Reading to Write

By Patricia Skalka, originally published on Buried Under Books

The first time I visited the Door County peninsula, I was sure I’d followed the wrong map. This was Wisconsin? Quaint villages and cherry orchards. White sails on blue water and fishing boats dotting the far horizon. Cliffs and caves. Fudge shops and cool, quiet forests. The Wisconsin I knew was dairy country: small, family-run farms, the kind of place where you quite literally made hay while the sun shone (I drove the tractor) and arranged the daily activities around the milking schedule.

I didn’t grow up on a farm; but my mother did, and as a girl I spent many summer weeks and months helping my grandmother and uncle who ran the operation. I was one of the city cousins who counted the days to the end of the school year, eager to pack my suitcase and head north from Chicago. I thought of the farm experience as my summer vacation but in reality it was an introduction to a way of life that centered on hard work.

Patricia Skalka Beach 3This was my Wisconsin until I discovered Door County. Stepping out on the peninsula – the “Cape Cod of the Midwest” – I was transfixed. The land is stunningly beautiful; the people welcoming; the pace relaxed. The county’s tourist attractions are impressive: three hundred miles of shoreline, five state parks, eleven lighthouses, a mecca for visual artists, writers and musicians.

But for me Door County is so much more than all the statistics suggest. It is where some twenty years ago pure luck handed my family ownership of a rustic cottage filled with handmade furniture and memories passed on by the previous owner. For me, having the cottage was a dream come true. By then the old farm had been sold and while I still had my childhood farm summers to treasure, I worried about how to provide such memorable experiences for my daughters. The cottage with the beach at its doorstep and summers in Door County answered that question.

The cottage never disappointed. Here on the beach my daughters discovered the freedom of doing as much or as little as they wanted. Here there was no schedule, no planned activities ─ just the simple joy of one day after another unrolling in a seamless parade of sunny mornings and moonlit evenings. Here they learned to make their own fun.

Patricia Skalka Beach 2The cottage provided a bonus for me as well: for here I read. For hours, for days on end. Packing for a visit, no matter the duration, I crammed a canvas bag full of books, almost always fiction but sometimes poetry as well. Some were for me to read quietly, others to share with my family, reading aloud in the evening. The cottage was not insulated and the times I came up alone in the chilly spring to write, I’d drape wool blankets over the doors to keep out the drafts, build a fire and then pull up a chair as close to the flames as I dared and sit and read.

Reading did more than entertain and enlighten. Reading shaped me as a writer. As I transitioned from nonfiction to fiction, from magazine articles to the novel, I followed the prescribed steps to learn the craft. I signed up for classes and attended conferences and workshops. I joined a critique group and took in lectures and seminars. But beyond writing itself, the most important activity I embraced was the simple act of reading.

I always preferred mysteries and literary fiction, but it really didn’t matter what I read — historical fiction, thrillers, travelogues – as long as the writing had depth and feeling, the result was the same. Reading the words and sentences, the paragraphs and pages that others had composed made me a better writer. Something about the flow of words moving from the printed page into my brain vanquished doubt and set my imagination free. Reading was like eating; words became the vitamins that energized my writing and nurtured my thoughts. Reading dispensed courage; it cured writer’s block. The more I read, the more I wrote.

Patricia Skalka Beach 1My debut novel Death Stalks Door County was spawned in the cottage overlooking the inland sea we call Lake Michigan. Chapters were written sitting before the fireplace or out on the small screened porch. The second book in the series was started there. The ideas for books three and four bubbled to life as I lounged and read in an old Adirondack chair set in the sand near the water’s edge.

There’s probably a scientific explanation, something about synapses and electrical connections between brain cells to explain how reading helps me write, how the thoughts and ideas expressed by other authors spark my own thoughts and ideas and send them flying to the page.

I think of the process as magic.

I try to read every day. When life interferes and pulls me away from books, I feel drained and grow listless. My work stagnates. In my world, writing without reading is akin to breathing without air.

It simply can’t be done.


