Amherst Magazine

Amherst College Books

Congress at the Grassroots: Representational Change in the South, 1970-1998. By RICHARD R. FENNO, JR. '48. Chapel Hill, N.C.: University of North Carolina Press, 2000. 192 pp. $34.95 hardbound, $16.95 paper.
Fenno looks broadly at political change in the South and nationwide in observing the strategies by which two generations of west-central Georgia Congressmen approach their jobs. Jack Flynt, who served from 1950 into the 1970s, and Mac Collins, holding the U.S. House of Representatives seat in the 1990s, illuminate different styles of representing their constituency, which Fenno captures through daily acts and conversations. The elder Representative's focus on people and the younger's attention to policy reveal how social and demographic changes affect the strategies and lives of lawmakers.

The Actor's Art. By JACKSON R. BRYER '59 and Richard A. Davison. Piscataway, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 2001. 288 pp. $20 paper.
Unpublished interviews with 17 of America's most accomplished stage actors debut in this collection. The actors recount famous performances that inspired them, and trace their own professional careers "to Broadway and beyond." Jessica Tandy, James Earl Jones, Nathan Lane, and others provide insight into the characters they've played, the directors they've worked with, and the nuances of their own experiences.

Sorrow's Company. Edited by DEWITT HENRY '63. Boston, Mass.: Beacon Press, 2001. 219 pp. $24 hardbound.
This collection of essays by some of America's finest writers explores the emotional trauma caused by personal loss. Both spiritual and literary, these writings navigate the confusion of bereavement and confront what it means to grieve. The book is divided into three sections, "Leave-takings," "Bereft" and "Legacies." Henry writes in the introduction that the value of these essays partly comes from remembering to value the living. Finding voices in sorrow, these authors also strive to heal.

The Obvious Guide to Medical Survival. By FRANK M. THOMAS, JR. '69. Haverford, Penn.: Stratagee LLC, 2000. 64 pp. $8.95 paper.
This fit-in-your-pocket volume offers practical advice for the patient, accompanied by blank personal medical record forms to be filled in by the reader. Sections like "Making Sure Drugs Don't Abuse You" focus on simple ways to become your own advocate and reduce medical risk through personal responsibility, assertiveness, and staying informed.

Word Up! A Lively Look at English. By ROB KYFF '70. San Jose, Calif.: Writers Club Press, 2000. 183 pp. $13.99 paper.
Here is a spirited Baedeker to almost every conceivable aspect of English usage, a light-hearted review of tricky words, punctuation, parallelisms—even a chapter on "Simple Secrets of Good Writing." Kyff has a fondness for puns but a deft way of putting things (cliches, he writes, are "the bald tires of English"); and he entertains with large dollops of humor, sharing, for instance, a collection of laughable headlines: "U.S. Ships Head to Somalia," and "Grandmother of Eight Makes Hole in One," to mention two. Hopefully, readers will be relieved that he doesn't mind "hopefully." The selections and grammar advisories are collected from Kyff's nationally syndicated column, "The Word Guy," which enlivens such papers as The Hartford Courant, Detroit Free Press, and San Jose Mercury News.

Grand Delusion and Strange Bedfellows. By MATTHEW WITTEN '79. New York, N.Y.: Signet, 2000. 244 and 214 pp. $5.99 and $6.50 paper.
Both mysteries with the protagonist Jacob Burns, "a loving husband, devoted father, and work-at-home writer," take place in Saratoga Springs. In Grand Delusion Burns lives in a decaying community and is framed for the murder of his ruthless landlord. He sets out on the complicated path to clear his name, discovering along the way why many other tenants have reason to desire the victim's death. Strange Bedfellows recounts how Burns strives to prove the innocence of his old college roommate, whose Congressional campaign manager he has become, when the candidate is suspected in the death of his opponent.

Revealing Masks. By W. ANTHONY SHEPPARD '91. Berkeley and Los Angeles, Calif.: University of California Press, 2001. 365 pp. $45 hardbound.
This book, which sprang from Sheppard's M.F.A. dissertation, provides a fresh look at modernist music theater. He argues that this hybrid of multiple traditions has evolved into its own genre, drawing from vaudeville, Greek tragedy, medieval Christian morality plays and Japanese kabuki. So-called "exotic" techniques of masking and stylization, such as those found in the theatrical works of Japanese Noh and the ancient Greeks, are of particular interest to the author in analyzing "total theater."

Compiled by Jennifer Acker '00