New Releases

 A life in poetry book cover

James Wright: A Life in Poetry
Jonathan Blunk ’80, BA ’81

Kirkus lauds Blunk’s portrait of the late Pulitzer Prize-winning poet as “a much-needed, engaging, and discerning biography that should help Wright find a new generation of readers.” Drawing on more than 240 interviews and a collection of Wright’s letters to family and friends, Blunk chronicles the poet’s life—including his battles with mental illness, his alcoholism, and his obsessive fixation on his work—as he traces the evolution of his writing style. Blunk first encountered Wright’s oeuvre during a class in Goldwin Smith, and the English major went on to write an honors thesis on Wright’s translations of German, Spanish, and Latin American poetry. As part of his research, Blunk scheduled interviews with Wright—but those plans were canceled when the poet was diagnosed with terminal cancer. In his book, Blunk describes how, following his prognosis, Wright was determined to complete his final volume, This Journey; on the morning of his death, his doctor found him agitated and pacing. “ ‘My book, my book,’ Wright kept repeating,” Blunk writes. “Spring sunlight filled the windows and he could hear birds singing. He had always found daybreak the best time for writing.”

 Tracking  mammals book cover

A Field Guide to Tracking Mammals in the Northeast
Linda Spielman, PhD ’83

Drawing on her twenty-five years of experience as an environmental educator and coordinator of tracking groups in the Ithaca area, the plant pathology alumna offers advice on tracking mammals—from chipmunk to bear, coyote to moose—that are found between Pennsylvania and Maine. The book includes explanations of tracking techniques, illustrations of pawprints, and descriptions of each animal’s habitat and identifying characteristics such as claw marks and scat. “Tracking is a skill anyone can learn,” Spielman writes. “And it holds the power to reveal unseen events—which animals come and go, what they pay attention to, and how they interact with each other and with their surroundings.”

Cohabitation nation book cover 

Cohabitation Nation
Sharon Sassler

Between 1990 and 2010, the number of un-
married heterosexual couples living together more than doubled, from 3.2 million to 7.5 million. Informed by more than 130 interviews with cohabiting partners, Sassler—a social de-
mo­grapher and professor of policy analysis and management at Cornell—and her co-author examine this trend and discuss who moves in together and why. Their book tackles topics such as the decision to cohabit, contraception, housework, and finances. The authors also use couples’ stories to explain how social class and gender norms influence the progression of romantic relationships, from dating to contemplating marriage.

Roxie and fred book cover 

Roxie & Fred
Richard Alther ’62

Alther, a novelist and painter who splits his time between California and Vermont, sets his fourth book in a woodsy cabin, which becomes the setting for an unconventional romance between eighty-eight-year-old Roxie and forty-eight-year-old Fred. When they meet in a drawing class, they form a friendship that quickly evolves into a passionate affair. “Roxie eclipses all else,” Alther writes in Fred’s third-person narration. “He regards her an angel, himself an ox. How untenable his passing fancy, but for now, hold on tight.”

Lily's mountain book cover 

Lily’s Mountain
Hannah Moderow ’06

In her debut novel for middle-grade readers, Moderow—an English and art history double major who grew up in Alaska in a family devoted to dog sledding and other outdoor pursuits—follows a twelve-year-old girl who’s racing against time and battling the elements to rescue her father from the top of Denali, North America’s highest peak. After hearing that her dad, an experienced mountaineer, has died attempting an ascent, Lily refuses to believe it and convinces her sister to join her on a dramatic quest to save him. Publishers Weekly praises the book as “an engrossing portrait of a girl’s devotion to her father and how she makes the most of everything he taught her.”

Affections book cover 

Rodrigo Hasbún, PhD ’16

The Bolivian novelist’s English-language debut is a fictionalized story about the real-life Ertl clan, a German family of Nazi sympathizers who fled to Latin America after World War II. The plot, which unfolds from multiple points of view, depicts a half-century of internal strife set against the backdrop of the region’s political upheaval. The family patriarch, a former Nazi cinematographer, leads two of his daughters on a quest to uncover a fabled lost Incan city—and along the way, the eldest becomes a Marxist guerilla. Kirkus calls the brisk 120-page read a “one-sitting tale of fragmented relationships with a broad scope, delivered with grace and power.”

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