Patricia Skalka Beach 4


A lifelong Chicagoan, Patricia Skalka is a former Reader’s Digest Staff Writer and award-winning freelancer, as well as one-time magazine editor, ghost writer and writing instructor. Her nonfiction book credits include Nurses On Our Own, the true-story of two pioneering, local nurse practitioners. Death Stalks Door County, released in  May 2014, marks her fiction debut.
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A Stronger Presidency Is Not The Solution

By Chris Edelson

When op-ed writers take on the problem of dysfunction in Washington by asking the hackneyed “why is Washington broken?” question, they run the risk of offering a “solution” that merely creates new problems. David Brooks’ recent op-ed, “Strengthen the Presidency, is a case in point. Brooks overlooks the root causes of political dysfunction in the U.S. and prescribes a dangerous remedy.

Brooks argues that the solution to legislative gridlock is simple: “[m]ake the executive branch more powerful.” Brooks’ argument depends on generalizations and overlooks the historical record, as well as the foundational principles of American constitutional democracy. The drafters of the Constitution created a document with many flaws, but their work also reflected important pieces of wisdom. Among their most central insights, they rightly understood that concentrating power in any one branch of government was, in James Madison’s words, “the very definition of tyranny.”

By contrast, Brooks cheerfully embraces the idea of concentrating power in a president-led executive branch, declaring that “[w]e need more unified authority” and advising Americans to “be tolerant of executive branch power grabs” (what does that mean–more Watergates, please?). His remedy seems to imagine an empowered executive branch that could take unilateral action on domestic policy matters like “immigration reform, tax reform, entitlement reform, and gun legislation” (though he is not very specific about precisely what actions he’d like to see a more powerful president take, or how this would be done).

There are at least two problems here. First, one person’s energized executive is another’s dangerous autocrat. How can something as vague as “entitlement reform” be an unalloyed good? It depends, of course, on how a president capable of acting unilaterally would change Social Security or the tax code. Second — and for me, this is an even greater concern — Brooks completely ignores what expanded executive power means, and has meant, in the context of national security.

History teaches us (as the framers themselves well understood) that it is often dangerous when presidents act unilaterally — unchecked by other branches of government, the press, or the public. As I have discussed in my new book, Emergency Presidential Power: From the Drafting of the Constitution to the War on Terror, the historical record offers numerous cautionary tales: Roosevelt and the mass internment of Japanese Americans during World War II (Congress and the Supreme Court acted essentially as rubber stamps), Truman’s unilateral decision to make war in Korea, Johnson’s deceptions in Vietnam, Nixon’s nearly successful attempt to turn the presidency into a criminal enterprise operating above the law and Reagan’s involvement in the Iran-Contra affair.

Presidential action since 9/11 should make us even more wary. The Bush-Cheney years brought us the unholy flowering of the “unitary executive theory,” which was relied on to claim essentially unchecked executive power over anything related to national security (this was the justification for the detention system at Guantanamo, torture and warrantless surveillance). In many ways, the Obama administration has followed the Bush approach — though without relying on the extreme rhetoric associated with the unitary executive theory. The Obama administration has brought us a targeted killing program for U.S. citizens suspected — but not proven — to be senior terrorist leaders planning attacks against the United States, as well as a rationale for unilateral presidential war power that disdains constitutional and statutory checks.

The lesson to be taken from history, especially the incipient history of this century, is that there are compelling reasons to set meaningful limits on executive power. None of this means presidents can never act alone — when faced with a real emergency that does not allow time for consultation with Congress (like the secession crisis that Lincoln confronted when he took office in 1861), presidents can act unilaterally, seeking congressional approval after the fact, as Lincoln did. The framers understood that presidents would need the authority to “repel sudden attacks” without waiting for congressional authorization. But, when there is time to consult Congress, unilateral presidential action in much harder to justify.

Recently, there has been at least one hopeful sign for critics of unrestrained presidential power: the Obama administration’s decision to forego unilateral military action in Syria. That decision is evidence that it can often be better for presidents to wait and consult Congress before acting on their own. In this case, putting off unilateral action allowed time for diplomacy to work instead of a military strike.

Brooks’ piece, of course, considers none of this. He argues as a general proposition for increasing executive power without considering the possible dangers of doing so—without even considering, in fact, what the implications are, in the national security context, for concentrating power in the hands of the executive. There is a case to be made for limited unilateral presidential action in the context of a genuine emergency, subject to retroactive congressional approval. But, if we follow Brooks’s advice to “energize the executive,” history warns us that the results may be far from benign.

