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Faculty books
  • 2019-04-26
  • Anna Loria

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.

Panning book cover


Anne Panning
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.

Krieger book cover

That One Cigarette

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.

Fellner book cover

All Screwed Up: A Memoir

Steve Fellner
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.

Kress book cover

Yesterday's Kin

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.

Norment book cover

Relicts of a Beautiful Sea: Survival, Extinction, and Conservation in a Desert World

Chris Norment
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?

Kendall book cover

When Descendants Become Ancestors: The Flip Side of Genealogy

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.

Whorton book cover


James Whorton
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.

Tyler-Bennett book cover

Mr Bowlly Regrets

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.

Black book cover

Bloom and Laceration: Poems

Ralph Black
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.

Mercer book cover

Cargo of Hate

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 Canadian north-shore.

Blackman book cover

Upside Down: Seasons among the Nunamiut

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.

Strazzabosco book cover

Ninety Feet Under: What poverty does to people

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: To explore more books by alumni authors, see this month's edition of Class Notes.

Last Updated 5/26/21

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