An Incurable Talent

SmSkibellJoseph Skibell, a native of the Texas Panhandle, was an accomplished playwright and screenwriter living in Los Angeles when he joined the first-admitted class of UT’s Michener Center for Writers in 1993.  Switching his emphasis to fiction after a year in the program, he graduated in 1996 with a novella submitted as his thesis, which grew into his debut novel, “A Blessing on the Moon,” published by Algonquin in 1997.  Skibell joined the English Department/Creative Writing faculty at Emory University in 1999, where he now serves as the director of the Richard Ellmann Lectures in Modern Literature.

We spoke with him about his third novel, A Curable Romantic,” out from Algonquin this fall. O Magazine calls the book “An irresistible romp about a lovelorn 19th century doctor who falls in with Sigmund Freud—and some dangerously attractive women.”   Skibell will read from the book and sign copies on 7 p.m., Thursday, November 4, at BookPeople, located at the corner of West 6th Street and North Lamar.

How does a Texan, exiled to Atlanta, end up immersing himself in turn of the 20th century Vienna, Freud, and Esperanto?

ThumbCurableWell, I grew up in Lubbock, and as the great wealth and diversity of creative people from Lubbock will attest, a 360-degree horizon seems to be good for the imagination.  I guess I was interested in how different the turn of the last century was from the turn of our century.  In the wake of the 1900 World’s Fair, people really seemed to believe that humanity was on the lip of perfecting itself. The great advances in science, underscored by enlightenment philosophy, coupled with the internationalization of railroad systems and Braille and the codes of weights and measurements, really made people think that war and national hatred was a thing of the past. No one would ever have had similar thoughts in the year 2000. So I was interested in the difference between their naivety and our cynicism. And, of course, the terrible answer to their naivety was the carnage of World War I, which may have something to do with our cynicism.

What interests or obsessions or curiosities fueled such a research-intensive novel? The bibliography, available on your website, is enormous. Did you actually learn Esperanto?

Yeah, I tell people it was a bit like taking a bar bet. You know, write a book that includes Sigmund Freud, Dr. Zamenhof and Esperanto—oh, and the Warsaw Ghetto.  It did require a lot of research, much of it in Esperanto, which I did learn. It’s a beautiful and easy-to-learn language. There’s an extensive literature in Esperanto, including some really marvelous stuff.  There’s an Esperantan poet of astounding genius named Kalman Kalocsay.  In answer to someone who charged that Esperanto couldn’t possibly be a real language because it didn’t contain any dirty words, Kalocsy wrote 50 highly erotic—actually, very smutty—sonnets called La Sekretaj Sonetoj (The Secret Sonnets).

Did you worry about “getting it right” as far as period details?  After all, Freud is a nearly mythical personage to turn into a character, and his life and times are so fully documented.

I felt it was only fair to the reader for me to try to get it right. I remember meeting a playwright once who had written a play about Stephen Foster stealing all his tunes from an unknown black composer. I asked him if this was historically accurate and he said, “Well, no, but white artists have always plundered black culture.” I didn’t want to invent anything in “A Curable Romantic” that skewed the historical truth, and fortunately, the truthful things I wanted to write about—like Dr. Zamenhof’s belief that a universal language would create a universal brotherhood, or Dr. Freud’s good friend Dr. Fliess’ belief that the nose is the center of the human soul and that by operating on it, he could cure neurosis, etc., etc.—were in themselves dramatic enough that they didn’t need tweaking.

As for Freud, I was happy to be dealing with only about a year of his life, even less, really.  There’s so much known about him. Between his letters, the autobiographical sections of “Interpretation of Dreams” and his other work, and what other people have written about him, you could probably draft a day-by-day calendar of sixty years of his life. The hard thing was trying to fit as many little gems I learned about him into the novel without retarding the narrative flow.

Was there any snippet of serendipity that may have either led you to this story or altered your writing of it in some profound way?

