Under the Mercy Trees by Heather Newton
Searching for Who We Are
A review by Cynthia Newberry Martin
I once stood at my grandfather's knee, watching him do tricks with rocks. Later I backpacked by myself in France. I married at twenty, became an attorney in a high-powered Atlanta law firm, then the mother of four. With one friend, I walk and talk; with another, I hike mountains and go to clubs in San Francisco. In Mary Gordon's novella, The Rest of Life, the old woman Paola searches for the wick running through her life that makes her "the same person who was born, was a child, a girl, a young woman, a woman, and now she is old."
Bertie, however, one of four point-of-view characters in...
Chambers Concise Dictionary by Editors Of Chambers
A review by Jonathan Hope
Earlier this year, the American rap artist Kelis boasted from the top of the charts that, "My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard". Even if you agree with Chambers Concise Dictionary that DNB stands for Dictionary of National Biography and not "Drum'n'Bass", you will probably guess that the "milkshake" Kelis had in mind was not "a drink consisting of a mixture of milk, flavouring and sometimes ice cream, whipped together until creamy". Just what was so attractive to all those boys has been hotly debated across the internet, on message boards devoted to song lyrics, as well as that...
New Selected Poems and Translations by Ezra Pound
Happy Birthday, Ezra Pound
A review by Chris Faatz
October 30, 2010, marks the 125th birthday of that utterly original American voice, Ezra Pound. Pound is equally renowned as poet, translator, essayist, and champion of previously unknown works. Included in the latter category would be the long poem "The Wasteland," by his good friend T. S. Eliot, which we'd not have today without Pound's tremendous efforts as an editorial midwife. So, there's much to celebrate on this august anniversary. Not least of which is the newly released New Selected Poems and Translations edited by Richard Sieburth and published by New Directions.
Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks
Too Modern History
A review by Karen Joy Fowler
In Caleb's Crossing, Geraldine Brooks once again shows her prodigious gift for the vivid evocation of times long past. Fans of her earlier work, Year of Wonders (set in a 17th century plague-town), People of the Book (about the Sarajevo Haggaddah) and the Pulitzer Prize-winning March (a story of the Civil War, inspired by Alcott's Little Women), will find the same acuity and narrative power here. This new novel takes place in the mid-1660s, partly on the island we know now as Martha's Vineyard and partly at the college in Newtowne known now as Harvard.
In one type of historical fiction...
Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
Stargirl: A Modern Day Tall Tale
A review by Sarah Miller
For the nondescript town of Mica, Arizona, being different is not a way of life. When Stargirl arrives, walking around with a ukulele and a pet rat named Cinnamon, she is the definition of different.
She laughed when there was no joke. She danced when there was no music. She was elusive. She was today. She was tomorrow.
Her mold did not fit that of the boring Mica Area High School (MAHS), which had never seen somebody boldly walk through the lunchroom and sing "Happy Birthday" to that day's recipient. Everybody thought she was a hoax, a scam, a way for the...
Digging to America: A Novel by Anne Tyler
When Cultures Collide
A review by Elizabeth Judd
In her stupendously wise and very funny seventeenth novel, Anne Tyler tackles the ambitious subject of national character without leaving the confines of Baltimore. At the airport, two Korean infants are delivered to two eagerly awaiting adoptive families: Ziba and Sami Yazdan, a prosperous Iranian-American couple, and Bitsy and Brad Donaldson, who wait with "flotillas of silvery balloons" and a boisterous entourage of relatives bearing video cameras. Enamored of all things foreign, Bitsy befriends the Yazdans only to impose on both households a well- intentioned but hokey vision of...