October 17, 2016 by Reader's Connection
From now until 8:45 p.m. on Saturday, October 29th, you can bid on items at this year’s web auction.
The 29th is the day of the Indy Author Fair, and that evening the 2016 Indiana Authors Awards will be presented at a dinner that runs from 6:30 to 9:30.
At 8:45, the bidding will finish. You don’t have to be present at the dinner to win.
I’m not encouraging you to bid on the items that I’ve pictured here. In fact, I’ve bid on them, and would rather you didn’t.
But click here or on the Get Registered Now! picture to sign up for the auction.
Then go to the auction site (click here or on any of the other pictures) and look at what-all’s up for sale. Meals, hotel stays, jewelry, signed books, sporting events, cave exploration, musical events, out-of-town jaunts, gift bags, a Pacers Bike Share membership and more.
And when you register, you are sent a link to a page like this, where you can monitor how your bids are going.
Oh, yargh! I’m already outbid on two of my items.
Oh, well. Lots of time between now and 8:45 on the 29th.
Enjoy the Indy Author Fair, enjoy the auction, and if you aren’t bidding against me, good luck.
Oh, double-yargh! I went all the way through this blog post and haven’t mentioned the Indianapolis Public Library Foundation, without which this auction, and much of the library’s programming, would not happen.
October 14, 2016 by Reader's Connection
My Indiana Bicentennial Reading Challenge includes this: 18. Read a magazine, cover to cover.
I’ve read three magazines cover to cover, which means I can skip some of the other challenges, such as 20A (re-reading a book that I hated) or 20B (reading a book that I’m afraid I’ll hate).
The May 2016 issue of Poetry Magazine featured contemporary Australian poets, and I didn’t enjoy the poems, first time around.
I did enjoy Jaya Savige’s essay “Creation’s Holiday”: On Silence and Monsters in Australian Poetry, which deals with political silencings but also with the silences of immense Australian spaces.
Fathomless silence has thus long functioned as something like the Mont Blanc of Australian poetry. In David Malouf’s “Notes on an Undiscovered Continent,” it manifests as a gnawing vastness: “Silence: so absolute it fills the mind with a slow-worm’s giddy/horror of distances, our counterweight to the Himalayas.” Almost seventy years earlier, it overwhelmed Henry Lawson, who declared his preference for “the thud of the deadly gun, and the crash of the bursting shell” to “the terrible silence where drought is fought out there in the western hell” (“The Bush Fire,” 1905–though it is difficult to imagine him saying this a decade later).
One of the epigraphs at the top of Savige’s essay was from a pop star who had died just three or four months before the issue showed up in my mailbox; and this may have helped to draw me into the essay.
Now I need to give the Australian poets another read.
By contrast, I enjoyed almost everything I read in the June issue of Poetry.
I don’t have a favorite poem from that issue. If you insist on my picking one, I’ll allow myself to be influenced by poet and critic Hayden Carruth:
“The poetry of the ages is an argument with God, but few poets have picked up that argument in recent years. Stanley Moss does.”
Here’s a link to Stanley Moss’s poem “Winter Flowers”. Click only if you’re in the mood for that argument.
I also enjoyed just about everything in the October issue of The Sun; and with only three and a half weeks until Election Day, I feel compelled to reprint some excerpts from Sparrow’s campaign journal.
Sparrow, if you didn’t know, lives in Phoenicia, New York. He has run for President many times before, without ever getting a single vote.
The journal excerpts, reprinted by permission of The Sun and the candidate himself, begin in the summer of 2015.
And on into 2016 . . .
Just now, in the interest of public calm and my own job security, I removed an entry in which one ex-candidate was referred to as “a vicious, shifty-eyed totalitarian.” So some of the journal entries are more cantankerous than others.
Please remember to vote on November 8th, even though voting for or against Sparrow won’t be an option. Have a look at our All About Voting info guide.
