"Sean elegantly and accurately captures the spirit, resilience, and aspirations characterizing the souls of Upstate New York."—Mayor Stephanie A. Miner, Syracuse, New York
"Kirst not only shares with readers his love and passion for the people, places, and voices of his hometown, but captures the essence of what it is to be a community."—Jason Emerson, author of Giant in the Shadows: The Life of Robert T. Lincoln
"Sean Kirst is a master storyteller. The sheer beauty of any Sean Kirst column is what you learn from the people he introduces you to. There are no strangers in this book; Sean makes you feel like you’ve known them all. There is quiet wisdom and eternal hope on every page. And, pride too … because the men, women and children in these stories have lived among us in Central New York: They're our neighbors. These are stories of life’s simple pleasures enjoyed and incredible odds overcome. Some life lessons and timeless human values can only be learned when one generation tells its stories to the next. That’s what Sean Kirst does so magnificently well. This collection is truly a treasure."—Dan Cummings, Anchor/Reporter WSYR-TV
"Sean Kirst has frequently been called an extraordinary storyteller, and The Soul of Central New York: Syracuse Stories by Sean Kirst certainly conveys Sean’s ability to capture the reader’s attention through powerful, life-changing stories. However, reading this book will show you that Sean is much more than a storyteller. He is a truth teller, and his writing does more than entertain or influence. Sean’s writing is profound and gently but firmly calls us to acknowledge pain and injustice and to commit to do something about it. If you read one book this year, make it this one."—Randi Bregman, Executive Director of Vera House, Inc.
"Kirst demonstrates an extraordinary connection with his readers and subjects. How wonderful it would be for any community to have such an artful chronicler of its poignant moments. "—Janice Bullard Pieterse, author of Our Work Is But Begun: A History of the University of Rochester, 1850–2005
"Every time I talk to Sean, I learn something about myself. His deep, long-range understanding of people and the city of Syracuse is a beautiful thing. Every city should have a Sean Kirst."—Jason Benetti, Chicago White Sox TV announcer and former Syracuse resident
"Anyone lucky enough to read Sean Kirst's columns over the past 25 years know he's truly the Bard of Upstate America, sharing stories of love, loss, friendship and fealty that tell the modern history of our region. The Soul of Central New York gathers the best of these stories, led by familiar characters like Jim Boeheim to the quiet heroes of our community, in a collection that captures a place and people whose beauty are both ever-fleeting and ever-present."—Jimmy Vielkind, Albany Bureau Chief, POLITICO
"Few readers will be unfamiliar with the name Sean Kirst. Off to a new career after almost 30 years writing for The Post-Standard, the Ernie Pyle award recipient is publishing a collection of his columns from the paper through Syracuse University Press. The Soul of Central New York, is a collection broken down into 10 parts that include themes like 'Courage,' 'Loyalty' and 'Triumph,' with stories spanning everything from Syracuse University basketball to heroic actions of local citizens."—Casey Rose Frank, Syracuse.com
"Kirst etches word portraits of people and places to document what Syracuse has produced, a mosaic fashioned from pieces of the Salt City puzzle."—Syracuse NewTimes
"These well-crafted stories will grab readers with their poignancy and relevance. They are inspiring accounts that reflect this award-winning author's ability to respond to people's lives and situations with insight and sensitivity."—Life in the Finger Lakes Magazine
"In many ways, the residents of Syracuse exemplify what it means to be a part of 'everyday America.' In this collection of twenty-five years’ worth of columns written for The Syracuse Post-Standard, Kirst recounts the extraordinary events and accomplishments that make the city and its residents remarkable. Divided into sections by characteristics such as 'courage' and “loyalty,” the essays cover everything from reunited friends and military legacies to community relations—and really does display the soul of this central New York city."—The Hudson River Valley Review
A group of strangers risk death along the New York State Thruway to save a soldier from a burning truck. The true story, as told by football legend Jim Brown, of how the number 44 rose to prominence at Syracuse University. The beautiful yet tragic connection between Vice President Joseph Biden and Syracuse. The impossible account of how Eric Carle, one of the world’s great children’s authors, found his way to a childhood friend through a photograph taken in Syracuse more than eighty years ago.
All these tales can be found in The Soul of Central New York, a collection of columns by Sean Kirst that spans almost a quarter-century. During his long career as a writer for the Syracuse Post-Standard, Kirst won some of the most prestigious honors in journalism, including the Ernie Pyle Award, given annually to one American writer who best captures the hopes and dreams of everyday Americans.
For Kirst, his canvas is Syracuse, an upstate city of staggering beauty and profound struggle. In this book, readers will find a nuanced explanation of how Syracuse is intertwined with the spiritual roots of the Six Nations, as well as a soliloquy from a grieving father whose son was lost to violence on the streets. In these emotional contradictions—in the resilience, love, and heart-break of its people—Kirst offers a vivid portrait of his city and, in the end, gives readers hope.
Sean Kirst is a longtime Upstate journalist, writer, and storyteller who spent nearly 25 years as a columnist for the Syracuse Post-Standard. Winner of the 2008 Ernie Pyle Award for human interest writing, Kirst is also the author of The Ashes of Lou Gehrig and Other Baseball Essays, and co-author of Moonfixer: The Basketball Journey of Earl Lloyd. He lives in Syracuse with his wife, Nora, and their three children.
6 x 9, 416 pages, 45 black and white illustrations