Chris Edelson is an assistant professor of government in American University’s School of Public Affairs, where he teaches classes on the Constitution and presidential power. He is the author of Emergency Presidential Power: From the Drafting of the Constitution to the War on Terror, which was published in fall 2013 by the University of Wisconsin Press.

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Native Plants & Fire

“Fire. Man’s oldest foe. Insatiable, remorseless, unquenchable.” – Kent Brockman.

Reporter for Springfield’s Channel 6 news (on The Simpsons), Kent Brockman isn’t quite right about fire, though I’m sure it seems like it when the flames are threatening your house. I’ve been watching the coverage of the fires in San Diego County. I grew up in Oceanside, a city currently surrounded by the brush fires in Carlsbad, San Marcos, Escondido, and Camp Pendleton. The house where I once lived is in no immediate danger, and neither are the few family friends still living on that street, but many others in the area are not so lucky.

Fire is a necessity to certain ecosystems, including Southern California. The chapparal that commonly grows there is easily burned and the smoke assists germination. And up north, the giant sequoia needs fire to clear the understory and heat for its pinecones to open and disperse seeds.

NBC7 in San Diego posted a list of fire resistant plants, including a subset of native plants. Ideally, those would be the only ones people would use, since using non-native plants introduces other potential problems. All in all, it seems like a smart strategy to me to use these native plants as a line of defense against fires that will certainly come.

For more about how fire and smoke affect the germination of seeds, see the following articles in Native Plants Journal:

Thomas D Landis. “Where there’s smoke… There’s Germination?” (1.1)

Michele J Laskowski, Chelsea C Dicksion, Brianna Schaefer, and Betty Young. “Examining smoke water as a potential germination-enhancing technique to aid the recovery of the endangered Franciscan manzanita (Arctostaphylos franciscana Eastw. [Ericaceae])” (14.1)

To paraphrase Ron Burgundy, Stay safe, San Diego.

-Jason Gray, Journals Manager


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Stefanie Zweig, Author Who Fled Nazis to Kenya, Dies at 81

Stefanie Zweig

From the NYT obituary:

Stefanie Zweig, the author of Nowhere in Africa, a best-selling autobiographical novel about the life of a Jewish family in Kenya after their escape from Nazi Germany and the inspiration for an Oscar-winning film, died on Friday in Frankfurt. She was 81.

Her publisher in the United States, the University of Wisconsin Press, confirmed her death.

Nowhere in Africa, published in 1995, hewed closely to the story of her parents’ escape from Frankfurt with their 6-year-old daughter in 1938, and the family’s adjustment to life as farmers in British colonial Africa. The parents endured grinding work and bouts of depression. Stefanie, who had been withdrawn, blossomed into a venturesome, Swahili-speaking teenager.

The novel, the first of a dozen by Ms. Zweig, sold about 5 million copies. A German film adaptation with the same title, directed by Caroline Link, won the Academy Award for best foreign language film in 2003. Ms. Zweig and Ms. Link wrote the screenplay.

In a sequel novel, Somewhere in Germany, published in 1996, Ms. Zweig described the reverse adjustment the family had to make when, in 1947, her father, a lawyer, was appointed a judge in Frankfurt. As her father explained it to her at the time, she wrote, his credentials as a German lawyer with no Nazi affiliations made him one of the few people qualified for such a position after World War II.

In fact, she wrote, he missed “the sounds and memories of home,” which everyone except her oddly naïve father seemed to know were beyond recovery.

Returning to bombed-out Frankfurt in 1947, the family joined a hungry, traumatized population in rebuilding the country. Scores of their German relatives were missing. None had been heard from since the start of the war in 1939, except a grandmother, who got a letter out in 1941 with the help of the Red Cross.

“They were only allowed to write 20 words,” Ms. Zweig told an interviewer in 2003. “My grandmother wrote — ‘We are very excited. We are going to Poland tomorrow.’ ” Reading that, she continued, “my father said Poland meant Auschwitz.”

But her father cautioned her against indiscriminate hatred, she wrote in an essay in The Guardian in 2003. As a child she was not allowed to hate all Germans, she said, “only the Nazis.”

For a year after returning to Frankfurt, the family lived in one room at the city’s former Jewish hospital. She wrote, “We spent our days hunting for food and our evenings wondering why nearly every German we talked to told us that they had always hated Hitler and had felt pity for the persecuted Jews.”

