New Books for July: Katrina Vandenberg’s Poems of Forgiveness, Amy Leach’s Essays of Wonder07/03/2012
When Amy Leach finds a tiny bird on the side of the road, as she describes in the afterword to her essay collection Things That Are, she considers the quivering creature in her palm for a moment before bringing it safely to the grass. “Whether people need nature or not,” she writes of the experience, “it was clear that nature needed people.” A bird in the hand can be an act of stewardship, or an impromptu reconnection to the wild world. On the contrary, sometimes nature does the outreach.
In a poem from The Alphabet Not Unlike the World, Katrina Vandenberg recounts the story of the blackbird that landed in Saint Kevin’s palm and laid an egg. Even though it took weeks, he kept his arm still until the egg hatched. But Kevin’s duty to the hatchling, Vandenberg reminds us, is far from fulfilled: “He, too, could not see the long task coming— / the lives we find unexpectedly in our hands.” A bird in the hand can also be an act of compassion, or a new promise to posterity.
These two books are also like birds in hands, their pages so many wings, their sentences and ideas woven together with the same beautiful magic that lends flight to flesh, beak, and hollow bones. July’s new releases are certainly better in hand than bush.
While we have your attention, don’t forget about our recently published books.
And check out what’s dropping later this summer.
Things That Are by Amy Leach
A series of essays that progress from the tiniest Earth dwellers to far-flung celestial bodies—considering everything from the similarity of gods to donkeys, to the connection of exploding stars and exploding sea cucumbers—to rekindle our communion with the wild world. Concerned at once with realms animal and human, phenomenal and cosmic, the contents expand and confound the reader’s senses in delightful ways. Read two sample essays below. Order the book here.
The Alphabet Not Unlike the World by Katrina Vandenberg
Katrina Vandenberg writes from the intersection of power and forgiveness. With poems named for letters of the Phoenician alphabet, and employing such innovative forms as the ancient ghazal, Vandenberg deciphers the seemingly indecipherable in this emotionally poignant collection. Moving between the physical and the abstract, the individual and the collective, she unearths meaning—with astonishing beauty—from the pain of loss and separation. Read a handful of poems below. Order the collection here.
Cures for Hunger by Deni Y. Béchard
Obsessed with uncovering the criminal past his father has kept from him, Deni moves back to British Columbia. There he finds the father figure he did and did not expect: an unpredictable and reckless man who is both lonely and larger-than-life, and whose stories raise more questions than they answer. Read the first chapter here. Order the book here.
Vandal Love by Deni Y. Béchard
In assured and mystically powerful prose, Béchard tells a wide-ranging, spellbinding story of a cursed family: a genetic trick resulting from centuries of hardship causes the Hervé children to be born either giants or runts. As fraught and frayed as their lives become, none of the Hervés can abandon their longing for a place where they might find others like themselves. Read the first chapter here. Order the book here.
The Tarball Chronicles: A Journey Beyond the Oiled Pelican and Into the Heart of the Gulf Oil Spill by David Gessner (paperback)
Part absurdist travelogue, part manifesto, The Tarball Chronicles is more than anything a love letter to the Gulf. As he meets oceanographers, activists, and subsistence fishermen, David Gessner falls hard for a culture and ecosystem on the brink of extinction. Over the course of his travels, two simple questions emerge: How long will we mortgage our future for a present of convenience and speed? And, how terrible would life really be if we never took such a dire risk again? Read the introduction here. More information here.
American Boy by Larry Watson (paperback)
Matthew Garth’s story begins in the fall of 1962, when the shooting of a young woman on Thanksgiving Day sets off a chain of unsettling events. Fueled over the following weeks by his feverish longing for a mysterious woman, Matthew finds himself drawn into a series of confrontations he never expected, the results of which will change his life irrevocably and give lie to his version of the American dream. Read the first chapter here. More information here.