Books briefly noted
Grant Achatz’s award-winning Chicago restaurant is thought to be the best in town. If your travel budget doesn’t allow a trip north, you can enjoy, even attempt to prepare, the chef’s unforgettable dishes with the help of Alinea, a cookbook that is itself a sensual experience. Achatz, 416 pp.
After receiving dozens of rejections, Marty Morris decided to self-publish. His novel was published by iUniverse Corporation in Bloomington, Ind. And it has been well received by its readers. The Absence of Goodness is the story of a young woman who trades a gun and a badge for a nun’s veil, and then is forced back into the mold of investigator when two students are murdered at the high school where she teaches. Morris, who resides in Springfield, retired from the State of Illinois last year and teaches philosophy as an adjunct at Lincoln Land Community College. iUniverse, 352 pp.
African American horror novelist Vince Churchill offers three chillers – The Dead Shall Inherit the Earth, The Blackest Heart and The Butcher Bride. The books are set in a fictionalized Jacksonville, Ill., the author’s home. To learn more visit www.vincechurchill.com.
Multiple contributors penned The Chicago Sports Reader, which examines Chicago’s long and glorious history of recreational and competitive sport in a city that claims the most loyal fans in the United States. The collection surveys the essential events and main teams in the city’s sports history — the Bears, the Cubs, the White Sox, the Black Hawks and the Bulls. The authors also examine more specialized sports such as racing, cycling and women’s baseball. University of Illinois Press, 384 pp.
Edible Wild Mushrooms of Illinois and Surrounding States – A Field to Kitchen Guide, by Joe McFarland and Gregory M. Mueller. This guide not only gathers essential information for naturalists and cooks alike, but also offers the most stunning photos of fungi you will ever encounter. University of Illinois Press, 210 pp.
Chet Coppock is Chicago sports, and now he has written a guide to the sports scene in the Windy City, Fat Guys Shouldn’t Be Dancin’ at Halftime: An Irreverent Romp Through Chicago Sports. From his time as a host on WMAQ-TV to his days on the airwaves on “Coppock on Sports,” he knows the legends that have made Chicago such a famous sports city. Coppock rates the best and worst TV sportscasters and radio talkies in Chicago over the past 25 years. Triumph Books, 240pp.
The Gardener’s Cottage in Riverside, Illinois - Living in a ‘Small Masterpiece’ by Frank Lloyd Wright, Jens Jensen, and Frederick Law Olmsted, by Cathy Jean Maloney. What is it truly like to live within a historic work of architectural art? Current owner and gardening writer Maloney records her discoveries and personal reflections on living in the Gardener’s Cottage with her family. University of Chicago Press, 128 pp.
Springfield resident and Edgar Award Winner David Ellis has a new mystery. The Hidden Man is the first in a series set in an unnamed Midwestern city, featuring grief-stricken attorney Jason Kolarich, who blames himself for his wife and child’s death. A stranger called Mr. Smith hires him to defend an old friend involved in a 26-year-old kidnapping/murder case. Ellis’s legal thriller has an original plot with the kind of ending everyone likes – a surprising one. Putnam, 336 pp.
Hiking Illinois by Susan L. Post features 107 scenic day hikes. Hiking Illinois brings to life the history, terrain, flora and fauna of each area. It includes descriptions of nearby recreational and sightseeing destinations. Ten Speed Press, 256 pp.
The Man Who Emptied Death Row: Governor George Ryan and the Politics of Crime (Elmer H. Johnson and Carol Holmes Johnson Series in Criminology), by James L. Merriner. Former Gov. Dan Walker calls this book a gripping factual account of real-life crime in government. James Merriner tells in graphic and readable detail why Illinois is number one in the nation in bipartisan corruption. Read it and weep for good government gone. SIU Press, 240 pp. Reviewed in IT April 8, 2009.
Springfield resident Ross Minton was raised in Dumas, Texas, the setting for his memoir, Memories of the Boys from Dumas. Because the memoir is set mainly in the 1950s, older readers will recognize and smile at many universal coming-of-age experiences and younger readers will get a charming glimpse of “the good old days.” Dorrance Publishing, 53 pp.