Stefanie Zweig was born on Sept. 19, 1932, in Leobschütz, a German-speaking town in disputed territory belonging to Germany at the time and to Poland since the end of the war. Her family moved to Frankfurt when she was a toddler. After a decade of speaking English (and some Swahili) in Kenya, she had to relearn German on returning to Frankfurt at 15, she wrote.

Ms. Zweig was for many years the arts editor and film reviewer for a Frankfurt newspaper, Abendpost Nachtausgabe. She wrote children’s books in her spare time and began writing novels only after the newspaper closed in 1988. She lived for many years with a companion, Wolfgang Hafele, who died in 2013. She had no known survivors.

Ms. Zweig wrote Nowhere in Africa in German, as she did all her books, but admitted to remaining unsure throughout her life whether English or German was her true native language.

“I count in English, adore Alice in Wonderland, am best friends with Winnie-the-Pooh,” she wrote in her Guardian essay, “and I am still hunting for the humor in German jokes.”

A version of this article appears in print on May 1, 2014, on page A23 of the New York edition with the headline: “Stefanie Zweig, 81, Author Who Fled Nazis to Kenya.”


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A writer’s quest for balance in a spinning world – literally.

By Floyd Skloot, author of Revertigo.

In 2009, out of nowhere, I had an attack of unrelenting vertigo. It began on the morning of March 27, 2009, and ended 138 days later on the evening of August 12, 2009, as suddenly as it had begun.

There was no explanation. Or rather, there were several explanations, none of which turned out to be correct. I was first diagnosed with Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV), small deposits of calcium carbonate in the inner ear. It’s the most common cause of vertigo. But I didn’t have BPPV and ten weeks later I was diagnosed with endolymphatic hydrops, a fluid imbalance in the inner ear, which I also didn’t have. After the vertigo vanished, my neurologist retroactively diagnosed me with intracranial hypertension, a buildup of pressure inside the skull. I’m pretty sure I didn’t have that either.

Eight months post-vertigo I began to think I was going to be all right. I was walking fine. No cane anymore, no stumbling or grabbing onto stationary objects for balance, no neck-and-shoulder-locked gait. Very little swooning. Swooning only occurred when–as happens to many people–I did something like look up at the clouds while walking. Yes, I was back to almost normal. Except there were maybe a few oddities, such as getting dizzy when I merely thought about riding on Portland’s aerial tram, swaying as it rises five hundred feet during its three-minute trip from the south waterfront up to Oregon Health and Science University’s main campus. Or when I saw a still photograph of lions veering in pursuit of a zebra. Or that one time when a light bulb flickered. Odd, okay, but truly I was back in balance. Recovered. No longer vertiginous.

So it never crossed my mind to worry about going to look at riverfront condo units that were set for auction in early April. Beverly and I had decided to sell our home, abandon stairs and roof maintenance and yard work and tree trimming, all the things I’d be unable to do again if vertigo recurred. Simplify, keep level.

The first building we were looking at was a thirty-one story, elliptical-shaped glass tower looming 325 feet above the Willamette River. This was going to be great. And it was, as we got off the elevator on the twenty-seventh floor and entered the unit being used as a temporary auction office. Then I encountered the view and began reeling, trying to brace myself against a desk, a kitchen island, an interior wall. I seemed more like a lush than a prospective buyer.

It took us a subsequent month to determine that I was all right, was comfortable and stable, only up to the sixth floor of a condo. Provided I didn’t go outside on the balcony. As long as I held on to something when I stood against the interior glass walls and looked down. So now we live on the sixth floor of a twenty-one story building at the river’s edge, and I can sit by the window and watch boats, even speedboats, race by. I’m post-vertigo, except when I’m not, for three years, six months, and twenty-three days.

Floyd Skloot is the recipient of many awards, including three Pushcart Prizes and the PEN USA Literary Award for Creative Nonfiction. He is the author of Revertigo: An Off-Kilter Memoir, and will be speaking at Barnes & Noble West (7433 Mineral Point Rd, Madison, WI) on Thursday, May 8th at 7:00 pm. The event is free and open to the public; hope to see you there!

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The Best of Trout Fishing Times …

In celebration of Earth Day, by guest author Steve Born

Thanks to dedicated stewardship of trout habitat, magazine stories, flyfishing film festivals, and word-of-mouth among anglers fueled by the Internet revolution, Wisconsin is no longer just flyover country.