There was nothing but little moments of serendipity throughout the writing of this book. For instance, Freud had this “bromantic” crush on Wilhelm Fliess, a total crank who believed all sorts of weird things. He believed that by removing the left middle turbinate bone of the nose, he could cure Emma Eckstein’s hysteria. She was Freud’s first analytic patient, and she’s a major character in the novel. Well, Freud hands her over to Fliess, and Fliess nearly kills her. He left a meter of surgical gauze inside her nasal cavity.  Dybbuks also play a large role in the book and, at one point, the protagonist Dr. Sammelsohn and Dr. Freud believe that Fräulein Eckstein’s hysteria might actually be a dybbuk possession. When I started researching the history of dybbuk possession and exorcism, I discovered an account of a dybbuk being exorcized through the victim’s nose. So in the novel, this forms a credible counter-story to the historical account of how Emma Eckstein’s nose came to be destroyed.

Your publisher has brought out a new paperback edition of your first novel “A Blessing on the Moon,” which you began as an MFA candidate at the Michener Center. How do you feel about that book now, 14 years later?

It feels good to have it back in print. I read it not too long ago, because the composer Andy Teirstein and I were adapting it into the libretto for the opera he’s writing based on it.  I hope this doesn’t sound immodest, but I was impressed by how fearless I was as a young novelist.  I don’t think I’d have the courage to write that book now.

A Look Inside the Temples of the Soccer Gods

1208712_goalkeeperSoccer fans worldwide are watching as the World Cup tournament unfolds this month in South Africa. As millions of spectators root for their teams at watch parties and sports bars throughout the nation, it seems as though America has embraced a newfound fascination with the game. Although soccer’s popularity is growing and continues to grow in the United States, it has and always will be a cultural touchstone in Latin America.

In “Temples of the Earthbound Gods,” (University of Texas Press, 2008) Christopher Gaffney (Geography and the Environment, ‘05) reflects on how soccer became an integral part of national identity, particularly in Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires.

Through the lens of iconic stadiums, Gaffney examines various gaftemaspects of urban culture that played out in spectator sports events – from religion to violence to expressions of sexuality and masculinity. Tracing the history and evolution of “temples” throughout the world, he provides illuminating insights into how sports fans have embraced such rituals as face painting, barbecue tailgate parties, lucky socks – even heckling.

Gaffney is a journalist and local radio commentator. He has played soccer on four continents, winning the 1997 Taiwanese Footballer of the Year Award. He is currently a visiting professor in the School of Architecture and Urbanism at the Universidade Federal Fluminense in Brazil. Visit his blog to see his coverage of the World Cup.

What’s your favorite sports ritual? Share your thoughts and post a comment.

Religion, Robots and a Second Life

6acdc6cbdd1848e480564e179aaa0dd5ShelfLife asked Robert Geraci, author of “Apocalyptic AI,” (Oxford University Press, Feb. 2010), to shed light into the world of artificial intelligence and the making of his new book. Geraci, an alumnus of The University of Texas at Austin (Plan II ’99) says the interdisciplinary approach that characterized his time at UT is apparent in his research now, where religious studies meets anthropology and science.

As an author, how do you feel your Plan II education factored in during this experience?

Along with all of the many lessons in culture, politics, science, and practical skills like critical reading & writing, my professors in Plan II encouraged me to study with passion. I would name Betty Sue Flowers (English), Bob King (linguistics), and TK Seung (philosophy) as the most influential upon me–all were brilliant and encouraged brilliance in all of their students, helping us develop our critical thinking skills and our ability to express what we thought. I firmly believe that Plan II offers the best undergraduate education in the country and think it founds much of what I do today. The intellectual excitement of my faculty and classmates at UT made learning a joy and continues to bolster my attitude toward learning, teaching, and research.

What sparked the idea to write “Apocalyptic AI?”

The book flowed out of my desire to think about how religion and science interact in contemporary culture. As a grad student, I read and commented on pop science books in robotics and AI that promised we would become immortal by uploading our minds into robots and/or virtual reality in the future. As I started teaching at Manhattan College, it seemed to me there was a connection between that idea and apocalyptic traditions in Judaism and Christianity. After I wrote an essay on this (published in the Journal of the American Academy of Religion in 2008), I wanted to do a full book treatment that would consider whether those apocalyptic ideas actually mattered in public life.  I find that the most interesting questions in religious studies end up being about real people doing real things, so I set about trying to find out if the ideas of pop science authors like Hans Moravec and Ray Kurzweil actually matter to anyone.

How did you prepare and conduct research for the book?

