A forthright, imaginative collection that has moments of clarity.

RELATIONSHIP

A POETRY BOOK

Greenwood’s debut, a beautifully illustrated poetry volume, describes the painful end of a marriage and the journey toward acceptance.

A frontispiece with two excised hearts bearing the disclaimer, “I was a pretty shitty wife” prefaces this collection, which describes the collapse of a 10-year relationship. Gone are happier days when the couple traveled to Paris and Italy, threw baguettes out of a hostel window, and reveled in the delights of Florentine honey. Back home, “Colony Collapse Disorder” is a stark metaphor for the divorce and the depressing thought that before the marriage ended, bee documentaries foreshadowed that everything she loved “would someday be extinct.” A circumspect view colors the poem “Fall,” in which they crack open a beehive, noting “we never mistook the bees / for angels.” The husband feeds her the honey, but she knows “we couldn’t remain / sound forever.” Other poems reference Emerson, Dante, and ancient Greek myths. In “Pasiphae Admits Her Infidelity,” she breaks the news of her straying to the husband, who tells her “we’ll make it / beautiful, turn this bullshit / into a story.” Her thought in response is spiteful: “That’s when I hate him the most.” A softer tone evolves as the narrator seeks a new life back in the United States in “Honolulu.” Greenwood’s poetry reflects on the past with an unsentimental voice that succeeds in capturing the agonizing feelings of frustration after a significant loss. The nature metaphors, full of bees and cherry blossoms, also work very well, as do poems that are concrete and clearly identify a topic. Some poems are contradictory, unclear, or drop off into nothingness (“you’ll come to me suddenly / your face like like like like”). “The Sound of Ice Melting” wonderfully renders the hissing sounds of the frozen north in a plea for love “until death freezes me shut.”

A forthright, imaginative collection that has moments of clarity.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Sphinx Moth Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 20, 2020

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A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

A WEALTH OF PIGEONS

A CARTOON COLLECTION

The veteran actor, comedian, and banjo player teams up with the acclaimed illustrator to create a unique book of cartoons that communicates their personalities.

Martin, also a prolific author, has always been intrigued by the cartoons strewn throughout the pages of the New Yorker. So when he was presented with the opportunity to work with Bliss, who has been a staff cartoonist at the magazine since 1997, he seized the moment. “The idea of a one-panel image with or without a caption mystified me,” he writes. “I felt like, yeah, sometimes I’m funny, but there are these other weird freaks who are actually funny.” Once the duo agreed to work together, they established their creative process, which consisted of working forward and backward: “Forwards was me conceiving of several cartoon images and captions, and Harry would select his favorites; backwards was Harry sending me sketched or fully drawn cartoons for dialogue or banners.” Sometimes, he writes, “the perfect joke occurs two seconds before deadline.” There are several cartoons depicting this method, including a humorous multipanel piece highlighting their first meeting called “They Meet,” in which Martin thinks to himself, “He’ll never be able to translate my delicate and finely honed droll notions.” In the next panel, Bliss thinks, “I’m sure he won’t understand that the comic art form is way more subtle than his blunt-force humor.” The team collaborated for a year and created 150 cartoons featuring an array of topics, “from dogs and cats to outer space and art museums.” A witty creation of a bovine family sitting down to a gourmet meal and one of Dumbo getting his comeuppance highlight the duo’s comedic talent. What also makes this project successful is the team’s keen understanding of human behavior as viewed through their unconventional comedic minds.

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-26289-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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A handful of pearls amid a pile of empty oyster shells.

THE COMFORT BOOK

Bestselling author Haig offers a book’s worth of apothegms to serve as guides to issues ranging from disquietude to self-acceptance.

Like many collections of this sort—terse snippets of advice, from the everyday to the cosmic—some parts will hit home with surprising insight, some will feel like old hat, and others will come across as disposable or incomprehensible. Years ago, Haig experienced an extended period of suicidal depression, so he comes at many of these topics—pain, hope, self-worth, contentment—from a hard-won perspective. This makes some of the material worthy of a second look, even when it feels runic or contrary to experience. The author’s words are instigations, hopeful first steps toward illumination. Most chapters are only a few sentences long, the longest running for three pages. Much is left unsaid and left up to readers to dissect. On being lost, Haig recounts an episode with his father when they got turned around in a forest in France. His father said to him, “If we keep going in a straight line we’ll get out of here.” He was correct, a bit of wisdom Haig turned to during his depression when he focused on moving forward: “It is important to remember the bottom of the valley never has the clearest view. And that sometimes all you need to do in order to rise up again is to keep moving forward.” Many aphorisms sound right, if hardly groundbreaking—e.g., a quick route to happiness is making someone else happy; “No is a good word. It keeps you sane. In an age of overload, no is really yes. It is yes to having space you need to live”; “External events are neutral. They only gain positive or negative value the moment they enter our mind.” Haig’s fans may enjoy this one, but others should take a pass.

A handful of pearls amid a pile of empty oyster shells.

Pub Date: July 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-14-313666-8

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Penguin Life

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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