RaveBookPageBiographer and Plath scholar Heather Clark lifts the poet’s life from the Persephone myth it has become and examines it in all its complexity. In the massive effort that is Red Comet, Clark admirably identifies and resists the morbid tendency to look at every moment, every work, as a signpost on the way to Plath’s tragic suicide ... Clark’s detailed, multidimensional treatment gives Plath’s life and work its dignity, character and sense of interiority. We get the full scope of Plath’s incredible talent here ... Considering Plath in this complexifying light, Clark unlooses some of the bonds that have held back this incomparable artist.
RaveBookPageIn Cho’s hands, the story of her psychosis is also one of her growing up and knitting together her sense of self, even as that self is coming ferociously undone ... There is a sublime quality to this temporal movement. Her illness looms large and mythic, even in its terror ... Cho’s expression of her experience of madness is poetic, and like much good poetry, it points its finger to the lies in our so-called reality.
RaveBookPageAs the course of [Alexander\'s] life shifted abruptly and against her will that year, like the lives of so many at the onset of World War II, Alexander responded with unflappable humor and irrepressible intellect, both of which shine through in Love in the Blitz ... That Alexander’s sense of humor remained so resolutely intact throughout only serves to highlight the occasional glimpse of sadness or weariness, and you admire her all the more for it ... Alexander’s unassailable wit makes her an accessible narrator, someone in whom we see pieces of our friends, our sisters and, we hope, ourselves ... For a book of war correspondence, it’s peculiar to note that it’s a laugh-out-loud sort of work, but Alexander’s candor makes her wartime experience real to us. When she shows up for work only to find her workplace bombed, we feel the impact of that moment as though we’re standing next to her. When she stops in her tracks in one letter to wonder if she will ever forget the things she has seen, we pause with her ... After reading Love in the Blitz, events on the 20th-century world stage no longer seem so removed from our own age. We can only hope to conduct ourselves as Alexander did: with tenacity, optimism, tenderness and a perfect zinger for everything.
RaveBookPage... if you can’t literally sink into a honey-sweet bee colony, sinking into Helen Jukes’ A Honeybee Heart Has Five Openings: A Year of Keeping Bees is surely the next best thing ... unfolds over a year into ease, sweetness, rhythm and flow ... Still a young voice in the world of nature writing, Jukes joins the ranks of pros like Robert Macfarlane and Helen Macdonald as she brings sharply into focus the details of the natural world that gleams and hums all around us.
PositiveBookPageHalberstadt twitches aside the dismissive curtain we tend to drape over the older members of our families ... What he finds is startling but ought to be familiar in its own way to each of us ... As Halberstadt weaves his familial background out of several trips across Russia and Eastern Europe in a quest for information, a curious effect occurs. Time becomes less linear and seems to lie around us, piled in no particular order, like snow. The past is still present with us; nothing is truly left behind.
PositiveBookPageThis tragic and unsettling (but also humorous and wry) memoir opens with an event that becomes the impetus of Fremont’s attempt to make sense of it all. Weeks after attending her father’s funeral, she receives a letter informing her of her own disinheritance ... No one could accuse the family in The Escape Artist of keeping only small secrets, but in its truth-telling, it serves as a catharsis for anyone who has ever spent time hiding the skeletons of others.
PositiveBookPagePresent are all the things we like in an American tale: frontier adventure, fame and a conflict that’s cast as tragic and romantic. But Inskeep, wise to the lure he has set out, doesn’t give us the story we expect. Failures and near misses are rife ... Inskeep deepens the tale beyond the traditional American narrative, giving us an insightful look at two people who seem familiar even all these years later: an ambitious and brilliant woman shackled by her gender and an imperfect dreamer who often comes close to doing the right thing. Within the political theater of this pre-Civil War drama, we just might find ourselves.
PositiveBookPage... gloriously illustrated ... While capturing the humor inherent in looking so far back in time, Hartnell points to the common humanity between our modern selves and the men (and women!) who left behind these writings ... Hartnell’s head-to-toe examination of the medieval body invokes nearly all other aspects of medieval culture and life. Food, literature, music and the prevalence of the spiritual are all present in great detail in Medieval Bodies, and it makes sense: We, on an ordinary day, do not perceive ourselves as a collection of viscera. We understand ourselves, both physically and otherwise, in relation to the things we come into contact with in the surrounding world. This was also true of our long-ago ancestors—and in making this clear, Hartnell’s book provides a most human look into a world that is neither so far away nor very separate from us at all.
RaveBookPage... neither neglects nor glosses over any part of Fisher’s life ... As Weller illustrates so well in her biography, Fisher gave, and gave, and gave in this way, mentoring generations of people around the world just by living large with irrepressible honesty and wit ... Pulling from extensive research and interviews done with everyone from the neighborhood children Fisher grew up with to her extensive group of cherished friends, Weller knits these pieces together into an engrossing and meaningful look at the inner life of a woman who described herself as \'a writer who acts.\' The result is a project that is breathtaking in its size and scope—Fisher lived a lot, and that is felt in page after page ... But like Fisher’s life itself, A Life on the Edge runs deep. It is less a long book than a very full one. It’s moving, truthful and a fitting tribute to its subject and to her unflappable courage and transparency. Reading Weller’s portrait of Fisher, you will miss her, deeply.
RaveBookPageDoughty’s forthright but playful tone is apparent before you even get to the table of contents ... perhaps the most enchanting little book ever to discuss such matters as whether or not one’s body might explode if one’s final meal before being loaded into the crematorium included popcorn ... It is to her credit that Doughty not only answers those questions that would seem to fall easily within her area of expertise but dutifully chases down the science that might provide a plausible answer to the fate of an astronaut who slipped from this mortal coil while on a spacewalk ... However, this book is by no means solely for death-curious children. Most if not all of the answers provided alongside the charmingly gothic illustrations will be news to the average adult reader, as well ... provides answers to questions both humorous and moving, bringing tiny and full-sized mortals alike to a greater comfort with and understanding of the one transition that will happen to us all.
PositiveBookPageFunny, intelligent, weary ... Though full of the cartoons that populate Lorman’s Instagram, the book resists simply being a pithy ode to the many potholes that exist in the female experience. Lorman writes sensitively about the behaviors that these acts of marginalization often prompt in women, conditioned as we are to make ourselves small. It can get a little uncomfortable when she describes back to you the many ways you’ve taken up the emotional labor for men, but she does so while speaking in the tones of your most sympathetic, self-aware friend. Drawing it all together at the end is an emotionally intelligent and compassionate conclusion to an argument you didn’t even realize that you were reading. The gift of Awards for Good Boys lies in the way it lightly bops you on the head with the clarity you need to see through the madness disguising itself as acceptable.
RaveBookPage...Taddeo doesn’t shy away from the unspoken, the uncomfortable and the shadow sides of sexuality. This is by necessity a ruthless book as it explores the half-concealed aspects of not only the female sex life but also the inner and secret lives of women ... Three Women is merciless, impossible to put down and so revealing as to be uncomfortable. As the women share themselves, you find yourself reflected. It’s a multifaceted work that changes as you turn it, casting light in unexpected corners that you never before considered—and had perhaps even been guarding against.