Arts & Culture


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Pedigree: A Memoir
Patrick Modiano; translated by Mark Polizzotti ’79
Yale University Press, $25

In this memoir of growing up in the chaos of Paris after the Occupation, French novelist and Nobelist Modiano unsparingly explores “the soil—or the dung—from which I emerged.” Polizzotti, who has translated more than 40 books, captures what he has called the author’s “surface simplicity and pitch-perfect wording” in a slim volume that introduces the recurrent themes running through Modiano’s novels.


Class Divide: Yale ’64 and the Conflicting Legacy of the Sixties
Howard Gillette Jr. ’64, ’70PhD
Cornell University Press, $29.95

The cover of Class Divide—a shot by John Boardman ’64 of his classmates on parade, some riding in a Rolls, others on motorcycles—expresses its theme: the incipient cultural and political schism in Yale and the wider world, both of them “molded by tradition yet increasingly open to winds of change.” Historian Gillette talks with politicians Joe Lieberman ’64, ’67LLB, and John Ashcroft ’64, environmentalist Gus Speth ’64, 69LLB, civil rights activist Stephen Bingham ’64, and others to explore how this “hinge generation” bridged the divide.


Saint-Saëns, Lalo, Fauré: Kim Cook
Kim Cook ’81MusM
MSR Classics, $12.95,

This set of compelling late-nineteenth-century cello works by Camille Saint-Saëns, Edouard Lalo, and Gabriel Fauré matches the strong, vibrant soloist Kim Cook with an empathetic orchestra (Philharmonia Bulgarica) that surrounds and serves her rather than distancing or smothering her. Cook, who has been teaching at Penn State University for the past 24 years, solos with authority, yet without vanity. The lurch in styles from one composer to the next can be jarring, but that’s because the tracks themselves have such fluidity, fullness, and individual personality.


The Contemporaries: Travels in the Twenty-first Century Art World
Roger White ’97
Bloomsbury, $28

“Contemporary art is a cuttlefish,” writes painter and Yale School of Art teacher White. Or a “fungus.” Or maybe a “chimera.” In lieu of a precise definition of “a form of art philosophically concerned, perhaps even obsessed, with the idea of right now,” White offers a look at academies, art apprenticeships, regional art centers, and three notable contemporary artists—Dana Schutz, Mary Walling Blackburn, and Stephen Kaltenbach—engaged in pushing forward an endeavor in which “meaning seems to emerge from thin air, something new becomes visible, and the fun begins.”


Under the Bus: How Working Women Are Being Run Over
Caroline Fredrickson ’86
New Press, $25.95

“Over the past 100 years, America has adopted a variety of progressive laws meant to improve wages and working conditions, but these laws have left many behind,” argues Fredrickson, a longtime public interest lawyer and congressional aide. Women, especially women of color, in low-wage jobs like child care and health care have often been excluded from even the most rudimentary legal protections. Fredrickson describes how this happened, why it is growing, and how, “if we don’t fix this problem, all American workers will be swallowed by this trend.”


Louisa Meets Bear
Lisa Gornick ’85MPhil
Sara Crichton Books/Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, $26

When the title characters meet at Princeton in 1975, one of them tells the other: “What I will most remember about you this night is how you try to smell me through the dusky drizzle.” It’s a deliciously intimate moment in a collection of interlocking short stories that are full of personal details. The stories convey the arcs of two lives, both before and after the characters meet and separate. Gornick is a trained psychotherapist, and the insights here are memorable examples of “the crown jewels”—“those moments of communion that if we’re lucky humans sometimes experience with one another.”

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