The book involves three basic areas where I wanted to think through the consequences of Apocalyptic AI ideology: robotics research, virtual world residency, and public policy discourse. For the first, I went to Carnegie Mellon University’s famed Robotics Institute as a visiting researcher during the summer of 2007 and interviewed folks there about immortality, mind uploading, the future of intelligent machines, etc. It was a fun and fascinating time…I wish it could have lasted longer! For the second area, I conducted conversations and did interviews in the virtual world of Second Life. I met a wide variety of people and found that many feel a sense of transcendence in their activities in SL and there is a transhumanist community there which actively looks forward to mind uploading into SL or similar environments. I construed public policy discourse very broadly to include philosophical, theological, legal, and governmental discussions about machines and machine intelligence. In all of these areas, the Apocalyptic AI authors are of considerable influence. All told, my research was anthropological and sociological, seeking to evaluate the nature and significance of certain ideas, but not their moral worth.

What exactly is “cyber-theology?”

That would be any theology that is grounded in digital technologies. In my own work, the term refers to the ways in which some people hope to address traditional religious claims through advances in computer science. For example, the Apocalyptic AI authors advocate that we will create a transcendent new (digital) world, upload our minds into that world (providing immortality and rejecting the limitations of the earthly body), and even resurrect the dead through high fidelity computer simulation. Those are three things that, for example, Christian theology has promised for two thousand years but that people now hope to receive from technological progress.

What were you most surprised to learn during your research for the book?

One thing that really surprised me is that there are people in Second Life who think of their personalities in that world as distinct from and potentially severable from their personalities in conventional reality. Some of the folks whom I interviewed think (or at least talk) in terms of identities that are separate from their “primary” or “other personality.” It is a fairly unique form of self-consciousness and I enjoyed learning from the people willing to share with me.

Any misconceptions about AI you’d like to clear up?

Well, I’m pretty skeptical about terminator scenarios where the robots all wake up and take over the world. More importantly, however, I think we should steer away from the idea that technologies develop according to their own logic without concern for the choices of real people. Such technological determinism disregards the contingency of life and the moral and practical agency of humanity. We can make choices about what kinds of technology (including AI technology) we’d like to develop.

Sustainable Architecture In Vorarlberg

Book Cover_EnglishEarth Day is celebrating its 40th anniversary on April 22, 2010. This once-a-year event galvanizes millions of individuals across the world to help make the planet a cleaner, more sustainable, place to live.

Architects play a crucial role in this effort, helping to solve such issues as urban sprawl and density, environmental impact of building projects, energy performance of buildings, affordable housing, social equity and sustainable technology.

In his book, Sustainable Architecture in Vorarlberg, Ulrich Dangel, assistant professor of architecture at The University of Texas at Austin, discusses the regional building style in Vorarlberg, an Austrian city known for its sustainable construction methods that have culminated into a model for architecture worldwide.

Dangel will have a book signing from 6 to 8 p.m., Thursday, May 6 at Domy Books located at 913 East Ceasar Chavez, Austin, Texas.

A Q&A with Suzanne Harper, Author of 'Fun and Frothy' Books for Teens

imageShelfLife sat down with Suzanne Harper, an English and journalism alumna, to talk about her two young adult novels, “The Secret Life of Sparrow Delaney” (Harper Collins, 2008) and “The Juliet Club” (Harper Collins, 2008).

Did you set out to write fiction for young adults?

All through college and graduate school and many writing courses after that, I really wanted to write mysteries for the adult market, although I kept reading children’s books during that time simply because I enjoyed them so much. Then I started working at Disney Adventure magazine, which led me to learn more about children’s books and children’s publishing. Also during that time, the YA market started booming, so I found myself reading more books aimed at teens. Then one day I was doodling in my journal and found myself writing a sentence that would eventually become the first line of “The Secret Life of Sparrow Delaney” (“It’s three minutes past midnight and the dead won’t leave me alone”). As I kept writing, the voice of my main character came through loud and clear – and she was definitely a teenager! I started writing my first YA novel and found that it was great fun.

When you were a teen, what kind of books did you like to read?

I liked epic historical novels, gothic romance novels, comedic novels, mysteries, spy novels, fantasy and science fiction to some degree….really, almost anything except moody books about mid-life crises (which I still avoid at all costs).

