The Complete Calvin and Hobbes
By Bill Watterson '80
Andrews McMeel

For fans of the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes--and it's hard to imagine anyone who isn't a fan--one of the great events of the fall was the publication of a three-volume boxed set containing every strip in the cartoon's ten-year run. Weighing in at twenty-three pounds but irresistibly light in spirit, The Complete Calvin and Hobbes includes every strip that appeared between the cartoon's launch on November 18, 1985, and its retirement on December 31, 1995. That's 3,160 strips in all, including the large-format color Sunday panels.

Some of us have read many of the strips before, either in the newspaper or in repeated sittings with one or more of the seventeen smaller Calvin and Hobbes albums. It doesn't matter. The mischievous, wildly imaginative boy and his tuna-loving tiger still spark amusement along the entire spectrum--from knowing smile to helpless, hilarious outburst--as well as the occasional quiet pang.

But this collection is more than the sum of its laughs. The volumes are elegant, with handsome bindings and sturdy pages that do justice to the strip's brilliance. The set also includes a fine introduction by creator Bill Watterson, who recalls his early struggles to establish a career and discusses his refusal to license his creation for use in products like greeting cards and stuffed animals. Of particular interest are his reflections on the rewards, limitations, and artistic possibilities of the comic-strip form. The most interesting strips, Watterson notes, have "a genuine sensibility--a quirky, individual take on life." Like folk art, he suggests, comics can transcend their peculiar charm, becoming "as interesting and significant as any 'fine' art."

What emerges most clearly, perhaps, is Watterson's commitment to a "vision of what a comic strip should be." Also, his affection for the characters he created. "Without exactly intending to," he writes, "I learned a lot about what I love--imagination, deep friendship, animals, family, the natural world, ideas, ideals . . . and silliness."

--Dan Laskin

Lucky Strike
By Nancy Zafris '76 H'93
Unbridled Books

Nancy Zafris's quirky but sobering second novel is set in 1950s Utah, where the Cold War's most lucrative and mystical product, uranium, has fired the imaginations of fortune seekers from all over the country. All sorts of people head west with dreams of becoming the next "uraniumaires." Among them are Jean Waterman and her two young children, Beth and Charlie, fleeing a painful past in Ohio. Here in the desert, they encounter an array of other seekers, all wrestling with their own versions of alienation and loss. Harry Lindstrom, estranged from his Mormon roots, now peddles Geiger counters. Lonely Belinda Dazzle runs a lonely motel. Josephine Dawson struggles through marriage with a man who bullies her--they roam, making a string of temporary homes as squatters in the campsites of uranium-hunters. Each is groping for connection in a lost land caught up in a kind of warped Gold Rush fever.

Zafris, the fiction editor of the Kenyon Review, tells these stories with wit as dry as the western landscape. Above all, though, Lucky Strike immerses us in rugged emotional territory, where monumental effort is required to surmount one's past and find empathy with others. In this distinctively American frontier, the hardships are ultimately internal, the conflicts poignant, and the treasure--rather than some mineral with a half-life--a stable sense of self.

--Peter Horan '04

The March
By E.L. Doctorow '52
Random House

One of the characters in this powerful, many-stranded novel of the Civil War reflects on how, as she follows Sherman's army through Georgia, the very sense of a stable life has shifted. Instead of "the rooted mansions of a city," she finds a kind of civilization in the "floating world" of the march. Doctorow captures the suffering and numbness of displacement, as well as a kind of surreal hopefulness, through the figures he portrays--soldiers, deserters, former slaves and former owners, a brilliant but eerily dispassionate Union Army doctor, a "white Negro" daughter of a slave and the Massah, a free black traveling the battlefields as a photographer's apprentice. The book is masterful on many levels. The characters are engaging, the language deeply evocative, the history (including real historical figures like Sherman and Lincoln) compelling. There is, moreover, a terrific rhetorical momentum that emerges from both tour-de-force description and rich sensory detail, from the rush and drama of action as well as the subtle exploration of states of mind. "Fly tents in every yard, on every green, were like a crop of teeth sprung up from the earth": such sentences infuse the particular with the mythic. And there is suggestive exploration of the American character. "On the march is the new way to live," says the novel's basest figure, a Confederate deserter who manages survival by improvising identities, and whose comically mordant philosophy evolves into a chilling amorality. The March reminds us that he, too, no less than the soldiers and nurses, is part of our heritage.


Cashing in with Content: How Innovative Marketers use Digital Information to Turn Browsers into Buyers
By David Meerman Scott '83
Information Today

It's hard to imagine a successful enterprise of any sort nowadays that neglects the potential of the World Wide Web. But, as marketing and communications consultant David M. Scott demonstrates in this insightful book, effective Web sites don't just happen.

