A fine collection of poetry with a distinctively ironic and sinewy voice.

DEAD LETTER OFFICE

SELECTED POEMS

Collected poems with an iconoclastic edge address a world corrupted by nationalism and other ideologies.

These poems, many of them originally published in literary journals and previous collections, are skillfully translated from the Croatian by Jurjević. Her lucid introduction (as well as a preface by poet Barbara Goldberg) gives the context of Pogačar’s background, influences, and style, noting such techniques as his use of internal rhyme, sometimes reflected in the translations: “Don’t be thick and acrid. every so often I lick / you.” Coming of age as Yugoslavia was being violently torn apart, Pogačar often takes a derisive, satiric view of institutions like the church, police, and bureaucracy. Revolutionary fervor is no more authentic, as in the savagely brilliant “What a Lighter Said.” A personified cigarette lighter considers itself akin to the anarchist hero Buenaventura Durruti. But rather than attacking a symbol of authority like the church, the lighter sets fire to a working-class neighborhood’s preschool: “I decided to melt children’s fillings.” Several poems concern the boundaries of language, both through means like punctuation and by twisting the truth. “An Orange Apologizes to the Tower of Babel,” for example, declares that “to speak is to sin: speech is nothing but an archive of errors.” While all the poems are strong, complex, and memorable, those in Section II, “The Lake,” are particularly so. Its 15 linked poems interrogate the contradictions and mysteries of the subject, an irreducible yet ramifying image: “No other / lake is the lake.” Dark ironies inhabit many poems yet Pogačar refuses to despair. In the final piece, “Waiting for the Song,” the poet acknowledges the barriers between self and world. Though “nothing / can land on you. still you lie and wait for the song. / you wait for it.”

A fine collection of poetry with a distinctively ironic and sinewy voice. (Poetry)

Pub Date: June 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-94-458541-9

Page Count: 97

Publisher: WordWorks

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2021

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If novelists are auditioning to play God, Hilderbrand gets the part.

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GOLDEN GIRL

From the greenroom of the afterlife—make that Benjamin Moore "Parsley Snips" green—a newly dead Nantucket novelist watches life unfold without her.

In her 27th novel, Hilderbrand gives herself an alter ego—beloved beach-novel author Vivian Howe—sends her out for a morning jog, and immediately kills her off. A hit-and-run driver leaves Vivi dead by the side of the road, where her son's best friend discovers her body—or was he responsible for the accident? Vivi doesn't know, nor does she know yet that her daughter Willa is pregnant, or that her daughter Carson is having a terribly ill-advised affair, or that her son, Leo, has a gnawing secret, or that her ex is getting tired of the girl he dumped her for. She will discover all this and more as she watches one last summer on Nantucket play out under the tutelage of Martha, her "Person," who receives her in the boho-chic waiting room of the Beyond. Hermès-scarved Martha explains that Vivi will have three nudges—three chances to change the course of events on Earth and prevent her bereaved loved ones from making life-altering mistakes. She will also get to watch the publication of what will be her last novel, titled Golden Girl, natch, and learn the answers to two questions: Will the secret about her own life she buried in this novel come to light (who cares, really—she's dead now), and will it hit No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list (now there's an interesting question). She'll also get to see that one of her biggest wrongs is posthumously righted and that her kids have learned her most important lesson. As Willa says to Carson, "You know how she treats the characters in her books? She gives them flaws, she portrays them doing horrible things—but the reader loves them anyway. Because Mom loves them. Because they’re human.”

If novelists are auditioning to play God, Hilderbrand gets the part.

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-31642008-2

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

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DEVOLUTION

Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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