How do keep fresh when it comes to writing teen dialogue?

I don’t try to mimic teen speech as such. For one thing, slang dates a book really quickly. And for another thing, I think that if I were consciously trying to write teen dialogue – as opposed to trying to write good dialogue – I would quickly go off the rails. (I’ve read a few teen reviews online that complain that no teens actually talk like my characters, which is probably true. If anything, I guess I try to write idealized teen dialogue)!

In “The Juliet Club,” six friends are bonded by an organization called “the Juliet Club,” in which they answer letters sent to Juliet by those seeking advice on matters of the heart. What is the significance of the Shakespearean classic “Romeo and Juliet,” and why did you choose it to frame your story?image[1]

I read about the real-life Juliet Club, which is based in Verona, Italy, in an airline magazine. The club has dozens of volunteers who respond to letters from around the world, sent by people asking for advice from Juliet. (By the way, there is a nonfiction book about the history of the Juliet Club, which is the basis of the upcoming movie, “Letters to Juliet.”) I thought that the concept of the Juliet Club was a great setup for a YA novel, since Romeo and Juliet were teens and most teens first encounter Shakespeare through Romeo and Juliet.

Having said that, the main plot is really based on “Much Ado About Nothing.” It’s one of my favorite plays and it was great fun to re-visit it and echo certain scenes in the novel.

I also had a lot of fun researching the book. I visited Verona twice, took Italian lessons, and had tutors teach me a tiny bit about stage sword fighting and Elizabethan dance in order to write the scenes where my characters have to learn both those skills.

What message about love do you want the reader to walk away with?

That it’s a good idea to entertain the possibility that love will appear in disguise! In the novel, Giacomo thinks Kate is too studious and she thinks he’s too much of a flirt (actually, they’re both right, but they still fall in love). Silvia thinks Tom is awkward and gauche and Lucy doesn’t even notice Benno until almost the end of the book.

The other message is that love (and perhaps Shakespeare– or maybe both!) can transform people. Kate learns to flirt, Giacomo truly falls in love for the first time, Silvia softens a bit, Tom finds courage to declare his love, and so on. (And let’s not forget Kate’s father and Giacomo’s mother, who overcome a bitter academic rivalry to find romance).

In “The Secret Life of Sparrow Delaney,” the protagonist is a teenage medium who tries desperately to be “normal.” How do you think your readers can identify withsparrow Sparrow?

I think the desire to be normal and fit in is a classic teen wish, mainly because almost every teenager (even the popular, “normal” ones) secretly feel that they’re weird and abnormal. Also, teens are very self-conscious about being teased or seen as different, so most of them can identify with the fear of being mocked because their family talks to ghosts (even if their family doesn’t).

Paranormal young adult novels have become a huge hit among teenage girls. Why do you think young readers are so enthralled by things that go bump in the night?

Teens have always been fascinated with death and the possibility of an afterlife. I think it’s because they’re still relatively close to that shocking moment in childhood when you first realize that people you love — and eventually you — will die. It’s a subject that fascinates and scares them in equal measure, and they like reading books that address those issues.

Can you give us a glimpse into what you’re working on now?

I’m working on a middle grade series, which again involves the paranormal (and is set in Austin). I also have another YA novel in progress that is set in an alternate version of 18th century England and involves a troupe of traveling players.

About the Author: Harper has written three original novels based on the “Hannah Montana” TV series and a number of novels (under the pen name N. B. Grace) based on “High School Musical.” Her nonfiction books include “Boitano’s Edge: Inside the Real World of Figure Skating” (with Olympic gold medalist Brian Boitano), “The Real Spy’s Guide to Becoming a Spy” (with Peter Earnest, executive director of the International Spy Museum), “Terrorists, Tornadoes and Tsunamis: How to Prepare for Life’s Danger Zones” (with Lt. Col. John C. Orndorff), and “Hands On! 33 More Things Every Girl Should Know: Skills for Living Your Life from 33 Extraordinary Women.” Visit her Web site for more about her works.

A Q&A with Suzanne Harper, Author of ‘Fun and Frothy’ Books for Teens

imageShelfLife sat down with Suzanne Harper, an English and journalism alumna, to talk about her two young adult novels, “The Secret Life of Sparrow Delaney” (Harper Collins, 2008) and “The Juliet Club” (Harper Collins, 2008).

