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(includes signed bookplate and
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About Stella Hayes: One Strange Country is STELLA HAYES’S first poetry collection. She grew up in an agricultural town outside of Kiev, Ukraine and Los Angeles. Hayes earned a creative writing degree at University of Southern California. Her work has been nominated for the Best of the Net and has appeared in Prelude, The Recluse, The Lake and Spillway, among others. She lives with her family in Larchmont, N.Y.
About Gari Light: Gari Light was born in Kiev, Ukraine in 1967. He has lived in Chicago since 1980. He holds a degree from Northwestern University with a B.A. in Slavic Literatures Studies, with department honors, double majoring in Political Science. He is an attorney and works in international law, both in the U.S, and abroad. Since 1993, Light's poetry has been published widely in literary journals and poetry anthologies in the U.S., Canada, Israel, Europe and Ukraine. He is a member of the American PEN Center and the Writer's Union of Ukraine. Since 1992, Light’s books of poetry have been published in Russian. The most recent collection, The Return Trajectories was published both in the U.S. and Ukraine in 2017. It was awarded the Ukrainian Writers Union's Literary Prize for the best collection of original poetry published that year. In the beginning of 2020, Light's first English-language poetry collection "Confluences" was published in Chicago (Bagriy, 2020). The hardcover edition of the book was subsequently published in Europe by Kayala in 2020. Light regularly participates in poetry readings and other literary events on both sides of the Atlantic.
About Matthew Salomon: Salomon was born in late 1956 and was raised by émigré parents from central Europe (Germany and Poland) who met in the NYC area nearly a decade earlier. He earned graduate degrees in mathematics and economics at Boston University and the Johns Hopkins University (1978 and 1982, respectively) and later earned an MFA degree in literature from American University in DC (2007). Having completed a 32-year career as an economic policy advisor for the U.S. Congress in 2015, Salomon now works as a statistical model developer for a progressive DC non-profit organization and also as an adjunct associate professor at the University of Maryland Global Campus teaching economics to adult learners. He’s been reading, writing and translating poems since his childhood and, as an adult, Matt’s worked on cross-disciplinary poetic projects with painters, photographers, musicians and digital artists. His translations are mostly from modern Hebrew (Israeli) poetry but has also translated from German, Yiddish and Spanish (the latter, with help from his daughters who are fluent). Salomon has regularly read his poems in a variety of current and former DC-area venues over the years (e.g., Takoma Park’s Third Thursday Series, DC’s Joaquin Miller Summer Poetry Series, Chapters Literary Bookstore and annual Artomatic ekphrastic poetry exhibitions). During the quarantine, he’s enjoyed reading new work and old with other poets from around the world. His poems and translations have appeared in a 2007 collection (Returning to the City of Hyphens), poetry journals (such as Folio), collaborative volumes, as well as his poetry blog golempoem.
The Book Cellar Book Club will meet virtually to discuss their February pick, Miss Benson's Beetle by Rachel Joyce.
The Book Cellar Book Club will meet virtually to discuss their March pick, Picnic in the Ruins by Todd Robert Petersen.
In a time of great inequality and a gutted middle class, the dramatic story of the strike heard around the world is a testament to what workers can gain when they stand up for their rights.
"[A] fascinating labor struggle. Readers interested in American labor and social history will find McClelland's engagingly written, informative work a key to understanding the voices and roles of those who advocated for better working conditions for all working-class people."
"A spirited history of labor's triumph."
-- Kirkus Review
"Students of labor history will relish this enthusiastic chronicle of a victory for ordinary workers."
-- Publishers Weekly
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About Midnight in Vehicle City: The tumultuous Flint sit-down strike of 1936-1937 was the birth of the United Auto Workers, which set the standard for wages in every industry. Midnight in Vehicle City tells the gripping story of how workers defeated General Motors, the largest industrial corporation in the world. Their victory ushered in the golden age of the American middle class and created a new kind of America, one in which every worker had a right to a share of the company's wealth. The causes for which the strikers sat down--collective bargaining, secure retirement, better wages--enjoyed a half century of success. But now, the middle class is disappearing and economic inequality is at its highest since before the New Deal.
Journalist and historian Edward McClelland brings the action-packed events of the strike back to life--through the voices of those who lived it. In vivid play-by-plays, McClelland narrates the dramatic scenes including of the takeovers of GM plants; violent showdowns between picketers and the police; Michigan governor Frank Murphy's activation of the National Guard; the actions of the militaristic Women's Emergency Brigade who carried billy clubs and vowed to protect strikers from police; and tense negotiations between labor leader John L. Lewis, GM chairman Alfred P. Sloan, and labor secretary Frances Perkins.
