dwood@northshire.com's blog

Dafydd Wood - Events and Community Outreach Coordinator in Manchester

Dafydd, a Vermont-transplant from Louisiana by way of Austin, is the events manager for Northshire's Manchester location. He has happily found a new use for his Ph.D. in Comparative Literature (on international interdisciplinary modernism). His tastes run arch and snooty from early 20th century culture generally to contemporary avant garde classical music, from Ethiopian Jazz and Afrobeat to historical materialism, art criticism, and poetics. He likes to read modernism (not so much the post-), history, travel literature, classics, poetry, fiction, drama, nonfiction, and essays. He also likes his wife (a midwife), his kids (two of whom are picture here), cooking, beer, B-movies, art, and nature.

Long Live Latin: The Pleasures of a Useless Language by Nicola Gardini - Book Review

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Long Live Latin: The Pleasures of a Useless Language Cover Image
By Nicola Gardini, Todd Portnowitz (Translated by)
ISBN: 9780374284527
Availability: Click Title for IN STOCK Location
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - November 12th, 2019

Nicola Gardini's lively celebration of Latin is just the book for any lapsed or aspiring Classicist in your life! With chapters devoted to individual Latin writers from Caesar and Catullus to Propertius and Petronius, Gardini rekindled my old love for Latin (though it's hopelessly rusty). Full of informative and delightful digressions on an array of topics, Gardini makes a loving defense for the continued study of the "useless" language, which, he shows quite clearly isn't useless at all. ~ Reviewed by Dafydd Wood

Jubilee: Recipes from Two Centuries of African American Cooking: A Cookbook by Toni Tipton-Martin - Book Review

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Jubilee: Recipes from Two Centuries of African American Cooking: A Cookbook Cover Image
ISBN: 9781524761738
Availability: Click Title for IN STOCK Location
Published: Clarkson Potter - November 5th, 2019

This is one of my very favorite cookbooks of the last few years. Literally everything in it looks great. I want to cook something on every page. And I can attest that the Cornbread Dressing and the Pureed Parsnips are DIVINE (and all of my relatives on Thanksgiving agree!). More than simply a collection of wonderful recipes, it is a repository of African American culinary culture. James Beard Award-winner Tipton-Martin has spent much of her life tracing the history of talented, professional black cooks obscured by stereotypes. Here, she collects and updates over 100 recipes from her collection of over 400 historical cookbooks. Get it for the recipes, keep it for the salvaged history and memory, and enjoy passages like, “How did macaroni and cheese get so black?” Spoiler: Thomas Jefferson’s Paris-trained enslaved chef, James Hemings. ~ Reviewed by Dafydd Wood

Vernon Subutex 1: A Novel by Virginie Despentes - Book Review

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Vernon Subutex 1: A Novel Cover Image
By Virginie Despentes, Frank Wynne (Translated by)
ISBN: 9780374283247
Availability: Click Title for IN STOCK Location
Published: FSG Originals - November 5th, 2019

Already being compared to Ferrante’s Neapolitan Quartet and Balzac’s Comédie Humaine, the first of the Vernon Subutex trilogy finally comes to the US after thrilling France, Europe, and the UK! Despentes, the French provocateur, feminist, writer, and filmmaker, quipped that she has skyrocketed in popularity now that she is writing about a man. Vernon Subutex, one cool record-store owner in the 1990s, is evicted. Alex Bleach rock star, icon, and payer of Vernon’s rent for the last couple of years died suddenly. Vernon gathers a few possessions including a variety of VHS tapes on which Bleach recorded his final interview, and surfs across the couches of aging Gen X Parisians. It is a brilliant conceit on Despentes’ part that gives us a window into the Paris of the 2010s. Here are Alex’s old lovers, Vernon’s new lovers, white supremacists, ex porn stars, transgender immigrants, washed up screenwriters turned neocons, long nights of Vernon’s prodigious DJ skills and drug snorting, detectives, radical Muslims, microaggressions, macro aggressions, and a constellation of parties interested in those tapes. I cannot wait for volume 2 in 2020. C’est formidable et très cool, ~ Reviewed by Dafydd Wood

Medieval Bodies: Life and Death in the Middle Ages by Jack Hartnell - Book Review

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Medieval Bodies: Life and Death in the Middle Ages Cover Image
ISBN: 9781324002161
Availability: Click Title for IN STOCK Location
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - November 12th, 2019

This ceaselessly fascinating, informative, and lucidly written study of the human body and how it was believed to work during the Middle Ages is all but impossible to put down. Hartnell doesn’t shy away from anything from stomach-turning methods of contraception (weasel testicles being one among many) to laying out exactly how the humors were supposed to work (and linguistic fossils that derive from them—feeling “out of balance”) to admitting what we can never really know about certain Medieval ideas. Organized by body part from head to blood, and from genitals to feet, he quietly incorporates not just the white European Middle Ages, but also Arabic and Jewish culture of the time. Where else could you learn about cures for baldness (vinegar and honey applied to the scalp), Italian laws that prohibited short shorts, cephalophores (animated headless saints), medieval doctors’ obsession with urine color, cruentation (how a murdered corpse begins to bleed in the presence of its murderer), controversies over Christ’s foreskin (did it ascend to heaven or remain on Earth, and which of the many relics is the real one?), how to get that pesky wandering womb back to where it is supposed to be, how the hair of a menstruating woman buried in the soil could produce a serpent, the uses of dried badger, how digestion and conception were imagined, the utility of a carpenter with a saw when surgeons aren’t available, the courtly entertainer Roland le Farteur, and an abbey outside of Paris where it was all the rage for the royalty to have their intestines buried. Fantastic! ~ Reviewed by Dafydd Wood

Washington Black by Esi Edugyan - Book Review

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Washington Black Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525563242
Availability: Click Title for IN STOCK Location
Published: Vintage - April 9th, 2019

A rip-roaring 19th century adventure with hot air balloons (“cloud cutters”), false graves, early aquariums, and voyages to the Arctic. But more than that, Edugyan is marvelous at the relationship between Titch and Wash. Titch fancies himself an abolitionist, but his family wealth comes from a sugar plantation. So, he doesn’t eat sugar. Repeatedly throughout this novel you want him to go further, to speak his mind, to make a real stand, but, of course, he can’t even conceive of it. ~ Reviewed by Dafydd Wood


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