Book Bag: ‘Bending the Future, edited by Max Page and Marla R. Miller; ‘The Stages of Memory’ by James E. Young’; By MB Caschetta’s ‘Pretend I’m Your Friend’

Published: 11/10/2016 2:18:50 PM


Edited by Max Page and Marla R. Miller

University of Massachusetts Press 

In 1966, Congress passed the National Historic Preservation Act, the most sweeping piece of legislation ever created to preserve archeological and historic sites in the country.

The act not only established a national register of historic landmarks, it also ushered in a greater awareness and concern for the importance of preventing America’s relentless commercial development from destroying important historical landmarks, from buildings to neighborhoods to battlefields.

Fifty years later, two University of Massachusetts Amherst professors have compiled a collection of 50 essays and articles that look at the future of historic preservation in the U.S. “Bending the Future,” published by the University of Massachusetts Press, is edited by Max Page, who teaches architecture and history, and Marla R. Miller, director of the university’s Public History program.

In an introduction, Page and Miller write that the ideas advanced by their contributors will ideally lead to a future in which preservation “will not be an afterthought but a starting point for discussions about spreading historical knowledge and cultural understanding, building equitable cities, and protecting a sustainable planet.”

A panel discussion with Max Page, Marla Miller and several contributors to “Bending the Future” will be held Monday at 7 p.m. at the Jones Library in Amherst.


By James E. Young

University of Massachusetts Press

James E. Young, a longtime professor of English and Judaic studies at UMass, has also served as a consultant in several countries for efforts to craft memorials commemorating loss — from Ground Zero in New York City, to Berlin’s Denkmal to murdered Jews, to the Norwegian island of Utøya, site of a horrific 2011 mass shooting at a summer camp.

In his newest book, “The Stages of Memory,” Young offers a range of essays on how communities cope with loss and try to preserve the memory of the fallen. Describing both his personal observations of these processes and the history behind specific events, he attempts to answer a difficult question: How do you articulate a void without filling it in?

In this richly illustrated book, published by UMass Press, Young also offers observations on the architecture of various monuments, from modern structures like the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., to some of the simple shrines Norwegians have left to memorialize the murdered children on Utøya.

A book launch for “The Stages of Memory” takes place Wednesday from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Institute for Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies, 758 North Pleasant St., Amherst.


By MB Caschetta

Engine Books

Northampton writer MB Caschetta got national attention a few years ago when her debut novel, “Miracle Girls,” received a write-up in People magazine and a few other places. The book also won the 2015 USA Best Book Award for Literary Fiction,

In “Pretend I’m Your Friend,” Caschetta has collected new short stories, as well as previously published ones, and she offers the same mix of humor, darkness and off-beat characters that defined “Miracle Girls.”

In “Sorry Mrs. Robinson,” an older woman who receives a cancer diagnosis flashes back to an affair she’d had years ago and wishes for a moment that one of her daughters was the one facing illness, not her: “She was an awful person. And that was why.”

In “Marry Me Quickly, “ a family’s dark secrets come spilling out at the wedding of one of the siblings. And in “People Say Thank You,” a woman with extrasensory visions accidentally gives her philandering husband her blessing.

“I can’t remember when I’ve read a collection so full of life,” says one reviewer of Csachetta’s stories. “Actual life: the bad jokes, the astounding velocity, the sweetness and darkness.”

MB Caschetta reads from “Pretend I’m Your Friend” Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Broadside Books in Northampton.

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