13 February 2013

On the Spectrum of Possible Deaths, by Lucia Perillo

Poetry. Copper Canyon Press. 978-1-55659-397-0

I have seldom read a book of poetry from cover to cover in less than 2 days, but I plowed through these. What pleasure. I read about Lucia Perillo in a copy of The Nation magazine and thought she sounded good. She is.

From "My Father Kept the TV On:"

while the books lay open, scattered facedown
like turtles sunning, the jackets hunched, with a little
hump in the hunch from the trough of the spine...

If I'm going to choose my nostalgia, it is a no-brainer
that I'm going to side with books, with the days
before the lithium-ion battery, but after
Philip Roth and John le Carré were born books not too
highbrow or too low, but sometimes thick
and overdue. Books the fathers read to escape us...



V. S. Naipaul, An Area of Darkness
various stories

All of Us, by Raymond Carver

Raymond Carver's collected poems, maybe all of them, are in this volume.


Delights and Shadows, by Ted Kooser

I first encountered Ted Kooser when someone on a poetry forum mentioned his name and a book called The Poetry Home Repair Manual. In that book, Kooser, one-time Poet Laureate of the United States of America, gives plenty of plain advice to aspiring poets, including an admonition not to take too much advice. One important principle of the Manual is that poetry is communication. Kooser teaches that the poet's job is to reach directly into the reader's "heart," to touch her or him in a way that nothing else can.

Delights and Shadows is a book of poems that brings the reader into Kooser's world, and connects her or him in such a way that, although the location is unmistakably the flat, agrarian Great Plains, and the people are his neighbors and relatives, there is no difference: Kooser connects as a human being who has worked, loved, hated, won, and lost. He has been young, and is growing old. He has lived around people of great wisdom, and people of low intelligence; great hearts, and seemingly no heart at all.

From "Creamed Corn:"

"...these Jamaicans were different.
They kept to themselves, in loose clusters,
and knives flashed from the shadows
when they picked their teeth or scraped
Iowa from under their pale, perfect nails...

...Word got around
that out of pure spite and meanness,
sometimes they peed in the creamed corn
...Years later,
wherever we've gone, whatever we've come to,
our ignorance spoils the creamed corn."


Available Light, by Marge Piercy

I've mentioned my discovery of Marge Piercy elsewhere. "Available Light" is a collection of poems that I have found to be eminently readable, entertaining, and just what I want from such a work. Piercy's personality (or at least the one she wishes to project) comes through loud and clear. She is a feminist, in love with her husband (Ira Wood), and a Jew.


Poetry Foundation entry: Marge Piercy

Tag Man, by Archer Mayor


A detective novel set in Vermont, part of a series.  3-1/2 out of 5.

01 February 2013

Allan Cheuse on NPR notes

Alan Cheuse recommending some winter thrillers. They are "The Rage" by Gene Kerrigan, "Ratlines" by Stuart Neville, and "The Third Bullet" by Stephen Hunter.

NPR All Things Considered 31 January 2013