Springfield’s historic Oak Ridge Cemetery is second only to Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C., as the most visited cemetery in the United States. The burial place of Abraham Lincoln, Oak Ridge’s dramatically landscaped grounds are an important contribution to American landscape architecture. Oak Ridge Cemetery paints a portrait of Victorian sentimentalizing of death, as well as a sublime backdrop for contemplating life. Edward J. Russo and Curtis R. Mann use compelling images from the Sangamon Valley Collection at Lincoln Library, Springfield’s public library, to illustrate 150 years of Oak Ridge history — from its 1860 dedication to its maturity as one of the most beautiful spots in the Springfield area. Arcadia, 128 pp.
The Railroad Tycoon Who Built Chicago by Jack Harpster tells the story of William B. Ogden, the first mayor of the Windy City, elected in 1837. It is the first biography of one of the most notable figures in 19th-century America. Southern Illinois University Press, 328 pp.
Job Conger’s interest in aviation could easily be considered a love affair. It began with him photographing airplanes during frequent trips to the airport as a young boy. Half a century later, Conger’s love for aviation has led to the creation of a book. Springfield Aviation traces the history of nearly everything with wings in the past 150 years. Hundreds of photos. Arcadia Publishing, 128 pp. Reviewed in IT, Oct. 8, 2008.
Walking in Snow is the latest book of poetry by UIS Professor Emeritus John Knoepfle. There is a strong undercurrent of the poet’s awareness of his own mortality and there is also still childlike wonder. It is, in Carol Manley’s words, a “meditation on the passage of time,” “a collection of thoughts come wagging home.” Any reader would be happy to have them come in from the snow and knock at their door as well. Indian Paintbrush Poets, Pearn and Associates. Reviewed in IT Feb. 18, 2009.
A Springfield native, from a long line of Springfield natives, Sarah Hathaway Thomas takes a spate of years away from her hometown when she marries an educational materials promoter/farmer living on the edge of a northern Indiana town, population 200. In West of Buffalo, Life in a Small Indiana Town, Sarah Thomas demonstrates a keen eye for detail and a sure ear for the quotable phrase. RoseDog Books 2009, 130 pp.
Reviewed in IT Sept. 9, 2009.
Terra Brockman, author and founder of The Land Connection, has written The Seasons on Henry’s Farm: A Year of Food and Life on an Organic Farm. Henry’s Farm, run by Henry Brockman, is in central Illinois where he and his family — five generations of farmers, including sister Terra — have bucked conventional wisdom by farming in a way that’s sensible, sustainable and focused on producing healthy, nutritious food in ways that don’t despoil the land. Terra Brockman tells the story of her family and their life on the farm in the form of a year-long memoir — with recipes — that takes readers through each season of life on the farm. Surrey Books, 320 pp.
William L. Dawson and the Limits of Black Electoral Leadership by Christopher Manning, follows the career of one of the most powerful black politicians of the 20th century from Chicago to Washington, D.C. Manning is associate professor of history at Loyola University. Northern Illinois University Press, 233 pp.
David Cain describes himself as an “artist, composer, performer, writer, filmmaker, teacher, husband, father, son, seeker, illusion mover ....” His new book is Who Moved My Illusion? In this collection of short essays, Cain draws inspiration from such teachers as Deepak Chopra and Joseph Campbell as he uses everyday examples (washing one’s hair) of how to live in the present and live life to its fullest potential. Umedia Inc., 140 pp.
The Yonder Side of Sass and Texas is the debut novel of Joanna Beth Tweedy, founder and co-editor of Quiddity, the literary magazine at Springfields’ Benedictine University where she teaches. Robert Hellenga notes that “Joanna Beth Tweedy has conjured up a world as familiar as childhood memories and as strange as the Sahara. The prose crackles like a splash of water on a hot skillet and there’s a surprise on every page.” This family saga focuses on the MacTerptin Family, an Irish-Catholic clan rooted deeply in the southern Illinois orchard country where they grow peaches so delicate they can be cut with a butter knife. The MacTerptins have eight children but the novel focuses primarily on the ones named “Sass” and “Texas,” and their process of growing up. Southeast Missouri State University Press, 177 pp. Reviewed in IT March 25, 2009.