Arts & Culture


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Dear Los Angeles: The City in Diaries and Letters, 1542 to 2018
David Kipen ’85, editor
Modern Library/Penguin Random House, $26

In 1942, William Faulkner called the City of Angels “a strange and curious place.” Kipen has amassed a collection of musings about the city from journal entries and missives written not only by the likes of Faulkner, but also by missionaries, explorers, movie stars, and many other Angelenos. He has one for every day of the year, and they span six centuries—from mariner Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, writing in the 1500s, to contemporary UCLA student Julia Campbell, writing last year. He calls the book “a collective self-portrait of Los Angeles when it thought nobody was looking.”


That Good Night: Life and Medicine in the Eleventh Hour
Sunita Puri ’02
Viking/Penguin Random House, $27

“I was five years old when I first heard that life was temporary,” says Puri, who took her dad’s words to heart and, like her mother, became a physician. But the more adept she became at her job, working “to manipulate, control, and postpone death,” the more she felt she was somehow failing her patients. So Puri chose to specialize in palliative medicine, a relatively new branch of care that accepts the inevitability of dying and works to make the “journey into our own good night” pain-free and meaningful.


The Published Contributions of the Yale Class of 1954: a Class Council Project
Robert U. Redpath III ’54 and Anne W. Semmes, editors
online at, $65

Following a conversation at their 60th reunion, the council of the Class of ’54 got to work compiling a (long) list of works published by 267 classmates. The final product is a two-volume catalog of publications that ranges over a wide breadth of genres, including, for instance, academic papers and newspaper editorials. The Class of ’54 hopes it will serve as a template for other Yale classes interested in tracking down their cumulative output.


Talent: A Novel
Juliet Lapidos ’05
Little, Brown, $27

“One spends much of one’s life saying, or thinking, And then,” thinks Anna Brisker, a grad student in English at a university with a strong resemblance to Yale. Anna’s having trouble getting to then: she can’t seem to take the next step on her dissertation. Moreover, her adviser thinks her thesis is “a little thin.” She needs to find an author to focus on, he says. And then, Anna meets the heir to a dead writer—an author whose work fits her thesis perfectly. But will she be able to get access to the writer’s last notebooks? And just what are the heir’s intentions toward Anna? The intrigue steadily thickens in this thriller, and so does the critique of academia.


Physics and Dance
Emily Coates ’06, ’11MPhil, Associate Professor of Theater Studies, and Sarah Demers, the Horace D. Taft Associate Professor of Physics
Yale University Press, $30

To most of us, dance and physics seem like wildly different disciplines. But dancer Coates and physicist Demers don’t agree. In 2011 they developed, and ever since have co-taught, an interdisciplinary course on the intersection of the two subjects. “Physicists must identify and quantify the forces that act upon moving bodies. Dancers must move within a world of physical rules,” they write. Appreciating both (warning: the math can be formidable) “may help a dancer to understand dance technique more completely, and moving may help a physicist’s imagination take flight.”


Jeff Fuller & Friends; Quadrangle Music, $10.28

Acoustic-bass player Jeff Fuller ’67, ’69MusM, who now teaches in the Yale School of Music’s Jazz Initiative program, is also a longstanding member of New Haven’s tight-knit jazz community. Happenstance makes the most of Fuller’s amiable collaborative sensibilities. He is credited as the composer of 9 of the 12 songs on the CD, but a collective spirit of improvisation distinguishes the set. There’s a complex reinterpretation of the pop standard “Cry Me a River” that flows in several fresh directions at once. “Grandstand” is a funny title for a number in which the players don’t grandstand at all, but instead contribute equally to a lush, moody, and mighty soundscape. In all, Happenstance is an open, inviting listening experience from some friendly New Haven neighbors.

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