A growing legion of admirers has made the state and its 13,000 miles of trout waters a destination.

So, the “good old days” of trout fishing are NOW. These are the best of times for trout anglers based on fish populations, size of the trout, and increasing opportunities.

One of the reasons is Wisconsin’s leadership in natural resource management and protection—and its great influence on the national conservation movement. It is this historical and continuing commitment to conservation that is key to the future sustainability of our coldwater trout streams—more in need of protection than ever. Trout require year-round cold water to survive, and in many parts of the state nutrient-rich creeks fed mostly by cool spring water provide some of the most treasured haunts for trout and anglers.

If past is prologue, conservation heroes will emerge to protect the resource. The legendary John Muir walked through Wisconsin long before he discovered the vistas of California’s Yosemite Valley. Aldo Leopold researched the state’s wonderful land and water resources and formulated a comprehensive way of thinking about the earth’s riches long before the term “ecologist” came into everyday use. Gaylord Nelson was governor and created a trend-setting land and water protection program here years before he became the father of Earth Day while serving in the U. S. Senate in 1970. Dedicated university and government researchers have contributed many ideas and discoveries that have played major roles in understanding, preserving, and protecting a trout resource enjoyed by more than 140,000 people who buy fishing licenses and inland trout stamps each year.

Avid anglers enjoy rich “limestoners” in the unglaciated Driftless area of Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa that rival those in England and central Pennsylvania. They survey miles and miles of remote brook trout water in the glaciated and heavily forested northern part of the state. They pursue remnant populations of the great native Lake Superior brook trout, hanging onto a niche in the largest of the Great Lakes. They wade big, tumbling freestone rivers like the Namekagon in northwest Wisconsin or float natural spring ponds in northern Wisconsin reminiscent of beaver ponds in New England. They hope brook trout streams in the central part of the state.

Happily, the good news is that all of this fishing is very accessible. Wisconsin, because of its strong Public Trust doctrine that ensures public access to all navigable waters, is a place where you don’t have to belong to a private club to catch the big one, or simply have a quality fishing experience. All the streams and rivers we feature in the 2nd edition of Exploring Wisconsin Trout Streams have numerous access points. The best water can be yours—as long as you have the required fishing license and trout stamp, and obey the regulations that help maintain healthy fisheries.

Trout fishing has never been better in the Badger state. Since our first edition over a decade ago, DNR fisheries biologists have aggressively continued the wild trout program, using the offspring of naturally reproducing trout for repopulating streams. The wild trout have flourished. Stocking has its place—for urban fisheries where natural reproduction is limited or impossible because of warm water or lack of habitat, for example—but Nature’s way is better and more cost efficient.

Good land management and land use, along with habitat and water quality improvement, are key to the future of trout populations. U.S. Geological Survey studies, particularly in southwestern Wisconsin, have documented significant improvements in baseflow to streams, and some decrease in flood peaks. These positive changes are attributed in part to changing farming practices and land use—the decline in grazing on steep slopes subject to erosion, for example.

But old threats—agricultural runoff, habitat loss, mining impacts, sprawl development, non-sustainable use of aquifers—along with newer ones like invasive species, fish diseases, and climate change are cause for concern.

These are the best of times for trout anglers. Whether that can be said 50 years from now to some degree depends on us—what we do individually, as members of conservation organizations, as citizens and shapers of governmental decisions, and as leaders in our communities.

—Born is a co-author of the 2nd edition of  Exploring Wisconsin Trout Streams, available now at University of Wisconsin Press.

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Get Discovered: How to help editors find you

By Gwen Walker, Editorial Director

In the weeks preceding an academic conference, many acquisitions editors comb the program for titles or abstracts of papers on topics of possible interest for their lists. To learn more, editors may Google an author’s name for a sense of his or her work. Is the author working on a book? Does s/he write well? Is the manuscript already committed to another press, or might the project still be available?

To help editors discover you, I suggest that you title your conference papers, write your abstracts, and fashion your online identity in a way most likely to attract the right publishers. Make sure that the bio on your departmental webpage summarizes your current book project and includes your email address. (For an example of a model webpage, see here.) Provide links to any open-access online pieces that you have published, so that prospecting editors can sample your prose. But do not post your articles or book chapters without permission from the journals or presses that published them.

