Amusing, exhortative light verse and often highly personal occasional poetry.
These days, anonymity is a curiously conspicuous rhetorical choice for the author of a poetry collection, an effacement that draws attention to itself. However, if this particular nom de plume suggests a certain pretension, perhaps evoking fears of sententious navel-gazing, don’t fear: Fortunately, the Silver Scribe is more tongue-in-cheek than word-to-the-wise. Not that he forgoes moralizing, but the moralizing bits tend to be buried by the cornucopia of quirky occasional poems on subjects that arrest the poet’s flitting interest. In addition to the odd word of wisdom and paean to friendship or the charms of the fairer sex, he writes adoringly, humorously and sometimes quite earnestly of Princess Di, Wayne Gretzky, Ronald Reagan, Marlon Brando, a pigeon named Frank, Hurricane Frances, various friends, Mercury the Cat, Pope John Paul II and Elvis—especially Elvis. The King acts as a minor muse, usually inspiring poems that play on anagrams of “Elvis” in some way, which is about as deep as the wordplay runs. By definition, the poetry is doggerel, but good-hearted doggerel; meaning often plays second fiddle to rhyme: “Maybe you could call me a Jack of all Trades / Yet, in the morning my bed I have always made” or the indecipherable “As you drive around to receive your order / The girl takes your money and dares you to get bolder / But, you just thank her for how she works to get older.” Likewise, syntax often suffers when setting up forced rhymes: “As Pope of the entire World he shared his beliefs / He never thought of anyone as to him beneath.” Ultimately, though, it hardly matters, since this is neither a collection about poetic technique nor the weighty words of a silver-headed sage. As the precisely dated entries (implying an absence of revision) and the inclusion of impossibly personal references suggest, this is a glimpse into a private journal, into a joyful, if sometimes naïve, perspective centered on the belief that rhyming is better than whining and song will never lead you wrong.
An upbeat, life-affirming collection that’s a bit too personal and unpolished for general consumption.
Tragedy turns into triumph in Carlson’s debut novel about a young woman who regains her self-confidence after multiple losses and years of dejection.
Before readers meet 28-year-old Jamie Shire, she has already hit rock bottom. Jobless, she drinks away her days on her best friend’s couch as she wallows in loneliness. Among Jamie’s troubles: Her mother died when she was a child, the only man she ever loved wouldn’t reciprocate, her unborn daughter died, and she continuously feels rejected by her father and brother. After a chance encounter with a wealthy woman at a coffee shop, Jamie accepts a live-in job researching philanthropic causes at Fallow Springs Estate. Reaching out to the house staff and eventually working with Darfur refugees afford Jamie some valuable context for her own pain; she’s able to gain confidence as she learns to stop fearing rejection and start pursuing her dreams. Throughout the novel, the author skillfully creates mood. In the beginning, when Jamie borders on depression, her emotional touchiness and oversensitivity will create an uneasy feeling in readers. But as Jamie slowly regains confidence, readers will also feel increasingly optimistic. Alongside the main character’s emotional struggle is the struggle faced by Darfur refugees, although this plotline doesn’t advance too far; yet details from Jamie’s trip to the refugee camp in Chad—the types of beer served at the aid workers’ bar or a depiction of a young refugee sitting blank-faced and tied to a pole because he might run away—effectively transport readers to faraway places. Jamie’s story will interest readers, but, with a weak ending, the story leaves many unanswered questions. Who is Jamie’s wealthy employer? Does Jamie’s work in Chad help anyone but herself? And what of the conflict Jamie feels between herself and the refugees, between the haves and the have-nots?
With so many minor questions left unanswered, Carlson’s captivating novel proves to be more about the journey than the destination.
Pirates, magic and a secret society collide in this fantasy middle-grade novel.
This fast-paced novel follows best friends Cameron and Miguel, who are looking for adventure while cruising through their Arizona town on a tandem bicycle. They find it when an enchanted pirate ship flies overhead and lands in a convenience store’s parking lot. The ship sets up as a shop, which uses an intoxicating mist to trick customers into buying overpriced sea-themed merchandise, while simultaneously making them defenseless against pickpocket pirates. Cameron has bigger problems when Blackbeard, the ship’s intimidating captain, decides that the tween has stolen a powerful ring that would allow him to shape-shift into any person he imagines. Raising the stakes, the pirates kidnap Miguel and force him to perform grunt work with no chance of release. Cameron enlists the help of his best gal pal, Marcella, to free Miguel, but their mission takes a surprising turn when they discover a secret society protecting an underground gold mine. Author Loge keeps the action coming as the trio encounter a nasty doppelganger, a sinister talking parrot and a gang of violent pirates. The breezy writing ensures that the story doesn’t get stale. With so many quick twists and turns, young readers could get lost along the way, but Loge clearly explains all the unexpected changes to keep his audience on track. In addition to a sprinkling of black-and-white illustrations, Cameron’s easy friendship with Miguel and Marcella keeps things light and youthful when the tale could have been bogged down with one too many odd, mystical events. The heart of the book—a young boy as the chosen one who must defeat an evil enemy—has been a common YA plotline in recent years, but Loge’s energetic style makes the theme seem fresh.
A fun adventure for anyone who’d love to see a few spunky kids trick some bad-news pirates.