Well-crafted, heart-wrenching, and courageous poems about love and pain.

SEE YOU IN MY DREAMS

A DAUGHTER’S JOURNEY WITH HER FATHER THROUGH DEMENTIA IN SONNETS

A daughter remembers her father, his dementia, and their last times together in this collection of poetry.

The morning of the day she received the call informing her that her father had died, Dargis was inspired to write a sonnet about caregiving. Her father developed dementia after experiencing a serious fall, which was followed by a rapid decline in his health. The book is divided into two parts, with the first section recalling his period of rehabilitation in a hospital. The second portion recounts his time in hospice. The collection’s title refers to the parting phrase the author spoke to her father when visiting hours ended. Dargis’ poetry captures a broad range of aspects of life as a caregiver to an elderly parent. The opening poem, “A Contradiction,” effortlessly depicts the brutal reality of dementia: “Not known for its precision. Like an old / Timex ticking well enough, but still not / Ready to cease.” The volume describes her father’s moments of unexpected lucidity, other patients on his ward, and his gradual slipping away: “I missed him, even though I was with him.” Dargis’ sonnets plainly describe the everyday experiences and fluctuating anxieties of a caregiver, as in “The Time Traveler”: “James, the nurse, came in with the / Blood pressure machine. It was lower than / Normal. Could he be in a state?” She is nevertheless acutely aware of the toll that these experiences have on her and that she must fortify herself, as demonstrated in “Sparring With Pugs,” an example of her understated yet impactful use of imagery: “I slip my mind into the mottled glove / And tighten the strings.” This is a deeply personal document, and those unacquainted with the poet’s family are left to guess the identities of individuals mentioned throughout: “Roger and Shirley smiled. / I bowed to Tamiko.” This does not detract significantly from the volume’s wider appeal, as Dargis succeeds in exploring the spectrum of emotions felt by all caregivers, from hope to resignation. Offering a list of caregiver resources at its close, this tenderly observed and moving collection will particularly resonate with poetry lovers faced with similarly challenging circumstances.

Well-crafted, heart-wrenching, and courageous poems about love and pain.

Pub Date: Nov. 11, 2018

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 54

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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This guide to Black culture for White people is accessible but rarely easy.

UNCOMFORTABLE CONVERSATIONS WITH A BLACK MAN

A former NFL player casts his gimlet eye on American race relations.

In his first book, Acho, an analyst for Fox Sports who grew up in Dallas as the son of Nigerian immigrants, addresses White readers who have sent him questions about Black history and culture. “My childhood,” he writes, “was one big study abroad in white culture—followed by studying abroad in black culture during college and then during my years in the NFL, which I spent on teams with 80-90 percent black players, each of whom had his own experience of being a person of color in America. Now, I’m fluent in both cultures: black and white.” While the author avoids condescending to readers who already acknowledge their White privilege or understand why it’s unacceptable to use the N-word, he’s also attuned to the sensitive nature of the topic. As such, he has created “a place where questions you may have been afraid to ask get answered.” Acho has a deft touch and a historian’s knack for marshaling facts. He packs a lot into his concise narrative, from an incisive historical breakdown of American racial unrest and violence to the ways of cultural appropriation: Your friend respecting and appreciating Black arts and culture? OK. Kim Kardashian showing off her braids and attributing her sense of style to Bo Derek? Not so much. Within larger chapters, the text, which originated with the author’s online video series with the same title, is neatly organized under helpful headings: “Let’s rewind,” “Let’s get uncomfortable,” “Talk it, walk it.” Acho can be funny, but that’s not his goal—nor is he pedaling gotcha zingers or pleas for headlines. The author delivers exactly what he promises in the title, tackling difficult topics with the depth of an engaged cultural thinker and the style of an experienced wordsmith. Throughout, Acho is a friendly guide, seeking to sow understanding even if it means risking just a little discord.

This guide to Black culture for White people is accessible but rarely easy.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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One of the funniest—and truest—books in recent memory and a must-have for fans of the poet laureate of human foibles.

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THE BEST OF ME

A welcome greatest-hits package from Sedaris.

It’s not easy to pick out fact from fiction in the author’s sidelong takes on family, travel, relationships, and other topics. He tends toward the archly droll in either genre, both well represented in this gathering, always with a perfectly formed crystallization of our various embarrassments and discomforts. An example is a set piece that comes fairly early in the anthology: the achingly funny “Me Talk Pretty One Day,” with its spot-on reminiscence of taking a French class with a disdainful instructor, a roomful of clueless but cheerful students, and Sedaris himself, who mangles the language gloriously, finally coming to understand his teacher’s baleful utterances (“Every day spent with you is like having a cesarean section”) without being able to reply in any way that does not destroy the language of Voltaire and Proust. Sedaris’ register ranges from doggerel to deeply soulful, as when he reflects on the death of a beloved sibling and its effects on a family that has been too often portrayed as dysfunctional when it’s really just odd: “The word,” he writes, “is overused….My father hoarding food inside my sister’s vagina would be dysfunctional. His hoarding it beneath the bathroom sink, as he is wont to do, is, at best, quirky and at worst unsanitary.” There’s not a dud in the mix, though Sedaris is always at his best when he’s both making fun of himself and satirizing some larger social trend (of dog-crazy people, for instance: “They’re the ones who, when asked if they have children, are likely to answer, ‘A black Lab and a sheltie-beagle mix named Tuckahoe’ ”). It’s a lovely mélange by a modern Mark Twain who is always willing to set himself up as a shlemiel in the interest of a good yarn.

One of the funniest—and truest—books in recent memory and a must-have for fans of the poet laureate of human foibles.

Pub Date: Nov. 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-62824-2

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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