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THE SOCIALIST'S GARDEN OF VERSES

A dazzling poetry collection, its intimations of doom lit by a furious clarity.

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Climate change, the Covid-19 pandemic, and Donald Trump are among the apocalyptic specters haunting these impassioned poems.

Caveat Lectorwebzine founder Bernard includes 91 poems that survey four years of anxiety and disaster in this volume. He starts with a Trump-themed cycle written as a hilariously on-the-nose infusion of Trumpian lingo into pastiches of poets, from T.S. Eliot (“November is the cruelest month, breeding / Electoral victories out of the dead land, mixing / Xenophobes and white Christians, stirring / Dull brains—and I mean dull! Sad!—with autumn rain”) to haiku master Bashō. (“You call this a what? / It doesn’t even. Look, believe me: / My poems. They rhyme.”) Bernard then drops his satirical tone to explore other dire happenings. “Spiritus” revisits the death of George Floyd. (“Underneath their knees, / in the brutal sun, / a dark form. And a voice from the feed: / ‘I can’t breathe, I can’t / breathe! I can’t breathe! I / can’t breathe!’ ”) Environmental destruction and the Covid-19 pandemic are linked in “April 2020.” (“Humankind was proving / a gorgeous catastrophe for life / on a planet the size of a pebble….We were the crown / virus enthroned in the breath of the world. / And now, in a cruelly fair reverse, / the crown virus has laid siege / to human monumentality.”) In “Faust Takes Command of the Titanic,” modern civilization is a deal with the devil, “arrogance / and desire gone round the bend with greed, / a drive toward absolute power / that can only lead to absolute annihilation.” Occasionally, hopeful notes surface, as in “Asteroid,” which likens humans to the cataclysm that wiped out the dinosaurs but wistfully concludes that, after people have destroyed themselves, “the birds—may fill the world, one day, again, with singing.” These are weighty poems on the weightiest of themes, but they are lifted by the author’s prophetic voice, lyrical sensibility, and evocative language, as in the seascape of “Beachdrift”: “Stump of a freighter out of the horizon haze / a big ugly thing / covered with cars and pickled plums and carbonated sake / in stacks on its deck like teeth or the columns at Paestum.” The result is a searing vision of a world teetering on the brink.

A dazzling poetry collection, its intimations of doom lit by a furious clarity.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-58790-530-8

Page Count: 250

Publisher: Regent Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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  • New York Times Bestseller

THE WOMEN

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

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A young woman’s experience as a nurse in Vietnam casts a deep shadow over her life.

When we learn that the farewell party in the opening scene is for Frances “Frankie” McGrath’s older brother—“a golden boy, a wild child who could make the hardest heart soften”—who is leaving to serve in Vietnam in 1966, we feel pretty certain that poor Finley McGrath is marked for death. Still, it’s a surprise when the fateful doorbell rings less than 20 pages later. His death inspires his sister to enlist as an Army nurse, and this turn of events is just the beginning of a roller coaster of a plot that’s impressive and engrossing if at times a bit formulaic. Hannah renders the experiences of the young women who served in Vietnam in all-encompassing detail. The first half of the book, set in gore-drenched hospital wards, mildewed dorm rooms, and boozy officers’ clubs, is an exciting read, tracking the transformation of virginal, uptight Frankie into a crack surgical nurse and woman of the world. Her tensely platonic romance with a married surgeon ends when his broken, unbreathing body is airlifted out by helicopter; she throws her pent-up passion into a wild affair with a soldier who happens to be her dead brother’s best friend. In the second part of the book, after the war, Frankie seems to experience every possible bad break. A drawback of the story is that none of the secondary characters in her life are fully three-dimensional: Her dismissive, chauvinistic father and tight-lipped, pill-popping mother, her fellow nurses, and her various love interests are more plot devices than people. You’ll wish you could have gone to Vegas and placed a bet on the ending—while it’s against all the odds, you’ll see it coming from a mile away.

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781250178633

Page Count: 480

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2023

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IT STARTS WITH US

Through palpable tension balanced with glimmers of hope, Hoover beautifully captures the heartbreak and joy of starting over.

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The sequel to It Ends With Us (2016) shows the aftermath of domestic violence through the eyes of a single mother.

Lily Bloom is still running a flower shop; her abusive ex-husband, Ryle Kincaid, is still a surgeon. But now they’re co-parenting a daughter, Emerson, who's almost a year old. Lily won’t send Emerson to her father’s house overnight until she’s old enough to talk—“So she can tell me if something happens”—but she doesn’t want to fight for full custody lest it become an expensive legal drama or, worse, a physical fight. When Lily runs into Atlas Corrigan, a childhood friend who also came from an abusive family, she hopes their friendship can blossom into love. (For new readers, their history unfolds in heartfelt diary entries that Lily addresses to Finding Nemo star Ellen DeGeneres as she considers how Atlas was a calming presence during her turbulent childhood.) Atlas, who is single and running a restaurant, feels the same way. But even though she’s divorced, Lily isn’t exactly free. Behind Ryle’s veneer of civility are his jealousy and resentment. Lily has to plan her dates carefully to avoid a confrontation. Meanwhile, Atlas’ mother returns with shocking news. In between, Lily and Atlas steal away for romantic moments that are even sweeter for their authenticity as Lily struggles with child care, breastfeeding, and running a business while trying to find time for herself.

Through palpable tension balanced with glimmers of hope, Hoover beautifully captures the heartbreak and joy of starting over.

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-668-00122-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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