Fire Shut Up in My Bones opens with the author driving down the highway, crying, screaming, with a gun on the car seat beside him, headed toward revenge. Then we’re pulled back into the childhood of that wounded man, a story told so well that by the time we come to that scene’s resolution, we’ve almost forgotten it.
Sure, you’ve heard of the current bestsellers, but what about books from previous years that you never had a chance to read? Rediscover some great titles you may have missed.
Blue Horses (New York: Penguin Press, 2014) is a slight book of deceptively simple poems, “something/inexplicable/made plain” as Mary Oliver says in “What We Want.” It’s only when you think further into them that you realize these poems have a lot to say. Oliver’s spirituality, like her imagery, springs from the natural world and the senses.
A Mother’s Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy by Sue Klebold
I didn’t plan to review this book, but halfway through my reading, news broke of the Parkland, Florida shooting. So, sadly, the topic is freshly relevant.
How much of our gender shows in the way we act, dress, move, speak? How much comes from others’ perceptions? How many of our life choices are constrained by sexism and racism? As I read Jackie Kay’s novel Trumpet, these questions swirled in my head.
They May Not Mean To, But They Do by Cathleen Schine
Growing older, taking care of an aging spouse, learning to live alone -- I don’t know how Cathleen Schine wrings humor from these experiences, but she does. They May Not Mean To, But They Do is filled with hilarious and very human details, and it is a novel I savored.
The Witches: Salem, 1692 by Stacy Schiff is an exhaustive (and at times, exhausting) account of the accusations, imprisonment, trials and executions of fourteen women and five men. It’s a story we all think we know, but Schiff places us in this world so completely, we can feel the chilly air and hear the howling of dogs at night.
Sometimes a new bestseller leads to older books. Reading Michael Eric Dyson’s Tears We Cannot Stop led me to browse for his recommended reading, which led me to Douglas A. Blackmon’s Slavery By Another Name: the Re-enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II. The book won a Pulitzer in 2009, and PBS made a documentary in 2012.