Friday, December 16, 2016

Books for Readers # 188

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The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family Annette Gordon-Reed

This is one of the best books I've read in a long time. It is the story of the descendents of enslaved woman whose children were half siblings of Thomas Jefferson's wife, and then Jefferson himself had children with one of those siblings, after his wife's death. It is about the complexity of family relationships, the paternalism of Jefferson, and about how most of Jefferson's "people" were sold off because of his overwhelming debts after he died. It is a book that was possible because of the unusual recording of the doings of the Hemingses, unlike the vast majority of enslaved people. It is about how Sally Hemings (Jefferson's wife's half sister) and her older brother James were in Paris with Jefferson and might have left him there for freedom, but both in the end made deals with him. James eventually received his freedom, and Sally extracted a promise from Jefferson that if she became his bed mate and help meet, he would free any children they had.

She carried seven children for him, of whom four lived to adulthood. Two of these were never officially freed, but were light enough in color that the best chance for them was to be sent quietly into life a white people, completely out of touch with their families. Two others were granted freedom as black people. The book is also about Jefferson's ambivalence about slavery, his white family's closed doors on his relationship to Sally, and about the the vicious public attacks on Jefferson and Hemings from newspapers and others. Gordon-Reed speculates brilliantly about whether or not true affection and even love might or might not be possible between slave and enslaver. She writes powerfully and marshals her extensive sources with deceptive ease.

The saddest part of the history is Jefferson's financial ruin at the end of his life, and how few of the people who served him were given freedom. Some of the extended Hemings family managed to buy each other and live locally, but many others continued in slavery. The book offers a look at American chattel slavery that comes about as close to the lives of actual enslaved people as any documentation I've ever read, and of course, we have to remember that these were very special enslaved people: many if not most of them were half or more white (Jefferson's children were three quarters white), and most of them were blood relations of Jefferson's white children.

What a world that was. Not as likely to cause climate change disaster as ours, but equally disastrous for the individuals caught up in slavery.

Believe What You Can by Marc Harshman... a wide ranging, rich collection of his poetry, organized around several threads: first is nature (he grew up on a farm and lives in northern West Virginia): there are deer and doves like the ones who "with a thudding whinny, they spring, and lift, and fly." (p. 85), as well as a plethora of precise observations that he tosses off in quantity, with ease, and always hitting his target.

Nature poems blend seamlessly into farm life, including a powerful prose poem in which Uncle Elmer tenderly encounters his wife's corpse and then calls on the young narrator to sit with the body until the undertaker comes, while he, Elmer, goes back to making hay. This piece, "Aunt Helen" (p.75), is a story on the surface, but ends with one of Harshman's many interrogations of God.

The answers Harshman derives tend toward a Buddhist emphasis on this present moment, these things around us. One lovely poem called "Monastery" tells how the brothers dug vegetables and listened for God and without any effort God came and sang for them in a wren suit (80). That's a Christianity this world could really use.

But I think the series of poems that surprised me most were the war poems. There are a number of damaged returned soldiers, including one who may be Harshman's father or some other veteran of the allegedly good war-- a veteran whose son is a poet who uses the word "Fuck" in a poem (p. 50). This poem, like several others, creates a character and tells a story, and Harshman's ability to do this without weakening the rigor of the language is a wonder.

Finally, there are a number of poems of nightmare or perhaps horror like "Where No One Else Can Go," in which a little girl with "a fistful of white violets" is left inside "the screaming house." It's pretty searing, and somehow adds to the sense that not only are American veterans traumatized, but so are ordinary middle-Americans. (p. 35)

This collection shows Harshman, the poet laureate of West Virginia, at the height of his powers, reaching out, reaching in, without melodrama, without posing, but with passion and apprehension of the mysteries.

The Fountain Overflows by Rebecca West

This late novel of Rebecca West is is long and sometimes a little meandering and a little too indulgent of its precocious English children and their eccentric parents, but it is definitely worth taking the time to settle in and read. Rebecca West isn't read as much today as perhaps she ought to be. She is often remembered as the lover of H.G. Wells and the mother (with Wells) of Anthony West. There were a lot of fireworks in both relationships.

In this novel, she remembers and fictionalizes her birth family at 50 years distance in time. The family are all artists and intellectuals; the brilliant, deeply selfish father has trouble keeping a job and gambles any money he gets on the stock exchange. The mother is an astonishing musician, disheveled, opinionated, and charming. She was a concert pianist who stopped to marry and is making pianists of the narrator Rose and her twin sister Mary.

The story begins when the girls are maybe seven or eight, at a good moment for the family when their father finally gets a job as a writer-editor for a suburban London paper. It runs roughly chronologically until the father leaves the family, when the girls are in their teens. Music is discussed at great length, and musicality is a high family value. One of the most difficult problems for Clare the mother and Rose and Mary is that the older sister insists on being a performing violinist when, the others are convinced, she can't play and doesn't understand music. The fourth child, the baby brother whom everyone likes best, is one of those boys who can do anything– juggle, play many instruments– but is also a genius with making people feel comfortable.

Gender is significant, too, as West, a self-declared feminist, looks at how extremely talented women fared in middle class British life in the early 1900's. The father, Piers, unapologetically sells beloved furniture without asking his wife, and Clare never complains, and is in fact conscience-struck on the rare occasions when she makes some choice, usually financial, that favors her children over her husband. He, meanwhile, writes a monograph on the future of the world that essentially predicts the fall of the Austrian Empire and the rise of Hitler. The dramatic heart of the novel is when the family gets involved in the murder of the father of a schoolmate of the girls, and Piers exhausts himself lobbying friends in Parliament to save the murderer– the dead man's own wife,

There is an occasional appearance of the paranormal, notably a battle with a poltergeist that brings Clare's best friend and her daughter into the family circle. Often things are told lightly, with an almost obtuse optimism, but it ends with a long, extraordinarily moving scene the day after Piers leaves when the remaining family members go to the botanic gardens and eat sandwiches in front of a special flower that blooms only briefly. It's hard to capture the tone of the scene, but it is, in spite of a slowness that is never heavy, and in spite of the poltergeist, a well structured narrative with many pleasure and a true re-creation of childhood and adolescence in a private world where art and kindness are the highest values.

The King in the Stone by Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban

Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban's novel The King in the Stone is a romance- fantasy with very serious themes. It includes both time travel and travel to other worlds–I didn't read the previous book in the series, so I'm not absolutely clear on how these movements through time and space are effected, but Ferreiro-Esteban always keeps the present of her story sharply in focus, so there is no confusion.