Through twenty detailed case studies, ranging from lumber giant Weyerhaeuser to the band Aerosmith--and including Kenyon--Scott shows how good marketers "turn browsers into buyers" (or, in Kenyon's case, applicants) by creating "content-smart" Web sites.

The best sites, Scott argues, may not have the fanciest graphics, but they serve users by anticipating their needs and providing pathways reflecting the way people think and browse. Booz Allen Hamilton, the global consulting firm, recognizing that people are its key resource, tailors the content and architecture of its Web site to the goal of recruiting job candidates from a variety of audiences. Audience is also a driving force for Kenyon, which revamped its site in 2003, replacing a structure that simply mirrored the college's organization with links and "gateways" catering to the needs of users, especially prospective students. Scott, who interviewed former Vice President for Development Kimberlee Klesner, a leader of the Web redesign effort, points out that Kenyon's site also appeals to applicants by emphasizing community through its homepage "Meet Kenyon People" profiles.

Scott highlights his themes in sections summarizing "best practices" and "lessons learned." Consistency in tone, browser-friendliness, the importance of "self-select paths" for different groups of users, and, above all, the primacy of content--these and other points, buttressed by the compelling case studies, make Cashing In with Content vital reading for any organization with a presence on the Web.


Classic Golf Instruction
By Christopher Obetz '89
(illustrations by Anthony Ravielli)

George Plimpton once said of sports writing: the smaller the ball, the better the literature. Golf is a case in point--very small ball, terrific literature. We can add to the body of golf literature this handsome and unique book, which readers can savor for its artistry as well as its information. Classic Golf Instruction features the line drawings of the late Anthony Ravielli, whose illustrations graced the pages of Golf Digest and Sports Illustrated for forty years. It was Ravielli who provided the sketches for the best-selling instructional book of all time, Ben Hogan's Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf. Christopher Obetz '89, an art history major and varsity golfer while at Kenyon, found the original works of Ravielli in an antiques store in New York City and acquired the entire collection. He selected the most appropriate sketches to demonstrate all aspects of the golf swing, from grip to stance, from hip turn and weight shift to finish--from the full swing, moreover, to pitching, chipping, and putting. Accompanying these compellingly interpretive drawings (Ravielli was himself a golfer) is commentary by some of the best players and teachers in golf today, including Greg Norman, David Leadbetter, Jim McLean, and Butch Harmon. Norman has also written one of three forewords; the other two are by Tom Watson and Nick Seitz. Jack Nicklaus has contributed the preface. Obetz has given us a rare work, as strikingly beautiful as it is immensely useful.

--Russ Geiger, head golf coach

By Paul L. Bates '67
Five Star

Imprint takes place in a world not unfamiliar to futuristic narratives: the ruling elite, in an attempt to create an ideal society, has instead produced an over-policed, hyper-cleansed dystopia that survives on society-wide amnesia and the sweeping away of rats and the homeless. The lone dissenter, straining against the culture, is Wyatt Weston. The would-be rebel is hampered, however, by being poor and marginalized, not to mention consumed with thoughts of a past love that no one else remembers. Weston's mind is his sole and secret weapon against the state, and as he rises in social standing, it soon becomes the only thing that might help him stay alive and find what he's looking for. Bates has given us a story that captivates not only through plot but also through its surreal, lushly dark prose.


The Prevention of Eating Problems and Eating Disorders: Theory, Research, and Practice
By Michael Levine and Linda Smolak
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates

As eating disorders have spread, alarming parents, educators, and health professionals, the field of prevention has mushroomed, producing numerous studies along with controversy about everything from the meaning of prevention to whether prevention is even possible. Psychologists Michael Levine and Linda Smolak, who with their colleague Sarah Murnen have made Kenyon a nationally known center of expertise on body image and eating disorders, have now written a comprehensive overview of the field. The book, which draws on the hard-earned lessons of prevention science in areas such as drug abuse and smoking, will be an invaluable resource not only for other researchers but also for teachers, nonprofit support groups, community activists, and students. Levine and Smolak examine the range of approaches to prevention, providing theoretical background, reviewing both published and unpublished studies, and offering a wealth of information for those involved in planning and implementing prevention programs. Should a prevention curriculum, for example, focus on self-esteem or media literacy? Should it begin as early as elementary school? Should it target girls or include boys as well? There are no easy answers in this realm. But anyone seriously interested in answers would do well to begin with this book. "Not only can prevention work," the authors argue, "but a broad coalition of people must try to find ways to make it work."


Back to Top