The cover art for the May issue of Poetry is by Andrew Faris: “Rebound,” 2015
The cover art of the June issue of Poetry is by Anna Maria Maiolino: “The Disappeared, from Photopoemaction Series,” 1979/2014
The photograph on the cover of the October issue of The Sun was taken (in New York City’s Little Italy neighborhood) by Autumn Lee. The mural, titled LIBERTY, is by street artist Tristan Eaton.
October 13, 2016 by Reader's Connection
I looked at the library’s Facebook page this morning, and I thought
we had goofed. I thought someone had taken a page from The Onion or an Andy Borowitz column and, thinking it was for real, put it on our page.
But it’s for real. Bob Dylan has won the 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature.
In some past years, I’ve struggled at Nobel time to say something about fiction writers I’d never heard of.
Bob Dylan has been with me for most of my life, but I probably won’t do any better writing about him. But the time will come up when the winds will stop,
and the breeze to be breathin’
like the stillness in the wind
before the hurricane begins
the hour when the ship comes in.
Oops. The library no longer has the album Planet Waves, but we may be ordering new Dylan copies, soon; and Bob sings the song “Going, Going, Gone” on the Bob Dylan at Budokan album.
Wait, the meetings aren’t all that bad.
October 10, 2016 by Reader's Connection
This year’s Ann Katz Festival runs from October 26th through November 14th. For a full schedule of film screenings, story times, LEGO palooza and other events, or to purchase tickets to events, click the festival banner.
Most of the author events cost $10.00 each, or 11.54 if you order online. A Festival pass is available for $40.00, or $43.19 if you order online.
Guests may purchase admission at the door, space permitting. If you want to avoid the Eventbrite fee, you are welcome to stop by the Jewish Community Center in advance of the event and purchase at one of their two guest services desks.
Here’s a list of the books whose authors who will be visiting the JCC during the festival.
The festival’s Community Reads book this year is B. A. Shapiro’s novel The Muralist, about the fictional artist Alizée Benoit who paints for the Works Progress Administration and mysteriously disappears in 1940. There are at least three Indianapolis events planned in connection with it.
On Thursday, October 27th at 1:00 p.m., at the JCC, the Ann Katz Festival Book Club will convene for the first time, and there will be a FREE discussion of The Muralist. Click the bold type to RSVP.
On Sunday, October 30th at 2:00 p.m., the Nora Branch of IndyPL will host a discussion of the novel. This is a free event. Please call 317-275-4472 to register.
On Monday, November 7th, 2016 at 7:00 p.m., author B. A. Shapiro will visit the Indianapolis Art Center. This $10.00 (or $11.54 online) event is not covered by the Festival pass.
Jennifer S. Brown, author of the novel Modern Girls, will appear at the JCC on Thursday, October 27th at 7:00 p.m.
In 1935, as women in America strive for the rights to work, to vote, and to lead independent lives, a Jewish mother and daughter face unwanted pregnancies. In her debut novel, Brown deftly sketches the historical context of two Lower East Side women’s domestic tribulations, alternating between their stories, reflecting upon the social consequences faced by women in different generations. A familiar nausea dismays Rose, who thought she was finished with childbearing. Who will take care of Izzy, Alfie, and Eugene, not to mention her husband, Ben? Her eldest, Dottie, has always been a second mother to the younger boys. But Dottie could be a working girl. She’s a whiz with numbers and could even go to accounting school someday with the money Rose has squirreled away. Yet Dottie, just promoted to head bookkeeper at Dover Insurance, feels her own dress growing ever tighter . . . A cleareyed view of the sharp, difficult choices facing women on the cusp of equality. — Kirkus Reviews
Joel Hoffman, author of The Bible Doesn’t Say That: 40 Biblical Mistranslations, Misconceptions, and Other Misunderstandings, will appear at the JCC on Tuesday, November 1st at 7:00 p.m.
