Shelf Awareness for Thursday, September 28, 2017

Algonquin Young Readers: the Beautiful Game by Yamile Saied Méndez

Berkley Books: Books that will sweep you off your feet! Enter Giveaway!

Feiwel & Friends: The Flicker by HE Edgmon

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: The Pumpkin Princess and the Forever Night by Steven Banbury

St. Martin's Griffin: Murdle: The School of Mystery: 50 Seriously Sinister Logic Puzzles by GT Karber


Paz & Associates to Open Bookstore

Donna Paz Kaufman and Mark Kaufman

Donna Paz Kaufman and Mark Kaufman, who, via the Bookstore Training Group of Paz & Associates, have helped educate many hundreds if not thousands of new and prospective booksellers during the past 25 years, are walking the walk and talking the talk: the two are founding a bookstore in Fernandina Beach, Fla., where they've lived since 2002.

The Story & Song Neighborhood Bookstore Bistro will consist of a 2,400-square-foot bookstore and bistro on the first floor, and the Second Story for Arts & Creativity, a second-floor space of the same size that will showcase art books and art by local creators and be used for hosting programs and performances, story times and discussions, book groups and community groups. An open-air courtyard next to the building will offer café seating. Story & Song will open when necessary renovations are finished.

"It's been our goal to offer a working community bookstore as part of the training experience we offer at our bookstore boot camps," said Donna Paz Kaufman. "While none of the spaces we've previously considered could support a sustainable retail bookstore, a two-story building in Amelia Park, a traditional neighborhood development on Amelia Island, became available and a purchase agreement was reached."

The store's name is based on the couple's support of the performing arts on Amelia Island. As a part of the "An Evening of Story & Song" concert series, singers and songwriters, including many Grammy Award-winning artists, have performed. Given the name recognition and loyal following for the concert series, "Story & Song was a fitting name for the bookstore," the Kaufmans said.

"The combination of books, gifts, music, art, wine, coffee, and fresh food in a lively, friendly space will make Story & Song a favorite destination for friends and neighbors, as well as thousands of visitors that Amelia Island draws each year," Mark Kaufman said. "The peaceful neighborhood setting offers a relaxing, refreshing escape from 'screen fatigue' and the busyness of our lives."

The Story & Song Neighborhood Bookstore Bistro will also serve as an extension of Paz & Associates training support for new and prospective bookstore owners. "Our general trade indie bookstore will illustrate the best practices of the business of bookselling, offering internships and learning opportunities for those who want to test the waters before taking the plunge," Donna Paz Kaufman said.

Blackstone Publishing: Rogue Community College: A Liberty House Novel by David R Slayton

Riverstone Books Coming to Pittsburgh's North Hills

For the past five years, retired lawyer and corporate executive Barbara Jeremiah has been a co-owner of Undercover Books and Gifts on St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands*. Now, she's building off that experience as she gets ready to open a new bookstore from the ground up in Pittsburgh, Pa., called Riverstone Books. The 2,300-square-foot general-interest store will open mid-October in a shopping center on Covenant Avenue in Pittsburgh's North Hills suburbs. It will be the first bookstore in the area to sell new books since Borders Books & Music closed back in 2011.

"Unfortunately for us living out here, nobody moved in," said Jeremiah. By the time Borders closed, the store had become a fixture for the community, and its disappearance left a "gaping hole" in the ability of many people to buy books, particularly for senior citizens who might be less tech savvy. She added: "I'm a grandmother, and if you wanted to take your son or daughter or grandchildren out to pick up a book, that wasn't happening."

Riverstone Books is meant to fill that void in the community, though Jeremiah acknowledged that she can't invest in real estate to quite the extent that Borders could. The store will carry new titles for all ages, with about a quarter of the store devoted to books for children and young adults. Jeremiah plans for the biggest adult sections to be fiction, nonfiction, and mind, body and spirit, along with a large regional section featuring books about Pittsburgh and by authors with a Pittsburgh connection.

