We’re always on the lookout for books that strike a chord with our readers. In our New & Notable series you’ll find picks that appeal to our editors and that we can’t help but share. This week we’re struck by Paul Auster’s meditation on aging; riveted by the largely untold stories of African-American women’s voting power; inspired (again) by the lives of America’s suffragists; and intrigued by Clark Lawlor’s investigation on how depression has been historically represented and misrepresented.

 

Non-Fiction | Biography | Memoir

Winter Journal, by Paul Auster, is a moving and highly personal meditation on the body, time, and language itself. Facing his sixty-third winter, Auster sits down to write a history of his body and its sensations—both pleasurable and painful. Thirty years after the publication of The Invention of Solitude, in which he wrote so movingly about fatherhood, Auster gives us a second unconventional memoir in which he writes about his mother’s life and death. Winter Journal is a memoir by one of our most intellectually elegant writers. (Excerpted from Henry Holt & Co., Publisher)

Review

“Auster’s memoir recalls his free-spirited mother and the history of his own body. We experience Auster’s appetite for food and drink and literature but foremost for sex, as well as the crippling panic attacks that plagued him after his mother’s death, the epiphany he experienced watching a dance performance that cured his writer’s block, and the intense shame of nearly killing his family in a  car accident. Over time, as Auster’s body alternately ages and is revitalized, the composition of these elements creates an intimate symphony of selves, a song of the body for all seasons.” Vanity Fair

 

Cultural Studies | African-American Women | Politics

Conflict: African American Women and the New Dilemma of Race and Gender Politics, by Cindy Hooper, offers a provocative examination of an increasingly important voting bloc, one that impacted the 2008 election and whose loyalties will have far-reaching implications for future contests. This fascinating study is three-pronged. It explores the conflicts African American women experience in prioritizing race over gender, offers data-backed analysis of the substantial power of this bloc to influence elections, and looks at the ways in which the very existence of that influence impacts the political and social empowerment of this dual-identity population. (Excerpted from Praeger, Publisher) 

Review

“Hooper’s Conflict is a timely, inspirational, and well plotted call to action to all voters to take greater advantage of our civic system, to pursue elective office despite the obstacles, to vote, and to think critically about the intersections of race, gender, and class in American politics.” The Grio

 

Women | Suffrage | United States History

They forever changed America: Lucy Stone, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Frances Willard, Alice Paul. In Sisters: The Lives of America’s Suffragists, historian Jean H. Baker interweaves these women’s private lives with their public achievements, presenting these revolutionary women in three dimensions, humanized, and marvelously approachable.  Their struggle was confrontational (women were the first to picket the White House for a political cause) and violent (women were arrested, jailed, and force-fed in prisons). And like every revolutionary before them, their struggle was personal. (Excerpted from Hill and Wang, Publisher)

Review

“Jean H. Baker shows us the human web that shaped five women in their self-awareness, nonconformity and leadership in the struggle for suffrage . . . . By weaving together their public and private lives, Baker deepens our appreciation for the warp and woof of their struggle.” — Anne Grant, The Providence Journal

 

Medical History | Depression

Depression is an experience known to millions. But arguments rage on aspects of its definition and its impact on societies present and past: do drugs work, or are they merely placebos? Is the depression we have today merely a construct of the pharmaceutical industry? Is depression under- or over-diagnosed?  In From Melancholia to Prozac: A History of Depression, Clark Lawlor argues that understanding the history of depression is important to understanding its present conflicted status and definition. Beginning in the Classical period, and moving on to the present, Lawlor shows both continuities and discontinuities in the understanding of what we now call depression, and in the way it has been represented in literature and art. (Excerpted from Oxford University Press, Publisher)

Review

“In this well-researched book, Clark Lawlor of Northumbria University roams through the history and culture of depression and shows how attitudes to the illness have changed through the ages. He brings to life different schools of thought on the subject, and debates the role of the pharmaceutical industry in categorising and treating mental illness.” The Economist 

 

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