A multilayered and often effective poetic exploration of the past’s effects on the present.

GREEN HORSES ON THE WALLS

A collection of poems about history, family, and love by a millennial Romanian American poet.

The title of this book comes from a Romanian expression about delusion—a concept that the speaker in the title poem says she struggled with as she dreamed of a creative career. In “Equilibrium,” the speaker tells the reader ways that “Things could be worse”—from cancer-ridden parents to a lover leaving for the priesthood. A speaker reunites with an estranged cousin in a Camden pub to discuss troubled family ties in “Nu e rolul meu [It’s not my role].” “Under your mattress” explores a father’s notion that both money and secrets are meant to be stashed away. The seizure and torture of a speaker’s grandparents under Communism, and the legacy of paranoia it imparted on their descendants, are the focus of “Opening the Orange Envelope.” The all-consuming nature of new love inspires “Scumpul meu [My dear]” and “Înainte [Forward].” Bejan unpacks—and rails against—a toxic relationship in “#Simplicity” and “The Streets of Johannesburg.” She concludes with translations of a pair of poems by Ana Blandiana and Nina Cassian. In this book, Bejan centers her poems in a dazzling variety of settings, immersing readers in such environments as a U.S. military base on the banks of the Black Sea, an unnamed invitation-only island, and the “Strip-mall paradise” of Raleigh, North Carolina. In “Bucharest,” she describes in detail the “fumes of gasoline lingering amidst the general smell of pollution / Mixed with cigarettes, mixed with cigars, mixed with, pure, sweet and delicious B.O.” But when she turns her focus to her romantic relationships, Bejan occasionally slips into clichés, as when a speaker describes a lover’s inner light as “more blinding than the sun.” Other poems show notable boldness, however; one bravely catalogs the traumatic repercussions of sexual assault, and another boldly takes on Communism, calling it a system under which “Every man and woman were equal / Equally destroyed / Equally in fear / Equally invisible.”

A multilayered and often effective poetic exploration of the past’s effects on the present.

Pub Date: May 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64-662219-1

Page Count: 46

Publisher: Finishing Line Press

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.

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THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY

An unhappy woman who tries to commit suicide finds herself in a mysterious library that allows her to explore new lives.

How far would you go to address every regret you ever had? That’s the question at the heart of Haig’s latest novel, which imagines the plane between life and death as a vast library filled with books detailing every existence a person could have. Thrust into this mysterious way station is Nora Seed, a depressed and desperate woman estranged from her family and friends. Nora has just lost her job, and her cat is dead. Believing she has no reason to go on, she writes a farewell note and takes an overdose of antidepressants. But instead of waking up in heaven, hell, or eternal nothingness, she finds herself in a library filled with books that offer her a chance to experience an infinite number of new lives. Guided by Mrs. Elm, her former school librarian, she can pull a book from the shelf and enter a new existence—as a country pub owner with her ex-boyfriend, as a researcher on an Arctic island, as a rock star singing in stadiums full of screaming fans. But how will she know which life will make her happy? This book isn't heavy on hows; you won’t need an advanced degree in quantum physics or string theory to follow its simple yet fantastical logic. Predicting the path Nora will ultimately choose isn’t difficult, either. Haig treats the subject of suicide with a light touch, and the book’s playful tone will be welcome to readers who like their fantasies sweet if a little too forgettable.

A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-52-555947-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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Sure to enchant even those who have never played a video game in their lives, with instant cult status for those who have.

TOMORROW, AND TOMORROW, AND TOMORROW

The adventures of a trio of genius kids united by their love of gaming and each other.

When Sam Masur recognizes Sadie Green in a crowded Boston subway station, midway through their college careers at Harvard and MIT, he shouts, “SADIE MIRANDA GREEN. YOU HAVE DIED OF DYSENTERY!” This is a reference to the hundreds of hours—609 to be exact—the two spent playing “Oregon Trail” and other games when they met in the children’s ward of a hospital where Sam was slowly and incompletely recovering from a traumatic injury and where Sadie was secretly racking up community service hours by spending time with him, a fact which caused the rift that has separated them until now. They determine that they both still game, and before long they’re spending the summer writing a soon-to-be-famous game together in the apartment that belongs to Sam's roommate, the gorgeous, wealthy acting student Marx Watanabe. Marx becomes the third corner of their triangle, and decades of action ensue, much of it set in Los Angeles, some in the virtual realm, all of it riveting. A lifelong gamer herself, Zevin has written the book she was born to write, a love letter to every aspect of gaming. For example, here’s the passage introducing the professor Sadie is sleeping with and his graphic engine, both of which play a continuing role in the story: “The seminar was led by twenty-eight-year-old Dov Mizrah....It was said of Dov that he was like the two Johns (Carmack, Romero), the American boy geniuses who'd programmed and designed Commander Keen and Doom, rolled into one. Dov was famous for his mane of dark, curly hair, wearing tight leather pants to gaming conventions, and yes, a game called Dead Sea, an underwater zombie adventure, originally for PC, for which he had invented a groundbreaking graphics engine, Ulysses, to render photorealistic light and shadow in water.” Readers who recognize the references will enjoy them, and those who don't can look them up and/or simply absorb them. Zevin’s delight in her characters, their qualities, and their projects sprinkles a layer of fairy dust over the whole enterprise.

Sure to enchant even those who have never played a video game in their lives, with instant cult status for those who have.

Pub Date: July 5, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-32120-1

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2022

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