This installment: the best book about poetry I’ve ever read (nf); hanky-panky in the neighborhood (f); fun in dysfunction, family-style (f); a funny (ish) film about Nazi Germany (DVD); and baseball in Arizona (f).
Editor’s Note: Much of our print collection is now available for holds again. The titles and links below will direct you to print when available, with special notes made of digital ebook and eAudiobook availability.
Don’t Read Poetry by Stephanie Burt
Subtitled A Book About How To Read Poems and that’s the essential distinction that Burt makes: it’s the individual works that count, and they can speak to you in a number of ways. She starts with lyric poetry, full of feeling. Moves on to poems that introduce characters. Then into the many ways they’re formed, sometimes with musical, mathematical, or puzzle-like shapes. A brilliant section on the joys and challenges of “difficult” poems. Then on to wisdom: poems that carry messages to instruct and/or uplift; and finally to how poems can bolster community—something we sorely need these days. A very broad swath of poets, from ancient to contemporary, with a heady mix of races and cultures. Burt tells it like it is and I envy her students at Harvard. Also she’s trans and on the autism spectrum. As I read this book, savoring every phrase, I often found myself trembling with excitement.
Someone We Know by Shari Lapena
A domestic thriller I gobbled up in one late-night session. Amanda is a siren, attracting all the husbands in this small-town neighborhood. She disappears, her body is found, and there are a number of suspects including her handsome, chilly spouse. A teenage boy who’s taken to making surreptitious computer-hacking excursions into neighboring houses ends up providing evidence. Turns out there’s been lots of hanky-panky up and down the street and the denouement is pretty tricksy. Kind of obvious but fun to read.
All Adults Here by Emma Straub
There’s nothing like witnessing a random accident to reevaluate one’s life. That’s why Astrid decides to come out after years of strait-laced behavior. The arrival of her 13-year old granddaughter who got into trouble at school shakes things up further. We get to know Astrid’s three offspring and their spawn. No one’s doing particularly well though Porter, who runs a goat farm, has the most positive trajectory: she decides to have a baby on her own. Lots of humor and a good look at how family history keeps supposed adults trapped in childhood patterns.
Jojo Rabbit (DVD)
I felt a little guilty enjoying this odd film but want to share it anyway. 9-year-old Jojo is starry-eyed over nationalistic pride to the point where he creates an imaginary friend, Adolf himself. A rude awakening at youth camp (he won’t wring the bunny’s neck) results in vicious teasing, yet Jojo tries to hang onto his dream. When he encounters the Jewish girl his mother has hidden, it’s another series of awakenings. Things turn rapidly to end-of-the-war mayhem yet Jojo lives to tell the tale. Dark humor really works for me and if you can deal with the cognitive dissonance the movie invokes, prepare to be entertained.
The Cactus League by Emily Nemens
I have zero interest in baseball, but this book set in Arizona during spring training seized me by the throat. It opens with a scene of utter destruction: a house completely trashed in the owner’s absence, the cars stolen as well. Desperate people, obviously, but this is a place with such a shifting population that houses just wait to be plundered. Nine chapters (one for each inning) with the main story about Jason, a handsome, skilled player who has a very unfortunate gambling habit. Doesn’t help that the casino is right next to the arena. Nemens does the neat trick of linking the formation of this desert through millennia to the plot developments. And I even got to understand some of baseball’s joys, including a comparison with ballet. A great read.
See you next week.