Here, Andrea and her love Julián (who take turns with the point of view) come across as easy-to-identify-with young people in their late teens or early twenties. Andrea in particular seems very modern and has made a decision that she wants to stay in our contemporary world, where she believes she will have more freedom. Julián, who has been a warrior and a king, has more trouble with contemporary customs. For example, he sees Andrea in the room of a male friend, and promptly breaks off their engagement.

Mourning the loss of Julián's love (she believes), Andrea goes off on an archaeological dig to Spain. There are multiple misunderstandings between the lovers: repeatedly they find one another, recognize their love, are parted by circumstances or more misunderstandings (usually when they see the other with a potential lover). There is a kind of ritualistic movement in this, and you come to expect these waves and troughs that carry us through the story. The reader always trusts, though, that the couple will eventually be together.

What I liked best about this book, though, was the way it breaks from the simple love story with a family theme, and all the parts about Spanish history. Both Andrea and Julián are descendants of early rulers of Spain from the time of the original Arab conquest– long before the Spanish empire in the Americas and long before the reconquest by los reyes católicos, Isabella and Ferdinand. One driving plot element is the mystery of who is the early medieval king whose stone image they find on the mountains?

This is an energetic story with lots of momentum and deep emotions woven into the fabric.

Noir by Ken Champion

This is a small book with great depth. The main character, Vincent, is one of Champion's gripping working class men who have achieved a university education. He is at once highly perceptive and intelligent and angry at a world that doesn't allow him to integrate his class roots with his present world view. Vincent loves the architecture of London, the bricks and windows and skylines. He is also fascinated by the period of the second world war, and indeed he first sees Gail dressed in a period costume and begins to fall for her. Part of their love making is often acting out scenarios of various types in an attempt to grasp the mysteries of time and place.

Vincent is also a university level teacher of sociology, mostly to what he calls "mature" students, many of whom are African immigrant women. His goal with his students is to teach them to question-- not only to believe (many of them are religious by culture), and he is apparently very popular with them, although his insights into who they are, and his tendency to speak truth as he sees it in all situations, gets him sacked from his job.

He hates what we call in the States political correctness, and also hates people eating on trains and riding bicycles on the sidewalks. There is a crisis, after his affair with Gail falls apart, when he acts with petty but vicious violence on the perpetrators of such petty actions. He is a dark, clever, and quirky man, and one who bounces back from even his own excesses. Gail is in the end too conventional for him--she demands communication and talking, whereas he is an inveterate avoider and repressor.

The ending, as far as plot goes, is a surprise in the way real life is a surprise-- things happen, there are coincidences, their meaning is doubtful at best. Vincent goes on, teaching in a new place, living his life in his peculiar way.

It's an unusual book, tight and surprising. Even though the material of it is meals in restaurants and contemporary mores and corruptions of culture, there is a surprise on almost every page. Clothes, the island of Mersea, Cockney accents, striving immigrants-- you feel the life in it, and forgive poor Vincent, human that he is, for loving it all but only understanding in part.

Other Reviews (by MSW unless noted)

Phyllis Wilson Moore Reviews Bertram Wallace Korn's American Jewry and the Civil War: A West Virginia Passover

Unexpected West Virginia stories fascinate me. For example, I never thought of Jewish soldier fighting for the Union here in the wilds of West Virginia, or anywhere else, for that matter. But they did.

AMERICA JEWRY AND THE CIVIL WAR by Bertram Wallace Korn, contains the brief entry regarding a Jewish regiment, The 22nd Ohio Volunteers, wintering in mountainous Fayette, West Virginia.

As the 1862 Passover approached, J. A. Joel and twenty other Jewish soldiers requested permission to be relieved of duty for the several days required to observe Passover. Request granted, the men set out to locate the needed foods and symbols for the observation. They had Matzo sent from Cincinnati by rail; the sender, a fellow soldier on leave, included Passover prayer-books.

The men foraged for others: two kegs of cider would be uses as a symbol for wine; an entire lamb for the lamb-bone; several chickens and some eggs. They substituted a local bitter weed for the bitter herbs. For the haroseth (a combination of chopped apples, nuts and wine), a symbol for the brick-building in Egypt, the best they could do was to place an actual brick on the table.

In a thrown-together log hut, with conventional items and symbolic one, the twenty men set about solemnly observing the dictates of their faith. Joel, the leader, conducted the service and chanted in the language of Israel.

All went smoothly until time to eat the bitter herbs (usually horseradish). The local weed, perhaps jimson, proved to be fiery as Cayenne pepper, and for some, hallucinogenic. With burning mouths the men hastily drank up all the cider (not just the four cups permitted). The results were not humorous. Soon, one man thought he was Moses, another thought he was Aaron, and one imaged himself a Pharaoh. After a tussle, the three confused men were carried from the camp and those assembled continued with their prayers.

This is a Civil War story of the best kind. Joel, the organizer would later say, "…there is no occasion in my life that gives me more pleasure and satisfaction then when I remember the celebration of Passover of 1862."

I'm fairly sure this is an "only in West Virginia" tale for the ages.

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami

Murakami is best known for The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, and apparently (according the 2014 review of Colorless Tsukuru by Patti Smith in the NYTimes, his masterpiece. Apparently his work is either fantastical and edgy, which Smith seemed to prefer, or a kind of minimalist work like this one. Murakami is said to be considered "unJapanese" by many Japanese, but to me, this had a sensibility that I associate with Japan: a kind of patience and deliberate insistence on savoring experience, which is part of the main character Tsukuru's personality, but also, I would suggest, also part of the culture, particularly the Buddhist-influenced part.

The high value put on a mixed-gender group of teen-age is a fascinating psychological study (consider Donna Tartt's Secret History and Tana French's The Likeness for other views of how such a tight group can be destructive as well as nurturing). Most of the book is about Tsukuru's search for why his friends rejected him. He has a near-psychopathic break down after the rejection and builds a lonely life around railroad stations (which he both loves and works on as a skilled engineer). Slowly he rebuilds his psyche and, stimulated by a new girlfriend, he intensifies his quest through Japan and Finland. Patti Smith points out, since several things are left unresolved, there could be a sequel. I didn't think so, but in any case, found this a refreshingly alien world to visit and experience.

Let the Great World by Spin Colum McCann

This is an excellent contemporary novel that includes many characters and events linked by and centered around the famous tightrope walk by Phillipe Petit between the World Trade Center Towers on August 7, 1974. McCann manages about eleven point of view characters, and each one is amazingly believable except maybe the suicidal prostitute, who is interesting and likable but feels more constructed and less natural that the others. He has two chapters following his fictionalized version of the tightrope walker; a very well done criminal court judge; two two Irishmen, some early computer geniuses in early Silicon Valley who hack into New York city pay phones to place bets on whether the tightrope walker will fall or not.

