Archive for the ‘Review’ Category

Poets of the English LanguagePoets of the English Language by W.H. Auden
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ve read this collection through several times and find it entirely useful. Auden’s prefaces to each volume, providing historical, cultural and technical background, are by themselves worth the price of the anthology. Why this collection is out of print is beyond me.

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Best Zombie Book

Dead Sea, Brian Keene. Even the sharks are zombies. Word.

Saddest Murder Mystery

Hellhound on His Trail: The Stalking of Martin Luther King, Jr and the International Hunt for His Assassin, Hampton Sides. A document on the system of Hell.

Best Book of Stories

Everything That Rises Must Coverge, Flannery O’Connor. No surprise. O’Connor is indispensable.

Most Thought-Provoking Book of Poetry

The Sonnets, Ted Berrigan. Serious experiment in style and technique becomes play. You don’t read this book, you live in it.

Most Savage Biography

Deep in a Dream: The Long Night of Chet Baker, James Gavin. Chet Baker was a monster. Gavin tells his story as carefully and neutrally as he can. Result: You love the book, you despise the subject.

Best Anthology of Poetry

Poets of the English Language (5 vols.), edited by W. H. Auden and Norman Holmes Pearson. Wonderfully intelligent selection of poems from Langland to Yeats. The prefaces to each volume alone are worth the cost of the books. If you want to know the English tradition of poetry, this is where to dig in.

Most Reassuring Book

Practical Outdoor Survival, Len McDougall. Turns out you can survive with a knife, a .22, some matches and a few other necessaries. Now you know what to hang on to when we are all reduced to serfdom by our corporate masters.

Cover of George Brant's book, Elephant's Graveyard

George Brant‘s play, Elephant’s Graveyard, dramatizes one of the stranger events in American history, the documented lynching of a circus elephant, Mary, in Erwin, Tennessee on September 13, 1916. I was lucky enough to see the play staged  at the Oscar Brockett Theater in Austin in 2007. I thought then  it was one of the funniest,  strangest and most dazzling plays I had ever seen, and certainly, by the end, one of the saddest. I’ve since read the play, recently published by Samuel French, three times, and my admiration for Brant’s work has only increased. Narrative and dramatic mastery. Highly recommended.