Did you set out to write fiction for young adults?

All through college and graduate school and many writing courses after that, I really wanted to write mysteries for the adult market, although I kept reading children’s books during that time simply because I enjoyed them so much. Then I started working at Disney Adventure magazine, which led me to learn more about children’s books and children’s publishing. Also during that time, the YA market started booming, so I found myself reading more books aimed at teens. Then one day I was doodling in my journal and found myself writing a sentence that would eventually become the first line of “The Secret Life of Sparrow Delaney” (“It’s three minutes past midnight and the dead won’t leave me alone”). As I kept writing, the voice of my main character came through loud and clear – and she was definitely a teenager! I started writing my first YA novel and found that it was great fun.

When you were a teen, what kind of books did you like to read?

I liked epic historical novels, gothic romance novels, comedic novels, mysteries, spy novels, fantasy and science fiction to some degree….really, almost anything except moody books about mid-life crises (which I still avoid at all costs).

How do keep fresh when it comes to writing teen dialogue?

I don’t try to mimic teen speech as such. For one thing, slang dates a book really quickly. And for another thing, I think that if I were consciously trying to write teen dialogue – as opposed to trying to write good dialogue – I would quickly go off the rails. (I’ve read a few teen reviews online that complain that no teens actually talk like my characters, which is probably true. If anything, I guess I try to write idealized teen dialogue)!

In “The Juliet Club,” six friends are bonded by an organization called “the Juliet Club,” in which they answer letters sent to Juliet by those seeking advice on matters of the heart. What is the significance of the Shakespearean classic “Romeo and Juliet,” and why did you choose it to frame your story?image[1]

I read about the real-life Juliet Club, which is based in Verona, Italy, in an airline magazine. The club has dozens of volunteers who respond to letters from around the world, sent by people asking for advice from Juliet. (By the way, there is a nonfiction book about the history of the Juliet Club, which is the basis of the upcoming movie, “Letters to Juliet.”) I thought that the concept of the Juliet Club was a great setup for a YA novel, since Romeo and Juliet were teens and most teens first encounter Shakespeare through Romeo and Juliet.

Having said that, the main plot is really based on “Much Ado About Nothing.” It’s one of my favorite plays and it was great fun to re-visit it and echo certain scenes in the novel.

I also had a lot of fun researching the book. I visited Verona twice, took Italian lessons, and had tutors teach me a tiny bit about stage sword fighting and Elizabethan dance in order to write the scenes where my characters have to learn both those skills.

What message about love do you want the reader to walk away with?

That it’s a good idea to entertain the possibility that love will appear in disguise! In the novel, Giacomo thinks Kate is too studious and she thinks he’s too much of a flirt (actually, they’re both right, but they still fall in love). Silvia thinks Tom is awkward and gauche and Lucy doesn’t even notice Benno until almost the end of the book.

The other message is that love (and perhaps Shakespeare– or maybe both!) can transform people. Kate learns to flirt, Giacomo truly falls in love for the first time, Silvia softens a bit, Tom finds courage to declare his love, and so on. (And let’s not forget Kate’s father and Giacomo’s mother, who overcome a bitter academic rivalry to find romance).

In “The Secret Life of Sparrow Delaney,” the protagonist is a teenage medium who tries desperately to be “normal.” How do you think your readers can identify withsparrow Sparrow?

I think the desire to be normal and fit in is a classic teen wish, mainly because almost every teenager (even the popular, “normal” ones) secretly feel that they’re weird and abnormal. Also, teens are very self-conscious about being teased or seen as different, so most of them can identify with the fear of being mocked because their family talks to ghosts (even if their family doesn’t).

Paranormal young adult novels have become a huge hit among teenage girls. Why do you think young readers are so enthralled by things that go bump in the night?

Teens have always been fascinated with death and the possibility of an afterlife. I think it’s because they’re still relatively close to that shocking moment in childhood when you first realize that people you love — and eventually you — will die. It’s a subject that fascinates and scares them in equal measure, and they like reading books that address those issues.

Can you give us a glimpse into what you’re working on now?