The book has some of the characteristics of a collection of short stories, but is in fact a real novel because each short piece adds to the total momentum, and each question laid out raises the ante: What is the judge going to do with the tightrope walker? What will happen to the dead prostitute's daughters? And all the questions are answered satisfactorily, strongly.


Phyllis Wilson Moore often recommends these two poems to people: "Bleeding" by May Swenson and "To A Certain Citizen" by Walt Whitman (when you get to that web page, you have to scroll down for the poem).

Phyllis says, "Swenson has a host of poems I consider special. If you get a chance, check out her 'South Bound on the Freeway;' 'The Centaur,' 'Pigeon Woman'"

Phyllis also writes that she had an idea idea looking for a writer:

"Historical novel anyone? Hint. A white slave owner of the Kawawha Valley set free about 60 of his slaves in 1849 (I think was the year) and sent them off with at least one lawyer and $15,000, plus tools,etc. [Look up Sampson Saunders]. I think it is easy to find facts about this using the net. We also need a novel about the bunker at the Greenbrier and the chaos likely to have happened when the big wheels tried to use it and leave the locals out to die."


Joan Newburger's story "A Bad Day in the Promised Land" just online at Persimmon Tree!

Belinda Anderson is one of "50 Writers from 50 States."

The latest from Barbara Crooker: check the poems added or updated to the "online poems" section of her website: New Online Poems.

Ed Davis on Bob Dylan

Hamilton Stone Editions #35 Fall 2016

Saturday, November 12, 2016

What I posted on Facebook

     I posted the paragraphs below on Facebook two days ago and have had a rich outpouring of comments--lots of likes, lots of support, but the comments are especially interesting:  one man wrote that now I know how gun owners have felt for years  (frightened, I suppose he means).  One old friend who I haven't seen in decades went off big time about how this is how she felt when she voted for Romney four years ago.  I don't think she was afraid her children would be killed, but maybe she was.  One guy said most men protect women and generally don't grab their private parts.  It's been interesting, to say the least.  Here's what I wrote:

     I'm writing this to all my friends in the Appalachian region, especially West Virginia and Shinnston, where I grew up. I'm going to ask those of you who voted for Mr. Trump to have a little compassion for people who are afraid today. Many of us are in the Northeast or on the West Coast, but there are also many in towns and rural areas around the whole country. Next door to you, too.
     In fact, it is beginning to look like a majority of Americans voted for the Democrats--the popular vote-- even though Mr. Trump will win the electoral college and become the next president. I taught a class in New York City last night, and two women in my class wore mourning black. There were tears. Friends of mine who are African-American are terrified for the future of their sons--they believe that Mr. Trump's victory will encourage more deaths for more black young people.
     People I know who are citizens and also Muslims are struggling with how to tell their children that a man who appears to hate them is now going to be the leader of the country. I'm not even saying who is right and who is wrong, I am saying that people are frightened, and I'm asking for compassion.
They are afraid they are going to lose their new health insurance. They're afraid the clinics where they get gynecological care are going to be shut down. They're afraid that more men of wealth and celebrity will feel it is their right to grab women's private parts if they feel the notion.
     We can all think about unifying later, but for the moment, just consider how so many people feel. Thanks for listening.

Sunday, October 09, 2016


Meredith Sue Willis's

Books for Readers # 187

October 10, 2016

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Hamilton Stone Editions #35 Fall 2016 ! 
Top-shelf Poetry! Knock 'em dead fiction! Powerful nonfiction!


Above, left to right, top to bottom: Burt Kimmelman, Sir Walter Scott, Llewellyn McKernan, Randi Ward

In This Issue of Books for Readers:

The Heart of Midlothian by Walter Scott

Abandoned Angel by Burt Kimmelman
How to Season a Turkey with Bear Grease-- Phyllis Moore Reviews an Old Novel
First novel in the Virals Youn Adult Series -- Reviewed by Sarah Cordingley

Margaret Fuller: A New American Life by Megan Marshall
Yorker Keith on Hiring a Book Marketing Company
John Birch Blog      Things to Read & Hear Online    
Announcements and News     Irene Weinberger Books

Books for Readers # 187

First, let me invite you to dip into the latest issue of The Hamilton Stone Review #35 , which has just gone live online. It has excellent poetry chosen by Roger Mitchell, the regular poetry editor, from poets like Lana Bella, Robert Beveridge, Gareth Culshaw, Salvatore Difalco,Alejandro Escudé, Alice Friman, Louis Gallo, Howie Good, Gail Hanlon, Dave Harrity, Heikki Huotari, Clinton Inman, Clara B. Jones, Richard Jones, Megan Kellerman, Anna Ivey, Michael Lauchlan, Sean Lynch, W. P. Osborn, Simon Perchik, John Repp, Judith Skillman, J. R. Solonche, Andrew Spiess, D. E. Steward, Allison Thorpe, and Mark Young.
The fiction, edited by Shelley Ettinger, includes an absolutely knock-out story by Andria Nacina Cole as well as wonderful pieces by Tim Fredrick, Gimbiya Kettering, and John Warren Lewis.
I had the privilege of choosing nonfiction for this issue, and it includes the heart-breaking opening of Ingrid Blaufarb Hughes' memoir Losing Aaron (see below), as well as an incident from the life of the late Jane Kinzler, a piece on midwifery by Nechama Sammet Moring, CPM, MA, and a moving one on loss and loving by Dolly Withrow.
Please read, and let me know what you think.

In recent recent months. I've been trying to read at a poem a day (or more),  because I like poetry and had some college training in reading it, but also because I generally find it slows me down emotionally and hones my sensitivity to language. This last seems especially important to me, given my return to an interest in story and plot-driven fiction.
I've been reading Elmore Leonard again, and I tried out one of Patricia Cornwell's Kay Scarpetta murder mysteries (which didn't impress me-- too many characters seemed to have been set up in earlier books, so maybe I'll try an early one). I've gone almost to the end of what's available of Donna Leon's Commisario Brunetti novels, which are really about the city of Venice and about corruption in high places and the slow creeping of cynicism as we age.
And, of course, there is always Victorian literature.
This issue I'll review some new books, three of poetry, but begin with some comments on a Walter Scott novel, The Heart of Midlothian.

