Ithaca College Quarterly 2004/2  

 

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President's Corner

Christa Bissell

Christa L. Bissell '73, Through My Ears into My Soul (Ithaca: Pine Tree Publishing, 2004)

This autobiographical tale was borne of grief. After years of separation the author had been joyfully reunited with the great love of her life, Larry Post, a dancer, musician, and educator; they enjoyed a short and intensely thrilling time together before he died in 2001. In this book Bissell shares the intimacy of both the joys of their reunion and the anguish she experienced after his death. She wrote the book partly to help her work through her own grief, partly to help others get through the ordeal of losing someone dear to them, and partly to celebrate the life and spirit of her beloved. "Grief seems to travel in waves; there is an ebb and flow, dissipating and intensifying as we move through our lives," she writes. "Yet the experience may open doors into our own souls."

 



Colleen Carroll '85, How Artists See . . . (America, Animals, Cities, Heroes) (New York: Abbeville, 2004)

These are the latest four in Carroll's ambitious series of inquiry-based books designed to teach children ages 9 to 12 about the world by looking at art, and about art by looking at the world. Each volume presents 16 works of art devoted to a subject that every child already knows from personal experience. The text is filled with questions and activities to spark children's curiosity both about the subject of the artwork at and the way it was created. Biographies of the artists are included, along with suggestions for further reading and an international list of museums where each artist's works can be seen. Carroll is an educational consultant who taught sixth grade in California and now develops the art curriculum for the Edison Project.



 

Paul Cody, Shooting the Heart (New York: Viking, 2004)

This is the fourth novel from Cody, who teaches in Ithaca's Department of Writing. A "psychological love story," the book is a portrait of mental illness. The protagonist is a former English and American studies teacher now on the locked ward of a mental hospital. Manic depressive and delusional, he obsesses about famous American serial killers and broods about family members he's lost, about American history and literature, and especially about his missing wife -- all the while wondering if he has murdered her. Cody's previous books include So Far Gone, a chilling book about the life of a man on death row for the murder of his parents and grandmother.

 

Laurie Conrad '68, M.M. '71, The Spiritual Life of Animals and Plants (1st Books, 2002)

This collection of true anecdotes about plants and animals the author has known is a book on divine healing, clairvoyance, and interspecies communication. In her introduction Conrad writes, "The concept of teaching animals to pray is not a new one. . . . Birds came from all over the world to hear St. Francis preach, and even fish rose out of the water to hear St. Anthony speak of God." Conrad discusses the many animals she has taught to pray, believing that it is her obligation to care not just for the physical and psychological needs of her pets, but also to train them spiritually. A musician and composer, Conrad lives in Ithaca.

 

Wendy Waite McNally '86, Life Is Good (Newtown, Pennsylvania: Weston Sound, 2004)

McNally's debut CD features solo pieces by some of classical music's most highly regarded virtuosi pianists -- Clementi, Liszt, Mozart, Rachmaninoff, and Scarlatti -- as well as compositions by Poulenc and Prokofiev. Some selections were recorded in the studio, and some were recorded live during performances. McNally is the longtime accompanist for the Bucks County Choral Society and has taught piano at Elon College, Lehigh University, and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She has an extensive coaching, accompanying, and performing résumé, including a time as the principal keyboardist for the Greensboro Symphony Orchestra.

 

Brent Runyon '99, The Burn Journals (New York: Knopf, 2004)

Suicide is the third-leading cause of death among young people ages 10 to 24. When Brent Runyon was 14 years old, he set himself on fire. In this memoir he tells the story of that suicide attempt and of his painful road to recovery -- both physical and psychological. The Burn Journals draws readers into the mind of the young Runyon, both before and after that fateful day in 1991. It took many years for the author, a media studies major, to be able to tell this story. He first shared parts of it on public radio's This American Life; an associate director at Knopf heard it and was so moved that she tracked him down and acquired the book for publication.

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