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Output: September/October 2020

Books of note by alumni.

To have your book, CD, app, or other work considered for Output, please send a copy to Arts Editor, Yale Alumni Magazine, PO Box 1905, New Haven CT 06509; or e-mail a copy or link to yam@yale.edu.

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Out of Time: A Novel

David Klass ’82

Dutton, $27

Without having to issue a “spoiler alert” for the fiery outcome of this smartly crafted environmental thriller, an ecoterrorist dubbed “Green Man” has just expertly blown up his sixth target, a huge dam, and is now planning his seventh mission. Each one has been selected to draw attention to the climate change crisis and show people that “they could act to change things.” The bomber has, so far, expertly left no traces, but an oddball young FBI data analyst named Tom Smith thinks his unconventional methods can break the case before time runs out.

 

Empty: A Memoir

Susan Burton ’95

Random House, $27

“You’ve always had trouble with food,” declared one of the author’s friends, and in this gut-wrenching “confession,” Burton comes to grips with nearly three decades of binge eating and anorexia that controlled and threatened to destroy her. “I thought I could fix the bingeing with anorexia, when I thought I could fix everything by being empty,” she writes. “But it wasn’t subtraction that I needed; it was addition.” Here’s how she did the life-saving math.

 

 The Great Indoors: The Surprising Science of How Buildings Shape our Behavior, Health, and Happiness

Emily Anthes ’05

Scientific American/Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, $27

Japanese architect Shusaku Arakawa and Madeline Gins, the husband-and-wife team who famously called death “old-fashioned” and even “reversible destiny,” believed that the way to overcome mortality was through architecture. Alas, radically reinventing the indoor environment didn’t bring Arakawa and Gins eternal life, but their foundation-shaking ideas have shaped the development of indoor structures, from homes and offices to hospital, prisons, and colonies on Mars. Science journalist Anthes, a confirmed indoors-woman, offers a fascinating tour.

 

Mother Land

Leah Franqui ’09

William Morrow, $27.99

Rachel Meyer, an American who impulsively married an Indian man and moved to Mumbai, is as surprised as we are on page one of this novel when her mother-in-law Swati appears at her door. Swati has left her husband in Kolkata and intends to move in with Rachel and her husband Dhruv. For Rachel, who is already feeling isolated and out of place in India, this is not a welcome development. What follows is a clash of cultures, an exploration of women’s identity, and an unlikely friendship, all informed by author Franqui’s own experience as an American expat in Mumbai with an Indian husband.  

 

American Oligarchs: The Kushners, the Trumps, and the Marriage of Money and Power

Andrea Bernstein ’84

W. W. Norton, $30

“Oligarchy means government by the few,” notes Bernstein, a Peabody Award–winning investigative journalist. In this exhaustingly comprehensive story, the author shows how the Trump and Kushner families rose to financial and political power, often by shady means, and how the current U.S. president has put into place an administration that, argues Bernstein, makes “no distinction between his family business and the government itself” and is leading to “the unraveling of democratic institutions and norms.”

 

Eva and Otto: Resistance, Refugees, and Love in the Time of Hitler

Tom, Kathy, and Peter Pfister ’73JD

Purdue University Press, $29.99

“In 1979, our parents gave us a 130-page unpublished memoir titled ‘To Our Children.’” said the authors, who have fleshed out a remarkable “overview of [our] family background.” The gracefully crafted book explores Eva and Otto’s life in Germany and France, from their upbringings through their resistance to the Nazis, primarily as a result of membership in a relatively unknown organization called the ISK, and their eventual settling in this country after the war. This story, say the Pfisters, details “a meaningful triumph of love, reason, and courage in an era of unprecedented hatred and brutality.”

 

Union: A Democrat, a Republican, and a Search for Common Ground

Jordan Blashek ’18JD and Christopher Haugh ’18JD

Little, Brown, $28

The classic road trip is a journey of discovery encompassing both the external and internal, so when the authors decided to head out on the highway in 2016, they were looking for more a change in scenery. “What actually binds us together?” they wanted to know, and for the better part of three years, and nearly 17,000 miles, the unlikely Law School buddies—Republican Blashek was a Marine captain in Afghanistan; Democrat Haugh had worked in the State Department—searched for hope, faith, and optimism in each other and the people and places they encountered. This moving account is the America they found.

 

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