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SELECTED POEMS OF EMANUEL XAVIER

A superb poetry collection that renders compelling imagery in a singular voice.

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    Best Books Of 2021

Gay Nuyorican life is limned and exalted in these scintillating poems.

Xavier, a fixture at Nuyorican Poets Cafe slams in Manhattan and a star of HBO’s Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry, gathers 28 poems that infuse searing social and political commentary into achingly personal reflections. Many paint a panorama of New York that is bustling and vibrant: “Ricans and Dominicans drive around / with black-faced virgins and saints on their dashboards / blasting rap and freestyle / down the streets.” The poet’s collection conveys his struggle as a gay man in an often homophobic culture in tones that range from the bruised confessional in “Deliverance” (“Wiping / myself / staring at the blood / shit / scum / from the last trick / that once again / left me bruised / deep inside”) to the prophetic voice of “If Jesus Were Gay.” (“If the crown of thorns were placed on his head / to mock him as the / ‘Queen of the Jews’ / If he was whipped because fags are considered / sadomasochistic sodomites, / If he was crucified for the brotherhood of man / would you still repent?”) There’s a lot of pain from separation and repudiation in Xavier’s verse—from his biological father’s abandonment of the family, his mother’s rejection of his gay sexuality, and America’s disdain for Latino immigrants. The volume is thus full of poetic portraits of outsiders and castoffs that can take strange and hallucinatory forms, as in “Bushwick Bohemia,” in which a slacker is “lying shirtless on the couch blunted out of his mind / staring at the roach on the ceiling / one single roach in a vast desert / or maybe an alien exploring a new world”—a grungy, Kafkaesque yet somehow hopeful and even liberating tableau of arrival and persistence. And the poet’s life generates bleak, bracing wisdom in “Beside Myself”: “You are not going to be remembered. / The best thing you ever did was keep a cat / alive for over sixteen years. / All you have is that rent-stabilized apartment / with the cracked paint and broken windows.” Xavier’s many fans (and newbies as well) will be entranced by his evocative language, subtle rhythms, and fearless gaze.

A superb poetry collection that renders compelling imagery in a singular voice.

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-60864-152-9

Page Count: 71

Publisher: REBEL SATORI PRESS

Review Posted Online: March 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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THE WOMEN

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

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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  • New York Times Bestseller

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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