Hoffman follows up The Bible’s Cutting Room Floor with another witty and accessible look at Scripture, this time using his mastery of Hebrew and Greek to rebut many of the most popular beliefs about what the Bible actually says. He groups the ways that the sacred texts have been distorted into five categories—ignorance of ancient languages and culture, inadvertent misinterpretations that became mainstream, reading them through a modern lens, mistranslation, and intentional misrepresentation of what was actually said. Hoffman proceeds to give 40 examples of significant distortions, such as what the first words of Genesis are, and what the forbidden fruit of Eden was, in short, pithy chapters that first present the conventional answers before explaining what the accurate ones are and how the inaccuracies developed. Even lay readers who believe themselves fluent with the Bible will likely be surprised at some of Hoffman’s explications, such as the ambiguity about who killed Goliath, and how. Hoffman has produced the best kind of popular scholarship, that will be interest both religious and secular readers. — Publishers Weekly
Joshua Becker, author of Simplify and The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own will appear at the JCC on Thursday, November 3rd, as part of a preview party of the Tiny House Roadshow, which is not covered by the Festival pass.
Click here for pricing info regarding the preview party and Mr. Beck’s appearance.
Click here for pricing info regarding the Tiny House Roadshow which continues November 4th-6th.
On November 3rd, the tour begins at 5:00 p.m. Mr. Becker’s presentation begins at 7:30 p.m.
Future generations may well view the present day in the U.S. as an era of acquisition, Becker writes, in which new cars and new electronic devices are pursued with a passion that can leave the purchaser with a hollow sense of unfulfillment. In this delightful little book, Becker considers the movement known as voluntary simplicity—an effort to convince our consumerist society to scale down and find ways to be happier with fewer possessions—and takes it a step further, incorporating Christian spirituality into minimalism: a way of shedding the excess in our lives and “finding freedom to pursue the things that matter most to you.” Friends, family, and faith all factor into his unique approach to getting rid of the possessions that weigh one down, opening new avenues of meaningful exploration into the deeper, more sacred depths of being. With action plans, lists, and appeals to the reader’s quiet nature, Becker successfully presents a well-rounded argument that a journey toward minimalism is possible and even enjoyable. Any Christian seeking the path of material simplicity will find this volume both valuable and informative. — Publishers Weekly
Doug Zipes, author of Not Just a Game, will appear at the JCC on Wednesday, November 9th at 7:00 p.m. This title isn’t available from IndyPL.
A noted Indiana University cardiologist, Dr. Doug Zipes, has published his third novel, a historical thriller titled Not Just a Game. The book follows three generations of Olympic athletes over eight decades, culminating in intrigue and danger at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Brazil. With some historical basis in fact and characters loosely based on real people, Zipes’ story chronicles the challenges of Olympic competition experienced by a grandfather, father, and daughter from one Jewish family. Zipes dedicates Not Just a Game to the 11 Israeli athletes and coaches taken hostage and killed by Palestinian terrorists during the 1972 Summer Olympic Games in Munich. — Heritage Florida Jewish News
Melissa Fay Greene, author of The Underdogs: Children, Dogs, and the Power of Unconditional Love, will appear at the JCC on Thursday, November 10th at 7:00 p.m.
From two-time National Book Award nominee Melissa Fay Greene comes a profound and surprising account of dogs on the front lines of rescuing both children and adults from the trenches of grief, emotional, physical, and cognitive disability, and post-traumatic stress disorder. The Underdogs tells the story of Karen Shirk, felled at age twenty-four by a neuromuscular disease and facing life as a ventilator-dependent, immobile patient, who was turned down by every service dog agency in the country because she was “too disabled.” Her nurse encouraged her to tone down the suicidal thoughts, find a puppy, and raise her own service dog. Karen did this, and Ben, a German shepherd, dragged her back into life. “How many people are stranded like I was,” she wondered, “who would lead productive lives if only they had a dog?” A thousand state-of-the-art dogs later, Karen Shirk’s service dog academy, 4 Paws for Ability, is restoring broken children and their families to life. — Publisher’s note
Jessica Fechtor, author of Stir: My Broken Brain and the Meals that Brought Me Home, will appear at the JCC on Monday, November 14th at 7:00 p.m.
