Creative Works

Author: Jason Kelly '95

This Place Called Notre Dame, Photos by Matt Cashore ’94, Text by Kerry Temple ’74 (University of Notre Dame Press). They have spent a combined six decades chronicling the University. In this coffee-table book, Cashore, the senior University photographer, and Temple, editor of this magazine, offer a visual and literary reflection on the institutional evolution they have witnessed firsthand, offering their perspectives on the campus landmarks, traditions and people who make up this place called Notre Dame.


Everything Lost is Found Again: Four Seasons in Lesotho, Will McGrath ’02 (Dzanc Books). Lesotho is a tiny, mountainous nation, a landlocked kingdom surrounded by South Africa. McGrath, an award-winning nonfiction writer, spent two years there among a welcoming people who would take a stranger’s hand while walking down the street, whose “spirit of joyful absurdity and resolve” exists alongside a devastating AIDS epidemic and the specter of shepherds still exercising Old Testament retribution. McGrath’s pop ethnography makes what bestselling author Mary Roach calls “a scrumptious literary chakalaka.”


Pilgrim River: A Spiritual Memoir, Kenneth Garcia ’08Ph.D. (Angelico Press). Garcia’s quest for spiritual fulfillment follows a path laden with dead ends, forcing him to double back through the personal detritus of a failed marriage, isolation and depression, without a guide to show him a way forward. The associate director of Notre Dame’s Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts, Garcia journeys through the deserts and mountains of Nevada and Utah, through the Milky Way in his imagination and through the pages of philosophy, theology and literature, finding connections to a wondrous universe and to a welcoming God that had been accompanying him all along. 


Creative Works web extra


Love Letters: Saving Romance in the Digital Age, Michelle Janning ’96M.A., ’00Ph.D. (Routledge). What’s become of the love letter in an age of texting heart emojis? And what do we do with the romantic missives we receive, now that digitized communication has made the notes-in-a-shoebox method all but obsolete? Janning, a Whitman College sociologist, examines how our connection to the material world and sense of nostalgia influence the ways we store these parts of our past, the emotional impact of stumbling upon or even burning old letters, and the new forms of communication that reshape our “curatorial practices” with expressions of love.


Mr. Mehan’s Mildly Amusing Mythical Mammals, Matthew Mehan, illustrated by John Folley ’08 (TAN Books). Poetry and paintings narrate and illustrate the journey of friends Dally and the Blug through an alphabetical review of mythical mammals in this book for middle-grade readers. Experiencing struggles along the way, the protagonists encounter 26 mischievous creatures and learn about good and evil, sadness and humor, and the true meanings of love and happiness.


Caves of the Rust Belt, Joe Kapitan ’87 (Tortoise Books). Twenty-eight short stories make up Kapitan’s debut fiction collection. All are about his home state of Ohio, but it is not necessarily the place you imagine. Kapitan, author Sara Lippmann says, “is a master of subverting expectation, of unsettling the very ground you believe you know.” In his blurring of real and surreal, ghosts enter homes through cracks in foundations and sinkholes open, swallowing neighborhoods but also unearthing hope beneath.


Jean Gabin: The Actor Who Was France, Joseph Harriss ’58 (McFarland Publishers). In French cinema before and after World War II, Jean Gabin embodied the national spirit much as John Wayne did for Americans. In the first full-length biography of Gabin in English, Harriss, a Paris-based journalist and author, explores the arc of the actor’s career, which included a brief, unhappy stint in Hollywood during the war after he resisted Nazi pressure to perform in German films. Gabin performed in 95 movies over 45 years, and Harriss traces a professional evolution that reflected the development of France’s national identity.


The World Within the Word: Maritain and the Poet, Samuel Hazo ’49 (Franciscan University Press). Hazo wrote this book more than 60 years ago as a doctoral dissertation, but never published it because he did not have time to make the necessary revisions. Inspired by a 1956 meeting with Jacques Maritain, the emerging poet wrote about the French Catholic philosopher’s neo-Thomist views of art, beauty and poetry in the works Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Gerard Manley Hopkins and John Keats. This is the only book about Maritain that includes an introduction from the philosopher himself, who called it a privilege “to have his views on aesthetics understood . . . in such a telling manner.”


The Pluck of the Irish: 10 Notre Dame Sports Figures Who Made a Difference, Jim Hayden ’66 (Back Story Publishing). Athletic legends are profiled here, of course, from Johnny Lujack ’48 to Rocky Bleier ’68 to Muffet McGraw, but off-the-field success is celebrated, too. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists Red Smith ’27 and George Dohrmann ’95 have a place in these pages for the impact they made on the sports world. What these championship athletes, celebrated chroniclers and courageous inspirations have in common are their connections to Notre Dame and life stories that serve as examples for middle-grade readers and up.


September 1918: War, Plague, and the World Series, Skip Desjardin ’82, ’83M.A. (Regnery Publishing). Within a month, a Massachusetts militia led American forces into the trenches of World War I, a deadly flu pandemic ravaged the Boston area, and a pitcher named Babe Ruth led the Red Sox to a World Series championship. Desjardin tells these entwined stories of triumph and tribulation from the vantage point of New England, the epicenter of much of the tumult.


20th Century History Songbook, Michael Palumbo ’81J.D. Although he spent eight years as a high school history teacher in the 1960s and ’70s, even Palumbo thought the lessons could be pretty dry. He believed music would bring the past alive for students as a complement to book learning. To that end, in retirement after more than three decades practicing law, Palumbo has created a free e-book at that reexamines American history “through the eyes of singers and songwriters.”


CPR for the Soul: Reviving a Sense of the Sacred in Everyday Life, Tom Stella ’67, ’70M.A. (Wood Lake Books). In more than 100 short reflections, Stella strives to erase the lines people place between the sacred and the secular, time and eternity, humanity and divinity. He meditates on modern life with the mission of awakening people to the sacred and eternal that infuses the mundane, often stressful demands which threaten to wear us down and divert our attention from the “spiritual source and force at the heart of life.”


12 Lessons for Success in Business and Beyond, John Engeman ’83. Engeman has black belts in judo and jiujitsu. Such achievements come with a few bruises, the sort of pain (physical or otherwise) he believes a person must be willing to endure for success. In this book, the finance industry leader and veteran of the Toastmasters circuit outlines the qualities he identifies as essential to self-improvement and fulfillment. Among them: “curiosity, exploring the boundaries of our comfort zone, and experiencing and embracing failure.”


Jason Kelly is an associate editor of this magazine.