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Monthly Archives: January 2015

Literary lights that went out


gray cat books
In 2014 we lost a number of writers: poets Mark Strand, Galway Kinnell, Claudia Emerson and Carolyn Kizer, and also Ruth Rendell, Mike Nichols, Peter Matthiessen, Kent Haruf, Bel Kaufman, Nadine Gordimer, Thomas Berger and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I am a big fan of Kinnell’s heartfelt poetry. Love Ruth Rendell’s work, and am glad she wrote so many books. Thomas Berger was a one of a kind novelist and I always liked his mordant humor. And Marquez and Gordimer illuminated the world for me in different ways.

Here is a January poem by Andrew Periale of New Hampshire, from a beautiful 2015 calendar called A Woodland Sketchbook, with illustrations by his wife Bonnie.


No mistaking
your metallic scold
on a cold morning.

Ticks me off–
I feel an outsider
in my own woods!

But how can I stay angry
at that blue, that bit of sky–
white-flecked, black-banded

little thief! You are that student–
chatty, voice that cuts glass.

How I miss you when
the hawk’s successful,
trees suddenly silent.

Good books I read in 2014

books gifts

cat on books

I read 108 books in 2014. I’m not bragging – this is fewer than in many years. Fifteen of my favorite fiction books are listed below. As you can tell, my reading tastes are rather eclectic. Note that three writers on this list live in Maine: Monica Wood, Bill Roorbach and Bruce Spang. I write short reviews for some books on Goodreads. We are inundated with “best of” lists on the Internet and in print, but I find them useful. As always, I welcome your comments. May we all have time to read in 2015.

Alice Adams, The Last Lovely City (stories)
John O’Hara, Appointment in Samarra
Jennifer Dubois, Cartwheel
Richard Russo, Elsewhere
Max Berry, Lexicon
Monica Wood, When We Were the Kennedys
Kate Atkinson, Started Early, Took My Dog
Lee Smith, Guests On Earth
Susan Choi, The Foreign Student
Bruce Spang, The Deception of the Thrush
Bill Roorbach, Life Among Giants
Bill Roorbach, Summers with Juliet
Joseph O’Neill, The Dog
Stuart O’Nan, Songs for the Missing
James Lee Burke, The Wayfaring Stranger