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Welcome to the premiere of "Book Talk," a column where you will find reviews of books written by local poets and authors, books published by local presses, and books of particular interest to this area.
This week we feature local writers, Cynthia Linville and Jen Palmares Meadows, as well as Megan Miranda and Alice Notley.
“The Lost Thing” by Cynthia Linville
Cold River Press
2012, 97 pp., $12.95
Poetry – local author / local press
Cynthia Linville’s collection of poems, “The Lost Thing,” travels through time and geography in search of love. Beginning with “Wandering Sunday, lost,” where the speaker asks, “What is there to fear,” Linville guides the reader through poems that are relatable to anyone who has ever loved, lost and loved again. Through poems like “A Thousand Ways to Say Goodbye,” “What should I do with all these love poems now?” and “This Poem is Not About You: A Post-Break-Up Spell,” we realize that there is nothing to fear. In “Heat,” we relive that moment where we are “almost kissed,” and in “Joshua Tree National Park,” we feel the passion of that new love, where we want to “ride the slow-wave of blood / rushing in / rising without crest.” These poems are funny, sad, and never lack hope. Are these poems personal? Perhaps, and it is just that personal touch that makes them universal.
“Annotated Pai Gow Poker and more” by Jen Palmares Meadows
2011, 28 pp., $5.00
Short fiction and creative nonfiction – local author
Fiction meets creative nonfiction in Jen Palmares Meadows’ chapbook, “Annotated Pai Gow Poker and more.” A short fiction piece features two voices, illustrations and instructions on how to play Pai Gow. The language in this section is both seductive, befitting a story set in Sin City, and direct. It is a quiet, contemplative piece, unlike the raucous nonfiction ”Pretty Potion,” a recipe that claims to be “the solution to every homely girl’s puberty predicament,” and that encourages the mixing of sugar; cinnamon; eye shadow; a decapitated, chopped and melted Barbie doll and a lock of Kelly Kapowski’s hair. Directions are given, with a warning: “Inexact measurements could result in uneven-sized breasts." “Pretty Potion” is a girl’s coming-of-age story that reminds us what it was like to be in junior high school, a girl with braces or glasses, or wearing a hand-me-down training bra.
“Fracture” by Megan Miranda
2012, 272 pp., $17.99
Young adult fiction
Megan Miranda’s first book, “Fracture,” follows Delaney Maxwell, a 17-year-old girl who has been in a coma for six days. Her voice opens the book with, “The first time I died, I didn’t see God.” From the first page, Miranda’s characters are people we care about: Decker, the boy Delaney’s known forever and who waits by her hospital bed; Delaney’s mom, who seems on the verge of some sort of breakdown and who has her own secrets; Troy Vega, the young man who works in an assisted living facility; and Delaney. It seems like Delaney’s fall into freezing water, where she remained for 11 minutes and should have been dead after 10, and her subsequent coma, affected her brain so that she can sense illness and death. She doesn’t understand this new power and learns that Troy also has it, but they have differing views about actions they should take.
“Songs and Stories of the Ghouls” by Alice Notley
2011, 208 pp., $24.95
History is usually written by the winners, but Alice Notley turns that old belief on its head in her latest book, “Songs and Stories of the Ghouls,” where the victims of genocide, particularly women, tell their stories and gain power – sometimes for the first time. Within the 208 pages of prose, dialogue and poetry, Medea is not the murderess of her sons, and Dido repeatedly founds a city. “The fact that our souls are poems is obvious, once it has been stated,” says Dido, the “activator of our ghoul world” who is “helping us to wait for what we’re owed, after the planet is finished and the gods all of them are defunct, the diseases are exhausted, and the genocides, successful, are concluded.” Throughout the book, we are reminded that the same horrors and the same outcomes have occurred, and still occur, but poetry provides the stories that the winners never tell.
"Book Talk" welcomes comments and queries from local authors and publishers. SacramentoBookTalk@gmail.com