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Biography and Memoir

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Reflections on Life, Landscape, and Song

A legendary singer, folklorist, and music historian, Shirley Collins has been an integral part of the folk-music revival for more than sixty years. In her new memoir, All in the Downs, Collins tells the story of that lifelong relationship with English folksong—a dedication to artistic integrity that has guided her through the triumphs and tragedies of her life.
 

More than 15 million Americans grapple with depression in a given year, and 40 million are affected by anxiety disorders. And yet these people are often invisible, hidden, unacknowledged. At once a photo essay and a compendium of life stories, Portraits of Resilience brings us face to face with twenty-two extraordinary individuals, celebrating the wisdom they have gained on the frontline of a contemporary battle.

The Life of Paula Modersohn-Becker

First published in France in 2016, Being Here Is So Much traces the short, obscure, and prolific life of the German expressionist painter Paula Modersohn-Becker (1876–1907).

On a visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau, Georges Didi-Huberman tears three pieces of bark from birch trees on the edge of the site. Looking at these pieces after his return home, he sees them as letters, a flood, a path, time, memory, flesh. The bark serves as a springboard to Didi-Huberman’s meditations on his visit, recorded in this spare, poetic, and powerful book. Bark is a personal account, drawing not on the theoretical apparatus of scholarship but on Didi-Huberman’s own history, memory, and knowledge.

“I loved Michel as Michel, not as a father. Never did I feel the slightest jealousy or the slightest embitterment or exasperation when it came to him.  … I was intensely close to Michel for a full six years, until his death, and I lived in his apartment for close to a year. Today I see that time as the period that changed my life, my cut-off from a fate leading to the precipice. In no specific way I’m grateful to Michel, without knowing for exactly what, for a better life."
—from Learning What Love Means

The Art of Policymaking in India

In December 2009, the economist Kaushik Basu left the rarefied world of academic research for the nuts and bolts of policymaking. Appointed by the then Prime Minister of India, Manmohan Singh, to be chief economic adviser (CEA) to the Government of India, Basu—a theorist, with special interest in development economics, and a professor of economics at Cornell University—discovered the complexity of applying economic models to the real world. Effective policymaking, Basu learned, integrates technical knowledge with political awareness.

A Literary Biography

Acker’s life was a fable; and to describe the confusion and love and conflicting agendas behind these memorials would be to sketch an apocryphal allegory of an artistic life in the late twentieth century. It is girls from which stories begin, she wrote in her last notebook. And like other lives, but unlike most fables, it was created through means both within and beyond her control.
—from After Kathy Acker

What My Family and Career Taught Me about Breaking Through (and Holding the Door Open for Others)

“Myra Strober’s Sharing the Work is the memoir of a woman who has learned that ‘having it all’ is only possible by ‘sharing it all,’ from finding a partner who values your work as much as you do, to fighting for family-friendly policies. You will learn that finding allies is crucial, blending families after divorce is possible, and that there is neither a good time nor a bad time to have children. Both women and men will find a friend in these pages.”
—Gloria Steinem

The Improbable Life of Charlotte Moorman

The Juilliard-trained cellist Charlotte Moorman sat nude behind a cello of carved ice, performed while dangling from helium-filled balloons, and deployed an array of instruments on The Mike Douglas Show that included her cello, a whistle, a cap gun, a gong, and a belch. She did a striptease while playing Bach in Nam June Paik’s Sonata for Adults Only.

Warren S. McCulloch's Transdisciplinary Life in Science

Warren S. McCulloch (1898–1969) adopted many identities in his scientific life—among them philosopher, poet, neurologist, neurophysiologist, neuropsychiatrist, collaborator, theorist, cybernetician, mentor, engineer. He was, writes Tara Abraham in this account of McCulloch’s life and work, “an intellectual showman,” and performed this part throughout his career. While McCulloch claimed a common thread in his work was the problem of mind and its relationship to the brain, there was much more to him than that.

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