An impressively crafted volume that evokes pathos and dark humor.

SANCTUARIES OF THE BEER YEARS

SOME POEMS

A debut collection whose evocative settings often reflect internal conflict.

Enos divides 64 poems into three sections based on location: New England, Seoul, and back to New England. Right from the outset, readers will notice arresting imagery and clever juxtapositions, as in the sharp rendering of a particular time of year in “Descent of snowlight”: “Scent of autumn’s death dances raw, / sunflower of the moon, / as thawed candles burn and mute pumpkins pray submission.” The second section, featuring glimpses of Seoul cityscapes, coffeehouse culture, and expatriate communities, opens with a melancholy poem, “For Ana (if we’re being dishonest),” which suggests a separation or long-distance relationship. The last line cuts deep: “I wouldn’t recognize your voice in the darkest room.” The collection’s title alludes to many references to alcohol consumption. In “Gypsy Bar,” Enos imagines the ideal drinking establishment that’s at once monumental and gritty, opening with the humorous and desperate line: “just give me back youth and I promise to stop writing.” This occasional use of the imperative creates a beseeching tone that effectively draws readers in. Most poems are in free verse, dense and compact. However, one highlight in the third section, “In harborside barlight,” is a prose poem. Enos also employs internal rhyme and clever inversions (“clocking tic or ticking / clock”). Consonance and assonance abound, as in this beach scene in “Remnants”: “sweeping sea at our feet, / scent of sodden dogwood washed ashore, / and transparent spiders dashing.” One of the longest and most effective poems carries the attention-grabbing title “Fuck this poem entitled, ‘After delivering your mail.’ ” Its voice belongs to a postal worker who provides wry observations of posh party guests: “Men calculate beards, go through motions. / Women occupy vacant eyes. / Fingertips hover mechanically / over one another’s shoulders.” As he creates a taxonomy of couples, he spots a single person at the party who “nods patiently in the spindrift of some lawyer’s wind.” The overall effect is reminiscent of the Joni Mitchell song “People’s Parties” and calls to mind that feeling one has standing alone in a crowded bar, surrounded and isolated.

An impressively crafted volume that evokes pathos and dark humor.

Pub Date: Dec. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5326-9780-7

Page Count: 82

Publisher: Resource Publications

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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Light on suspense but still a solid page-turner.

THE LAST THING HE TOLD ME

When a devoted husband and father disappears, his wife and daughter set out to find him.

Hannah Hall is deeply in love with her husband of one year, Owen Michaels. She’s also determined to win over his 16-year-old daughter, Bailey, who has made it very clear that she’s not thrilled with her new stepmother. Despite the drama, the family is mostly a happy one. They live in a lovely houseboat in Sausalito; Hannah is a woodturner whose handmade furniture brings in high-dollar clientele; and Owen works for The Shop, a successful tech firm. Their lives are shattered, however, when Hannah receives a note saying “Protect her” and can’t reach Owen by phone. Then there’s the bag full of cash Bailey finds in her school locker and the shocking news that The Shop’s CEO has been taken into custody. Hannah learns that the FBI has been investigating the firm for about a year regarding some hot new software they took to market before it was fully functional, falsifying their financial statements. Hannah refuses to believe her husband is involved in the fraud, and a U.S. marshal assigned to the case claims Owen isn’t a suspect. Hannah doesn’t know whom to trust, though, and she and Bailey resolve to root out the clues that might lead to Owen. They must also learn to trust one another. Hannah’s narrative alternates past and present, detailing her early days with Owen alongside her current hunt for him, and author Dave throws in a touch of danger and a few surprises. But what really drives the story is the evolving nature of Hannah and Bailey’s relationship, which is by turns poignant and frustrating but always realistic.

Light on suspense but still a solid page-turner.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7134-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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For devoted Hannah fans in search of a good cry.

THE FOUR WINDS

The miseries of the Depression and Dust Bowl years shape the destiny of a Texas family.

“Hope is a coin I carry: an American penny, given to me by a man I came to love. There were times in my journey when I felt as if that penny and the hope it represented were the only things that kept me going.” We meet Elsa Wolcott in Dalhart, Texas, in 1921, on the eve of her 25th birthday, and wind up with her in California in 1936 in a saga of almost unrelieved woe. Despised by her shallow parents and sisters for being sickly and unattractive—“too tall, too thin, too pale, too unsure of herself”—Elsa escapes their cruelty when a single night of abandon leads to pregnancy and forced marriage to the son of Italian immigrant farmers. Though she finds some joy working the land, tending the animals, and learning her way around Mama Rose's kitchen, her marriage is never happy, the pleasures of early motherhood are brief, and soon the disastrous droughts of the 1930s drive all the farmers of the area to despair and starvation. Elsa's search for a better life for her children takes them out west to California, where things turn out to be even worse. While she never overcomes her low self-esteem about her looks, Elsa displays an iron core of character and courage as she faces dust storms, floods, hunger riots, homelessness, poverty, the misery of migrant labor, bigotry, union busting, violent goons, and more. The pedantic aims of the novel are hard to ignore as Hannah embodies her history lesson in what feels like a series of sepia-toned postcards depicting melodramatic scenes and clichéd emotions.

For devoted Hannah fans in search of a good cry.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-2501-7860-2

Page Count: 464

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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