Summer Must-Read Roundup: Books by Brockport
Hundreds of faculty members, emeriti, and alumni are published authors. Browse some summer reading material written by Brockport's own.
Professor, Department of English
Butter is a coming of age tale set against the backdrop of small-town Minnesota during the
1970s and told from the perspective of an 11-year-old girl, Iris, who learns from
her parents that she is adopted. The story of Iris’s childhood is at first beguiling
and innocent: hers is a world filled with bell-bottoms and Barbie dolls, Shrinky Dinks
and Shaun Cassidy records, TV dinners and trips to grandma’s. But as her parents’
marriage starts to unravel, Iris grows more observant of disintegration all around
her as she wavers precariously between girlhood and adolescence. In the end, Iris’s
story represents a profound meditation on growing up estranged in small town America
— on being an outsider in a world increasingly averse to them.
Stu Krieger '73
This counterfactual history novel follows four families from November of 1963 to January
of 2009. In November 1963, Ed Callahan is an assistant manager at the Texas School
Book Depository in Dallas. His promise to his wife to quit smoking as soon as he finishes
the pack in his pocket ends up changing the course of events on November 22. The fallout
of this action alters the lives of the Scott family in Rochester, NY, the Kaufman/Goldman
family in Los Angeles, and the extended Kashat family in Baghdad, Iraq. As all of
these lives intersect, That One Cigarette explores questions of fate, love, loyalty, and the ability of each of us to make
defining contributions to our world by simply being present in our own lives.
Professor, Department of English
Murder attempts. Missing umbilical cords. Fat camps. These darkly comic stories fill
the pages of All Screwed Up. Young, gay, and poor, Steve Fellner attempts to shed his trailer park past and seize
a better life for himself. But coming from the sticks offers a certain kind of freedom:
no one expects anything from you, so you can be as wild and ridiculous as you want.
Fellner's humorous and touching memoir centers on his odd relationship with his mother,
a woman who was once a championship trampolinist and is now a champion of the unpredictable.
Told with shocking humor and startling honestly, All Screwed Up manages to reinvent the comingout story and describes one of the strangest mother-son
relationships in recent memory.
Nancy Kress '77/'79
Former Faculty Member, Department of English
Aliens have landed in New York. After several months of no explanations, they finally
reveal the reason for their arrival. The news is not good. Geneticist Marianne Jenner
is having a career breakthrough, yet her family is tearing itself apart. Her children
Elizabeth and Ryan constantly bicker, agreeing only that an alien conspiracy is in
play. Her youngest, Noah, is addicted to a drug that keeps temporarily changing his
identity. The Jenner family could not be further apart. But between the four of them,
the course of human history will be forever altered.
Professor and Chair, Department of Environmental Science
This book explores the existence of rare, unexpected, and sublime desert creatures
such as the black toad and four pupfishes unique to the desert West. All are anomalies:
amphibians and fish, dependent upon aquatic habitats, yet living in one of the driest
places on earth. By telling the story of these creatures, Norment illustrates the
beauty of evolution and explores ethical and practical issues of conservation: what
is a four-inch-long salamander worth, hidden away in the heat-blasted canyons of the
Inyo Mountains, and what would the cost of its extinction be? What is any lonely and
besieged species worth, and why should we care?
David A. Kendall
Former Faculty Member, Department of Counselor Education
How often have you regretted your failure to engage the elder generations of your
family for information about their lives and memories? Have you wanted just one more
hour with a deceased relative who could answer that one burning question that you
suddenly thought about? Perhaps an older acquaintance wanted to share stories about
"the good old days," but you couldn't be bothered. Most of us have had regrets like
these, as will our descendants — unless we seek to record and preserve some stories
for their use. Though our contributions may not be recognized for decades, our lives
matter to future generations, and our stories should be told.
