I have a small stack of books in play this week. My reading has been all over the place in the past few months. The books are in various stages of completion. I jump around when the contents are made of different pieces like poems and essays.
Known and Strange Things: Essays by Teju Cole (2016), a writer and photographer whose work includes fiction and art criticism. His writing feels urgent. There are two photo portfolios with a couple of his images among the selections. He writes about poets, human rights, place, international affairs, race, politics, and more.
My Private Property by Mary Ruefle (2016), a book I ordered after seeing a poem of hers posted on Facebook by Brian Simoneau. I like the concise prose here. The subjects vary widely.
Tropic of Squalor by Mary Karr (2018). Better known for memoir now, Karr came out of the gate as a poet and in this collection delivers strong compositions, especially the sequence "The Less Holy Bible."
There There by Tommy Orange (2018). The hot novel of the moment even if not best-selling at the New York Times Book Review. The author takes us to a new place, contemporary Oakland, Calif., among urban Indians. The Prologue tells you this is something new.
Imagining Boston: A Literary Landscape by Shaun O'Connell (1990). I had this book a long time ago and gave it to the Pollard Library in Lowell for the annual book sale. When I moved to Amesbury, Mass., I remembered that O'Connell had a wonderful section called "North of Boston" that covers the writers of the Greater Merrimack Valley and Concord, Mass. I ordered a used copy online so I could re-read what he had written about Frost, Thoreau, Whittier (Haverhill/Amesbury), Kerouac, Lucy Larcom, Andre Dubus II, John Updike and others. He includes Maxine Kumin as being from the "North" in "The Boston Sphere of Influence."
They Said: A Multi-Genre Anthology of Contemporary Collaborative Writing edited by Simone Muench and Dean Rader (2018). I got a contributor's copy for the poem Kate Hanson Foster and I wrote that was selected for this book. This is new territory for me, but I'm curious about the process that produced 500 pages of poems and prose.
The Nature of the Beast: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel by Louise Penny (2015). I haven't cracked this volume that I borrowed from the Amesbury Public Library. I read about the popular Louise Penny in a newspaper profile a month ago. My wife, Rosemary, has read all her books. I was intrigued by her French Canadian-ness and have wanted to read a few mysteries this summer. Book report forthcoming.