Ohio is very important. Ask anyone. Or ask David E. Rohr, whose “The United States of Ohio: One American State and Its Impact on the Other 49” is a survey of Ohio’s significance in almost every facet of culture and society.

Rohr includes some of the major corporations founded and located in Ohio, the state’s importance in abolition, its famous inventors (an overlap with its prominence in aviation and astronaut pioneers) and sports history like the founding of the NFL. The 1954 trial of Bay Village osteopath Sam Sheppard in the murder of his wife, Marilyn, set new legal and media standards.

Rohr dips into the 1970 Kent State shootings and the state’s perennial importance in presidential elections. The book is a good read for any newcomer to Ohio.

“The United States of Ohio” (261 pages, softcover) costs $21.95 from Trillium, an imprint of Ohio State University Press. Rohr is an Ohio native and an alumnus of Bowling Green State University, and earned advanced degrees from Nazareth College of Rochester.

 

Poetry shaped by life

After almost a year’s deployment in Iraq, Macedonia native Hugh Martin finds meaning in the day-to-day boredom of standing in endless lines for showers, for making phone calls, for inoculations. In his new poetry collection “In Country,” he also crafts understanding from the tension of a duffel bag abandoned in the motor pool, as the men speculate what it could contain: It could be somebody’s forgotten clothes, or it could be an explosive device. Phone calls are made; Explosive Ordnance Disposal technicians are summoned. The soldiers heckle the techs to disguise their tension.

Some poems reflect the relationships between the soldiers and the Iraqi civilians they interact with every day. An elderly farmer angry about American planes constantly flying over his orange groves; an enterprising 10-year-old street vendor the men call “Mini-Mohammed,” who offers food, ice, knockoff Rolexes and live pigeons.

Martin’s work is spare and powerful, wise and charged with experience.

In 2013, Beacon Journal reporter Jim Carney interviewed Martin, then 29, who was in the middle of a prestigious poetry fellowship at Stanford University. Martin published a poetry chapbook “So, How Was the War?” through Kent State University Press in 2010.

Martin is a graduate of Nordonia High School and Muskingum University; his Muskingum studies were interrupted by deployment to Iraq, but he returned and then earned a master’s degree in fine arts at Arizona State University.

“In Country” (112 pages, softcover) costs $17 from BOA Editions. Some of the poems were previously published in literary journals.

 

Book series continues

Shelley Shepard Gray, best known for her Ohio-set Amish romances, extends her contemporary Bridgeport Social Club series in which several young men move from a West Virginia mining town to a wealthy fictional community near Cincinnati. “Hold on Tight,” which was titled “Time to Fight” in the preview in Book Two, finds widower Jackson Koch tending bar at night while his neighbor, widow Dani Brown, watches his 3-year-old daughter.

When Dani isn’t babysitting and taking online classes, she’s cleaning houses to support herself and her 14-year-old son, a talented baseball player. When young Jeremy has the opportunity to join a private baseball club, she knows she won’t be able to come up with the fees, let alone the money for his uniform and travel expenses. Jackson gets his friends involved. They decide to have a benefit poker tournament to sponsor Jeremy’s program.

Dani is aghast to think the men have been discussing her financial situation and that they consider her a charity case, but soon realizes their generosity is heartfelt. A secondary story line concerns Jackson’s boss, a generous woman whose ex-boyfriend has come from Texas to demand resolution in their former relationship.

“Hold on Tight” (274 pages, softcover) costs $15.99 from Blackstone Publishing.

 

Events

Barnes & Noble (7900 Mentor Ave., Mentor): Art Shamsky signs “After the Miracle: The Lasting Brotherhood of the ’69 Mets,” 2 p.m. Sunday.

Barnes & Noble (198 Crocker Park Blvd., Westlake): Art Shamsky signs “After the Miracle,” 6 p.m. Monday.

Hudson Library & Historical Society (96 Library St.): Seats may remain to hear ESPN and “Baseball Tonight” writer Keith Law discuss “Smart Baseball: The Story Behind the Old Stats That Are Ruining the Game, the New Ones That Are Running It, and the Right Way to Think About Baseball,” 7 p.m. Monday. Register at 330-653-6658.

Mac’s Backs (1820 Coventry Road, Cleveland Heights): Author Andrew Farkas (“The Big Red Herring”) and Zachary Thomas, facilitator of the Writers in Residence program for incarcerated youths, read at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

B-Side (2785 Euclid Heights Blvd., Cleveland): Author Erin O’Brien and photographer Bob Perkoski, accompanied by some of the performers depicted in the book, sign “Rust Belt Burlesque: The Softer Side of a Heavy Metal Town,” 6:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday.

Cuyahoga County Public Library (South Euclid-Lyndhurst branch, 1876 S. Green Road, South Euclid): Jill Grunenwald signs “Reading Behind Bars: A Memoir of Literature, Law, and Life as a Prison Librarian,” 7 to 8 p.m. Thursday. Register at 216-382-4880.

Akron-Summit County Public Library (Green branch, 4046 Massillon Road, Green): Dave Lange discusses his memoir “Virginity Lost in Vietnam,” 1 to 2 p.m. Saturday.

Cuyahoga County Public Library (Parma branch, 6996 Powers Blvd.): Beatriz Williams, “The Golden Hour,” 2 to 3:30 p.m. Saturday. Register at 440-885-5362.

Advance notice: Register for a talk by spy novelist Daniel Silva from 7 to 8:30 p.m. July 17 at the Parma-Snow branch of Cuyahoga County Public Library. “The New Girl" is 19th in the bestselling Gabriel Allon thriller series. The $25 fee includes a copy of the book. Register at 216-661-4240.

 

Send information about books of local interest to Features Department, Akron Beacon Journal, P.O. Box 640, Akron, OH 44309. Event notices should be sent at least two weeks in advance.