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 October.
Anna Weir: Nothing says “fall” like a forest of turning leaves, and Elers Koch (1880–1954) was a pioneering manager and preserver of the forests I so enjoy this season. His memoir Forty Years a Forester brings us back to the American frontier and the early days of the U. S. Forest Service. During his schooling at Yale there were hardly any American books on forestry, placing Koch at the beginnings of the essential conservation conversations that are still going on today. Char Miller brings additional insight and care to this annotated edition of Koch’s memoir.
Jackson Adams: One of my favorite podcasts of the year, Vox’s Primetime with Emily VanDerWerff, applied a laser focus on Ronald Reagan’s prodigious ability to revolutionize politics by appealing to a TV audience first and an electorate second. That weighed heavily on my mind reading Robert T. Mann’s Becoming Ronald Reagan. Mann neither condemns nor truly celebrates The Gipper but he does showcase how an icon of the conservative movement went from starring alongside a monkey in Bedtime for Bonzo to becoming a rising national star in California politics on the strength of manipulative campaigning and star power in just a few years.
AW: My next pick is another memoir but the two couldn’t be more different. M. Randall O’Wain writes of growing up in the American south with a blue collar family, his love of words out of place. That love takes him out of Memphis and around the country, eventually to the University of Iowa’s Nonfiction Writing Program, where he earned his MFA. Meander Belt details memories both vivid and sparse as he traces his wanderings, ultimately showing that his working-class upbringing is not so antithetical to the man he has become.
JA: The thing I love about Joyce Sutphen’s eighth book of poetry, Carrying Water to the Field, is how much it serves as a time capsule of the poet’s long career. With selections from her works from as far back as 1995, readers can trace the recurring images of rural contemplation, parents and children, the changing, sometimes decaying, world outside of the window, to the new focuses of Sutphen’s work, like shifting memories, soured nostalgia, and accepting death. It’s a stunningly complete portrait with a worldview undeniably rooted in the midwest but recognizably universal.
Tune in next month for more reading suggestions from your friendly neighborhood publicists!