The Heart of Midlothian by Walter Scott

Just a few words about this novel that, along with other books by Scott, was an inspiration to young Charles Dickens and probably all the great Victorians. It is delightfully unselfconscious in its storytelling.  The heroine, Jeanie Deans, isn't even a proto-feminist, but she is a powerhouse just the same. She insists on standing by her principles and refusing to lie on the witness stand-- even though it condemns someone she loves. Then she walks from Edinburgh to London in an effort to save the condemned. She's a wonderful character, and a good example of a Dead White European Male managing to create a fine woman character by keeping a respectful distance and reporting her actions and speech, including some formal thought-speech. The omniscient story-telling form works with him on this.
The plot, of course, is old-fashioned and dependent on coincidences, but nobody seemed to complain in the early nineteenth century. The Scots dialect is often impenetrable, and there are gallingly prolix explanations of the factions of eighteenth century Scotch Presbyterianism.
But Scott does fantastic action scenes. Out of long passages of allegedly humorous dialect dialogue and back story (which he has no qualms about making a full pause to insert), really striking scenes suddenly take shape before us: the court room or a mob scene or a sword fight. His action writing is admirably y unadorned and realistic: there is a mostly offstage skirmish toward the end that is fast, shocking, and brutally random (and thus totally believable) as to who lives and who dies. Once guns fire and swords clash, anyone could end up dead.
Interestingly, one rather tedious character, who had seemed to be in the book only for comic relief, proves to be a trained and practical killer, calm and efficient.   In fact, Scott's characters are not caricatures, although some of their speeches are. He has no problem making fun of his lower orders, and he clearly prefers his well-spoken upper class swells like the Duke of Argyle, but everyone has some rounding, and he seems genuinely fondly of the people who walk through his imagination.

Beneath the Coyote Hills by Bill Luvaas

Beneath the Coyote Hills is a just-published novel about a homeless, epileptic man who in his early life was beaten down by life with a drunk father, a high achieving brother, and a depressed mother who almost never makes it out of her nightgown. The main character, Tommy, marries, studies, has a number of good chances, gets a "prestigious Wallace Stegner Fellowship" for an MFA at Stanford and drops out when people criticize his novel.
The best parts of the book are in the present of the story, where Tommy lives as a squatter in an olive grove, sharing in some abandoned house stripping with someone called Felony Fred. Living nearby are various skinheads, survivalists, and evangelical Christian motorcycle gangsters. These characters as well as Tommy himself and his hallucinations of Lizard and and Pop are simultaneously affectionate and hard-edged.
Tommy also has a novel-within the novel about a character who is Tommy's opposite, a figure with some of his brother's multiple talents and penchant for success. This is fun to read as something between wish fulfillment and vengeance on the rich and powerful. About two thirds in, though, the book we are reading becomes increasingly meta as Tommy's novel and the world of the novel we think we're reading begin to mix. Then Luvaas adds another layer in which the wife of Tommy's main character turns out to have written a best selling novel about Tommy's life. Discussions arise about who is allowed to make changes in people's lives, and Tommy ends up burning his novel, but the holocaust of his layers of story becomes a real wildfire.
There is a semi-happy ending, and I'm sure the case can be made that all the meta stuff is in Tommy's mind as much as the lizard man is, although I would have been happy without the literary pyrotechnics. By the end, Tommy has exorcized his father and taken several good and even heroic actions.

Whipstitches by Randi Ward

This beautifully produced book of tight, intense poems has ostensible themes of animals and plants and weather in a rural place. A handful of the poems have a bit of wisdom (a poem called "Tadpole" says in whole, "When you're stuck/in a rut,/everything depends on the weather"); a few wear their emotion on their sleeve, like "Grandma," in which "What's left of her" paces a sagging porch wearing one sock. There is a lot of wit and a modicum of humor as in "Daddy Longlegs" where the poet asks the arachnid to stop pointing. There are references to other poems with strong images and lots of white space (the standing water in Ward's "Wheelbarrow," unlike in Willam Carlos Williams', however, breeds mosquitoes.)
But what really stuns and holds me about these small explosions is the worlds they suggest funneling down into the spare utterances. Many of these implied worlds and histories of experience are frightening, bleak and violent. These represent probably the largest group of poems. "Bath" has only fourteen words, but the penultimate one is "bruise," and the woman in the poem soaks in a way to "make/a blind mirror cry." Such poems hint at realms of suffering behind the crystalline words on the page: "Lights Out" seems to be a child in danger at bedtime. And, to quote one poem completely, the speaker in "Gate" has a profound ambivalence about home that outshines dozens of overblown memoirs of family dysfunction, abuse, and mental illness:
Oh merciful
gate, break
these legs
for me
so I don't
have to walk
This kind of writing shames us all for our sloppy purple prose and prosy poetry.

Getting Ready to Travel Llewellyn McKernan

This new chapbook by veteran poet Llewellyn McKernan is full of striped angels and rhyming patterns that we associate with children. Everything, though. that seems bouncy and chipper isundermined just a little, moved just a hair off plumb.
There is a consciousness of the rhyming, of both its ancient power, its childishness, and its way of pulling us along. Consider the beginning of # 4:
In puddles where all the dirt's been banished,
trees step backward until they vanish.
What is that about? It has an assertive freshness that is not young but is inescapably new. Some passages are dream visions, some are like what people see when they got to a new place or taste a new food. McKernan is not, of course, young or innocent or ingenuous. One of my favorite sections is a mystery that starts with the narrator walking by a country church and ends with "Big Sister Wrong/ with blood on her sleeve /is mother to the child we call Mystery." Is this an interpretation of religious symbols? An embodiment of the strange messages dreams bring us?
Also favorites of mine are the sections with strange characters: #20 has an angel "A sweet young zebra-striped/thing" that once had scales. #17 is about an old lady whose shoe sprouts "duck" tape and has a refrain, "She once had a daughter/She once had a son."

    She walks with stiff hips, she stumbles a little.
   Her life is quite plain, her life is a riddle.
  What's left in her booth is a glass of tea
 where the ice becomes what it used to be.
What more to be written on this small sheet
  Life isn't short,
    Life isn't sweet.

McKernan's chapbook is not an essay in verse and not a series of language jewels: it's an experience, and I recommend you'll take it.


Abandoned Angel Burt Kimmelman

This is Burt Kimmelman's ninth book of poems, and he has a long list of praise from people like Hugh Seidman, Robert Creeley, Alfred Kazin, Jerome Rothenberg, Michael Heller, Harvey Shapiro, and Madeline Tiger. I only looked at the names on the back of the book after I had read for a while and sort of popped back repeatedly in surprise and pleasure. Where have these poems been all my life?
Clearly, the poets know about Kimmelman.
The book is divided into Weather and Cities, but the individual poems, whether about a misty morning in Maplewood, New Jersey or the throbbing life of a New York City street, are pellucid and full of wonder. One of the things I especially enjoyed was how Kimmelman found words for things I have seen but unable to articulate– often transformations and transitions, such as "dark becoming green" at the end of a poem called "Dawn." Of course, the power of those simple words requires the rest of the poem for its real effect, but the change from color to dark or dark to color has always struck me as important perceptually.
. Or again, in "Quarrel of Gulls," the birds scatter after eating: "lifting apart from each other, wings out." That "lifting apart" just nails it. It reminds you of one reason we need our poets, or at least a poet like Burt Kimmelman: words that capture the psychological thrill of what we experience.
In "Regatta on Lake Union, Late July," five short lines do this for light and wind, and a poem called "Taking Off from Orly Airport" manages to recreate one a when what we see blends with who and what we are..
Most of the poems are imagistic and only a few are very long. Two or three somewhat obliquely with history, especially the Holocaust. The poet looks closely at photographs or makes a visit to Auschwitz .  There is no melodrama, just what we can see, experience, put into words, which is far from nothing.
Kimmelman's work is, in the end, poems of perception that make no apologies for the limits of language. We are our language far more deeply that we admit, and Kimmelman makes a virtue and adventure of this.


