Arts & Culture


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Now I See You: A Memoir
Nicole C. Kear ’98

St. Martin’s Press, $25.99

When the author was a child, she often bumped into things, from fire hydrants to an entire supermarket biscotti display. On a trip to the seaside, she was the one who couldn’t see the stars. After her sophomore year at Yale, Kear learned why: she had retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerative disease that would eventually leave her blind. “I felt like the ghost of Sylvia Plath was invading my body,” she writes. In this fine account, by turns poignant and funny, Kear describes how she banished that specter and dealt successfully with the growing darkness.


Citizen Canine: Our Evolving Relationship with Cats and Dogs
David H. Grimm ’04PhD

PublicAffairs, $26.99

“Of the millions of creatures on earth, only cats and dogs have become our true family members,” writes science journalist (and cat owner) Grimm. “Yet these were once wild animals, too terrified to approach, too ferocious to touch. Something remarkable must have happened to transform them into the pets we know today.” Here’s a fascinating, thought-provoking account of the transformation and how it is playing out in our social attitudes, relationships, laws, and notions of what it means to be human.


Hold Tight Gently: Michael Callen, Essex Hemphill, and the Battlefield of AIDS
Martin Duberman ’52

The New Press, $27.95

In the 1970s, when a mysterious and, at the time, inevitably deadly disease first surfaced, the history of gay men in the United States entered a period of appalling tragedy. Duberman, an award-winning historian, provides an absorbing look back at the plague’s early days, profiling two victims of the disease—gay activist and singer Callen, “an undersung hero of the AIDS protest movement”; and Hemphill, “an undersung poet of major importance in black cultural circles”—to “shed additional light on our current approach to AIDS.”


Ava and Pip
Carol Weston ’78

Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, $15.99

When Ava Elle Wren started fifth grade, she learned the facts of life—her life. Her parents, Anna and Bob, chose her first and middle names because they were palindromes, just like their own. They did the same thing for Ava’s older sister Pip Hannah. “They are word nerds,” Ava says of her parents, and in this diary-style novel for middle-schoolers, words that read the same backwards and forwards take center stage. The charming story covers writing, sisterhood, and events that occasionally, says Ava, are “making me feel like P-O-O-P.”


Sitcom: A History in 24 Episodes from I Love Lucy to Community
Saul Austerlitz ’01

Chicago Review Press, $19.95

The situation comedy, a fixture since the earliest days of TV, has often been dismissed as a half hour of “bloodless, prepackaged humor without subtlety or intelligence.” But don’t sell this “peculiarly American art form” short, says cultural critic Austerlitz. In a captivating history of the genre, the writer examines one notable episode from each of two dozen key sitcom series, starting with an early I Love Lucy show and finishing with a 2010 segment of Community. “Those who came into our homes and made us laugh,” Austerlitz argues, also helped their viewers grow.


Full Service

self-released, $9.99;

Dave “Hoag” Kepner ’03 is lead vocalist and drummer of this Austin-based band, which is proud of its independent nature: surprise gigs in the parking lots of rock stadiums; a tour of fans’ living rooms and backyards; monthly professionally staged concerts in their own neighborhood. This is a band that aims to please, and it’s reflected in a rousing, reliable jam-rock sound that blends heavy beats and guitar licks with complex vocal harmonies. A core quirkiness shows in the many circus references: “Carousel,” “Circus Freak,” “Sawdust.”

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