[UCP Books]: Summer Chicago Shorts


 
“Still longer than a tweet and still shorter than A River Runs Through It—”
 
 SUMMER CHICAGO SHORTS

Publication Date: June 18, 2013

 

The University of Chicago Press is pleased to announce the launch of our summer series of Chicago Shorts—distinguished selections, including never-before-published material, off-the-radar reads culled from the University of Chicago Press’s commanding archive, and the best of our newest books, all priced for impulse buying and presented exclusively in DRM-free e-book format.
 
Aimed at the general reader and running the gamut from the latest in contemporary scholarship to can’t-miss chapters from classic publications, Chicago Shorts continues to turn the page on the twenty-first-century reading experience.
 
With summer upon us, we’ve selected a group of shorts that offer all the pleasures you look for in that season: they’re light, funny, and engaging; they stoke our dreams of faraway places and outdoor adventures; and like summer itself—they leave you wanting more.
 
Among the Summer Shorts, you’ll find:
 
·         God: The Autobiography by Franco Ferrucci (trans. by Raymond Rosenthal)
·         It’s Alive! The Science of B-Movie Monsters by Michael LaBarbera
·         So Lonesome: Hank Williams and the Creation of Country Music by Richard A. Peterson
·         Hagfish Slime and Lobster Rolls by Ellen Prager
·         The Incident at Naples by Francis Steegmuller
 
To celebrate summer e-reads, we’ll be offering So Lonesome: Hank Williams and the Creation of Country Music for $0.99. All other Shorts will be priced at $2.99 and available across all major e-book platforms, as well as from the University of Chicago Press website.
 
These Chicago Shorts officially publish on June 18, 2013. For more information or to request a review copy, please be in touch with me at the email or telephone number below. For additional information on individual shorts, please read on after the jump.
 
All the (truncated) best,
 
Kristi McGuire
Web and New Media Editor, University of Chicago Press
kmcguire@press.uchicago.edu / / 773.702.2548
 
 
In Ain’t Love Grand, Marty Crump—a tropical field biologist well known for her work with the reproductive behavior of amphibians—examines the bizarre conduct of animals as they mate, parent, feed, defend themselves, and communicate. More importantly, Crump points out that diverse and unrelated animals often share seemingly erratic behaviors—evidence, Crump argues, that these natural histories, though outwardly weird, are actually successful ways of living.
 
***
 
 
At the center of Franco Ferrucci's God: An Autobiography is one tender, troubled character: God. In the beginning is God's solitude, and because God is lonely he creates the world. He falls in love with Earth, plunges into the oceans, lives as plant and reptile and bird. His every thought and mood serve to populate the planet, with consequences that run away from him—sometimes delightfully, sometimes unfortunately. Witty, thought-provoking, and beautifully translated, this playful and irresistible Short will leave you wondering where philosophy ends and fiction begins, while it recounts thousands of years of religious thought—and reminds you that above all else, God knows how to tell a good story.
 
***
 
 
Erin Hogan hit the road in her Volkswagen Jetta and headed west from Chicago in search of the monuments of American land art. Her completed journey took her through the states of Utah, Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas. It also took her through the states of anxiety, drunkenness, disorientation, and heat exhaustion. Spiral Jetta Summer is a chronicle of this adventure, and it reveals Hogan’s unpretentious and boisterous narrative flair on the roads of middle-of-nowhere Utah in pursuit of Robert Smithson’s classic work Spiral Jetty. Along the way, Hogan writes about venturing outside of her urban comfort zone; who she encounters; and most importantly, how she found most of what she was looking for and then some.
 
***
 
 
In It’s Alive!, Michael LaBarbera delves into the science behind B-movie monsters, from the biology surrounding tyrannosaurid postures in Jurassic Park and King Kong to the questionable physics employed by The Incredible Shrinking Man. Accompanied by a treasure trove of images from old movie posters and stills, and ranging from the 1930s to such recent films as The Lord of the Rings trilogy and the latest installments of the Alien franchise, It’s Alive! cleverly uses science to remind us that the best parts of moviemaking might indeed be magic–for all creatures, great and small.
 
***
 
 
Hank Williams (1923–53) was an American singer-songwriter and musician regarded as the most important country music artist of all time, creator of an unforgettable sound and persona that helped to define the genre from its infancy and beyond. Though unable to read or notate music to any substantive degree, Williams recorded 11 number one hits between 1948 and 1953, which carried him to music’s mainstream and left an enduring legacy. In So Lonesome, Richard A. Peterson captures the free-wheeling entrepreneurial spirit of an era gone by, when the Grand Ole Opry put Nashville’s star on the map, while detailing how Williams came to fame and helped launch country music both during his life and after his death.
 
***
 
 
With Hagfish Slime and Lobster Rolls, marine scientist Ellen Prager takes us deep into the sea to introduce an astonishing cast of fascinating and bizarre creatures that make the salty depths their home, with the help of stunning color photos. From the lobsters that battle rivals or seduce mates with their urine to hagfish that ties itself into a knot to keep from suffocating in its own slime—there’s far more to Prager’s account than her ever-entertaining anecdotes. Again and again, she illustrates the crucial connections between life in the ocean and humankind, enchanting us as she educates, enthralling us with the wealth of life in the sea, and reminding us of our need to protect it.
 
***
 
 
Born in Australia, novelist Shirley Hazzard first moved to Naples as a young woman in the 1950s to take up a job with the United Nations. It was the beginning of a long love affair with the city, in which the Naples of Pliny, Gibbon, and Auden constantly became reanimated by new experiences, as Hazzard was joined in her travels by her husband, the editor and critic Francis Steegmuller. In The Incident at Naples, a classic essay first published by the New Yorker, Steegmuller recollects on how he was, as a tourist to the city, robbed and injured and then treated in a series of hospitals. What can The Incident at Naples teach us? A town shadowed by both the symbol and the reality of Vesuvius can never fail to acknowledge the essential precariousness of life—nor, as Hazzard and Steegmuller discover, the human compassion, generosity, and friendship that are necessary to sustain it.
 
***
 
 
In Excellent Things in Women, Sara Suleri offers the reader a delicately wrought memoir of life in postcolonial Pakistan. Suleri intertwines the violent history of Pakistan's independence with her own intimate experiences—relating the tumult of growing up female during a time of fierce change in the Middle East in the 1960s and ’70s. In the two selections presented here, “Excellent Things in Women” and “Meatless Days,” we watch as Suleri re-encounters the relationships that inform her voyage from adolescence to womanhood—with her Welsh mother; her Pakistani father, prominent political journalist Z. A. Suleri; and her tenacious grandmother, Dadi, along with her five siblings—as she comes to terms with the difficulties of growing up and her own complicated passage to the West.

 

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