The Bear and The Nightingale: A Novel — Katherine Arden (2017)
Best fairy tale I’ve read in a long time. I was skeptical at first. But the heroine is more than a pretty face with an interesting fate. I can’t be sure, as I am no expert, but the story seems to be more Russian than most set in that fairy tale world. The author was a Russian major in college. Well written, you won’t find yourself constantly thrown out of the story by a bad turn of phrase as you are so often in fairy tales.
Minding the Muse — Priscilla Long (2016)
Better than the average book on creativity — it allows for individuality. And it’s a reminder about the need for daily (nearly) work that I need to hear.
300 Arguments — Sarah Manguso (2017)
Don’t bother. I like books of fragments (99 God and Bluets are examples) but this one doesn’t hang together as any sort of nuanced statement on the world. It got a lot of praise but I just didn’t find the thread that was supposed to link the aphorisms to make them something other than a jumble. There are a few that cut to the quick though. The best being:
“There will come a time when people decide you’ve had enough of your grief, and they’ll try to take it away from you.”
All of this month’s poetry books are concerned with the domestic — but what different experiences of home the poets bring.
The Day Before: Poems — Dick Allen (2003)
I remember liking these poems while I was reading them but a month later I don’t remember anything specific about them. What’s up with that? I don’t know what to think of poems that I like but that don’t leave a solid mark on me. I had to go and look at them again to write this review. These poems are pedestrian — in a good way — the way in which someone without another destination in mind wanders down the street in a midsize town just looking and wondering about everything they see. They are rooted in times and places and people and above all the little bits of nature that exist for us in every setting. But they didn’t stick. Hmmm.
Bright Dead Things: Poems — Ada Limón (2015)
When she writes about her experiences of being dislocated from the city to rural Kentucky, Limon writes with humor and appreciation of both environments . Her descriptions of Kentucky horse country from the point of view of a non-rural, non-horsey person are delightfully vivid. She also brings her fresh perspective to her relationships and the loss of her step-mother. There is a wonderful immediacy and honesty in these poems. Very down to earth, even when she’s being manically unrealistic.
The Nerve of It: Poems New and Selected ‑Lynn Emanuel (2015)
Lynn Emmanuel is one of my favorite poets. I am always taken with her biting, clear-eyed look at the places and people who make up her life. This volume includes a couple of my favorite old poems and some new favorites as well.