PHYLLIS MOORE ON "How to Season a Turkey with Bear Grease"

Here are my comments as well as a recipe from the novel Young Kate (or, New Hope or, The Rescue): A Tale of the Great Kanawha, attributed to a John Lewis and published in 1855 by Bunce and Brothers Publishers, NY. -- Phyllis Moore

Lewis knew the region around the Greenbrier Resort and Hawk's Nest well. There is a Kate's Mountain in the area, and an area called The Loop. In the novel he refers to the mountain, the loop, Hawk's Nest, the slaves at the Greenbrier Resort, the gentry.
One hunter, Ben Bramble, sells venison, hides, and moonshine to the Resort. He scorns the gentry visiting there and claims, "They eat their niggers." This is his way of pointing out enslaved persons are sold to finance the summers the gentry families spent in the cool of the mountains around White Sulphur Springs.
The novel was first named Young Kate, for the loyal dog in the story. It was also published asNew Hope, the name of the home of the main family in the story, and as The Rescue (Young Kate helps rescue the mistress). Henry J. Thomas published the same story (a shorter version) and called it The Allens: A Tale of the Great Kanawha Valley.
The turkey recipe described in the novel is one of the rather humorous sections. I laugh every time I read the exact time it took for alcohol-drinking young men to cook the bird. The men are traveling and must kill game for their meals. Early in the day they shoot a 20 # turkey. They are spending the night at a way-station and contribute the turkey as their share of a communal meal consisting of turkey, bear, dried venison, ham, and corn bread. Before they cook, they drink heartily from a jug of the "rall critter" (rye whiskey).
The narrator of the novel describes the cooking scene in great detail. (p 76-77): "After the turkey was prepared in the usual way for roasting, a long, sharp, narrow knife was passed around the thigh bone and up to the hip joint, separating the flesh from the bone; the bone was then extracted. In the same manner, the wing bones were taken out. An incision was then made from the inside of the body, and the breast bone was taken out and those articulated to it, passing on to the back below the neck….Flitches of fat bacon, peppered, salted, and rolled in flour, were inserted into the legs and wings; and the internal cavity was filled with a compound of cold, light bread, crumbled fine, and kneaded up with bear's fat, salt, and pepper. All the apertures were closed, a string tied around the neck close to the body, and the turkey was then suspended by the legs by a cord before the bank of clear coals that filled the whole fireplace. A short-handled frying-pan was placed beneath to receive the drippings.
"The lean, fresh bear's meat was cut into steaks, and the fat pieces into similar steaks; these later were salted and peppered, and a wooden skewer or spit, three feet long, was thrust through the middle part of a lean steak, and then of a fat piece, alternately, till the stick was full. This was also hung up before the fire perpendicular, but it was occasionally taken down, slightly dredged with flour, held horizontally over the coals, and again suspended over the skillet which caught the gravy. The bear meat and bread were not put to the fire till the turkey had been revolving before it for one hour and thirty-seven minutes. They were all brought in brown and smoking hot. The gravies were placed on the table in two tin pans."
It sounds delicious!


Sarah Cordingley Reviews the first book of the VIRALS series

Science fiction meets young adult in this exciting first installment of the Virals series. Kathy Reichs, a forensic anthropologist and crime author, teams up with her son, Brendan, to craft her YA debut novel.
Tory Brennan, grandniece of the world-famous forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan, has her world uprooted when her mother falls victim to a drunk driver and Tory is sent to live with a father she didn't know she had on an island most don't know exist.
But island life is far from mundane, especially once Tory discovers the place her father works – Loggerhead, an island even more remote than the one she calls home. But its unique qualities make up for its location – free-ranging troops of monkeys, Loggerhead Sea Turtles, and an off-the-books wolf pack call the island home, alongside the LIRI research compound. But when she and her friends discover the body of a young woman buried on Loggerhead, they uncover a decades-old unsolved murder, and in trying to crack the cold case, they stumble across something far more dangerous. In a little used LIRI lab, they find an imprisoned, sickly wolfdog pup – the missing member of Loggerhead's pack.
They break the dog out without considering the reasons it was locked in a lab, concerned only for its life. Within a week, the wolfdog is healthy again, but the teens have fallen victim to an experimental strain of parvovirus – one contagious to humans. They survive the virus's attack, but far more than surface damage has been done to their bodies. With the murderer still at large and their very DNA in rebellion, Tory and her friends have got a dangerous mission ahead and a target on their backs. But they might not be powerless anymore.

Dissident Gardens Jonathan Lethem Reviewed by MSW

With two excellent point-of-view characters, Rose Zimmer and Cicero Lookins, and a solid ending, Lethem does more right than wrong in this book. Those two characters, anyhow, are written in language that matches the story line in form and tone. Cicero, the child of Rose's lover, movingly but unsentimentally tells of Rose's last months in a nursing home. There is a real relationship between the old woman and the man who grew from the sour boy she educated in so many ways.
I'm not as fond of some of the other point-of-view characters, especially Rose's daughter Miriam and Miriam's husband, a sort of Clancy brother Irish folk singer who wants to be Bob Dylan. A lot of the Village-in-the-sixties material feels too carefully constructed. And sometimes Lethem uses his swirls and whorls and surges of language for nothing more than to get one character to make a simple point about another one. It's a waste of words. Nor do I really believe his version of Miriam's last hours in a jungle guerrilla encampment. Imagining something extreme is part of what a novelist does, but the fact that we do it and have the right to do it doesn't mean we always do it well.
On the other hand, the Rose sections have a splendid Yiddish-inflected English, and Rose's little grandson Sergius, the child of the romantic-revolutionary hippies, is excellent. Sergius as an adult, however, is less successful, although his character gives us eyes for the strong ending.
It's a mixed bag: when it was good it was very very good, and when it was bad, I was counting pages to the end.

