Friday, April 15, 2011

What is Nina Eliasoph reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Nina Eliasoph, author of Making Volunteers: Civic Life after Welfare's End.

Her entry begins:
I picked up The Long Goodbye at a yard sale a few years ago, but didn’t open it till last week. It is, of course, a detective novel from the 1950’s, by Raymond Chandler. It later became a movie. I really hate suspense. Whenever I encounter any suspense in a book, I have to read the last few pages first, before I can enjoy the rest. But in this one, the suspense is quiet and sneaky, and it’s not what makes you lap up each page. It’s the prose--the narrator’s fine powers observation and his breathtakingly perfect selection of words. This narrator is a very precise observer of a seedy and sinister Los Angeles of his era, but he's probably not entirely reliable. Could I, a social scientist, write like that? Social scientists, alas, are not supposed to construct unreliable narrators to tell their tales. I think in my next book, I will.

I’m also reading...[read on]
Among the early praise for Making Volunteers:
"This book is a pleasure to read--smart, insightful, tragic, ironic, and funny. Eliasoph brings to life the complicated relationships and dilemmas that surface in youth programs, and the twists and turns of the author's analysis are extremely compelling. This book is a must-read for those participating in NGOs, those trumpeting the virtues of volunteer work, and those social scientists interested in questions of government, community building, and civic culture."
--Lynne Haney, New York University

"This clear and engaging book shows how community organizations really work. Nina Eliasoph tackles tensions that run through well-meaning organizations and lives, and she illustrates how people struggle with inequality, differences, having to be nice, and wanting to promote community but accomplishing much less than they desire or realize."
--Robert Wuthnow, Princeton University
Learn more about Making Volunteers at the Princeton University Press website.

Nina Eliasoph is associate professor of sociology at the University of Southern California. She is also the author of Avoiding Politics.

Writers Read: Nina Eliasoph.

--Marshal Zeringue