Thursday, October 1, 2009

Books Received: Terese Svoboda & McSweeney's

I’ve decided to start a new, semi-regular feature to help get the word out about books and publications that I get that seem to deserve attention, though I may not be able to read them right away.

Don’t be scared. This is not a “send me a free book, and I’ll say nice things about you” column. Goodness, I'm not that easy! Think of it more as a “here’s a publication that came to me through any number of possible ways including me spending my own cold hard cash on it, and I’m making note of its presence because I think it’s important.” (But publicists for literary fiction/nonfiction are welcome to add me to their lists; email for further information.)

Without further ado….

Terese Svoboda has a new book of poems out. According to the jacket, Weapons Grade “is a collection of poems about the power of occupation—political and personal. They often play with sestina, sonnet, and couplets, as if only form can contain he fury between the occupier and the occupied. There’s a pervading sense of dread, of expiation, of portents—even in potato salad. There’s also elegy and lullaby and seduction….”

Best blurb:
“Svoboda has such range—of subject, of emotion (from whimsical play to chillingly dead serious), that these poems take you on a wild ride, fast and dangerous, but always in control. This is a goddamn terrific book!” ~Thomas Lux, author of God Particles

The knife reveals the world stopped
in a fruit, its eerie imperfection due
perhaps to physics, or more sun

here or there, or—
Grand design
frowns, taking account....

~from “Half Grapefruit”

More info, including links to the author’s website and purchase details.


McSweeney’s, Issue 32

Includes work by Anthony Doerr, Wells Tower, Jim Shephard, and Sheila Heti. Known for—among other things—its format, I’m compelled to report that this issue is pretty sedate: a nice hardcover book that oddly (or purposely?) reminds me of the size and feel of those old readers way back when in grade school. I mean, artsy-ier, of course, but still I find myself thinking of Dick and Jane.

From the (tiny and hard to find) editor’s note:
“Last year we asked a dozen or so writers to travel somewhere in the world—Budapest, Cape Town, Houston, any sleepy or sleepless outpost they could find—and send back as story set in that spot fifteen years from now, in the year 2024….One reason we asked our writers to look ahead only fifteen years instead of fifty or five hundred, is because we wanted to hear about where we’d be—to see what the world could look like when things had shifted just a bit, as it seems like they’re starting to….”

“Just let me out of here, man,” said Cora Booth. “I’m sick. I’m dying.”

“Of what?” asked Rodney, her husband, blinking at the wheel, scoliotic with exhaustion. He’d been sitting there for four days, steering the pickup down out of Boston, a trailer shimmying on the ball hitch, a mattress held to the roof of the camper shell with tie-downs that razzed like an attack of giant farting bees.

“Ford poisoning,” Cora said. “Truckanosis, stage four. I want out. I’ll walk from here.”

Rodney told his wife that a hundred and twenty miles lay between them and the home they’d rented in the desert, sight unseen.”
~from “Raw Water” by Wells Tower

More details, including purchasing information.


DC-area author Leslie Pietrzyk explores the creative process and all things literary.