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On Our Bookshelf

On Our Bookshelf

On Our Bookshelf

Recent publications from the Brooklyn College community.

Brooklyn College’s faculty and alumni authors deal with today’s toxic office culture, love and loss, and the controversial life of Rev. Al Sharpton.

The Very Nice Box

by Eve Gleichman ’15 M.F.A. and Laura Blackett

STÄDA, a Brooklyn company that makes reasonably priced Swedish furniture with names such as the Encouraging Desk Chair, Dependable Drying Rack, and Practical Sofa, is the setting for The Very Nice Box (Mariner, 2021). Employed at this company where the conference room is outfitted with a “neg alarm” that goes off any time someone says “no,” “can’t,” or “but,” and where employees undergo mandatory personality tests, is Ava, a gay, 30-something furniture engineer pouring herself into her work after the death of her fiancée, Andie. Her life is routine, and she prefers to keep it that way. The absurdity of her workplace culture (“Am I in a cult?” she asks at the start of the novel) reaches new heights when a charismatic new employee, Mat, who believes in “Yes, And” and is the embodiment of bro culture and male entitlement, joins the staff. He becomes her boss—and surprisingly—her lover, culminating in a shocking twist.

Morningside Heights

by Joshua Henkin, professor, English

In Morningside Heights (Pantheon, 2021), a young Yale graduate, Pru Steiner, arrives in New York in 1976 looking to take the city by storm, not anticipating she would fall in love with her English professor, Spence Robin. Thirty years pass and something is wrong: Spence is distracted, cold all the time, makes small mistakes like misreading a party invitation, and can’t make any progress on his book project, a new, annotated Shakespeare. With their daughter away at medical school, Pru is left alone to care for Spence as he sinks into the gloaming of early-onset Alzheimer’s, a fate on which neither she nor Spence had reckoned, and one that could test the limits of love in the face of adversity.

King Al: How Sharpton Took the Throne

by Ronald O. Howell, associate professor, English

King Al: How Sharpton Took the Throne (Fordham University Press, 2021) charts the course of the enigmatic, colorful, and politically adroit Sharpton on his rise to media stardom. At the same time, the book provides a detailed survey of the late-20th century in New York City at the often-volatile intersection of race and politics. Howell shows how “the Reverend Al” overcame scandal, controversy, and the mainstream media portrayal of him as a clown and hustler in the 1980s to become the popular activist, minister, and television host he is today.

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