When I Was Puerto Rican by Esmeralda Santiago reviewed by MSW

I borrowed this as a digital library loan when the book I was looking for wasn't available, and I'm so glad I did. How did I miss reading it sooner? It's a memoir of growing up in Puerto Rico and New York City, that back-and-forth life trying to make a living that was at its height in the nineteen sixties and seventies.
Esmeralda's mother is the most amazing character: seven kids before she is thirty, 11 children total. She is smart, ambitious, hard working, and still likes to look her best. The narrator's childhood material is rich and delightful, and there is a sharp, brief section at the end in Brooklyn when Esmeralda talks herself into the High School of Performing Arts.

Margaret Fuller: A New American Life by Megan Marshall Reviewed by MSW

I actually laid aside this biography as I approached the end because I didn't want to read what I already knew: that Margaret Fuller died with her husband and little son, their ship run around off Fire Island in a storm in 1850 when she had just turned 40.   It's an amazing and horrible incident: ten or twelve hours of this foundered ship, 300 yards from shore, and a couple of hundred people, scavengers by trade, watching--people with no interest in saving the crew or 6 passengers, only in picking up their trunks and feathered hats when they drifted in.
But that was a random death. The rest of her life is instructive and fascinating and the opposite of random as she struggled to make a place for herself that satisfied her education and ambition. I knew she was part of the Transcendentalist circle, but new to me was that she was a foreign correspondent for Horace Greeley's newspaper in Italy during The Garibaldi-Mazzini 1848 republic of Rome-- a revolution, in the end destroyed by troops from France's so-called second republic, plus Austria. She was writing dispatches back to Horace Greeley's newspaper, pregnant, keeping it secret, no one quite sure when and if she married her Giovanni Ossoli. Then trying to make sure a hired wet nurse fed her baby, dodging cannon balls, looking for her solider husband.
There was a brouhaha back in the states when all this came out--how could the quintessential American woman intellectual marry someone beneath her: unintellectual, a soldier. The problem was basic sexism and probably classism too (although Ossoli was some kind of minor nobility or at least related to such). How many men have married women who satisfied their need for care and comfort? And apparently Ossoli was loving and sweet-tempered.
Fuller was the first of her kind in the United States, a path breaker for women in so many ways, especially her book Woman in the Nineteenth Century. This excellent biography was published in 2010, and won a Pulitzer Prize for Biography. Well deserved!



Belinda Anderson writes to say, "Regarding Walter Dean Myers (See review of his Monster in Issue #186 ), thanks to Phyllis Moore, I recently discovered NOW IS YOUR TIME! THE AFRICAN-AMERICAN STRUGGLE FOR FREEDOM. I recommend it."


For Writers Considering Hiring a Book Marketing Company

Yorker Keith writes that he has used a company called BookBuzz that impresses him with thepower of social media. He questions, though, if it is " a different story whether or not these blogs turn into robust book sales, [but] at least this approach propagates book promotion to the Internet world, which means the entire world."
He says that the book marketing company charged $399.00 for promoting his book: "What they did for my novel "Remembrance of Blue Roses" is excellent." (See information here) . He says that "BookBlizz arranged a single day book blitz on August 31, after which bloggers hosted my book using this link.....If you are a Twitter member, please search for "Remembrance of Blue Roses" on your twitter account, then a series of blogs appear (try to click both "Top" and "Live" tabs on the top). This is quite amazing. BookBuzz seems to know how to use Social Networking for the book promotion.
"I can highly recommend to your newsletter subscribers, who may be seeking an effective yet inexpensive way to promote their book."



Don't forget John Birch's continuing blogspot collection of essays. The current one is about culture clashes between Americans and the British during the Second World War.



Rita Quillen's new book of poems: The Mad Farmer's Wife now available!
Latest updates on Barbara Crooker's website: New Online Poems!
Carolyn Millier's "Counting the Fish in the Sea," a non-fiction book for children, tells the true story of how researchers from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) tackle what might seem an impossible task—counting the fish in the sea. Miller explains how a NEAMAP (Northeast Atlantic Monitoring and Assessment Program) trawl is conducted, and how scientists sort, count, and analyze the fish. Each page is accented with actual photographs depicting the exciting moments of a research cruise. Miller also developed a way for children to continue learning about sea life by creating an interactive blog following the adventures of 'Sandy the Flounder.' Kids are able to visit the site to ask questions they have about the book or marine life. (Reviewed by Erin Kelly, VIMS).Learn more .
Penner Publishing is happy to announce the next novels by Monique Raphel High. (See ourinterview with Monique in issue, #185)
Don't forget The Courtship of Eva Eldrige by Diane Simmons--nonfiction about leaving the farm, women in war industry in the 1940-s, and serial bigamy! See review in Issue # 186.




I have a lot of friends and colleagues who really despise Amazon. See the recent discussion inIssue # 184, as well as older comments from Jonathan Greene and others here.
The largest unionized bookstore in America has a webstore at Powells Books. Some people prefer shopping online there to shopping at An alternative way to reach Powell's site and support the union is via Prices are the same but 10% of your purchase will go to support the union benefit fund.


If a book discussed in this newsletter has no source mentioned, don’t forget that you may be able to borrow it from your public library as either a hard copy or a digital copy. You may also buy or order from your local independent bookstore. (To find a bricks-and-mortar store, click the "shop indie" logo left).
To buy books online, I often use Bookfinder or Alibris. Bookfinder gives the price with shipping and handling, so you can compare what you’re really going to have to pay.
Another source for used and out-of-print books is All Book Stores. Also consider Paperback Book Swap, a postage-only way to trade books with other readers.
Still another place to buy books: Ingrid Hughes suggests "a great place for used books which sometimes turn out to be never-opened hard cover books is Biblio.. I've bought many books from them, often for $4 including shipping."

If you are using an electronic reader like Kindle, Nook, or Kobo, don't forget free books at theGutenberg Project—mostly classics, and free, free, free! sells e-books for independent brick-and-mortar bookstores.


Please send responses to this newsletter and suggestions directly to Meredith Sue Willis . Unless you instruct otherwise, your responses may be edited for length and published in this newsletter.

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           Meredith Sue Willis, the producer of this occasional newsletter, is a writer and teacher and enthusiastic reader. Her books have been published by Charles Scribner's SonsHarperCollinsOhio University PressMercury HouseWest Virginia University Press, Monteymayor PressTeachers & Writers PressHamilton Stone Editions, and others. She teaches at New York University's School of Professional Studies.



