Sunday, December 12, 2010

Books I'd Recommend for Christmas Gifts 2

This post is about poetry, and more novels for adults. This year I discovered Chase Twichell's poetry, via the journal from the Association of Writing Programs - the article quoted lots of bits from her poems, and I liked so many of them, I bought the book. I'm savouring a few poems each day, which I think is the best way to do it.
The title is Horses Where the Answers Should Have Been (Copper Canyon Press, 2010).
I always recommend Billy Collins and I'm currently on my third re-reading of Sailing Alone Around the Room and am very excited to see a new collection, The Trouble With Poetry, is being released. The title poem is one I use in my poetry classes all the time!

Black Inc has released its end-of-year collections, The Best Australian ... Poems, Stories, Essays. (OK, I confess that I'm in the Stories collection!) These are excellent gifts for readers of each form, and always provide a wide range of voices and subjects. Also released are the American versions, and I buy the Best American Short Stories as soon as it's available here. I like it because the stories are so different, a mix of experienced (such as Alice Munro) and new. I often end up using one or two of these stories in class. This year's is edited by Richard Russo. If you want something different, try Best American Science and Nature Writing - marvellous.

You may have missed Nam Le's The Boat, but it would have been hard to do as it won so many awards. It's great to see short fiction writing coming back into favour at last. Check out the short fiction section at your independent bookshop! I'd also recommend Cate Kennedy's Dark Roots - it's been out for a while but is a wonderful collection of stories.

My other fiction recommendation to finish with for now is Caroline Overington's I Came to Say Goodbye. I was sent this ages ago as a galley copy to read for review, but never got around to commenting on it as it took ages to actually be released! But I loved it. If you'd told me it was a book narrated mostly in flashback by a 60+ year old man, and dealt with child abuse and poverty and a host of other social issues, I would've maybe said 'no thanks'. But Overington's narrator is so engaging and convincing, and his story is so real, that I couldn't put it down. I wasn't surprised to read later that the author was a journalist who reported on these issues extensively - it shows in her commitment to creating a story that strikes at your heart without preaching. An excellent accomplishment!

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