When it comes to deciding what nonbook items to carry at Riverstone Books, Jeremiah said she's building off her "five-year internship" at Undercover Books. The store's sideline offerings for adults will include greeting cards, a variety of cookware including mixing bowls and cutting boards, tote bags, serving trays, corkcicle bottles and canteens, and adult jigsaw puzzles. She has no plans for any kind of food or beverage service, but said she's excited to be opening next to a Panera Bread.

For kid's sidelines, Jeremiah explained that the theme is going to be "unplugged," with a focus on activities and toys kids and families can enjoy together that don't have a screen and don't require electricity. She'll stock Blue Orange games, which she described as "great games that are learning disguised as games," miniatures made by Safari Ltd., and plushes to pair with classic children's books such as Corduroy and Madeline.

"I'm taking the model I inherited in St. Croix, which has worked pretty well for us there, with more emphasis on books," Jeremiah said.

While Jeremiah plans to eventually have a full event schedule with author talks and book clubs, the focus initially will be on "getting the store open and surviving the holiday season." Once things are running smoothly, there are a number of local authors who Jeremiah would love to host in store, and she's interested in doing nontraditional events with foodie groups in Pittsburgh and even craft distilleries. There will be story time sessions every week, and Jeremiah said she's particularly hopeful that Riverstone can get some middle reader and young adult book clubs going.

Jeremiah has two business partners who are silent investors in the project and "just happy to have a bookstore in the North Hills." To run the store day-to-day she's hired Kristin Pidgeon, formerly of Penguin Bookshop in Sewickley, Pa., as full-time manager. Beyond that, Jeremiah expects to have a handful of part-time employees at the beginning.

Riverstone Books is aiming for a grand opening in the middle of October. While she was mum about details for the grand opening party, Jeremiah said that she has had a "tremendous response from people as we've started telling folks we're going to put a bookstore here. I'm really heartened to have such an excellent turnout of people who want to work in the store and people who want to shop here." --Alex Mutter

*(Note: Jeremiah reported that while Undercover Books was able to escape Hurricane Maria without any damage and all staff members are safe, the store remains closed indefinitely as relief efforts continue on the island, which has been without power and under curfew. St. Croix's hospital and airport are closed; Jeremiah hopes the latter can reopen in two weeks.)

The Black Reserve Bookstore Opens in Lansdale, Pa.

Author Anwar Muhammad has opened The Black Reserve Bookstore, an independent bookstore specializing in African American literature, in the Dresher Arcade building in Lansdale, Pa., the Times Herald reported. The store held its grand opening party on August 12 and carries books for all ages by African American authors. The Black Reserve's nonbook offerings include jewelry, art, incense and apparel.

Muhammad, author of The Written Mixtape Vol. One the Awakening, was considering opening an online bookstore until he was shown The Black Reserve's future location after doing a reading for his book nearby. He told the Times Herald that he has stocked the shelves with books that helped shaped him throughout his life and hopes that the store will be a resource for the community.

Said Muhammad: "I don't want people to see this as Anwar's bookstore. I want the community to feel that it's their store, and that's how a bookstore should be."

Gainesville's Wild Iris Books Closing After 25 Years

Wild Iris Books, the 25-year-old feminist bookstore in Gainesville, Fla., will close its doors on December 23, 2017.

"The owners and volunteers have given their hearts and their labor to make sure feminist bookselling had a voice in Florida, but the time has come and we can no longer keep the store afloat," co-owner Erica Merrell wrote in a post on the store's website. "We have some opportunities behind the scenes that may lead to a Wild Iris 2.0 and we hope to bring you good news in the next couple of months."

The store will be selling its inventory and fixtures before the end of the year, and Merrell implored customers to drop by, share their stories of Wild Iris and their sympathy, and help buy out the inventory. She wrote: "We are holding the image of the phoenix tightly in our hearts right now and while we cannot continue to exist as we are, with your support in these last months, we may yet rise from the fire."

The store first opened in 1992 as Iris Books and became Wild Iris Books in 1996. It has been Florida's only feminist bookstore and a significant part of the activist community. Merrell added: "We're still in this feminist fight and we'll meet you on the front lines."

