September 6 @ 6:00 pm
Seen through the eyes of four generations of a firefighter family, Five Floors Up the story of the modern New York City Fire Department. From the days just after the horse-drawn firetruck, to the devastation of the 1970s when the Bronx was Burning, to the unspeakable tragedy of 9/11, to the culture-busting department of today, a Feehan has worn the shoulder patch of the FDNY. The tale shines the spotlight on the career of William M. Feehan. “Chief” Feehan is the only person to have held every rank in the FDNY including New York City’s 28th Fire Commissioner. He died in the September 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center. But Five Floors Up is at root an intimate look at a firefighter clan, the selflessness and bravery of not only those who face the flames, but the family members who stand by their sides. Alternately humorous and harrowing, rich with anecdotes and meticulously researched and reported, Five Floors Up takes us inside a world few truly understand, documenting an era that is quickly passing us by.
September 27 @ 6:00 pm
Thousands of innocent people are behind bars in the United States. But proving their innocence and winning their release is nearly impossible.
In Barred, legal scholar Daniel S. Medwed argues that our justice system’s stringent procedural rules are largely to blame for the ongoing punishment of the innocent. Those rules guarantee criminal defendants just one opportunity to appeal their convictions directly to a higher court. Afterward, the wrongfully convicted can pursue only a few narrow remedies. Even when there is strong evidence of a miscarriage of justice, rigid guidelines, bias, and deference toward lower courts all too often prevent exoneration.
Offering clear explanations of legal procedures alongside heart-wrenching stories of their devastating impact, Barred exposes how the system is stacked against the innocent and makes a powerful call for change.
November 1 @ 6:00 pm
In a voice full of questions and sly humor, Sylvie recounts the story of leaving her family’s snowbound mountain cabin to work in the local manor house for the Padgetts, owners of the marble mining company that employs her father and dominates the town. Sharp-eyed Sylvie is awed by the luxury around her, fascinated by her employer, the charming “Countess” Inge, and confused by the erratic affections of Jasper, the bookish heir to the family fortune. When she learns that a European King will soon arrive for a hunting party, her fairy-tale ideas of glamour and romance take a dark turn, as she realizes the Padgetts’ lofty philosophical talk is at odds with the unfair labor practices that have enriched them. Their servants, the Gradys, descendants of formerly enslaved people have long known this to be true—and are making plans to form a utopian community on the Colorado prairie.
Drawn from true stories of Colorado history, Gilded Mountain is an unforgettable saga of a bygone American West seized by robber barons and settled by immigrants; a novel about resilience in the midst of hardship, and a story infused with longing—for family and equality, beauty and joy.
November 8 @ 6:00 pm
“This book is an astonishment. In ravishing, formally exploratory poems, Maya C. Popa wields the lyric like a reparative scalpel, evoking wonder and woundedness in equal measure: ‘It’s plain we didn’t see / the future coming,’ she announces. Searching for a spring that brings renewal, lamenting ‘snow / that vanishes with touch,’ her poems register a unique combination of imperilment and possibility, with imagistic precision one can’t forget: ‘A faint hiss—that is / your own life now, hurrying / from one light to another.’ Wound Is the Origin of Wonder reflects to us our own historical moment with unusual clarity, even as its lyric exploration of psychic and social landscapes stand outside of time. This is a book I will return to.” —Meghan O’Rourke