I’m working on a middle grade series, which again involves the paranormal (and is set in Austin). I also have another YA novel in progress that is set in an alternate version of 18th century England and involves a troupe of traveling players.

About the Author: Harper has written three original novels based on the “Hannah Montana” TV series and a number of novels (under the pen name N. B. Grace) based on “High School Musical.” Her nonfiction books include “Boitano’s Edge: Inside the Real World of Figure Skating” (with Olympic gold medalist Brian Boitano), “The Real Spy’s Guide to Becoming a Spy” (with Peter Earnest, executive director of the International Spy Museum), “Terrorists, Tornadoes and Tsunamis: How to Prepare for Life’s Danger Zones” (with Lt. Col. John C. Orndorff), and “Hands On! 33 More Things Every Girl Should Know: Skills for Living Your Life from 33 Extraordinary Women.” Visit her Web site for more about her works.

"7 Secrets to Living Raw Foods" author Chef Allie Kent Dishes on Healthy Food Choices for the Kitchen

Allie frontprint

ShelfLife@Texas sat down with Chef Allie Kent, University of Texas at Austin alumna (English ’86), to discuss her new book “7 Secrets to Living Raw Foods” and her tips for a healthier lifestyle.

What inspired you to write “7 Secrets to Living Raw Foods”?

I was tired of being tired all of the time, of being overweight, of getting “4-5” colds a year consistently, and as I am getting older (in my 40s now) I knew that I had to make changes now in order to have the quality of life I’d would wish for in the future – a life free of prescription drugs and walkers or wheelchairs, with my mental faculties intact.  By changing my lifestyle, I lost over 70 pounds, I’ve regained energy – feeling like I did in my 20s, and I believe that my health is better than it has ever been, indicated by great readings on blood pressure, and more.

Can you explain to our reader’s who might not know what a raw diet is?

A Raw food lifestyle, for it is a lifestyle change, is simply incorporating food as nature intended it, food for our bodies as the human species has evolved and adapted for over eons of time.  When raw food is well prepared, people who are used to eating SAD (Standard American Diet) will enjoy it equally well, and it’s SOOOO much better for the body, especially in the long-run.

What do you think the greatest benefits are to eating a raw diet?

From my own experience, and that of my students and clients, the greatest benefits to adopting a raw food lifestyle are the boost in energy, weight loss to each person’s natural level without having to think about it, healthy readings on medical tests, and there is more – the flavors, textures, and vibrancy of the food blossoming on the tongue, and for the eye.  Why eat just anything, when it can be this good, and good for you too?

What advice might you offer to people who are interested in incorporating more raw food into their diets?

My advice to people who are interested in incorporating more raw food into their lives is to go at your own body’s pace; some of us transition overnight (I did), and others do better taking small steps of adding more into their diet over time.  Easiest first step is to replace breakfast with a non-dairy based green or fruit smoothie.  One of my favorite combinations is: 1 c water, 1 mango (peeled/seed removed), couple handfuls of spinach, 1 scoop of Mila, and a banana, all blended.  It’s easy, it’s quick, it tastes great, and it’s filling.  Best next step is to replace dinner with a salad and/or blended, non-heated soup – there are all kinds of recipes for these.  Taking a class to learn how to set up a kitchen and how to prepare the foods is also very helpful.


“7 Secrets to Living Raw Foods” author Chef Allie Kent Dishes on Healthy Food Choices for the Kitchen

Allie frontprint

ShelfLife@Texas sat down with Chef Allie Kent, University of Texas at Austin alumna (English ’86), to discuss her new book “7 Secrets to Living Raw Foods” and her tips for a healthier lifestyle.

What inspired you to write “7 Secrets to Living Raw Foods”?

I was tired of being tired all of the time, of being overweight, of getting “4-5” colds a year consistently, and as I am getting older (in my 40s now) I knew that I had to make changes now in order to have the quality of life I’d would wish for in the future – a life free of prescription drugs and walkers or wheelchairs, with my mental faculties intact.  By changing my lifestyle, I lost over 70 pounds, I’ve regained energy – feeling like I did in my 20s, and I believe that my health is better than it has ever been, indicated by great readings on blood pressure, and more.

Can you explain to our reader’s who might not know what a raw diet is?