In 2008, Fechtor was moving into adulthood in a manner that could be described as ordinary. She had fallen in love, gotten married, and made her way through undergraduate school and into graduate studies at Harvard. She loved exercise, particularly running . . . After the aneurysm, the author underwent multiple surgeries, with the standard caveats from providers about the risks and the benefits. When she awoke, she was told that, yes, she would live, but no, not like before: her sense of smell, the vision in one eye, her ability to speak as confidently as in the past, her sense of self were all changed. Physical therapy progressed slowly; there hadn’t been any neurological damage, but a month in bed had left her muscles weakened and her balance off-kilter . . . Her process of making meaning of the accident and the aftermath came to her by way of a constant throughout the many shifts of her earlier years: a love for food, flavors, and cooking. She writes with clarity and obvious joy about the foods that have meant so much to her, and she includes the recipes (she doesn’t believe in secret recipes) so as to pass it forward. The recipes are simple and uncomplicated; many of them have a handful of ingredients but are prepared in a way that might surprise you. Fechtor’s book could be described the same way. — Kirkus Reviews
Enjoy the festival!
October 6, 2016 by Reader's Connection
Five finalists have been chosen in each of the categories. The awards will be presented at a ceremony and benefit dinner on November 16th.
Chris Bachelder The Throwback Special
A real-life football tragedy—the sacking of Washington Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann by New York Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor in a 1985 game, and the career-ending injury that Theismann sustained as a result—is the foundation of this wryly amusing rumination on manhood and male bonding. Every year for the past 16 years, 22 men have convened at a hotel at an unnamed location off of Interstate 95 to physically re-enact the historic game. What at first seems a slightly screwball form of fantasy football—the men are assigned their roles through a lottery governed by an idiosyncratically detailed set of rules—gradually reveals itself to be a metaphor-rich elaboration of the rules and regulations that shape mature male life. As the men discuss their static marriages and their difficult relationships with their children, the allure of the game—especially the time before the fateful play when “the things that had not happened yet were greater than the things that had happened”—becomes clear . . . Filled with subtle humor and incisive insights, Bachelder’s novel will resonate with anyone who has pondered the game of life. — Publishers Weekly
Paulette Jiles News of the World
Please refer to my future blog post about this novel.
Karan Mahajan The Association of Small Bombs
The disintegration of the lives of both Hindus and Muslims affected by a bomb blast at Lajpat Market in Delhi in 1996 is the subject of Mahajan’s second novel. In the aftermath of the violence we follow not only a Muslim boy who survives, Mansoor Ahmed, but his parents; the Hindu parents of Mansoor’s two friends killed in the blast; the bomb maker, named “Shockie”; and several activists who seek justice after the tragedy. The lives of Mansoor’s parents and the dead brothers’ mother and father unravel, their careers and marriages frayed by grief and anxiety. Mansoor tries to concentrate on his studies in the States, but returns to India and falls in with a charismatic activist called Ayub, soon to be unhinged by a breakup with his upper-class girlfriend. Mahajan’s talent is in conveying the sense that the world is gray, not black-and-white, and he accomplishes this by weaving together the evolving motives and passions of his characters so intricately that in the end we see each as culpable, and human. In his searing story, lives (and life itself) are subjected to close inspection and at times discombobulation. — Publishers Weekly
Colson Whitehead The Underground Railroad
