Beloit College Magazine

Beloit College Magazine

Fall/Winter 2015 (November 3, 2015 at 8:00 am)

General-Interest Books by Alumni and Faculty Authors


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October 27, 2015 at 11:40 am

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Andreo’s Race

By Pam Withers’78
Tundra Books, 2015

In the latest adventure novel for young adult readers by Pam Withers, the heart-pumping action reaches beyond the limits of sports to touch upon the even more terrifying and dangerous world of human trafficking.

Sixteen-year-old Andreo, adopted from Bolivia, is gearing up to compete in an Ironman competition located within the Bolivian wilderness. However, he and his friend Raul, a fellow Bolivian adoptee, begin to suspect that their adoptive parents may have acquired them illegally. Using the race as a front to explore the truth, Andreo and Raul find themselves embroiled in a race that goes far beyond a finish line, as they seek to expose a ring of baby traffickers.

Presented through the eyes of Andreo, the joys of competing in an international race quickly mesh with the unadulterated fright of coming to terms with a life that may not be what it seems.

The exhilarating story further showcases why Withers has become such a celebrated author, as Andreo’s Race comes on the heels of award-winners such as First Descent. Her visceral storytelling and compelling characters make the novel a brisk, thrilling read.

This is Wither’s second novel for Tundra Books, both of which utilize her passion for extreme sports and Latin American culture as a jumping off point for her action-packed prose. —Will Tomer’17

 

 


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The Beast of Cretacea

By Todd Strasser’74
Candlewick Press, 2015

Even with more than 100 novels for children and teens under his belt, Todd Strasser has broken new ground with The Beast Of Cretacea, a work of science fiction—or as he prefers to call it “cli-fi” (climate fiction) because it speaks to real climate and environmental issues.

In this celestial reimagining of Herman Melville’s eternal classic, Moby-Dick, 17-year-old Ishmael goes to the fictional planet of Cretacea, a marvel of endless ocean. It is here that Ishmael, set to be working with a crew headed by the one-legged Ahab to harvest ocean-dwelling creatures for resources to be sent back to Earth, learns of a mysterious, elusive beast that lurks beneath the waters.

This dark, dangerous, and highly imaginative retelling of Melville’s masterpiece has already garnered praise from the School Library Journal and Publisher’s Weekly.

The book is also partially inspired by Strasser’s time at Beloit, when he studied with Professor Robert J. Ray, a former English teacher. A noted Moby-Dick fan, Ray left a lasting impression on Strasser. “To this day he remains one of the most vivid figures from my years at college: intimidating, demanding, and yet, underneath that sometimes prickly exterior a sympathetic and understanding gentleman,” Strasser says. “Much like the sailors who cleaved whales in Melville’s novel, he flensed the book for us, discarding the blubber he deemed unnecessary to help us uncover what is truly awe-inspiring and essential. Without his influence I can only wonder if my book would ever have come to be.”  —Will Tomer’17

 

 


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Brittanica Brainbusters: Challenging Puzzles for the Curious-Minded

By Theodore Pappas’83
Triumph Books, 2015

Theodore Pappas, executive editor of Encyclopædia Britannica, has written the rhyming couplets that provide clues to this collection of brain teasers and puzzles, which will appeal to trivia buffs and cruciverbalists alike. Pappas teams up with the innovative puzzle maker Jeff Knurek to put together this fun compilation of word puzzles and games.

Britannica Brainbusters covers a variety of topics, from the “U.S. Presidency and First Ladies” to “The Sporting Life.” Questions range from standard trivia to truly head-scratching world puzzles. Crosswords, jumbles, fill-in-the-blanks, word searches, and a variety of other games fill the pages. Each chapter ends with an answer key that pulls from the wide variety of information housed at the Encyclopædia Britannica, so even if a puzzle does not come easily, readers can still walk away feeling accomplished with the knowledge they’ve obtained.

 

 


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The Day China Cried: A Witness to the June 4th Massacre

By Daniel Nardini’83
Xlibris, 2015

In this updated memoir, Nardini—a former history and anthropology double major at Beloit—explores the social unrest in China in 1989 from a firsthand perspective.

Nardini arrived in China to visit friends of friends just before the pro-democracy movement began, and subsequently found himself trapped in the nation as the massacres raged on. His account is one of turmoil, panic, and vivid interactions; as one of the last American tourists in the country, he was often seen as an object of fascination. Yet he was also in grave danger and witnessed many of these events at a distance while hiding in a friends’ apartment. Using a mixture of written and photographic narratives, Nardini provides stunning insight into a crucial turning point in China’s political history.

Nardini currently works as a writer for the Lawndale News and lives in Chadwick, Ill., with his wife, Jade.

 

 


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Deprived: The Lost 1982 NFL Season

By Jimmy Grant’96 and Sean Miskimins’96
CreateSpace, 2015

Classmates and former Buccaneer football players (and lifelong fans of the game) reunite for a combined “what-if” story and love letter to the sport. Their plot revolves around the infamous season mentioned in the title, when the 57-day-long players’ strike forced the NFL to cancel seven of the regularly scheduled 16 games.

Using statistics from the season as well as evaluations of some top teams and players, the authors offer up their theories of how each of the “lost games” might have gone—from the matchups of the teams to the final score. Interwoven through all of this speculation are the stories of two boys growing up with football. From Miskimins’ initial draw to the Dallas Cowboys as a way to spite his brother, to Grant’s early memories in a town obsessed with the Steelers, both authors lovingly recall the game as a vital part of their childhood—and of who they became as adults.

 

 


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Beaches in Space and Time 

By Richard A. Davis Jr.’59
Pineapple Press, Inc., 2015

In true Beloit fashion, Richard Davis evaluates the beach from both a scientific and cultural point of view in his latest book, taking readers on an international tour from the icy shores of Antarctica to the balmy Florida coast.

Along the way, he analyzes factors such as sediment deposits, tide patterns, and weather systems to explain how various beaches get their unique physical attributes. Yet Davis also writes at length about the role of beaches in human culture as tourism destinations, battlefields, sporting arenas, and artistic settings, demonstrating to the audience that these areas have much more to them than just aesthetic value.

Davis is a professor emeritus of geology from the University of South Florida and a research associate at the Harte Research Institute at Texas A&M University.

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