A Raw food lifestyle, for it is a lifestyle change, is simply incorporating food as nature intended it, food for our bodies as the human species has evolved and adapted for over eons of time.  When raw food is well prepared, people who are used to eating SAD (Standard American Diet) will enjoy it equally well, and it’s SOOOO much better for the body, especially in the long-run.

What do you think the greatest benefits are to eating a raw diet?

From my own experience, and that of my students and clients, the greatest benefits to adopting a raw food lifestyle are the boost in energy, weight loss to each person’s natural level without having to think about it, healthy readings on medical tests, and there is more – the flavors, textures, and vibrancy of the food blossoming on the tongue, and for the eye.  Why eat just anything, when it can be this good, and good for you too?

What advice might you offer to people who are interested in incorporating more raw food into their diets?

My advice to people who are interested in incorporating more raw food into their lives is to go at your own body’s pace; some of us transition overnight (I did), and others do better taking small steps of adding more into their diet over time.  Easiest first step is to replace breakfast with a non-dairy based green or fruit smoothie.  One of my favorite combinations is: 1 c water, 1 mango (peeled/seed removed), couple handfuls of spinach, 1 scoop of Mila, and a banana, all blended.  It’s easy, it’s quick, it tastes great, and it’s filling.  Best next step is to replace dinner with a salad and/or blended, non-heated soup – there are all kinds of recipes for these.  Taking a class to learn how to set up a kitchen and how to prepare the foods is also very helpful.


UT Alumna Shares the Memoirs of French Revolutionists Turned Fugitives in "Orphans on the Earth"

OLIVER_newbkcvrThe turbulent and violent period just after the onset of the French Revolution known as the Terror of 1793–1794, is the backdrop for University of Texas alumna Bette Oliver’s book “Orphans on the Earth” (Lexington Books 2009). The book tells the story of the Girondins, specifically those elected deputies who helped establish the new republic, and who would later became fugitives from their own government—hunted down by their political opponents the Jacobins.

The story draws on the memoirs of revolutionary leaders:  François Buzot, Jerome Pétion, Charles Barbaroux and Jean-Baptiste Louvet, as well as the correspondence between Buzot and Madame Roland. Hiding for several months in the home and attached stone quarry of the deputy Guadet’s relatives, four of these fugitives wrote their memoirs before their presence was discovered. It is the first book to examine the lives of these Girondin fugitives during this period, after which only Louvet remained alive.

Oliver is a specialist in 18th century France and the author of “From Royal to National: The Louvre Museum and the Bibliothèque Nationale” (2007). In addition to her work as a historian, she is the author of eight volumes of poetry, much of it about France.

She earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in journalism, master’s degree in European history, and a doctorate in modern European history; all from The University of Texas at Austin. She is the sister of the late Chad Oliver, who taught and served as chair for the university’s Anthropology Department several times; he died in 1993.

UT Alumna Shares the Memoirs of French Revolutionists Turned Fugitives in “Orphans on the Earth”

OLIVER_newbkcvrThe turbulent and violent period just after the onset of the French Revolution known as the Terror of 1793–1794, is the backdrop for University of Texas alumna Bette Oliver’s book “Orphans on the Earth” (Lexington Books 2009). The book tells the story of the Girondins, specifically those elected deputies who helped establish the new republic, and who would later became fugitives from their own government—hunted down by their political opponents the Jacobins.

The story draws on the memoirs of revolutionary leaders:  François Buzot, Jerome Pétion, Charles Barbaroux and Jean-Baptiste Louvet, as well as the correspondence between Buzot and Madame Roland. Hiding for several months in the home and attached stone quarry of the deputy Guadet’s relatives, four of these fugitives wrote their memoirs before their presence was discovered. It is the first book to examine the lives of these Girondin fugitives during this period, after which only Louvet remained alive.

Oliver is a specialist in 18th century France and the author of “From Royal to National: The Louvre Museum and the Bibliothèque Nationale” (2007). In addition to her work as a historian, she is the author of eight volumes of poetry, much of it about France.

She earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in journalism, master’s degree in European history, and a doctorate in modern European history; all from The University of Texas at Austin. She is the sister of the late Chad Oliver, who taught and served as chair for the university’s Anthropology Department several times; he died in 1993.