When author Colson Whitehead first heard about the Underground Railroad as a child he imagined a subway beneath the earth that escaped slaves could ride to freedom . . . when he found out that it was not a literal train, he felt “a bit upset.” Now, in his new novel, The Underground Railroad, Whitehead returns to his childhood vision of an actual locomotive that carries escaped slaves through tunnels. The book follows a 15-year-old slave named Cora who has escaped from a Georgia plantation and must make her way north to freedom. Along the way, the train stops in different states, each of which represent a different response to slavery. “Sort of like Gulliver’s Travels, the book is rebooting every time the person goes through a different state,” Whitehead says. Whitehead first conceived of the book 16 years ago. He began reading through slave narratives from the 18th and 19th centuries to get a feel for what life might have been like for Cora and others like her. “I found a real opportunity to present … a hopefully accurate presentation of plantation life in a way that hasn’t been done before,” Whitehead says. “It felt gratifying as an artist to find a corner that hadn’t been explored in this exact different way.” — National Public Radio
Jacqueline Woodson Another Brooklyn
In her first adult novel in 20 years, acclaimed children’s and YA author Woodson combines grit and beauty in a series of stunning vignettes, painting a vivid mural of what it was like to grow up African-American in Brooklyn during the 1970s. When August, an anthropologist who has studied the funeral traditions of different cultures, revisits her old neighborhood after her father’s death, her reunion with a brother and a chance encounter with an old friend bring back a flood of childhood memories. Flashbacks depict the isolation she felt moving from rural Tennessee to New York and show how her later years were influenced by the black power movement, nearby street violence, her father’s religious conversion, and her mother’s haunting absence. August’s memories of her Brooklyn companions—a tightly knit group of neighborhood girls—are memorable and profound. There’s dancer Angela, who keeps her home life a carefully guarded secret; beautiful Gigi, who loses her innocence too young; and Sylvia, “diamonded over, brilliant,” whose strict father wants her to study law. With dreams as varied as their conflicts, the young women confront dangers lurking on the streets, discover first love, and pave paths that will eventually lead them in different directions. Woodson draws on all the senses to trace the milestones in a woman’s life and how her early experiences shaped her identity. — Publishers Weekly
Arlie Russell Hochschild Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right
Five years before Donald Trump’s presidential bid caught fire, Hochschild decided she wanted to better understand the political and cultural divides in the United States by immersing herself in the anti-government tea party culture so foreign to her own beliefs. Traveling regularly from her Berkeley, California, home to Lake Charles, Louisiana, the author arranged to spend large amounts of time with tea party members and additional self-identified conservatives to figure out how they came to their beliefs. Hochschild felt especially puzzled by the paradox of Louisiana residents residing in dangerously polluted areas yet opposing environmental regulations proposed by both the state and federal governments. Though upset by seemingly racist, sexist, ageist, and economic class hatreds among the men and women she came to know, Hochschild says her determination to observe empathetically rarely flagged. She quickly realized that many of the stated views held of the tea party members were often not fact-based but rather grounded in what life feels like to them—e.g., government feels intrusive, liberals feel condescending, members of racial and ethnic minorities feel lazy and threatening. Trying to imagine herself as the Lake Charles residents viewed themselves, Hochschild vowed to immerse herself thoroughly enough to comprehend what she terms their “deep stories,” and she felt grateful that the tea party members who found her views offensive nonetheless shared their time and thoughts generously. — Kirkus Reviews
Anyone who thought that the 2008 election of President Barack Obama marked the emergence of post-racial America has been sorely disillusioned in the subsequent years with seemingly daily reminders of the schism wrought by racism and white supremacy. And yet anyone with even a cursory understanding of this country’s tortured history with race should have known better. In this tour de force, Kendi explores the history of racist ideas—and their connection with racist practices—across American history. The author uses five main individuals as “tour guides” to investigate the development of racist ideas throughout the history of the U.S.: the preacher and intellectual Cotton Mather, Founding Father Thomas Jefferson, ardent abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, scholar W.E.B. Du Bois, and activist Angela Davis. Kendi also poses three broad schools of thought regarding racial matters throughout American history: segregationist, assimilationist, and anti-racist. Although this trio can be reductionist, it provides a solid framework for understanding the interplay between racist ideas, anti-racism, and the attempts to synthesize them—“assimilationism,” which the author ultimately identifies as simply another form of racism, even when advocated by African-Americans . . . Racism is the enduring scar on the American consciousness. In this ambitious, magisterial book, Kendi reveals just how deep that scar cuts and why it endures, its barely subcutaneous pain still able to flare. — Kirkus Reviews
