Greta is a floor manager at Powell's City of Books. She migrated to Portland
from rural New Jersey in 1992. She has yet to buy an umbrella.
of Poetry That Help Me Love the Northwest Rain
Death and the Changing of the Seasons by Marilyn
When Marilyn Hacker's life opens, it doesn't just rain, it pours down on both the wretched and the joyful, and in a month that harbors the dread holiday of romance, I can't think of a more appropriate book. This collection of masterfully crafted sonnets chronicles the course of an electric and ultimately star-crossed love affair.
Even In Quiet Places by William Stafford
This book is actually a compilation of four earlier small-press volumes
this intimately expressive and thoughtful poet. The fourth in the series, "The
Methow River Poems," was written for the U.S. Forest Service to be posted for
the public at intervals along a wilderness road. My goal for the spring is to
venture out into the Columbia River Gorge with a sack lunch and this book
tucked snugly in my Gore-Tex jacket.
is Hard to Look at What We Came to Think We'd Come to See by Michele
I remember the day when this I stumbled upon this book and spent a lunch
much longer than I had planned and certainly not long enough to even begin
sinking my teeth into this passionately insightful and startlingly precise
collection of poems. Michele Glazer works at the Nature Conservancy's Oregon
Field Office, and her poems deal with the often obscene and elusively beautiful
workings of the natural world. However, she uses these unsettling biological
truths to redraw the human experience in uncannily resonant configurations.
The Art of Drowning by Billy Collins
Well, we aren't really drowning out here, but it has been a while since
my shoes were really dry, and one thing that this book really has going for it is
a picture of what looks (to me) like a desert on the cover just sucked me
right in and I was glad of it. Billy Collins writes poems that are funny and
smart and complicated. There aren't a lot of poetry books that I'd send to my
dad, but I think this one might actually make the cut. Also check out his
newest book Picnic, Lighting which gets two thumbs up from our stellar former
poetry section head, Mary Jo.
Books That Keep Me Excited About Leaving the House
Unveiled: A Journey Across the Desert by William
This one really is about a desert; William Langewische's stunningly beautiful
narrative of his journey through the Sahara is a natural antidote to these gray
winter months. While I can fantasize about
sunshine on the marketplaces of Algiers, revelations like the inclination of
migratory birds to land beside Saharan travelers just for their company make me
appreciate the damp and peopled landscape of our city (that's Portland, not
just Powell's city of Books).
How I Came West and Why I Stayed by Alison Baker
This collection of short stories by Oregon writer Alison Baker was recommended
to me and I have in turn recommended it to everyone that I know. Somehow these
stories manage to be ridiculous, hysterical, and profound all at one time. I
read them for the first when I was on the Costa del Sol in Spain and was
visited unexpectedly by some pangs of homesickness. Really! I swear!
Vulnerable Observer by Ruth
Ruth Behar is an anthropologist who is also the child of immigrant parents.
In this thought-provoking and beautifully written book, she addresses the
complex emotional and psychological project of exploring culture both as a
scientist and as an individual. Behar's fieldwork and extensive travels have
helped her develop a wealth of personal and professional relationships. She
draws on these to discuss
the sensitive choreography of intercultural exchange and the negotiation of her
Motoring with Mohammed: Journeys to Yemen and the Red Sea by Eric Hansen
One of the best things about working in a bookstore is that your coworkers can
always set you up with an excellent read. This book was recommended to me by
former travel section head Sue H. and has just assumed the place of Primary
Read by my bedside. So far I am finding it totally engrossing. Eric Hansen
recounts his experiences on a small island in the Red Sea and later in Yemen.
Hansen gets shipwrecked, gets saved, and then travels back to recover seven
years worth of buried travel journals. I don't know what happens yet but I'm
dying to find out!
about People I Would Pay Money to be Having Coffee With in February
The Very Rich Hours of Adrienne Monnier: An Intimate Portrait of the Literary and Artistic Life of Paris Between the Wars by Richard McDougall
This is as good a place as any to confess my elaborate fantasy about living on
the Left Bank in the 20's and 30's. While this community of modernists turned
out a lot of cultural heavyweights (Pablo Picasso, Gertrude Stein, James
Joyce), the people that really fascinate me are the ones like Natalie Barney
and Adrienne Monnier who were central to the artistic development of their
friends but who haven't become household names. Adrienne Monnier owned and
operated the Parisian bookstore La Maison des Amis des Livres. This is the
illuminating story of how she and her partner Sylvia Beach (who owned
Shakespeare & Co., the bookstore across the street from Monnier's) helped shape
and support the literary life of an era.
Violet: The Life and Loves of Violet Gordon Wodehouse by Jessica
Okay, so it's not set in Paris, but really, this book is fascinating. Violet
Gordon-Wodehouse was a brilliant English harpsichordist who was renowned for,
among other things, her flamboyant wardrobe, her passionate love of music, and
her menagerie of lovers, both male and female. Radclyffe Hall dedicated a
book of erotic poetry to her, and while Violet traveled throughout Europe
performing, her husband kept house with four of her lovers in a farmhouse in
Warwickshire. The book is written by her niece, who learned how to play the
harpsichord and clavichord on Violet's instruments. Get a copy while it's
still in stock!
Train To Memphis and Careless
Love by Peter
Whether or not you identify yourself as an active fan of Elvis Presley,
you have probably felt his impact on American popular culture. Peter Guralnick's
two-volume biography is an extraordinarily thoughtful and well-documented
exploration of the life of the King that the New York Times has called "a
triumph of biographical art."
The Life and Times of an Involuntary Genius by Andrei Codrescu
NPR commentator and poet Andrei Codrescu has written numerous books on
contemporary life in America, including the excellent Life on the Road and Hail
Babylon. This book, which was written early in his career (my copy has a black
and white photo of the author wearing big hair and a leather jacket with
upturned collar), documents the early stages of his own life, specifically his
childhood in Communist Romania and his move to the United States, ending with
his migration to California in the 1960's. Well worth the read!