Globe Pequot Publisher Jim Childs to Retire

Globe Pequot publisher Jim Childs will retire October 31 after three years at the press and 40 years in publishing. Childs joined Globe Pequot in 2014 following its acquisition by Rowman and Littlefield. Previously, he had worked with Prentice-Hall, the Wall Street Journal, HarperCollins, John Wiley, Time Inc. and the Taunton Press.

"My time at Globe Pequot has been rewarding and I especially enjoyed working with such a dedicated, creative and innovative team. I know that I am leaving the press in good hands and wish my colleagues all the best in the coming years," said Childs.

Jed Lyons, president and CEO of Rowman & Littlefield, praised Childs, saying, "In Jim's tenure here, he has shaped the future of our category-driven, enthusiast imprints. We are well-poised to see continued growth. Jim led a team effort that created a long-range publishing plan, launched strategic publishing partnerships and developed a market-focused approach to book acquisitions. Jim has been a respected and admired member of the company's management team which has benefited from his long years of experience and his publishing savvy."

#BannedBooksWeek Update: Literary Trivia Night, Blind Date

Banned Books Week is currently underway, and we'll be highlighting a selection of your creative events, displays, social media posts and more. Let us know some of the unusual ways your bookstore or library is celebrating. 

A wall of banned books at Vroman's, Pasadena, Calif.

Battenkill Books, Cambridge, N.Y.: "Some folks have literally been stopped in their tracks and have made comments like, 'That book was banned? But that book is a [classic/good book/book I like]!' "

Avid Bookshop, Athens, Ga.: "On Thursday, Sept. 28, Avid Bookshop and The Rook & Pawn will present a Literary Trivia Night in light of Banned Books Week. At the event, there will also be a #AvidGivesBack book sale that will benefit the Athens Area Arts Council."

Country Bookshelf, Bozeman, Mont.: "Are you ready for a blind date with a banned book? To celebrate Banned Book Week we covered up some of our favorite titles and wrote a couple clues as to what's inside. They'll be available all week!"

At Book Passage, San Francisco

Book Passage, San Francisco, Calif.: "Book Passage in the San Francisco Ferry Building is once again offering readers an opportunity to confess to reading banned books. Guilty readers can choose a title from the nearby display, or use the line-up ID card."

Square Books, Oxford, Miss.: " 'There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them.' - Joseph Brodsky. Live every week like it's #BannedBookWeek."

Flintridge Bookstore & Coffeehouse, La Canada Flintridge, California, Calif.: "This week is Banned Books Week. Celebrate the right to read!!!"

Wellesley Books‏, Wellesley, Mass.: "Read a banned book. Celebrate your freedom to read. #BannedBookWeek #ourrighttoread."

Mid-Manhattan Library‏, New York City: "Come get a #bannedbook recommendation from 1-3! Happy #BannedBooksWeek."

G.L.O.W. - Galley Love of the Week
Be the first to have an advance copy!
A Forty Year Kiss
by Nickolas Butler
GLOW: A Forty Year Kiss by Nickolas Butler

A Forty Year Kiss by Nickolas Butler is a passionate, emotionally complex love story that probes tender places within the heart and soul. When 60-somethings Charlie and Vivian--married then divorced in their 20s--reunite after four decades, they are swept up by the very best of what their romantic relationship once offered. "Anyone who has ever thought about what might have been will find this book fascinating," says Shana Drehs, senior editorial director at Sourcebooks Landmark. "The story is a brilliant exploration of a second chance at love, always realistic but never saccharine." As Charlie and Vivian build a bridge from past to present, their enduring love paving over potholes, Butler (Shotgun Lovesongs) raises questions about how life changes people--or does it?--and delivers another heartening, unforgettable novel. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines

(Sourcebooks Landmark, $27.99 Hardcover, 9781464221248, 
February 4, 2025)


Shelf vetted, publisher supported


Image of the Day: Clinton in Brooklyn

After her book signing last night, Hillary Rodham Clinton posed with staffers at Greenlight Bookstore in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, N.Y. A thousand people held tickets to the event, and the store sold some 1,000 copies of What Happened and 200 copies of the children's illustrated edition of It Takes a Village (both Simon & Schuster).

