Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Andrei S. Markovits

Andrei S. Markovits is the Karl W. Deutsch Collegiate Professor of Comparative Politics and German Studies at the University of Michigan. His books include Uncouth Nation: Why Europe Dislikes America, Offside: Soccer and American Exceptionalism, and (with Lars Rensmann) the recently published Gaming the World: How Sports Are Reshaping Global Politics and Culture.

Recently I asked him what he was reading. His reply:
Arik Brauer, Die Zigeunerziege: Fast wahre Geschichten (Munich/Vienna: Langen - Mueller, 1976)

This wonderful selection of brilliant vignettes represent Arik Brauer's first foray into the world of literature. While never a core member of the famous "Vienna School of Fantastic Realism," Brauer's paintings -- just like these writings -- merge fantasy with reality in an immensely exciting manner. Every one of Brauer's short stories commences with a banal and pedestrian event of city life and then becomes part of a fable-like tale featuring macabre, even grotesque, qualities. His synthesis of deeply-felt Jewish and Viennese sensibilities evoke much of my own boyhood experiences in Vienna where I lived from the age of nine to eighteen, from 1958 to 1967.

Michael Boloker, The Gym Rat (Lincoln, Nebraska: iUniverse, 2002)

Boloker details graphically the story of Guy Golden, Division I college basketball coach, who is forced to deal with the aura of the NCAA tournament, "March Madness," while his star player is accused of raping a coed. The novel concerns the conflict between his love for the game and the pressure to win at any cost.

Wiltrud I. MacKinnon, Wings and Ashes (Boston: MacKinnon, 2009)

Wiltrud was arguably among the most gifted of my many students that I had the honor of teaching in my 35-year professorial career at the finest universities in the United States, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Israel. She took a course from me on comparative fascism that I taught at the Harvard University Extension School in the spring term of 2003 while a Visiting Professor of Social Studies at that university. I remained in touch with her via e-mail after my return to Ann Arbor and have not seen her in seven years. She just sent me this collection of her poems which have overwhelmed and awed me. Full of empathy for the weak, particularly animals, but also children and the poor, these poems have touched me like few others in recent years. They obviously bespeak Wiltrud's childhood in her native Germany and her Boston-area adulthood but all poems enjoy a much greater relevance. Apart from the emotional salience of Wiltrud's poems, their style is also beautiful in my opinion.
Read more about Gaming the World, and visit Andrei S. Markovits' website.

--Marshal Zeringue