Kym Hawkins (Marketing Director) is reading The First Four Books of Sampson Starkweather by Sampson Starkweather.
So many great books lately, if I must pick one I’ll pick The First Four Books of Sampson Starkweather by Sampson Starkweather. Where to begin. For starters, The First Four Books… is the author’s first book ever. To me, at around 400-something pages, that is not only an impressive achievement(not to mention, one of the best marketing campaigns for a debut book of poetry, EVER)but also – hilarious. Just like the book itself – often. But not only. At some point this book will have you laughing, crying, hard, wet, turned on, wondering about outer space, hungry, missing your childhood, glad to be alive, mad at war, terrified, lonely, accompanied, understood, and okay, after all. One at a time, all at once. It’ll put your mind in the gutter, but also in the trenches, in the clouds, in the sea. More than complexity of emotions, it’s thoughts that this book gives you the most of. For, at some point in time, I am convinced that Sampson Starkweather has had a thought about nearly everything. A wonderful new thought to think, and his delivery is as exciting as his writing, in that the same line will serve as both; end, and beginning, of a sentence. The same page will serve as both; whole, and part, of a story. The content matches the form with thorough simplicity that will excite every studied veteran and newcomer to poetry alike. It’s a good thing that the first book is four deep, because most readers would be upset if it had ended any sooner.
Alex Paradysz (Senior Reader, Nonfiction) is reading Bluets by Maggie Nelson.
The brilliant part of Bluets is Maggie Nelson’s ability to adapt and feel emotion for a color and how I was along for the ride. I was able to capture the understanding in an attempt to feel the pain with her. Blue is a sad color. It is also a color of desire, of passion. I found myself tearing up, nodding in agreement, furrowing an eye brow in frustration and smiling at bittersweet memories she’s helped me remember by detailing the color blue and how wonderful it felt, to feel as if I was in a room with her, listening while she spoke.
A breath of fresh air to read something as a whole about the color, but also have deeper meaning of how we feel, as readers, as writers, as human beings through a color. Discovery and philosophy move swiftly through the book, making it an enjoyable read. She addresses topics that we, as people, wonder about every day. She asks questions about blue: if it brings hope or despair? Desire or love? And how we must not confuse the passions we feel inside. There wasn’t a minute where my mind didn’t wander to my own past and decorate it with a color of my own.
Brian Miller (Senior Reader, Fiction) is reading Some Ether by Nick Flynn
On finding Nick Flynn’s “The Day Lou Reed Died” in the New Yorker a few weeks ago, I was reminded of how perfectly his first collection of poetry, Some Ether, manages to capture the sudden strangeness of grief, the vast oceans loss can open up inside us. I think of the close of “Sudden”: “But it was sudden / how overnight we could be orphaned / & the world inside become a bell we’d crawl inside / & the ringing all we’d eat.” His poems are raw with emotion, but measured and never melodramatic, and above all teach us to face loss, to stare it down with every last measure of ourselves, and ultimately they resonate long after the last line. A book so suffused with grief is a hard sell, but Some Ether takes Flynn’s harrowing, private moments, and makes them universal above all.