Viet Thanh Nguyen Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War
All wars are fought twice, the first time on the battlefield, the second time in memory. From the author of the Pulitzer Prize–winning novel The Sympathizer comes a searching exploration of the conflict Americans call the Vietnam War and Vietnamese call the American War—a conflict that lives on in the collective memory of both nations. From a kaleidoscope of cultural forms—novels, memoirs, cemeteries, monuments, films, photography, museum exhibits, video games, souvenirs, and more—Nothing Ever Dies brings a comprehensive vision of the war into sharp focus. At stake are ethical questions about how the war should be remembered by participants that include not only Americans and Vietnamese but also Laotians, Cambodians, South Koreans, and Southeast Asian Americans. Too often, memorials valorize the experience of one’s own people above all else, honoring their sacrifices while demonizing the “enemy”—or, most often, ignoring combatants and civilians on the other side altogether. Visiting sites across the United States, Southeast Asia, and Korea, Viet Thanh Nguyen provides penetrating interpretations of the way memories of the war help to enable future wars or struggle to prevent them.
Drawing from this war, Nguyen offers a lesson for all wars by calling on us to recognize not only our shared humanity but our ever-present inhumanity. This is the only path to reconciliation with our foes, and with ourselves. Without reconciliation, war’s truth will be impossible to remember, and war’s trauma impossible to forget. — Publisher’s note
A landmark history: the sweeping story of the enslavement of tens of thousands of Indians across America, from the time of the conquistadors up to the early 20th century. Since the time of Columbus, Indian slavery was illegal in much of the American continent. Yet, as Andrés Reséndez illuminates, it was practiced for centuries as an open secret. There was no abolitionist movement to protect the tens of thousands of natives who were kidnapped and enslaved by the conquistadors, then forced to descend into the “mouth of hell” of eighteenth-century silver mines or, later, made to serve as domestics for Mormon settlers and rich Anglos. Reséndez builds the case that it was mass slavery–more than epidemics–that decimated Indian populations across North America. New evidence, including testimonies of courageous priests, rapacious merchants, Indian captives, and Anglo colonists, sheds light too on Indian enslavement of other Indians–as what started as a European business passed into the hands of indigenous operators and spread like wildfire across vast tracts of the American Southwest. The Other Slavery reveals nothing less than a key missing piece of American history. For over two centuries we have fought over, abolished, and tried to come to grips with African-American slavery. It is time for the West to confront an entirely separate, equally devastating enslavement we have long failed to see truly. — Publisher’s note
Heather Ann Thompson Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy
Gripping . . . Not all works of history have something to say so directly to the present, but Heather Ann Thompson’s Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy, which deals with racial conflict, mass incarceration, police brutality and dissembling politicians, reads like it was special-ordered for the sweltering summer of 2016. But there’s nothing partisan or argumentative about Blood in the Water. The power of this superb work of history comes from its methodical mastery of interviews, transcripts, police reports and other documents, covering 35 years, many released only reluctantly by government agencies . . . It’s Ms. Thompson’s achievement, in this remarkable book, to make us understand why this one group of prisoners [rebelled], and how many others shared the cost. — The New York Times
The three poetry finalists marked as Not in collection will go on order soon.
