Jackson Adams and Anna Weir are publicists at UNP. Today they share their thoughts about a few upcoming titles they’re particularly excited about as readers. The books in this discussion will be published in July.
Anna Weir: UNP has published dozens of books by and about Willa Cather (roughly one dozen in this series), but there’s a little less about her contemporary Mari Sandoz. That’s about to change with the release of Women in the Writings of Mari Sandoz, the first volume of the Sandoz Studies series. Each volume in the series will contain a collection of thematically grouped essays that feature writing by and about Mari Sandoz and her work, starting with—you guessed it—women. When Sandoz wrote about the women she knew and studied, she did not shy away from drawing attention to the sacrifices, hardships, and disappointments they endured to forge a life in the harsh plains environment. But she also wrote about moments of joy, friendship, and—for some—a connection to the land that encouraged them to carry on.
What are you looking forward to next month, Jackson?
Jackson Adams: Confession time: I am far from the most athletic member of the UNP staff and am the less-than-proud owner of the loser’s trophy for the office’s fantasy football league. As a singularly untalented sports fan, We Average, Unbeautiful Watchers by Noah Cohan really appeals to me. Cohan digs into the ways fans self-identify and often build tiered and extremely specific social structures around the teams they cheer for and sports they participate in, however vicariously. It’s also a fascinating look back at the days when hyper-focused team blogs and author-driven voices dominated online sports media and the impact that had on extremely divisive rhetoric around players and teams today. It’s the kind of studious and thorough academic writing with an approachable voice that I’m glad to see published regularly from the press.
What else have you been reading, Anna?
AW: Next is another title that makes my little English-major heart happy. Weak Nationalisms explores the emotional dynamics behind the question, “What is America?”— a question that seems to arise more and more often lately—by examining how a range of authors have attempted to answer it through nonfiction since World War II. Douglas Dowland studies these attempts to define the nation in an eclectic selection of texts from writers such as Simone de Beauvoir, John Steinbeck, Charles Kuralt, Jane Smiley, and Sarah Vowell. Each of these texts makes use of synecdoche, and Weak Nationalisms shows how this rhetorical technique is variously driven by affects including curiosity, discontent, hopefulness, and incredulity.
JA: I’m similarly enjoying one of our more recent books focused on Americana, Daniel L. Wuebben’s Power-Lined. Here, Wuebben makes a case that the iconic wires and poles are as much of a symbol of the country’s turn towards industrialization and a sort of electric Manifest Destiny as a part of America’s Electric infrastructure. It’s a fascinating portrait of the way we’re physically connected through infrastructure as well as the way that connection has been maintained in an increasingly wireless world.
Tune in next month for more reading suggestions from your friendly neighborhood publicists!