The epic tale of the strike and its lasting legacy shows why the middle class is one of the greatest inventions of the 20th century and will guide our understanding of what we will lose if we don't revive it.
About Edward McClelland: Edward McClelland is a journalist, a historian, and an author born and raised in Lansing, Michigan. His work has been published in numerous places, including the New York Times, Washington Post, and the Chicago Reader, and on Salon and Slate. He is the author of several books, including Young Mr. Obama: Chicago and the Making of a Black President, Nothin' but Blue Skies: The Heyday, Hard Times and Hopes of America's Industrial Heartland, and How to Speak Midwestern. Connect with him online at edwardmcclelland.com and @TedMcClelland on Twitter.
Calling all birders, true crime addicts, and history buffs as pigeon experts Matthew Gavin Frank and Kathleen Rooney (Cher Ami and Major Whittlesey) combine forces to celebrate Matthew's new book!
""Unforgettable. . . . An outstanding adventure in its lyrical, utterly compelling, and heartbreaking investigations of the world of diamond smuggling." --Aimee Nezhukumatathil
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About The Diamond Smugglers: For nearly eighty years, a huge portion of coastal South Africa was closed off to the public. With many of its pits now deemed "overmined" and abandoned, American journalist Matthew Gavin Frank sets out across the infamous Diamond Coast to investigate an illicit trade that supplies a global market. Immediately, he became intrigued by the ingenious methods used in facilitating smuggling?particularly, the illegal act of sneaking carrier pigeons onto mine property, affixing diamonds to their feet, and sending them into the air.
Entering Die Sperrgebiet ("The Forbidden Zone") is like entering an eerie ghost town, but Frank is surprised by the number of people willing--even eager--to talk with him. Soon he meets Msizi, a young diamond digger, and his pigeon, Bartholomew, who helps him steal diamonds. It's a deadly game: pigeons are shot on sight by mine security, and Msizi knows of smugglers who have disappeared because of their crimes. For this, Msizi blames "Mr. Lester," an evil tall-tale figure of mythic proportions.
From the mining towns of Alexander Bay and Port Nolloth, through the "halfway" desert, to Kleinzee's shores littered with shipwrecks, Frank investigates a long overlooked story. Weaving interviews with local diamond miners who raise pigeons in secret with harrowing anecdotes from former heads of security, environmental managers, and vigilante pigeon hunters, Frank reveals how these feathered bandits became outlaws in every mining town.
About Matthew Gavin Frank: Matthew Gavin Frank is the author of The Mad Feast and Preparing the Ghost, which was reviewed on the front-page of the New York Times Book Review. He teaches creative writing and lives in Marquette, Michigan.
About Kathleen Rooney: Kathleen Rooney is the author, most recently, of the novels Cher Ami and Major Whittlesey and Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk and the co-editor of René Magritte: Selected Writings (University of Minnesota Press, 2016). She is a founding editor of Rose Metal Press and a founding member of Poems While You Wait. Her previous work includes poetry, fiction, and nonfiction and has appeared in T he New York Times Magazine, Allure, Salon, The Chicago Tribune, The Nation and elsewhere. She teaches English and creative writing at DePaul University and lives in Chicago with her spouse, the writer Martin Seay.
Journalist and Chicago native Eric Johnson presents his debut novel, a coming-of-age story of corporate greed, familial rupture, falling apart, and putting yourself back together. He will be joined by Mary Wisniewski (Algren: A Life)
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About Whenever A Happy Thing Falls: Bale Ratcliffe is flourishing during a semester studying abroad in London, enjoying literature and poetry classes and an exciting budding romance with a precocious young actress. But as graduation approaches, Bale’s father, Bruce Ratcliffe, a shrewd businessman obsessed with his son's material success and a hidden agenda, forces Bale to throw away his dreams of becoming a writer and the love of his life to join an elite investment bank run by his friend.
Plunged into a chaotic corporate culture rife with greed, criminality, misogyny, and racism, Bale’s life crumbles during months of 100-hour work weeks and mounting alcohol and drug abuse. Spiraling out of control, Bale eventually causes an explosive event inside the firm’s office after a late-night debauch, and escapes to a rural cabin where, over the course of a weekend, he must decide what he stands for and how he can ultimately save his own life.
About Eric Johnson: Eric M. Johnson is an American journalist, novelist, and outdoorsman. Born and raised in Chicago, he now lives in Seattle, where he writes about Boeing and the billionaire space race for Reuters News.