New this week:
PERENNIAL By Kelly Forsythe. (Coffee House, paper, $16.95.) Innocence and violence are the poles of this debut collection about the Columbine school shooting, where even lipstick tubes call to mind gun barrels and where children, like flowers, “are beautiful, then die.” ANAGNORISIS By Kyle Dargan. (Northwestern University, paper, $18.) Dargan’s fifth collection takes its title from the literary term for a moment of sudden recognition. Here, it amounts almost to resignation — about the country’s racist brutality, as in a poem called “Death Toll,” which opens: “This road has surely paid for itself by now, / but let’s toss some more bullets in the bucket.” WHO IS MARY SUE? By Sophie Collins. (Faber & Faber, paper, $16.) Part literary criticism, part feminist manifesto, this debut by an Edinburgh poet uses quotations, aphorisms and verse to explode the archetype of the “Mary Sue,” as she’s known in the world of fan fiction; the closest analog would be the “manic pixie dream girl,” too good to be true. THE GILDED AUCTION BLOCK By Shane McCrae. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $23.) This book, McCrae’s sixth, seems a direct response to the 2016 election; many of its poems begin with the word “America” and one, “Everything I Know About Blackness I Learned From Donald Trump,” opens “America I was driving when I heard you / Had died I swerved into a ditch and wept.” SO FAR SO GOOD By Ursula K. Le Guin. (Copper Canyon, $23.) Le Guin died at the beginning of 2018, and this posthumous book is preoccupied with spare musings on age and mortality. Yet her political habit persists: “We don’t understand each other,” she writes, “and ignorance is danger.”
In which we ask colleagues at The Times what they’re reading now.
“A few months ago, I thought I lost my love for reading. I spent weeks putting books down after a few pages. Nothing spoke to me. Then one magical day, I stumbled on THE TERRIBLE, by Yrsa Daley-Ward, and THERE WILL BE NO MIRACLES HERE, by Casey Gerald. Both could be called ‘coming-of-age’ stories; both trace heart-wrenching tales of young, queer black people making sense of their places in the world. Daley-Ward’s beautiful prose wrapped its hands around my neck — I found myself doing stupid things like walking through New York at rush hour with my nose buried in her book. I started Gerald’s memoir immediately after. I could easily describe it as a rags-to-riches story (poor, brilliant football star from a dysfunctional family in Texas is recruited to play football at Yale, opening the door to a lifetime of opportunities), yet it turns the genre on its head to ask: Why do we place so much value in building come-from-nothing narratives for young black people, and how does one cope with being shaped in this narrative? The book is powerful, painful — sometimes meandering, but ultimately honest and refreshing.”
— Jamal Jordan, digital editor
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