An apt alternative to this volume’s title might be The Body Eclectic. The editors have done a worthy job of presenting a...

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THE BODY ELECTRIC

AMERICA'S BEST POETRY FROM THE AMERICAN POETRY REVIEW

Experimentation is a common element in modern American poetry and one would rightly expect a cutting-edge publication like The American Poetry Review to offer its readers current examples from working poets, and they do. There is a vast difference between poetic motives, however. There are those for whom novelty is its own reward, and these generally produce verse that remains frustratingly inscrutable, even—or especially—after repeated readings. The second group experiments as a way of getting closer to the ineffable truth at the source of every creative impulse; their work often remains tauntingly enigmatic, but the reader is not made to feel stupid. This collection represents both schools, but it is happily weighted in favor of approachable verse. This is not to say it is always easy verse, but it is consistently rewarding. Karen Kipp, one of the lesser-known poets represented in this anthology, says that “there [is] a simplicity in keeping things in perspective at eye-level.” The three coeditors obviously agree with that sentiment. With a trove of over 8,000 poems from which to choose, they culled work from 27 years of publication, beginning in 1972, doing their best to represent “the various aesthetic, philosophical, and social concerns of the poets.” They succeed admirably. Not represented here is the work of what Harold Bloom, in his engaging introduction, calls the “howlers and allied inchoate rhapsodes” who, one can only wish, would tire of what Yeats’s Crazy Jane called “cursing the Bishop.” Bloom also acknowledges the debt that accessible modern poets owe to “our father, Walt Whitman” for the paradigm he provided, despite their necessary divergences from it.

An apt alternative to this volume’s title might be The Body Eclectic. The editors have done a worthy job of presenting a body of poetry from all the major schools of the past three decades.

Pub Date: April 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-393-04836-8

Page Count: 848

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2000

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Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and...

THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS

A dense, absorbing investigation into the medical community's exploitation of a dying woman and her family's struggle to salvage truth and dignity decades later.

In a well-paced, vibrant narrative, Popular Science contributor and Culture Dish blogger Skloot (Creative Writing/Univ. of Memphis) demonstrates that for every human cell put under a microscope, a complex life story is inexorably attached, to which doctors, researchers and laboratories have often been woefully insensitive and unaccountable. In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, an African-American mother of five, was diagnosed with what proved to be a fatal form of cervical cancer. At Johns Hopkins, the doctors harvested cells from her cervix without her permission and distributed them to labs around the globe, where they were multiplied and used for a diverse array of treatments. Known as HeLa cells, they became one of the world's most ubiquitous sources for medical research of everything from hormones, steroids and vitamins to gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, even the polio vaccine—all without the knowledge, must less consent, of the Lacks family. Skloot spent a decade interviewing every relative of Lacks she could find, excavating difficult memories and long-simmering outrage that had lay dormant since their loved one's sorrowful demise. Equal parts intimate biography and brutal clinical reportage, Skloot's graceful narrative adeptly navigates the wrenching Lack family recollections and the sobering, overarching realities of poverty and pre–civil-rights racism. The author's style is matched by a methodical scientific rigor and manifest expertise in the field.

Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and Petri dish politics.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4000-5217-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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An intriguing meditation on the nature of the universe and our attempts to understand it that should appeal to both...

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SEVEN BRIEF LESSONS ON PHYSICS

Italian theoretical physicist Rovelli (General Relativity: The Most Beautiful of Theories, 2015, etc.) shares his thoughts on the broader scientific and philosophical implications of the great revolution that has taken place over the past century.

These seven lessons, which first appeared as articles in the Sunday supplement of the Italian newspaper Sole 24 Ore, are addressed to readers with little knowledge of physics. In less than 100 pages, the author, who teaches physics in both France and the United States, cogently covers the great accomplishments of the past and the open questions still baffling physicists today. In the first lesson, he focuses on Einstein's theory of general relativity. He describes Einstein's recognition that gravity "is not diffused through space [but] is that space itself" as "a stroke of pure genius." In the second lesson, Rovelli deals with the puzzling features of quantum physics that challenge our picture of reality. In the remaining sections, the author introduces the constant fluctuations of atoms, the granular nature of space, and more. "It is hardly surprising that there are more things in heaven and earth, dear reader, than have been dreamed of in our philosophy—or in our physics,” he writes. Rovelli also discusses the issues raised in loop quantum gravity, a theory that he co-developed. These issues lead to his extraordinary claim that the passage of time is not fundamental but rather derived from the granular nature of space. The author suggests that there have been two separate pathways throughout human history: mythology and the accumulation of knowledge through observation. He believes that scientists today share the same curiosity about nature exhibited by early man.

An intriguing meditation on the nature of the universe and our attempts to understand it that should appeal to both scientists and general readers.

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-399-18441-3

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

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