Professor, Department of English
John Tolley is a bumbling college dropout who yearns to become a bowtie-wearing, pipe-smoking
historian. When he hears that Andrew Johnson's lost papers may have been preserved
by an heir in Tennessee, he heads south, convinced that he'll discover the key to
a groundbreaking biography on the 17th U.S. president and the start of a respectable
career. But things start to go awry when his car breaks down. John rents a decrepit
shack owned by a neurotic ex-con and is soon sucked into a world of cockfights, coon
dogs, and the politics of Pantherville's good old boys. Surrounded by folks as eccentric
as he is, including an alluringly shy mail carrier named Dweena, John starts to feel
at home — even if his quest proves to be a wild goose chase.
Deborah Tyler-Bennett '87
This book of poetry is split into four sections — the first of which is firmly grounded
in Tyler-Bennett's East Midlands roots — memories of Mansfield and aged Aunties who
comb the obituaries of the Sutton-in-Ashfield Chad in search of people they knew.
Books of the Village – Diseworth and Kegworth, the next part, is inspired by the lads
who never returned from Flanders to these tiny rural Leicestershire communities. Going
South, the next section, takes us to the seedy world of Brighton and the South Coast.
Finally, in a much more wide-ranging section of poems inspired by radio, films, and
TV, Tyler-Bennett expands the themes of ennui and the vacuity of a society based on
the uncritical mass consumption of popular culture. This book hardens, and darkens,
as you progress through each section.
Associate Professor, Department of English
At a time when the human ravages on the planet seem to be reaching a crescendo, the
poems in Bloom and Laceration offer lamentations to a fragmented world and celebrations of beauty’s fierce persistence.
Here are lyric poems on the vicissitudes of family played out against wild (and domesticated)
nature. Here are long meditations on passing through, on glimpsing, on transience
and transcendence. From Southern California to Louisiana’s Gulf Coast, to the south
of France, and especially to the hills and woods of Upstate New York, Black’s poems
are full of wonder and ferocity, exuberance, and sorrow.
Kermit Mercer '71
Single again and after so many years, sailor Allen Reed readies his wooden sailboat
for the summer season on Lake Ontario. With expectations of old friends and new acquaintances
to brighten his wistful mood, he sets sail on a rather blustery day for Port Hope,
Canada. However, the trip is dangerous, and he is nearly overwhelmed by the sea conditions.
The next few weeks of the summer will become both a personal awakening and the most
frightening and memorable challenge of his life. He reflects on his early introduction
to seamanship and the people who influenced him. In spite of his personal struggles,
the lake keeps him busy with little time for regrets. As yet unknown to Allen, he
is sailing on a collision course toward an international situation unfolding on the
Brockport Mayor Margaret Blackman
Professor Emerita, Department of Anthropology
In the roadless Brooks Range Mountains of northern Alaska sits Anaktuvuk Pass, a small,
tightly knit Nunamiut Eskimo village. Formerly nomadic hunters of caribou, the natives
now find their destiny tied to that of Alaska’s oil-rich North Slope, their lives
suddenly subject to a century’s worth of innovations. Blackman had been doing summer
fieldwork among them over a span of almost 20 years. A vivid description of the people
and the life of Anaktuvuk Pass, these essays are also an absorbing meditation on the
changes Blackman herself underwent there. Throughout, she reflects in unexpected and
enlightening ways on the work of anthropology and the perspective of an anthropologist
evermore invested in the lives of her subjects.
John Strazzabosco '68
This book identifies and explains 90 crucial impacts of poverty that gang up to make
escape from generational poverty painfully difficult at best, and impossible at worst.
Fully explained and cited, the impacts are also illustrated through true personal
stories of children and adults Strazzabosco came to know over 12 years while working
closely with the impoverished. Many recollections took place in the Crescent of Rochester,
NY, home to the worst extreme poverty in the country. The causes identified are neurological,
physiological, linguistic, and crammed with fear, cold, and hunger.
Are you a published author? Share your work with The Port for a chance to be featured in the next roundup of reading material: firstname.lastname@example.org. To explore more books by alumni authors, see this month's edition of Class Notes.