#187 Randi Ward, Burt Kimmelman, Llewellyn McKernan, Sir Walter Scott, Jonathan Lethem, Bill Luvaas, Phyllis Moore, Sarah Cordingley & more
#186 Diane Simmons, Walter Dean Myers, Johnny Sundstrom, Octavia Butler & more
#185 Monique Raphel High; Elizabeth Jane Howard; Phil Klay; Crystal Wilkinson
#184 More on Amazon; Laura Tillman; Anthony Trollope; Marily Yalom and the women of the French Revolution; Ernest Becker
#183 Hilton Obenzinger, Donna Meredith, Howard Sturgis, Tom Rob Smith, Daniel José Older, Elizabethe Vigée-Lebrun, Veronica Sicoe
#182 Troy E. Hill, Mitchell Jackson, Rita Sims Quillen, Marie Houzelle, Frederick Busch, more Dickens
 Valerie Nieman, Yorker Keith, Eliot Parker, Ken Champion, F.R. Leavis, Charles Dickens
#180 Saul Bellow, Edwina Pendarvis, Matthew Neill Null, Judith Moffett, Theodore Dreiser, & more
#179 Larissa Shmailo, Eric Frizius, Jane Austen, Go Set a Watchman and more
#178 Ken Champion, Cat Pleska, William Demby's Beetlecreek, Ron Rash, Elizabeth Gaskell, and more.
#177 Jane Hicks, Daniel Levine, Constance Fenimore Woolson, Ken Chamption, Patricia Harman
#176 Robert Gipe, Justin Torres, Marilynne Robinson, Velma Wallis, Larry McMurty, Charlotte Brontë, Henry James, Fumiko Enchi, Shelley Ettinger
#175 Lists of what to read for the new year; MOUNTAIN MOTHER GOOSE: CHILD LORE OF WEST VIRGINIA; Peggy Backman
#174 Christian Sahner, John Michael Cummings, Denton Loving, Madame Bovary#173 Stephanie Wellen Levine, S.C. Gwynne, Ed Davis's Psalms of Israel Jones, Quanah Parker, J.G. Farrell, Lubavitcher girls
#172 Pat Conroy, Donna Tartt, Alice Boatwright, Fumiko Enchi, Robin Hobb, Rex Stout
#171 Robert Graves, Marie Manilla, Johnny Sundstrom, Kirk Judd
#170 John Van Kirk, Carter Seaton,Neil Gaiman, Francine Prose, The Murder of Helen Jewett, Thaddeus Rutkowski
#169 Pearl Buck's The Exile and Fighting Angel; Larissa Shmailo; Liz Lewinson; Twelve Years a Slave, and more
#168 Catherine the Great, Alice Munro, Edith Poor, Mitch Levenberg, Vonnegut, Mellville, and more!
#167 Belinda Anderson; Anne Shelby; Sean O'Leary, Dragon tetralogy; Don Delillo's Underworld
#166 Eddy Pendarvis on Pearl S. Buck; Theresa Basile; Miguel A. Ortiz; Lynda Schor; poems by Janet Lewis; Sarah Fielding
#165 Janet Lewis, Melville, Tosltoy, Irwin Shaw!
#164 Ed Davis on Julie Moore's poems; Edith Wharton; Elaine Drennon Little's A Southern Place; Elmore Leonard
#163 Pamela Erens, Michael Harris, Marlen Bodden, Joydeep Roy-Battacharya, Lisa J. Parker, and more
#162 Lincoln, Joseph Kennedy, Etel Adnan, Laura Treacy Bentley, Ron Rash, Sophie's Choice, and more
#161 More Wilkie Collins; Duff Brenna's Murdering the Mom; Nora Olsen's Swans & KlonsLady Audley's Secret
#160 Carolina De Robertis, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Ross King's The Judgment of Paris
#159 Tom Jones. William Luvaas, Marc Harshman, The Good Earth, Lara Santoro, American Psycho 
#158 Chinua Achebe's Man of the PeopleThe Red and the Black; McCarthy's C.Farm City; Victor Depta;Myra Shapiro
#157 Alice Boatwright, Reamy Jansen, Herta Muller, Knut Hamsun, What Maisie Knew; Wanchee Wang, Dolly Withrow.
#156 The Glass MadonnaA Revelation
#155 Buzz Bissinger; reader suggestions; Satchmo at the Waldorf
#154 Hannah Brown, Brad Abruzzi, Thomas Merton
#153 J.Anthony Lukas, Talmage Stanley's The Poco Fields, Devil Anse
#152 Marc Harshman guest editor; John Burroughs; Carol Hoenig
#151 Deborah Clearman, Steve Schrader, Paul Harding, Ken Follet, Saramago-- and more!
#150 Mitch Levenberg, Johnny Sundstrom, and Isabel Wilkerson's The Warmth of Other Suns.
#149 David Weinberger's Too Big to KnowThe ShiningThe Tiger's Wife.
#148 The MoonstoneDjibouti, Mark Perry on the Grimké family
#147 Jane Lazarre's new novel; Johnny Sundstrom; Emotional Medicine Rx; Walter Dean Myers, etc.
#146 Henry Adams AGAIN!  Also,Fun Home: a Tragicomic
#145 Henry Adams, Darnell Arnoult, Jaimy Gordon, Charlotte Brontë
#144 Carter Seaton, NancyKay Shapiro, Lady Murasaki Shikibu
#143 Little America; Guns,Germs, and Steel; The Trial
#142 Blog Fiction, Leah by Seymour Epstein, Wolf Hall, etc.
#141 Dreama Frisk on Hilary Spurling's Pearl Buck in China; Anita Desai; Cormac McCarthy
#140 Valerie Nieman's Blood Clay, Dolly Withrow
#139 My Kindle, The Prime MinisterBlood Meridian#138 Special on Publicity by Carter Seaton
#137 Michael Harris's The Chieu Hoi Saloon; Game of Thrones; James Alexander Thom's Follow the River#136 James Boyle's The Creative Commons; Paola Corso, Joanne Greenberg, Monique Raphel High, Amos Oz
#135 Reviews by Carole Rosenthal, Jeffrey Sokolow, and Wanchee Wang.
#134 Daniel Deronda, books with material on black and white relations in West Virginia
#133 Susan Carpenter, Irene Nemirovsky, Jonathan Safran Foer, Kanafani, Joe Sacco
#132 Karen Armstrong's A History of God; JCO's The FallsThe Eustace Diamonds again.
#131 The Help; J. McHenry Jones, Reamy Jansen, Jamie O'Neill, Michael Chabon. 
 Lynda Schor, Ed Myers, Charles Bukowski, Terry Bisson, The Changing Face of Anti-Semitism 
#129 Baltasar and Blimunda; Underground Railroad; Navasky's Naming Names, small press and indie books.
#128 Jeffrey Sokolow on Histories and memoirs of the Civil Rights Movement
#127 Olive Kitteridge; Urban fiction; Shelley Ettinger on Joyce Carol Oates
#126 Jack Hussey's Ghosts of Walden, The Leopard Roger's Version, The Reluctanct Fundamentalist 
#125 Lee Maynard's The Pale Light of Sunset; Books on John Brown suggested by Jeffrey Sokolow
#124 CloudsplitterFounding Brothers, Obenzinger on Bradley's Harlem Vs. Columbia University#123 MSW's summer reading round-up; Olive Schreiner; more The Book Thief; more on the state of editing
#122 Left-wing cowboy poetry; Jewish partisans during WW2; responses to "Hire a Book Doctor?"
#121 Jane Lazarre's latestIrving Howe's Leon Trotsky; Gringolandia; "Hire a Book Doctor?"
#120 Dreama Frisk on The Book Thief; Mark Rudd; Thulani Davis's summer reading list
#119 Two Histories of the Jews; small press books for Summer
#118 Kasuo Ichiguro, Jeanette Winterson, The Carter Family!
#117 Cat Pleska on Ann Pancake; Phyllis Moore on Jayne Anne Phillips; and Dolly Withrow on publicity
#116 Ann Pancake, American Psycho, Marc Harshman on George Mackay Brown
#115 Adam Bede, Nietzsche, Johnny Sundstrom
#114 Judith Moffett, high fantasy, Jared Diamond, Lily Tuck
#113 Espionage--nonfiction and fiction: Orson Scott Card and homophobia
#112 Marc Kaminsky, Nel Noddings, Orson Scott Card, Ed Myers
#111 James Michener, Mary Lee Settle, Ardian Gill, BIll Higginson, Jeremy Osner, Carol Brodtick
#110  Nahid Rachlin, Marion Cuba on self-publishing; Thulani Davis, The Road, memoirs
#109 Books about the late nineteen-sixties: Busy Dying; Flying Close to the Sun; Looking Good; Trespassers
#108 The Animal Within; The Ground Under My Feet; King of Swords
#107 The Absentee; Gorky Park; Little Scarlet; Howl; Health Proxy #106 Castle Rackrent; Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows; More on DrownBlindness & more
#105 Everything is MiscellaneousThe UntouchableKettle Bottom by Diane Gilliam Fisher
#104 Responses to Shelley on Junot Diaz and more; More best books of 2007
#103 Guest Editor: Shelley Ettinger and her best books of 2007
#102 Saramago's BLINDNESS; more on NEVER LET ME GO; George Lies on Joe Gatski
#101 My Brilliant CareerThe Scarlet Letter, John Banville, Never Let Me Go
#100 The Poisonwood Bible, Pamela Erens, More Harry P.
#99   Jonathan Greene on; Molly Gilman on Dogs of Babel
#98   Guest editor Pat Arnow; more on the debate
#97   Using Thomas Hardy; Why I Write; more
#96   Lucy Calkins, issue fiction for young adults
#95   Collapse, Harry Potter, Steve Geng
#94   Alice Robinson-Gilman, Maynard on Momaday
#93   Kristin LavransdatterHouse Made of DawnLeaving Atlanta 
#92   Death of Ivan Ilych; Memoirs
#91   Richard Powers discussion
#90   William Zinsser, Memoir, Shakespeare
#89   William Styron, Ellen Willis, DuneGerminal, and much more
#88   Sandra Cisneros's Caramelo
#87   Wings of the Dove, Forever After (9/11 Teachers)
#86   Leora Skolkin-Smith, American Pastoral, and more
#85   Wobblies, Winterson, West Virginia Encyclopedia
#84   Karen Armstrong, Geraldine Brooks, Peter Taylor
#83   3-Cornered WorldDa Vinci Code 
#82   The Eustace Diamonds, Strapless, Empire Falls
#81   Philip Roth's The Plot Against America , Paola Corso
#80   Joanne Greenberg, Ed Davis, more Murdoch; Special Discussion on Memoir--Frey and J.T. Leroy
#79   Adam Sexton, Iris Murdoch, Hemingway
#78   The Hills at HomeTess of the D'Urbervilles; Jean Stafford
#77   On children's books--guest editor Carol Brodtrick
#76   Mary Lee Settle, Mary McCarthy
#75   The Makioka Sisters 
#74    In Our Hearts We Were Giants
#73    Joyce Dyer
#72    Bill Robinson WWII story
#71    Eva Kollisch on G.W. Sebald
#70    On Reading
#69    Nella Larsen, Romola
#68    P.D. James
#67    The Medici 
#66    Curious Incident,Temple Grandin 
    Ingrid Hughes on Memoir
    Boyle, Worlds of Fiction#63    The Namesame
#62    Honorary Consul; The Idiot#61    Lauren's Line
#60    Prince of Providence
#59    The Mutual Friend, Red Water
#58    AkÉ, 
Season of Delight
#57    Screaming with Cannibals