Daniel Borzutzky The Performance of Becoming Human (Not in collection)
Daniel Borzutzky returns to confront the various ways nation-states and their bureaucracies absorb and destroy communities and economies. In The Performance of Becoming Human, the bay of Valparaiso merges into the western shore of Lake Michigan, where Borzutzky continues his poetic investigation into the political and economic violence shared by Chicago and Chile, two places integral to his personal formation. To become human is to navigate borders, including the fuzzy borders of institutions, the economies of privatization, overdevelopment, and underdevelopment, under which humans endure state-sanctioned and systemic abuses in cities, villages, deserts. Borzutzky, whose writing Eileen Myles has described as “violent, perverse, and tender” in its portrayal of a “kaleidoscopic journey of American horror and global horror,” adds another chapter to a growing and important compendium of work that asks what it means to a be both a unitedstatesian and a globalized subject whose body is “shared between the earth, the state, and the bank.” — Brooklyn Arts Press
Rita Dove Collected Poems 1974 – 2004
Rita Dove’s Collected Poems: 1974 to 2004 reminds readers why she is one of the nation’s most respected literary figures, with honors including two years as U.S. poet laureate, a National Humanities Medal and a National Medal of Arts. Fans will enjoy a fresh encounter with Dove’s best work, such as the exquisite “Grace Notes,” where simple memories are transformed into lyrical gems, and the movielike narrative in “Thomas and Beulah,” which juxtaposes war and civil rights struggles with the experiences of her maternal grandparents. The latter won the 1987 Pulitzer Prize and cemented Dove’s reputation as a writer who masterfully balances narrative and poetic finesse. Even the earliest work here shows a tremendous capacity for conveying various voices, from a Colonial Boston slave, to the Snow King, to Catherine of Alexandria. Later books, such as “On the Bus With Rosa Parks” and “American Smooth,” point to the intersection of individual lives and our shared cultural heritage. Dove has often been praised, rightly so, for making all of this look easy . . . The Washington Post
Peter Gizzi Archeophonics (Not in collection)
Archeophonics is the first collection of new work from the poet Peter Gizzi in five years. Archeophonics, defined as the archeology of lost sound, is one way of understanding the role and the task of poetry: to recover the buried sounds and shapes of languages in the tradition of the art, and the multitude of private connections that lie undisclosed in one’s emotional memory. The book takes seriously the opening epigraph by the late great James Schuyler: “poetry, like music, is not just song.” It recognizes that the poem is not a decorative art object but a means of organizing the world, in the words of anthropologist Clifford Geertz, “into transient examples of shaped behavior.” Archeophonics is a series of discrete poems that are linked by repeated phrases and words, and its themes and nothing less than joy, outrage, loss, transhistorical thought, and day-to-day life. It is a private book of public and civic concerns. — Publisher’s note
Jay Hopler The Abridged History of Rainfall (Not in collection)
Jay Hopler’s second collection, a mourning song for his father, is an elegy of uproar, a careening hymn to disaster and its aftermath. In lyric poems by turns droll and desolate, Hopler documents the struggle to live in the face of great loss, a task that sends him ranging through Florida’s torrid subtropics, the mountains of the American West, the streets of Rome, and the Umbrian countryside. Vivid, dynamic, unrestrained: The Abridged History of Rainfall is a festival of glowing saints and fighting cocks, of firebombs and birdsong. — Publisher’s note
Solmaz Sharif Look
“Until now, now that I’ve reached my thirties: / All my Muse’s poetry has been harmless: / American and diplomatic.” It’s hard not to hear underpinning this passage, which opens the poem “Desired Appreciation,” the suggestion that for something to be accepted as American it must go along with the current, must uphold the status quo—the exact opposite of how art functions, which is by disruption. And lest there be any misunderstanding, I’ll clarify—Solmaz Sharif’s Look is a book that disrupts, fervently and effectively. The poems within are allergic to complacency and linguistic hypnosis; they constantly reach, inquire, prod, and wonder—sometimes with force—and refuse to allow the reader to be lulled into the sense that everything is okay in the world. — Prairie Schooner
Young People’s Literature
Kate DiCamillo Raymie Nightingale
