters the men grapple with faith and reason, discuss home and family, worry over the disintegration of community and commonwealth, talk shop, ruminate and develop a complex and deep friendship. Snyder, closely associated with the beat writers and noted for writing informed by environmental concerns and Zen Buddhism, is a UC Davis professor emeritus who taught in the English department from 1986 to 2002. He received the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1975 and the Wallace Stevens Award for Lifetime Achievement from the American Academy of Poets in 2012.  To learn more: http://counterpointpress.com/ .

“Kinder Than Solitude,” by Yiyun Li (Random House, $26, 336 pages). The most recent novel from acclaimed writer Yiyun Li, professor of English, tells the story of three men — now separated by distance and estrangement — haunted by the poisoning of a friend when they were boys. To learn more about her go to: http://www.yiyunli.com/.

“Nothing Natural Is Shameful: Sodomy and Science in Late Medieval Europe” by Joan Cadden (University of Pennsylvania Press, $85, 336 pages). Joan Cadden, professor emeritus of history, chronicles the attempts of medieval medical theorists and natural philosophers to understand the cause of homosexual desires in terms of natural processes and the ongoing debate as to whether the sciences were equipped to deal with the subject. Mining texts and deciphering commentaries, indices, abbreviations and marginalia, Cadden shows how scholars deployed philosophical tools and rhetorical strategies to produce scientific approaches to sodomy.

“Letters to the Poet from His Brother” by Maceo Montoya (Copilot Press, $27, 136 pages). Maceo Montoya’s new book brings together his words and artwork — including 10 removable prints — in a deeply personal work delving into his relationship with his late brother, poet Andrés Montoya, and his father, visual artist Malaquias Montoya. “In many ways, I feel as though this book best encapsulates my creative vision over the past decade,” said Montoya, an assistant professor of Chicana and Chicano studies. Proceeds from the first 300 copies sold will be donated to the Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize Initiative. To order the book and see images from it go to: http://bit.ly/1q5qSNC.

“The Deportation of Wopper Barraza” by Maceo Montoya (University of New Mexico Press, $19.95, 224 pages). Montoya also has a new novel that taps directly into today’s news, telling the story of a man deported to Mexico although he has not lived there since he was a baby.

“The Son Also Rises” by Gregory Clark (Princeton University Press, 29.95, 372 pages). Gregory Clark, professor of economics, has received a great deal of attention for his engaging book about how climbing the social ladder hasn’t gotten much easier since the Middle Ages. Using a novel technique of tracking family names over generations to measure social mobility across countries and periods he reveals that the best way to get to the upper class is the old way — be born into it.

“Fifty Years of Hemingway Criticism” by Peter L. Hays (Scarecrow Press, $70, 278 pages). In this collection Peter L. Hays, professor emeritus of English, explores Hemingway’s life, contemporaries and creative output arranged by subject matter and focusing on several major novels and short stories. When first published these essays offered insights that have become standard interpretations. More information: http://bit.ly/1lou9nP.

“Deconstructing Dignity” by Scott Cutler Shershow (University of Chicago, $37.50, 216 pages). Scott Cutler Shershow, a professor of English, offers a new way of examining the right-to-die debate philosophically through writings on the concepts of human dignity and the sanctity of life by Derrida, Cicero and Kant.

“Organized Innovation: A Blueprint for Renewing America's Prosperity” by Steven C. Currall, Ed Frauenheim, Sara Jansen Perry and Emily M. Hunter (Oxford University Press, $29.95, 192 pages). America’s global competitiveness and prosperity is at risk and its existing innovation ecosystem is disorganized, inefficient and has lost ground to other countries such as those in Asia, insist UC Davis Graduate School of Management Dean Steven C. Currall and his co-authors. More information: http://bit.ly/UuAncH.

For updates on other UC Davis authors keep an eye on on the UC Davis website.

To keep up with other new books from UC Davis authors and author appearances on campus, subscribe to the UC Davis Stores’ newsletter, published by author event coordinator Paul Takushi (who helped select titles for this list). Send an e-mail to pmtakushi@ucdavis.edu with “newsletter subscribe” in the subject heading. Books by UC Davis authors are also for sale at the bookstore in the “campus authors” section, or can be ordered by calling (530) 752-2944 or e-mailing generalbooks@ucdavis.edu.


About UC Davis

UC Davis is a global community of individuals united to better humanity and our natural world while seeking solutions to some of our most pressing challenges. Located near the California state capital, UC Davis has more than 34,000 students, and the full-time equivalent of 4,100 faculty and other academics and 17,400 staff. The campus has an annual research budget of over $750 million, a comprehensive health system and about two dozen specialized research centers. The university offers interdisciplinary graduate study and 99 undergraduate majors in four colleges and six professional schools.

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