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People Top 5
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- April 16, 2012
- Vol. 77
- No. 16
Picks and Pans: Books
Tribute Adrienne Rich, 1929-2012
by Charlotte Rogan |
REVIEWED BY HELEN ROGAN
It is the summer of 1914, two years after the sinking of the Titanic, and a luxury ocean liner bound for America is going down in the Atlantic. As the flaming ship tilts and sinks, 39 terrified passengers cram into a lifeboat, including Grace Winter, a new bride who last saw her husband's anxious face as he hustled her into the boat. For days the survivors drift, as Grace later recalls, on "large swells that rhythmically rocked us, as if the world's overall pattern would not be disturbed, regardless of the countless little dramas of human life." As it becomes clear that not everyone will make it-the boat is overcrowded and provisions are running out-the weakening, desperate passengers begin to quarrel and turn on each other, splitting into factions led by headstrong sailor Mr. Hardie and charismatic matron Mrs. Grant. Under pressure from both sides, Grace finds herself forced to make a decision that has profound consequences. Rogan (no relation to this reviewer) has written an eerie, powerful debut you'll want to race through, but try to resist the urge. A slower read reveals a psychological depth that'll leave you thinking.
by Ron Rash |
REVIEWED BY ELLEN SHAPIRO
Laurel Shelton lives on a "gloamy" patch of Appalachian land with her taciturn brother, a WWI vet who recently lost a hand in battle. Shunned by locals who think she's a witch, she's lonely until she finds a bedraggled, mute man in the woods playing a flute. She and her brother let him work on their farm, and soon he works his way into Laurel's heart. But the outside world encroaches when a smarmy Army recruiter threatens their fragile happiness. In Rash's skilled hands, even farm chores take on a meditative beauty.
The Beginner's Goodbye
by Anne Tyler |
REVIEWED BY JOANNA POWELL
In her 19th novel, Tyler tackles the "temporary insanity of grief" through the eyes of a widowed book editor. After losing his wife-and part of his mind-when a tree crashes onto their home, he feels "erased" until his late wife's spirit begins to visit him and he gets a chance to articulate his love. Despite the ghost trope, Tyler manages to illustrate larger issues, like the flawed institution of marriage and the inept ways we mourn. But these characters don't rank with her best.
BAD DOG (A LOVE STORY)
by Martin Kihn
To win back his wife, former TV writer Kihn put their unruly pup into training and learned a lot about himself.
by Jo Ann Beard
A witty, endearing coming-of-age tale about two midwestern girls navigating the typical minefields of adolescence in the 1970s.
ONE HUNDRED NAMES FOR LOVE
by Diane Ackerman
How the author and her husband coped-and then thrived-after his serious stroke.
GOV. NIKKI HALEY
A rising GOP star, the South Carolina governor, 40, has a new memoir, Can't Is Not an Option, and a daughter, Rena, 13, and son, Nalin, 10, with husband Michael, a National Guard officer.
The daughter of Indian immigrants, she practiced the Sikh faith before converting to Christianity. "I still greet people in the Indian community in the Indian way," she says. "I put my hands together, lower my head and say either namaste or sat sri akal out of respect."
At 13, the former accountant "started doing the tax returns at my mother's gift shop," she says. "But I'd never do my own!"
IS SHE VP-READY?
"I would not accept the nomination," says Haley. "But we have to keep encouraging women to run for office, regardless of the party they're in."
The fiercely gifted, fearlessly outspoken poet moved a generation of readers
And I am here, the mermaid whose dark hair/streams black, the merman in his armored body ...." So reads a line from Diving into the Wreck, Adrienne Rich's National Book Award-winning 1973 poetry anthology. Using a deep-sea dive as a metaphor for the depths of the female struggle, Rich became a defining voice of the feminist movement and a lifelong champion of the oppressed. "[Art] means nothing," she once wrote, "if it simply decorates the dinner table of power which holds it hostage." She herself crafted prose with passion and purpose, and for that she'll always be remembered and revered.
A mother of three, Rich lived in California with longtime partner Michelle Cliff.
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