I am reading two books right now ... vaguely complimentary ... neither one on my yearly booklist. But I'm enjoying each one thoroughly:
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian - Sherman Alexie. It's a novel with graphics. Meant for young adults. Alexie is very good. I've enjoyed his short stories in the New Yorker. I loved Smoke Signals -- movie based on one of his short stories in The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven. And he now has a book of poetry out ... one of them is below. The thing I like about him is that he's got a great sense of humor and he's irreverent. Breaks stereotypes about First Nation peoples.
1491: New Revelations of the Americas before Columbus - Charles C. Mann. It's nonfiction and dense with stories and facts. I'm reading it AND listening to it on CD in my car to and fro wherever. Wow, so much interesting stuff. Another book that challenges the myths we all learned about First Nation peoples. For example, we think of the Americas before European invasion as "untrammeled by man." Here's an excerpt about The Beni -- a Bolivian province:
The Beni is a case in point. In addition to building roads, causeways, canals, dikes, reservoirs, mounds, raised agricultural fields, and possibly ball courts, Erickson has argued, the Indians who lived there before Columbus trapped fish in the seasonally flooded grassland. The trapping was not a matter of a few isolated natives with nets, but a society-wide effort in which hundreds or thousands of people fashioned dense, zigzagging networks of earthen fish weirs (fish-corralling fences) among the causeways.
by Sherman Alexie
Today ... a few more poems ... these two from The Writer's Almanac ...
In Early Spring
by Larry Smith
Road catkins, russet and tan, let the
wind sweep over them as dusk
seeps in along the lake,
and I pass road puddles
swelling to ponds, mirroring
the sky's own silveriness.
At the railroad tracks seven geese
veer off and set down in a field
so that only their necks
speak for them, telling us all
to go on while they rest
by the barn. Today a man
asked me if I were depressed,
and I looked up and smiled.
No more than these geese or catkins
as light falls around them, no
more than those pine boughs
lifting in the wind—just so,
life goes on.
by Stuart Kestenbaum
Just before the green begins there is the hint of green
a blush of color, and the red buds thicken
the ends of the maple's branches and everything
is poised before the start of a new world,
which is really the same world
just moving forward from bud
to flower to blossom to fruit
to harvest to sweet sleep, and the roots
await the next signal, every signal
every call a miracle and the switchboard
is lighting up and the operators are
standing by in the pledge drive we've
all been listening to: Go make the call.
"In Early Spring" by Larry Smith, from A River Remains. © WordTech Editions, 2006, and "April Prayer" by Stuart Kestenbaum, from Prayers & Run-on Sentences. © Deerbrook Editions, 2007.
Hey, it's Poetry Month ... here's another from Poetry Daily:
That dense fog I'd been groping through, cursing
at every tentative step I took, lifted
at least for an instant so that I could glimpse
on every side the dangerous chasms, worse
than anything I had imagined. Then, at some slight
shift in the wind, it closed in again, thick
as ever and leaving me worse off than before.
It was no dream but the waking truth of aging,
common to everyone, the depressing secret
nobody tells us, not even our parents—
out of kindness, perhaps, for they know that sooner or later
we each come to this place and learn for ourselves.
David R. Slavitt
The Seven Deadly Sins and Other Poems
Louisiana State University Press
And, no, I'm not finished yet.
Here are several books I want to add to my reading list. The list of books below and the comments are taken from last Sunday's SFChronicle/Examiner book section):
Shakespeare Wrote for Money by Nick Hornby: The author chronicles his battle between "books bought" versus "books read." Brilliant. In paperback. [Ms. Manitoba L-O-V-E-S Nick Hornby. His sense of humor just has me rolling.]
The Ten Most Beautiful Experiments by George Johnson: Johnson illustrates how science, art and beauty can occasionally be the same thing. In paperback.
Edible Schoolyard: A Universal Idea by Alice Waters: A chronicle of the transformation of one abandoned plot of land at a Berkeley public school into the Edible Schoolyard - a model for institutions everywhere. [Folks, I photograph there all the time. See my post in July 2008 and the one in November 2007.]