I have a confession to make: I read faster than I review. So I have a stack of books sitting on my desk, just waiting to be reviewed. I rather read than write so I’m posting mini-reviews to assuage some of the blogger guilt that I’m feeling.
April 5, 2011
Publisher: Random House
I picked up Horoscopes for the Dead for several reasons: a) I’m a judge in the poetry selection of the Indie Lit Awards, b) I enjoy poetry, and c) who can ever get enough of Billy Collins? Sadly this newest volume disappoints. Though several of the poems featured are memorable, many weren’t. I even skimmed a few towards the end. I don’t expect every poem Collins writes to be another “Litany” or “Forgetfulness” but damn; I don’t expect every poem he writes to be published either. If you’re someone who doesn’t read poetry often, I would say this book may not be for you though it’s still accessible. If you’re a fan of Collins (I still am), I think you could still enjoy the gems this volume holds. One of my favorite poems in Horoscopes for the Dead was Feedback:
The woman who wrote from Phoenix
after my reading there
to tell me they were still talking about it
just wrote again
to tell me that they had stopped.
April 26, 2011
I read The Violets of March last month and I’m still at a loss of what to say about it. The gist: I loved it. The main character is Emily, a writer whose life is a mess: her last book sold millions and now she has a chronic case of writer’s block plus she’s getting a divorce. On a whim, she decides to visit her great-aunt on Bainbridge Island in Washington. While there she discovers a sixty-year-old diary of a woman named Esther whose own life at the time of the diary’s writing was getting even messier than Emily’s by the minute. Emily has no idea who Esther is or what happens to her. The result is a mystery that twists and turns, leaving the reader guessing all the way until the end. I didn’t want this book to end. If you’re looking for a great read this summer, you can’t go wrong with The Violets of March.
September 8, 2009
Publisher: W.W. Norton & Co.
Source: Personal Library
I have a tug-of-war relationship with this book. I bought when it was first published in 2009 because the author happens to be one of my favorite children’s book illustrators. I devoured this graphic memoir of Small’s childhood in 1950s Detroit. The author’s father was a radiologist, his mother a stay-at-home mom. His family was a family of silence and secrets. David and his brother had no idea what their parents were ever thinking. The author was a sickly child at a time when the medical profession thought that radiation could cure sinus problems. As a teenager David ended up with a huge cancerous mass on his vocal cords and the resulting surgery rendered him speechless for years. David was an outsider in a family filled with outsiders who acted as though they fit in with the world around them.
So the tug-of-war relationship with this book started the first time I read it. There was so much hype around this book that I had huge expectations and the book disappointed a little. After the first reading I gave this book to my library and ended up buying it back from them because I couldn’t bear for someone else to buy it. What? Yes, I know. It sounds weird but that’s the truth. I read Stitches again for the third time earlier this month and I’ve come to see how good this memoir is. Small’s black-and-white drawings are sparse but powerful. The drawings and words come together to convey this perfect story about childhood and loss, psychological damage and family dysfunction. It’s a pretty perfect graphic novel.
The book trailer of Stitches