Neshama’s Choices for April 10th

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Looking for the Hidden Folk by Nancy Marie Brown   

Subtitled: How Iceland’s Elves Can Save the Earth. An amazing exploration of mystical phenomena as well as a love letter to a magical realm. Brown draws from many sources and disciplines, from physics to folklore to theology and more.  She’s also a rapturous observer of the natural world. I must admit I periodically got overwhelmed by the material and ended up skimming certain sections rather than giving them the deep dive they deserved. But I still want to share it because it’s so special. And I believe we can all agree that the earth certainly needs saving!   

Still No Word From You by Peter Orner  

Subtitled Notes in the Margin. The author reads constantly and is always comparing literature and life—the words on the page that evoke his own memories and associations.  In very short chapters, he lets us into his head with anecdotes and reflections, grounded in time and place. Depending on my mood, the multiple pieces sometimes felt scattershot, but when we synced, I was in heaven. He’s smart, he’s candid, and it was a gift to hang out with him.  Also, as the book progressed, I started to recognize a spiral construction that kept leading me back to his strained relationship with his now-dead father.  

The Outrun by Amy Liptrot   

After a decade of hard, hedonistic, and ultimately self-destructive living in London, Liptrot returns to the small farm on an island in far-north Scotland where she was born. It serves her well as she works with sheep, swims in the ocean, and gets attuned to the rhythms and wonders of the natural world. Her father is bipolar but manages, her mother turned to religion for solace, and Liptrot works through the complexities of her upbringing in this two-year sojourn. A great mix of personal and journalistic material. A bonus that I wish other books would provide for vernacular words: a glossary at the beginning so I could flip back to remember, for instance, that burn means stream. 

At Certain Points We Touch by Lauren John Joseph   

Autofiction by a non-binary author plunged me into the intense world of sex and clubbing in three cosmopolitan cities. JJ falls for a person they refer to as Leapling (a Feb. 29th birthday) and it’s a roller-coaster of yearning, intermittent connection, and betrayal that goes on and on until Leapling dies and JJ is subsumed by  ongoing waves of grief. Friends provide support and housing—JJ is often at loose ends—but it’s still a fraught existence on the margins of society.  Very graphic, very emotional, and sometimes exhausting but it's worth it if you’re as curious as I am about this subject.