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Home > ENTERTAINMENT > A new design book, the letters between Helen Keller and a Boston editor and news that the Boston Book Festival has become virtual

A new design book, the letters between Helen Keller and a Boston editor and news that the Boston Book Festival has become virtual

A new design book, the letters between Helen Keller and a Boston editor and news that the Boston Book Festival has become virtual

To make new people

An exciting new book published by MIT Press looks at human reproduction — fertility, contraception, menstruation, pregnancy, childbirth, post-pregnancy, and menopause — through the design line. “Designing Motherhood: Things That Make and Break Our Births”, by Michelle Millar Fisher and Amber Winick, asks how the objects we use and how they are marketed shape our experience. The authors address directly the complexity, contradictions, and controversies of the products involved in what it means to be a mother. They look at the maternity furniture, the car seat, the speculation, the stroller. The breast pump, for example, means freedom for some, puts “breast milk is best” pressure on others, and the very existence “reveals the lack of a far more holistic design for family vacations.” Industrial, automotive, and medical design, as well as books and fashion, “each have a role to play from preconception (and contraception) to death, from the ritualistic intake of prenatal vitamins to the poignant memorial of tattoos with loss of pregnancy.” The book, which is rich in photographs, old advertisements and archival material, is not just a look at objects, but at how these objects, and how we use them, can play into activism and political change and offer “a source of regained joy, body reading skills and reproductive organ. ”

Keller correspondence

Joseph Edgar Chamberlin was the 19th-century editor and columnist for Boston Transcript, living in Wrentham with his family in a place called Red Farm. In 1888, Helen Keller arrived in Boston with her teacher Annie Sullivan and met Chamberlin and entered into a unique and decades-long friendship. Chamberlin’s great-granddaughter Elizabeth Emerson came across letters between the two friends and was driven to find more. Her new book, “Letters from Red Farm: The Untold Story of the Friendship Between Helen Keller and Journalist Joseph Edgar Chamberlin” (Bright Leaf), shines light on their rich exchange and their committed, driven, curious, compassionate personalities. When Emerson first started her research, she expected a warm and friendly back and forth. “Instead, what I found was a complex and multi-layered story that told about joys and talents, but also about controversies, tragedies and personal and systematic mistakes. It was clear that I had something bigger on my hands than just a collection of family anecdotes. “The result adds a new perspective on Keller and gives a glimpse of an enormously important figure in her education, development and life.

Boston Book Fest goes virtual

The Boston Book Festival, entering its 13th year, had planned a combination of virtual and personal events this year, taking place in Copley Square and Nubian Square next month. They recently announced that due to the increase in the Delta variant and in an effort to keep people safe and healthy, they will be holding the festival pretty much again this year, with readings, discussions and events taking place during October -week 16 to 23. The full line-up and schedule have yet to be announced, but the tone from the organizers is still positive. They emphasize how the connection between time and space over the common power of the word, the celebration of “the power of the word to stimulate, agitate, unite, delight and inspire”, is crucial right now. “We can still unite with words and our common love to sit in a cozy chair and open the lid to enter a new world. We can still be inspired by a poet’s sentence, or a fiction writer’s imagery or a historian’s insight – and we can still do it virtually. For more information, visit

Comes out

Lean Fall Standby John McGregor (Catapult)

Stoneby Kevin Young (Button)

Hurricane lizards and plastic octopuses: the plight and fascinating biology of climate changeby Thor Hanson (Basic)

This week’s choice

Jen Capriola at Still North Books & Bar in Hanover, New Hampshire, recommends “Cosmogony” by Lucy Ives (Soft Skull): “Ive’s first collection of short stories is more than a little weird. Experimental, amazing and off-beat, Ives still manages to relate to her reader despite demonic subject matter, her constant questioning of human existence, tales of deep-sea animals climbing up from the sea, etc. A perfect mix of ‘normal life’ ‘and the unknown that asks many questions and answers some more! “

Nina MacLaughlin is the author of “Wake, Siren.” She can be reached at [email protected]


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