'Comprehensive Map of All the Bookstores in San Francisco'

"Whether you live in the city by the bay or are just visiting, San Francisco is a wonderful place for book lovers," the Chronicle Books blog observed in showcasing a map of all the bookstores there. "One could easily fill an entire day bookstore hopping in the Mission, or zig zag across the city to hit up favorite haunts. To make that perfect day a little bit easier, we thought we would plot out every bookstore in San Francisco on a Google map--just bookmark it (or add it to your maps) and use as a means to navigate the city."

Personnel Changes at HMH Books for Young Readers

At Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers:

Veronica Wasserman has joined the company as executive director, marketing and brand strategy. She is the former brand director, Wimpy Kid marketing at Abrams. She started her publishing career in the licensing department at Penguin Young Readers Group

Lisa DiSarro has been promoted to executive director, marketing, and will continue to focus on the school and library markets. She was previously marketing director.

Media and Movies

TV: The Vanity Fair Diaries

Bruna Papandrea's Made Up Stories has optioned Tina Brown's upcoming book, The Vanity Fair Diaries, for development as a limited series. Deadline reported that the book, "to be published next month by Holt, follows the British editor's rise and eight-year reign at the helm of Vanity Fair in the 1980s, when she arrived from London scarcely out of her 20s and was tasked with rescuing the struggling magazine and establish herself in a male-dominated industry. The book is based on Brown's detailed diaries from that era, which provide an in-depth perspective of the remarkable turnaround."

"Tina's singular voice immediately swept me up into the intoxicating, pulse-pounding energy of New York media culture in the '80s--the glittering social landscape, the thrill of creative rebirth and the relentless quest for success," said Papandrea, who executive produced HBO's Emmy-winning series Big Little Lies. "Her diaries form a riveting, at-times-prophetic portrait of the opulent decade that shaped our modern media, told through the eyes of a woman who entered this world as an outsider but nevertheless smashed through professional barriers left and right. I am overjoyed to be working with Tina and cannot wait to translate her legacy to the screen."

Brown said she "was obsessed with Big Little Lies and so admiring of all the ground it broke. Bruna is a producer of vision and dynamism with wonderful taste as all her past work has proved. When we met to talk about my book, she had me at hello."

This Weekend on Book TV: The Baltimore Book Festival

Book TV airs on C-Span 2 this weekend from 8 a.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Monday and focuses on political and historical books as well as the book industry. The following are highlights for this coming weekend. For more information, go to Book TV's website.

Saturday, September 30
12 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. Coverage from the 2017 Baltimore Book Festival, which occurred last weekend in Baltimore, Md. (Re-airs Sunday at 12:30 a.m.) Highlights include:

  • 12 p.m. Michael Eric Dyson, author of Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America (St. Martin's Press, $24.99, 9781250135995).
  • 1:06 p.m. Laura Jacobs, author of "You're in the Wrong Bathroom!": And 20 Other Myths and Misconceptions About Transgender and Gender-Nonconforming People (Beacon Press, $16, 9780807033890).
  • 2:02 p.m. Andrea Ritchie, author of Invisible No More: Police Violence Against Black Women and Women of Color (Beacon Press, $21, 9780807088982).
  • 2:54 p.m. Robyn Spencer, author of The Revolution Has Come: Black Power, Gender, and the Black Panther Party in Oakland (Duke University Press, $24.95, 9780822362869).
  • 3:44 p.m. Devin Allen, author of A Beautiful Ghetto (Haymarket, $24.95, 9781608467594).

5:15 p.m. George Gilder, author of The Scandal of Money: Why Wall Street Recovers but the Economy Never Does (Regnery, $27.99, 9781621575757).

7:30 p.m. Dick Morris, co-author of Rogue Spooks: The Intelligence War on Donald Trump (St. Martin's Press, $27.99, 9781250167866). (Re-airs Sunday at 10 p.m.)

9 p.m. Lenora Chu, author of Little Soldiers: An American Boy, a Chinese School, and the Global Race to Achieve (Harper, $27.99, 9780062367853). (Re-airs Sunday at 3 p.m.)