Raymie Clarke has come to realize that everything, absolutely everything, depends on her. And she has a plan. All Raymie has to do is win the Little Miss Central Florida Tire competition. Then her father, who left town two days ago with a dental hygienist, might see Raymie’s picture in the paper. And that might bring him home. To win, not only does Raymie have to do good deeds and learn how to twirl a baton, she also has to contend with the wispy, frequently fainting Louisiana Elefante, who has a show-business background, and the fiery, stubborn Beverly Tapinski, who’s determined to sabotage the contest. But as the competition approaches, loneliness, loss, and unanswerable questions draw the three girls into an unlikely friendship and challenge each of them to come to the rescue in unexpected ways. — Publisher’s note
John Lewis, Andrew Aydin & Nate Powell (Artist) March: Book Three
Lewis has a unique perspective from which to recall these events [of the civil rights movement], and he does so with intimate familiarity and bracing honesty… Powell’s kinetic, fluid black-and-white illustrations create a relentless cascade of words and images that assaults the senses and underscores the brutality of the period. From Maus to Persepolis, graphic-novel memoirs have accounted for a large share of critical acclaim for the comics format, and now that this trilogy is complete, it can stand shoulder to shoulder with any of them. — The Horn Book
Grace Lin When the Sea Turned to Silver
The Tiger Emperor is conscripting all the men of the mountain villages to build the Vast Wall surrounding the kingdom. But when they reach Pinmei’s village, they also take her grandmother, the Storyteller. In order to save her, Pinmei and her friend Yishan embark on a voyage to find the Luminous Stone That Lights the Night—the only thing the Emperor will trade for a prisoner’s freedom. From the top of Never-Ending Mountain to the City of Bright Moonlight to the bottom of the sea and back, their journey brings readers to familiar characters and settings as well as new ones. Combining the epic quest of Where the Mountain Meets the Moon and the tight, cyclical plotting of Starry River of the Sky, this is the strongest addition yet, binding the previous volumes together even more closely. As in the earlier companion novels, stories inspired by Chinese folktales are frequently interspersed, giving astute readers critical background information and clues and letting them see the future of their favorite characters, as many stories gain additional chapters. — School Library Journal
Jason Reynolds Ghost
Reynolds uses a light hand to delve into topics that include gun violence, class disparity, and bullying in this compelling series opener. Seventh-grader Castle Cranshaw, nicknamed Ghost, knows nothing about track when a former Olympian recruits him as a sprinter for one of the city’s youth teams. As far as Ghost is concerned, “whoever invented track got the whole gun means go thing right,” something he learned firsthand when his father tried to shoot Ghost and his mother in their apartment three years prior. The trauma has had ripple effects on Ghost, including angry outbursts (“I was the boy…. with all the scream inside”), altercations at school, stealing, and lying. Joining the track team provides new friends, goals, and an opportunity for Ghost to move beyond his past. Ghost is a well-meaning, personable narrator whose intense struggles are balanced by a love of world records, sunflower seeds, and his mother. Coach’s relationship with Ghost develops into a surrogate father-son scenario, adding substantial emotional resonance and humor to the mix. — Publishers Weekly
Nicola Yoon The Sun Is Also a Star
On a summer morning in New York City, Daniel and Natasha wake up as strangers. This is a day that could catapult their lives into entirely new directions that neither of them wants to take. Natasha has only hours left to prevent her family’s deportation to Jamaica, after a minor legal infraction jeopardizes their stay in the U.S. Daniel dreads sealing his fate with an alumni interview that will pave his way to a career in medicine, as his Korean family expects. Despite a day packed with Natasha’s desperate race against time and a tangled system, and Daniel’s difficult tug-of-war between familial pressures and autonomy, love finds a way in, takes hold, and changes them both forever. Yoon’s sophomore effort is carefully plotted and distinctly narrated in Natasha’s and Daniel’s voices; yet it also allows space for the lives that are swirling around them, from security guards to waitresses to close relatives. It’s lyrical and sweeping, full of hope, heartbreak, fate, and free will. It encompasses the cultural specifics of diverse New York City communities and the universal beating of the human heart. Every day—like every book—begins full of possibility, but this one holds more than others. — Booklist Online