Before conferences, seek appointments with acquiring editors at presses that publish books in your area. To find out which editor covers your subject area, go to the publisher’s website and look for a page that says “For Authors,” “Submission Guidelines,” “Acquiring Editors,” or something similar. In most cases, it’s okay to contact an editor by email before a conference. In your introductory message you should include a brief description of your book. Limit that description to a paragraph or two, ideally to include the book’s thesis. (For more on what a thesis is, see the page on this website that I call “Spill the Beans.”)

At conferences, stroll around the book exhibit hall and meet with as many editors as possible at presses that publish in your field. Remember that the person in the booth where you stop could be anyone at that press: an editor, an editor’s assistant, the marketing manager, the sales manager, an intern, or even the director. Be prepared to provide as much information about your project as the person seems to want. Measure their interest, and see what questions they have. But don’t read too much into these interactions. An editor might be quite intrigued by your project but too busy to discuss it in depth at that moment. Or an editor may not be very interested at all but may feel compelled, under the circumstances, to ask a few polite questions.

If an editor expresses interest, ask the next step. Would the editor like to read your book proposal? Some editors may be happy to accept a printed proposal on the spot. In that case, however, I strongly suggest that you also follow up immediately after the conference and send the proposal to the editor according to the specifications on that publisher’s website, just in case your proposal gets lost in post-conference transit. In fact, many editors will decline your offer of a printed copy at the conference, as they fear losing it–or simply don’t want to carry all that paper home in their luggage.

While you are in the booth, check out the publisher’s recent releases to decide if your book would be in good company there. Note their prices and production values. When the press seems like a possible fit, ask whatever questions you might have about the publication process. Remember, this is a two-way process. Both sides, you and the editor, are looking for the right fit between project and publisher.

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Landscape Journal’s editorial office moves to University of GA

Check it out! Landscape Journal has a new editorial team and got a nice write-up in the University of Georgia’s The Red and Black:

… Landscape Journal, has chosen a new location to house its editorial offices the University of Georgia’s College of Environment and Design.

See the full article here.

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12 Days of Christmas Reading List

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me essays about Hungarian partridge, grouse, quail, woodcock, and other waterfowl in Wingbeats and Heartbeats: Essays on Game Birds, Gun Dogs, and Days Afield


On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me two turtle doves and Lessons from the Northern Ireland Peace ProcessLessons

On the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me a tribute to hens, whether the breed is French, Jersey Giant, or Silver Frizzle Polish, in Cluck: From Jungle Fowl to City Chicks.

On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me ideas for bringing calling birds to my yard: Birdscaping in the Midwest: A Guide to Gardening with Native Plants to Attract Birds.

On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me The Archaeology of the Olympics: The Olympics and Other Festivals in Antiquity.  (Five wreaths of olive leaves!)Raschke

On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me Midwest Ramblin’, a CD of old-time songs and tunes by the Goose Island Ramblers.Goose Island Ramblers

On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me Writings on Ballet and Music by Fedor Lopukhov, the choreographer who staged the first post-revolutionary productions in the Soviet Union of traditional ballets like Swan Lake and The Sleeping Beauty as well as avant-garde and experimental works.

On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me the result of eight maids a Cheesemakersmilking—a nice eight-year-old cheddar made by The Master Cheesemakers of Wisconsin

On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me the lowdown on some inspiring ladies dancing—Urban Bush Women: Twenty Years of African American Dance Theater, Community Engagement, and Working It Out.Urban Bush Women

On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me ten collegians boxing in Lords of the Ring: The Triumph and Tragedy of College Boxing’s Greatest Team


On the eleventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me the CD Les Thimmig Solo, on which Professor Thimmig plays nearly eleven kinds of flutes, clarinets, and other such piping.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me recordings of Ojibwe drummers and other Upper Midwestern traditional and ethnic music, including Norwegian fiddles, polka, salsa, gospel choirs, and Asian-American rock in Down Home Dairyland Recordings and its companion book, Down Home Dairyland: A Listener’s Guide.

Happy New Year!

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Books are Great Gifts!

In preparation for the holidays, we’ve put up our web page of books that we think make especially nice gifts. You can check it out here: Or, check out these videos where some of your favorite authors, such as Dan Brown, Neil Gaiman, and Alec Baldwin (Alec Baldwin?) discuss why they think Books Are Great Gifts.



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