Leg up for reading 

A month of repairing an injured foot gifted reading a stash of recently published books from Indiana University Press, including Thomas Hart Benton and the Indiana Murals by Kathleen A. Foster, Nanette Esseck Brewer, Margaret Contompasis and Bloomington Art Museum Indiana University; Getting Open: The Unknown Story of Bill Garrett and the Integration of College Basketball by Tom Graham and Rachel Graham Cody; This Place We Call Home: A History of Clark County, Indiana by Carl E. Kramer and Mary Kagin Kramer; Bloodroot: Indiana Poems and The Ripest Moments: A Southern Indiana Childhood by Norbert Krapf; Of Woods and Water: A Photographic Journey Across Michigan by Ron Leonetti, Christopher Jordan and Dave Dempsey;  Richard Pryor: The Life and Legend of a “Crazy” Black Man by Audrey Thomas McCluskey; Slinging Doughnuts for the Boys: An American Woman in World War II by James H. Madison; and The Writer Uprooted by Alvin H. Rosenfeld.

And from Indiana Historical Society Press, There I Grew Up: Remembering Abraham Lincoln’s Indiana Youth by William E. Bartelt; Going Over All the Hurdles: A Life of Oatess Archey by John A. Beineke; and An Army in Skirts: The World War II Letters of Frances Debra by Frances Debra Brown.

A pile of randomly procured books are tied together by themes of historic consequence, sense of place, determination to overcome societal obstacles, desire to achieve and serve for the greater good, and what gets left out of mainstream history. On the heels of Jackie Robinson signing with the Brooklyn Dodgers came breaking the Big 10’s “gentlemen’s agreement,” which had shut out black college players. In 1948, Shelbyville’s star athlete, Bill Garrett, was allowed on IU’s basketball team. In 1955, Oatess Archey of Marion won the Indiana state championship in high hurdles, yet throughout high school he still was affected by the “unspoken guidelines to limit playing time by black athletes.” Both eventually succeeded in life through grit. Richard Pryor’s complex artistry, initially honed in Peoria, Ill., reflected his brilliance and tragedy on screen and stage. Frances DeBra of Danville, Ind., enlisted as a WAAC on April 29, 1943, and served in Europe until Nov. 11, 1945. Elizabeth Richardson served in Europe as a Red Cross volunteer from 1944 until her death in 1945. Their letters relate a hushed story. The growing up place is central to the memoirs of Abraham Lincoln and poet Norbert Krapf. On the flip side is the grappling of finding self in displacement, illuminated in essays edited by Rosenfeld. Taking a closer look to understand the character of place itself is the subject of Krapf, Leonetti and Jordan, and Thomas Hart Benton and the Indiana Murals.

Take time to pursue these books even without a cast.


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Rita Kohn

Rita Kohn

Rita Kohn has been covering craft beer and the arts for NUVO for two decades. She’s the author of True Brew: A Guide to Craft Beer in Indiana.

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