A profound and heartfelt meditation on the meaning of parenthood.


A collection of poetry for children and adults explores family ties.

The first section of this volume consists of blackout poetry for adults. The speaker awaits spring in “I” and imagines a perfect morning in “III.” He wonders how he became a 38-year-old father of two in “V” and contemplates midlife in “X.” His “firecracker daughter” and her “volcano of energy” are the focus of “VII” while in “XIV,” the two talk about what their lives will look like when they’re both older. A moonlit stroll with the children inspires “IX.” He questions how one becomes “planted, rooted, sun-filled, lazily arrived” in marriage in “XVI.” Mosson composes a pair of message-in-a-bottle–style poems, one each for his daughter and son, in “XXVII” and “XXVIII.” The book’s second section contains traditional, shorter poems for children, including several pieces about the beauty of the moon as well as a celebration of the sunrise. The poet also touches on the struggle of kids to sleep at night and the calming power of maternal snuggles. Mosson has been nominated four times for the Pushcart Prize, and it is easy here to see why. His language is vibrant, as when he wishes for his “sleepy daughter to droop / into the living room,” describes how his children “tumble in squeals” on the porch, and recalls how his son “stomped to the playground steps with a wild surmise.” Many of the sentiments in these poems will be intimately familiar to parents: “I want / what’s wonderful for my children / silence behind eyelids when I sleep / pre-dawn with coffee and books to stretch out forever.” Mosson’s writing is steeped in tenderness, evident in lines like “I always thought / imagination meant walking in a moonlit field weeping.” The collection’s one flaw is the inclusion of notes—such as “Leave it raw? Is less, more?”—at the end of many poems. While revealing artistic vulnerability, the notes will make readers second-guess the author’s choices along with him and detract from the stunning conclusions of the poems.

A profound and heartfelt meditation on the meaning of parenthood.

Pub Date: March 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-63-534849-1

Page Count: 42

Publisher: Finishing Line Press

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2021

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An exhilarating ride through Americana.


Newly released from a work farm in 1950s Kansas, where he served 18 months for involuntary manslaughter, 18-year-old Emmett Watson hits the road with his little brother, Billy, following the death of their father and the foreclosure of their Nebraska farm.

They leave to escape angry townspeople who believe Emmett got off easy, having caused the fatal fall of a taunting local boy by punching him in the nose. The whip-smart Billy, who exhibits OCD–like symptoms, convinces Emmett to drive them to San Francisco to reunite with their mother, who left town eight years ago. He insists she's there, based on postcards she sent before completely disappearing from their lives. But when Emmett's prized red Studebaker is "borrowed" by two rambunctious, New York–bound escapees from the juvie facility he just left, Emmett takes after them via freight train with Billy in tow. Billy befriends a Black veteran named Ulysses who's been riding the rails nonstop since returning home from World War II to find his wife and baby boy gone. A modern picaresque with a host of characters, competing points of view, wandering narratives, and teasing chapter endings, Towles' third novel is even more entertaining than his much-acclaimed A Gentleman in Moscow (2016). You can quibble with one or two plot turns, but there's no resisting moments such as Billy's encounter, high up in the Empire State Building in the middle of the night, with professor Abacus Abernathe, whose Compendium of Heroes, Adventurers, and Other Intrepid Travelers he's read 24 times. A remarkable blend of sweetness and doom, Towles' novel is packed with revelations about the American myth, the art of storytelling, and the unrelenting pull of history.

An exhilarating ride through Americana.

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-73-522235-9

Page Count: 592

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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As the pieces of this magical literary puzzle snap together, a flicker of hope is sparked for our benighted world.

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An ancient Greek manuscript connects humanity's past, present, and future.

Stranger, whoever you are, open this to learn what will amaze you” wrote Antonius Diogenes at the end of the first century C.E.—and millennia later, Pulitzer Prize winner Doerr is his fitting heir. Around Diogenes' manuscript, "Cloud Cuckoo Land"—the author did exist, but the text is invented—Doerr builds a community of readers and nature lovers that transcends the boundaries of time and space. The protagonist of the original story is Aethon, a shepherd whose dream of escaping to a paradise in the sky leads to a wild series of adventures in the bodies of beast, fish, and fowl. Aethon's story is first found by Anna in 15th-century Constantinople; though a failure as an apprentice seamstress, she's learned ancient Greek from an elderly scholar. Omeir, a country boy of the same period, is rejected by the world for his cleft lip—but forms the deepest of connections with his beautiful oxen, Moonlight and Tree. In the 1950s, Zeno Ninis, a troubled ex–GI in Lakeport, Idaho, finds peace in working on a translation of Diogenes' recently recovered manuscript. In 2020, 86-year-old Zeno helps a group of youngsters put the story on as a play at the Lakeport Public Library—unaware that an eco-terrorist is planting a bomb in the building during dress rehearsal. (This happens in the first pages of the book and continues ticking away throughout.) On a spaceship called the Argos bound for Beta Oph2 in Mission Year 65, a teenage girl named Konstance is sequestered in a sealed room with a computer named Sybil. How could she possibly encounter Zeno's translation? This is just one of the many narrative miracles worked by the author as he brings a first-century story to its conclusion in 2146.

As the pieces of this magical literary puzzle snap together, a flicker of hope is sparked for our benighted world.

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-982168-43-8

Page Count: 656

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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