A closely observed collection on nature and environmentalism.

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CULLING

NEW & SELECTED NATURE POEMS

Held’s (Neighbors: The Yard Critters Too, 2013, etc.) poetry collection praises the natural world and issues a dark warning about climate change.

Beginning with winter, Held takes the reader through the changes of the season and divides his collection accordingly. In poems such as “The Snow” and “Crow(s),” Held speaks simply but precisely of the reliable darkness and quiet of the winter months. In “The Waning Moon,” he voices a late-winter feeling that the season will never end, wondering, “Will life renew in spring?” Like Henry David Thoreau in “Walden,” the author meditates appreciatively on nature. For example, in “April,” Held recalls his springtime chores and rituals that leave him with sore shoulders and splinters, but which he longs for in the late winter. In “Green Again,” he recalls the restorative nature of spring, comparing a tree’s transformation to art—“leaves uncurling along every twig, / like daubs of paint in a Monet.” The ruminations also contain crucial warnings about climate change. For example, the apocalyptically titled “Glacial Warning” begins with sobering statistics about the rapid rate at which Norway’s glaciers are melting. In “Sad Birds,” Held mourns the results of the BP oil spill while darkly satirizing the thought of a BP executive lost in the wreckage. Held also looks beyond the hurricane season, examining the wreckage that such weather leaves behind while considering “the cost / of putting stakes down near the coast.” Throughout, Held includes a few one-off poems that are not as strong or poignant as the others. In one, Held makes light of a tick latching onto a hiker, writing, “her blood will require a regime / of Penicillin to combat her Lyme.” Overall, the work is strong and strikes a fine balance between meditative appreciation and concern, capturing nature’s splendor while noting its impermanence.

A closely observed collection on nature and environmentalism.

Pub Date: Oct. 7, 2014

ISBN: 978-0615910079

Page Count: 88

Publisher: Poets Wear Prada

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2015

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

THE AUTHENTICITY PROJECT

A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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