Kinder, gentler campaigns
Katherine Adam analyzed the presidential race for her honors thesis at Boston College last year. Now it's been published as "The New Feminized Majority: How Democrats Can Change America With Women's Values" (Paradigm). Her co-author is BC sociologist Charles Derber.
Adam sees an increasing number of Democrats embracing what she calls "feminized" values: empathy, equality, and a preference for nonviolent solutions. In suggesting that Barack Obama is a better communicator of those values than Hillary Clinton, Adam is not alone. Earlier this year a Newsweek columnist called Obama the "first serious woman candidate for president," and columnist Ellen Goodman noted the growing popularity of "ideas nurtured by women, as long as they are delivered in a baritone."
"The Zen Art Box" (Shambhala) is more like a treasure chest than a book. Inside the box are 40 cards bearing reproductions of Zen art by masters. On the back of each 6 1/2-by-9-inch card is commentary by Stephen Addiss and John Daido Loori about the artwork and its wisdom. Also in the box is a folding stand on which to display the cards.
The box was voted best in show last month at the 51st annual New England Book Show, a book-design contest sponsored by Bookbuilders of Boston.
Other winners of note from the show are "Pocketful of Poultry," by Carol Ekarius (Storey), an identification guide to 104 types of chickens, ducks, geese, and turkeys, and the children's science book "Sneeze!," by Alexandra Siy and Dennis Kunkel (Charlesbridge).
Many of the stories in Nam Le's new collection, "The Boat" (Knopf), are set in a foreign country, but the first one begins at the Iowa Writers' Workshop, where a character who happens to be named Nam Le is struggling with writer's block.
The real Le may have little need to worry. Pulitzer Prize winner Junot Díaz calls "Boat" "an extraordinary performance."
Born in Vietnam and raised in Australia, Le is writer in residence at Phillips Exeter Academy and fiction editor of the Harvard Review.
PEN and ink
In writing a novel about two young indentured servants with a tyrannical master, M. P. Barker drew on what she learned about 19th-century New England working at Old Sturbridge Village, where she milked cows and mucked out barns.
Her manuscript for "A Difficult Boy" won a Discovery Award in 2003 from the PEN New England Children's Book Caucus and was published by Holiday House last month. Since its inception, the PEN award has helped a total of eight winners land publishing contracts.
The 10th annual Discovery Evening is tonight at 6:30 at Lesley's University Hall, 1815 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge. A reception will follow readings from this year's winner - a young-adult novel in verse - and three runners-up.
Pick of the week
Kathleen Thut of Inkwell Bookstore, in Falmouth, recommends "The Legend of Colton H. Bryant," by Alexandra Fuller (Penguin): "A vivid recounting of the raw and poignant life of a young oil-rig worker in the modern-day American West. Writing about what she knows, Fuller develops an unparalleled truthfulness and depth to both her scenes and subjects."
Jan Gardner can be reached at JanLGardner@yahoo.com.