Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Short Takes

The Wall Street Journal selects James Marten's AMERICA'S CORPORAL as an "outstanding stud[y] of life after battle" in its roundup of this year's gift books on the Civil War. "Mr. Marten focuses on James Tanner, a double amputee who vaulted into prominence when he was drafted on the spot to take the testimony of witnesses to Lincoln's assassination and who eventually became a spokesman for disabled veterans."

Open Alphabet interviews Jeffrey Schultz about his book of poetry, WHAT RIDICULOUS THINGS WE COULD ASK OF EACH OTHER.
OA: The cover illustration is "Riot of the Madmen", by George Grosz. It depicts urban mayhem, shipwrecks, arson, looting, and various types of interpersonal violence, but it is drawn in very simple lines, not much more than stick figures. How did this come to be the cover of your book? How does it relate to the poems?
JS: I first saw this drawing at LACMA with my wife and good friend, the poet Joshua Robbins. There are a lot of things I love about it. I’ve spent a lot of hours looking at album covers and book covers over the years, and I really appreciate one you can continue looking at, continue noticing little details of. So that’s part of it, but what made it seem right to me for the book was exactly what you’re pointing to: we see all of these terrible things happening in the drawing, but because the drawing is so simple, so cartoonish, it gives the impression that none of it is really necessary at all, that none of it need be real. It’s that contrast, between the very real sorts of violence the drawing points to in the world and the form that says that everything that led to it was quite careless and could be easily wiped away if only we would put a little work and thought toward it that I really love. And I hope it resonates, then, first with the title of the book and then with the individual poems. I’ve tried, so much as I was able, to walk these poems up to those moments when we might start becoming able to ask the questions we would need to ask in order to begin to find some ways to start setting the world right, and the Grosz I hope sets the stage or mood or whatever for those attempts of mine.

I’ve got to say thank you here too to the wonderful folks at the University of Georgia Press for finding a way to get the rights to the Grosz and for then designing such a wonderful cover. I couldn’t be happier with it.
Check out the rest of the interview here.

Read Her Like an Open Book blog praises Monica McFawn for BRIGHT SHARDS OF SOMEPLACE ELSE, saying the work is "intriguing and thought-provoking. . . . This is a smart, ambitious collection of stories by a writer whose initial acclaim is certain to grow."

Kate Sweeney's AMERICAN AFTERLIFE made the best of 2014 list for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. (subscription required)

Congratulations to Sarah Gorham! Her book, STUDY IN PERFECT, was chosen as one of Slate's 27 Overlooked Books of 2014. "Easily one of the best books I read this year was Sarah Gorham’s gorgeous, one-of-a-kind Study in Perfect. . . . Gorham’s writing is crystal-clear and drawn from a more poetic well than most."

Congratulations to John Griswold! His book, PIRATES YOU DON'T KNOW, AND OTHER ADVENTURES IN THE EXAMINED LIFE, was named as one of the best nonfiction books of 2014 by Entropy magazine.

Congratulations to Monica McFawn! Her book, BRIGHT SHARDS OF SOMEPLACE ELSE, has won a Michigan Notable Book Award. The award is given to 20 books celebrating Michigan people, places, and events. Her book was also named as one of NPR's Great Reads for 2014.

Congratulations to Glenn T. Eskew, Kari Frederickson, Karen L. Kilcup, and Jeffrey B. Leak! Their books (JOHNNY MERCER, COLD WAR DIXIE, FALLEN FORESTS, and VISIBLE MAN) were chosen as Outstanding Academic Titles by Choice magazine.