Arts & Culture


Everything Is Fine: A Memoir
Vince Granata ’09
(Atria/Simon & Schuster, $27)
“I was twenty-seven when Tim killed our mother,” writes Granata. On July 24, 2014, “schizophrenia’s unchecked crescendo” overwhelmed the author’s younger brother, causing him to commit a horrifying murder. This book, written in plain, searing prose, is an honest and heartbreaking account of the stealthy way mental illness can take over the mind. But Granata also writes about the aftermath, and how the family—including Tim, now incarcerated in a psychiatric hospital—slowly learned to “make sense out of the senseless,” find a measure of forgiveness, and discover “hope for a new way forward.”

The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together
Heather McGhee ’01
(One World, $28)
“The narrative that white people should see the well-being of people of color as a threat to their own is one of the most powerful subterranean stories in America,” writes McGhee, a 16-year veteran at the left-leaning think tank Demos. McGhee argues that conservatives exploit this “zero-sum” thinking to keep white people opposed to policies that would benefit them as well, citing political fights over education, health care, voting, and housing.  

Blind Injustice 
Scott Davenport Richards ’82
(streaming on Apple Music and other services, or on CD for $19.99 from
Opera is unparalleled as a medium for outpourings of emotion that can’t be captured in just words or melodies. In the 90-minute Blind Injustice, premiered at Cincinnati Opera in 2019, soaring vocals dramatize the shock of being charged with a horrific crime when one is innocent, the indescribable relief of being exonerated and released from prison, and all the wild feelings in between. Seldom has the reporting of DNA evidence sounded so majestic. The opera centers on the details of four miscarriages of justice, described in a book of the same name by Mark Godsey, director of the Ohio Innocence Project. Composer Scott Davenport Richards (son of Lloyd Richards, dean of the Yale School of Drama from 1979 to 1991), delivers a jazzy, raw score.
How to Prepare for Climate Change: A Practical Guide to Surviving the Chaos
David Pogue ’85.
(Simon & Schuster, $24)   
Pogue, an award-winning science writer, delivers the sober and grim reality: “The greenhouse effect has already pumped enough new heat into the oceans to keep warming the planet for decades. . . . It’s time to prepare.” Conservation measures are essential but can’t reverse the climatological course. Pogue provides advice from experts on how to steer the best personal course—from what kind of climate-friendly house to build, to how families and friends can find sanity in warmer, stormier days ahead.

Two Truths and a Lie: A Murder, A Private Investigator, and Her Search for Justice
Ellen McGarrahan ’85.
(Random House, $28) 
At 7:06 a.m. on May 4, 1990, the first jolt of electricity hit Jesse Tafero, who had been convicted for the murders of two police officers in Florida in 1976. Ellen McGarrahan, then a new reporter for the Miami Herald, had volunteered to witness the infamous execution. She saw “Old Sparky,” the state’s electric chair, malfunction, and she watched as “flames blazed from [Tafero’s] head.” McGarrahan dropped journalism to become a private investigator, seeking to separate “the power of truth” from “the power of myth” in the circumstances around the crime that the condemned man may or may not have committed.

Rhapsody: A Novel
Mitchell James Kaplan ’79
(Simon & Schuster, $27)
When the composer George Gershwin died at 38 of a brain tumor, in July 1937, he was at the piano working on a song. The classic “Love is Here to Stay” was written for his collaborator, muse, and longtime lover, the gifted pianist and groundbreaking musician Kay Swift. Kaplan’s well-researched and well-crafted historical novel recreates the 1920s and ’30s, telling a mesmerizing story that examines their individual and intersecting lives. He explores why, for Gershwin and Swift, “ordinary results” were not enough.  

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