Alibi V.24 No.8 • Feb 19-25, 2015 

Get Lit

Read Between the Lines

And meet these authors in the flesh

Report like a girl

With today's consciousness-raising campaigns to empower young women, from #LikeAGirl to Ban Bossy, it's important to remember some of the heroes who trailblazed for future generations of badass ladies. Ethel Lois Payne would be proud of the “bossy” girls of today. Though frequently underestimated and overlooked, Ethel Payne's story is finally being told. Using oral histories and personal writings from Payne herself, James McGrath Morris chronicles the life of this amazing advocate in Eye on the Struggle: Ethel Payne, the First Lady of the Black Press (Amistad; hardcover; $27.99). Morris' personalized telling of Payne's accomplishments keeps this tome approachable. Despite obstacles presented to a young woman of color during the early '50s, Payne became the chief reporter for the Chicago Defender's Washington Bureau. Ambitious and proud, Payne took it upon herself to give a voice to the black community. For her, journalism and advocacy went hand in hand. She was known for her dedicated coverage of major civil rights events and making presidents uncomfortable with her penetrating questions. Morris comes to Collected Works Bookstore in Santa Fe (202 Galisteo St.) on Thursday, Feb. 19, at 6pm and Bookworks (4022 Rio Grande NW) at 3pm on Sunday, Feb. 22. (Courtney Foster)

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Major minors

The year was 1946. World War II had just ended, the United Nations were holding their first meetings, and minor league baseball golden boy Joe Bauman was leading the West Texas-New Mexico League circuit with 48 home runs. Toby Smith's paperback time machine, Bush League Boys: The Postwar Legends of Baseball in the American Southwest (UNM Press; paperback; $24.95), rekindles the magic of the unsung minor league heroes in the years following World War II. Through transcribed interviews and well-researched biographies, Smith recreates the wonder of America's favorite pastime, concentrating on four minor leagues throughout Eastern New Mexico and West Texas. For any who've been touched by the wonder of baseball and want to relive the glory days, Toby Smith hits UNM Bookstore (2301 Central NE) on Thursday, Feb. 19, at noon and Page One Books (5850 Eubank NE) on Sunday, Feb. 22, at 2:30pm to discuss his “loving tribute.” The events are free and open to the public, but BYO Cracker Jack. (Courtney Foster)

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Laguna reach

“I am telling the stories about these photographs now to show how photography can reach across time ... and how it can change a person’s feelings about some long-forgotten person, event, or place.” Laguna Pueblo: A Photographic History does more than recount the past of the Laguna people—though it’s an adept chronicle, moving easily from myth-wrapped prehistory to Spanish conquest to the railroad to portraits of 20th-century tribal elders. The book is forged from the 50-year friendship of two very different men—writer Tom Corbett, a university-educated doctor who lived and worked in the Pueblo for a year in the ’60s, and photographer Lee Marmon, a “free spirit” whose storied family history figures large in the book’s pages. But Laguna Pueblo (UNM Press; hardcover; $39.95) also underscores the development of a major Southwest artist and opens a window on an adaptable people, 45 miles west of Albuquerque, who maintain their culture in the face of inevitable change.

“Eagle Dancers #1” by Lee Marmon (1962)
“Eagle Dancers #1” by Lee Marmon (1962)
[click to enlarge]

Marmon and Corbett are touring the 505 for discussions and signings. They’re at Bookworks (4022 Rio Grande NW) on Monday, Feb. 23, at 6pm; Collected Works (202 Galisteo St., Santa Fe) on Feb. 24 at 7pm; Shumakolowa Gifts at the IPCC (2401 12th Street NW) on Feb. 26 at 2pm; and Page One Books (5850 Eubank NE) on Feb. 26 at 6:30pm. (Lisa Barrow)

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Moral support

Being the kind of person who tries to face the moral failure of humanity when it comes to, say, global climate change or sex trafficking can be a real downer. But Michael Shermer has a message for pessimistic rationalists, despairing secular humanists and everyone else: It really is getting better. The Moral Arc: How Science and Reason Lead Humanity Toward Truth, Justice, and Freedom (Henry Holt and Co.; hardcover; $32) lays out a methodical argument for mankind’s moral progress over time. He explains why science and reason (not religion) drive moral progress and systematically looks at our report card when it comes to slavery, women's rights, gay rights and animal rights.

At his accessible best when quoting “Star Trek” and demystifying pirates’ motivations with cost-benefit analyses, Shermer does run a bit dry after his 90th “X correlates with Y” formulation (but honestly, a little tedium is probably unavoidable when terms must be defined and arguments must be meticulous).

The Coalition for Excellence in Science and Math Education and New Mexicans for Science and Reason bring Shermer to the Land of Enchantment on Saturday, Feb. 21, at 1:30pm for a free lecture and book signing (with Bookworks on hand to sell) at First Unitarian Church (3701 Carlisle NE). (Lisa Barrow)

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Tissue please. It just got real.

Damnit. Sometimes we just want to feel something. A book that reads like a Nora Ephron movie script. That's all. With spring about to hit and bookstores hosting literary events like nobody's business, it's a good time to invest in a little light reading with a positive message. That's where Gabrielle Zevin's latest novel, now out in paperback, comes in.

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill; paperback; $14.95) tells about a man's struggle for redemption and love after having lost everything. It's sappy stuff, but Zevin's writing adds a witty, comical touch to what could easily be the saddest scenario this side of the Atlantic. A.J. Fikry owns and operates an independent bookstore in the age of e-readers and cellphones (aka the worst time ever). And his wife has passed away, leaving him desolate. But with the arrival of a certain unexpected package and the invasion of well-meaning supporting characters (the local police chief, a spunky book sales rep and A.J.'s dead wife's sister), he's well on his way toward achieving happiness, or something like it. Zevin stops by Bookworks (4022 Rio Grande NW) on Wednesday, Feb. 25, at 7pm to discuss and sign copies of her latest uplifting work. (Mark Lopez)

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