A dazzling and intriguing poetic examination of the wonders of the universe.

IN THE DARK, SOFT EARTH

POETRY OF LOVE, NATURE, SPIRITUALITY, AND DREAMS

The natural world melds with the spiritual unknown in this collection of poetry.

The epigraph to this new offering by Watson asserts: “Finding meaning / in the subtle underpinnings / of this soft earth.” This reads as the poet’s mission statement for the forthcoming pages, where he delights in illuminating the disregarded minutiae of human life. The fluid collection is divided into 10 books, each no more than 50 pages long, and complemented by paintings from a broad range of artists, from Nicholas Roerich to Pieter Bruegel the Elder. In the opening poem, “origins,” the author’s camera eye zooms outward from microcosm to macrocosm, capturing “distant sands / turned white as flecks / on wild black hair” to the infinite expanse of “where the world begins / before Creation.” This strikingly visual collection then seeks to understand humankind’s place in the universe by taking readers on a poetic journey through time and space. Watson’s writing is sparse yet deeply thought-provoking, as in the poem “fossils,” which celebrates an indelible declaration of love across the ages: “In two thousand years / they will find an oak fossil / with the lovers’ names.” The poet has the ability to evoke complex ideas regarding existence with an enviable economy of line, as here in “particles”: “All the dust / that’s swept into / the world’s wind / and the particle / that is me.” Watson’s previous work has been criticized for its fragmentary nature—this offering is also heavy with visually arresting images, but read in sequence, the poems serve to inform one another concurrently. For example, the poem “she sleeps” could be interpreted as a fragment: “She sleeps / beneath the moon / as I slip / into the covers / of imagination.” But it is embellished by the following poem, “desert of dreams”: “She shadow-walks / across the desert of dreams / to pierce my sleeping mind.” The result is an intoxicating, acutely observant collection where landscapes shift continuously and meaning is in a constant state of flux. Fans of Watson’s work will find this his most penetrating, cohesive volume to date.

A dazzling and intriguing poetic examination of the wonders of the universe.

Pub Date: July 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-939832-19-1

Page Count: 230

Publisher: Plum White Press

Review Posted Online: April 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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

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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A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

THE MYSTERY OF MRS. CHRISTIE

In December 1926, mystery writer Agatha Christie really did disappear for 11 days. Was it a hoax? Or did her husband resort to foul play?

When Agatha meets Archie on a dance floor in 1912, the obscure yet handsome pilot quickly sweeps her off her feet with his daring. Archie seems smitten with her. Defying her family’s expectations, Agatha consents to marry Archie rather than her intended, the reliable yet boring Reggie Lucy. Although the war keeps them apart, straining their early marriage, Agatha finds meaningful work as a nurse and dispensary assistant, jobs that teach her a lot about poisons, knowledge that helps shape her early short stories and novels. While Agatha’s career flourishes after the war, Archie suffers setback after setback. Determined to keep her man happy, Agatha finds herself cooking elaborate meals, squelching her natural affections for their daughter (after all, Archie must always feel like the most important person in her life), and downplaying her own troubles, including her grief over her mother's death. Nonetheless, Archie grows increasingly morose. In fact, he is away from home the day Agatha disappears. By the time Detective Chief Constable Kenward arrives, Agatha has already been missing for a day. After discovering—and burning—a mysterious letter from Agatha, Archie is less than eager to help the police. His reluctance and arrogance work against him, and soon the police, the newspapers, the Christies’ staff, and even his daughter’s classmates suspect him of harming his wife. Benedict concocts a worthy mystery of her own, as chapters alternate between Archie’s negotiation of the investigation and Agatha’s recounting of their relationship. She keeps the reader guessing: Which narrator is reliable? Who is the real villain?

A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

Pub Date: Dec. 29, 2020

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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