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Local Book Notes: Sex, Vampires & Chicago's Steel Barrio

1. How We Do It. And By "It," We Mean "It."

"How long does pregnancy last?" Marlene Zuk writes for the Wall Street Journal.
Martin-How We Do It jacket.jpg
"Nine months, of course, or more precisely, 40 weeks, and we can use the date of last menstruation as a reliable indicator of when the pregnancy began. But as Robert Martin notes in How We Do It, his meticulously researched account of human reproduction from conception to early childhood, 'things are not always that simple.' In many female primates, including women, monthly cycles persist into early pregnancy, for reasons still poorly understood. The date of conception is surprisingly hard to pin down, and due dates are as much guesswork as measurement.

"Mr. Martin's humble but crucial acknowledgment that biology is unavoidably complicated - that we can't capture millennia of evolution or decades of research in glib sayings about the sexes' planetary origins or in single surveys of psychology undergraduates - is what makes How We Do It so compelling.

"It's not that Mr. Martin, a curator of biological anthropology at Chicago's Field Museum, claims that sexuality is such a morass of science, culture and mistaken beliefs that we should throw up our hands. Instead, he takes a calm, soothingly detached approach to the evolution of sex and child-rearing. No Mars and Venus, no extrapolations about why we evolved to love - or hate - strip clubs or whether bottle-feeding dooms a child to a life of puerile amusements and a career at the Kwik-E-Mart. Here instead are the facts of life as you may have never thought about them."


Martin on Chicago Tonight last month.


2. Biting Bad.

"Merit has been a vampire for only a short while, but she's already seen a lifetime's worth of trouble. She and her Master, centuries-old Ethan Sullivan, have risked their lives time and again to save the city they love. But not all of Chicago is loving them back.
"Anti-vampire riots are erupting all over town, striking vampires where it hurts the most. A splinter group armed with Molotov cocktails and deep-seated hate is intent on clearing the fanged from the Windy City come hell or high water.

"Merit and her allies rush to figure out who's behind the attacks, who will be targeted next, and whether there's any way to stop the wanton destruction. The battle for Chicago is just beginning, and Merit is running out of time."


3. Chicago's Steel Barrio.

"Steel Barrio, a new book written by Michael Innis-Jimenez (historian and American studies scholar at the University of Alabama) and published by NYU Press, will give advocates, policy makers, politicians, scholars and anyone else interested in immigration a historical perspective on how new ethnic communities become assets to local communities as they cope with harassment and discrimination in time of national economic crisis.
"Steel Barrio tells the story of how a community developed and survived the Great Depression to become the vibrant, active community that continues to play a central role in Chicago politics and society.

"This book investigates the years between the World Wars, the period that witnessed the first, massive influx of Mexicans into Chicago. Steel Barrio argues that the Mexican immigrants and Mexican Americans who came to South Chicago created a strong sense of community not only to defend against the ever-present social, political, and economic harassment and discrimination, but to grow in a foreign, polluted, industrial environment.

"Jimenez's areas of expertise include twentieth and twenty-first century Mexican and Mexican American migration to the American South and the American Midwest. His research focuses on Latinos/as in the United States, transnationalism, immigration, labor, and civil rights."

4. She and Him.

"Poets Amanda Ackerman and Luke Daly will give a free reading at the Poetry Foundation as part of this season's final Harriet Reading Series, an event program that features poets who have appeared on Harriet, the Poetry Foundation's blog. The series presents both established and emerging poets whose writing finds innovative approaches to the craft of poetry.

"Los Angeles poet Amanda Ackerman is the author of The Book of Feral Flora and of the chapbooks Sin is to Celebration (co-authored with Harold Abramowitz), The Seasons Cemented, I Fell in Love with a Monster Truck, and Short Stones. She is the co-editor of the press eohippus labs, and writes collaboratively as part of the projects SAM OR SAMANTHA YAMS and UNFO.

"Luke Daly is a Chicago-based poet, bookmaker and visual artist. He coordinates writing programs and bookmaking workshops at the Chicago printmaking studio Spudnik Press and curates their library of small press literature and artists' books. He co-edits the book series arrow as aarow."

Thursday at 7 p.m., Poetry Foundation, 61 West Superior Street.

Amanda Ackerman, "Human Time Poem"


Comments welcome.


Posted on July 24, 2013

MUSIC - Britney's IUD.
TV - Vizio's Best Product Is You.
POLITICS - UIC: Soda Taxes Work.
SPORTS - Locked Out And Loaded.

BOOKS - Foxconned.


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