#56    Benita Eisler's Byron
#55    Addie, Hottentot Venus, Ake
#54    Scott Oglesby, Jane Rule
#53    Nafisi,Chesnutt, LeGuin
#52    Keith Maillard, Lee Maynard
#51    Gregory Michie, Carter Seaton
#50    Atonement, Victoria Woodhull biography 
Richard Price, Phillip Pullman
#47    Mid- East Islamic World Reader
#46    Invitation to a Beheading
#45    The Princess of Cleves
#44    Shelley Ettinger: A Few Not-so-Great Books
#43    Woolf, The Terrorist Next Door
#42    John Sanford #41    Isabelle Allende
#40    Ed Myers on John Williams
#39    Faulkner
#38    Steven Bloom No New Jokes
#37    James Webb's Fields of Fire
#36    Middlemarch#35    Conrad, Furbee, Silas House
#34    Emshwiller
#33    Pullman, Daughter of the Elm
#32    More Lesbian lit; Nostromo
#31    Lesbian fiction
#30    Carol Shields, Colson Whitehead
#29    More William Styron
#28    William Styron
#27    Daniel Gioseffi
#26    Phyllis Moore 
    On Libraries....
#24    Tales of the City
    Nonfiction, poetry, and fiction
#22    More on Why This Newsletter
#21    Salinger, Sarah Waters, Next of Kin
#20    Jane Lazarre
#19    Artemisia Gentileschi
#18    Ozick, Coetzee, Joanna Torrey
#17    Arthur Kinoy
#16    Mrs. Gaskell and lots of other suggestions
#15    George Dennison, Pat Barker, George Eliot
#14    Small Presses 
#13    Gap Creek, Crum
#12    Reading after 9-11
#11    Political Novels
#10    Summer Reading ideas
#9      Shelley Ettinger picks
#8      Harriette Arnow's Hunter's Horn
#7      About this newsletter
#6      Maria Edgeworth
#5      Tales of Good and EvilMoon Tiger
#4      Homer Hickam and The Chosen
#3      J.T. LeRoy and Tale of Genji
#2      Chick Lit
#1      About this newsletter

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