10 p.m. Art Levine, author of Mental Health Inc.: How Corruption, Lax Oversight and Failed Reforms Endanger Our Most Vulnerable Citizens (Overlook Press, $30, 9781468308372). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 3 a.m.)

11 p.m. Max Tegmark, author of Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence (Knopf, $28, 9781101946596).

Sunday, October 1
12:10 a.m. Michael Shermer, author of Skeptic: Viewing the World with a Rational Eye (St. Martin's Griffin, $17.99, 9781250119636).

12 p.m. Live In-Depth q&a with Lynne Olson, author of Last Hope Island: Britain, Occupied Europe, and the Brotherhood That Helped Turn the Tide of War (Random House, $30, 9780812997354). (Re-airs Monday at 12 a.m.)

7 p.m. Meghan O'Sullivan, author of Windfall: How the New Energy Abundance Upends Global Politics and Strengthens America's Power (Simon & Schuster, $29, 9781501107931).

8 p.m. David Litt, author of Thanks, Obama: My Hopey, Changey White House Years (Ecco, $27.99, 9780062568458).

8:45 p.m. Michael Medved, author of The American Miracle: Divine Providence in the Rise of the Republic (Crown Forum, $17, 9780553447286).

Books & Authors

Awards: Goldsmiths; Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction

The shortlist has been announced for the £10,000 (about $13,420) 2017 Goldsmiths Prize, which is given to a book of fiction "that is deemed genuinely novel and which embodies the spirit of invention that characterises the genre at its best." The winner will be announced on November 15. The six shortlisted titles are:

H(a)ppy by Nicola Barker
A Line Made by Walking by Sara Baume
Playing Possum by Kevin Davey
Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor
First Love by Gwendoline Riley
Phone by Will Self


Finalists have been announced for the CA$50,000 (about US$40,385) Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, recognizing authors of the year's best novel or short story collection. The winner will be named November 14 at the Writers' Trust Awards ceremony in Toronto. The five finalists are:

Bad Endings by Carleigh Baker
The Last Neanderthal by Claire Cameron
Brother by David Chariandy
American War by Omar El Akkad
This Accident of Being Lost by Leanne Betasamosake Simpson 

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, October 3:

Origin: A Novel by Dan Brown (Doubleday, $29.95, 9780385514231) is the latest thriller with Robert Langdon.

Fresh Complaint: Stories by Jeffrey Eugenides (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $27, 9780374203061) is a collection of short stories by the Pulitzer Prize-winner.

Manhattan Beach: A Novel by Jennifer Egan (Scribner, $28, 9781476716732) follows the first female diver at the Brooklyn Naval Yard during World War II.

Going into Town: A Love Letter to New York by Roz Chast (Bloomsbury, $28, 9781620403211) is the cartoonist's graphic memoir.

The Year of the Pitcher: Bob Gibson, Denny McLain, and the End of Baseball's Golden Age by Sridhar Pappu (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28, 9780547719276) chronicles the 1968 baseball season.

Ali: A Life by Jonathan Eig (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $30, 9780544435247) is a biography of boxer and activist Muhammad Ali.

Dear World: A Syrian Girl's Story of War and Plea for Peace by Bana Alabed (Simon & Schuster, $22, 9781501178443) tells the story of a Syrian child who used Twitter to reach the outside world.

Standing Strong by Teresa Giudice (Gallery, $26, 9781501179198) is the memoir of a Real Housewife of New Jersey.

The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President by Bandy X. Lee (Thomas Dunne, $27.99, 9781250179456) collects professional assessments on Trump's mental state.

What the Hell Did I Just Read: A Novel of Cosmic Horror by David Wong (St. Martin's Press, $26.99, 9781250040206) continues a dark humor thriller series.

Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, Book 3: The Ship of the Dead by Rick Riordan (Disney-Hyperion, $19.99, 9781423160939) is Magnus's third adventure in which he must outwit Loki, the trickster god.

Replica: Ringer by Lauren Oliver (HarperCollins, $19.99, 9780062394194) completes the teen clones' journey begun in Replica.

The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur (Andrews McMeel, $16.99, 9781449486792).

Run for Something: A Real-Talk Guide to Fixing the System Yourself by Amanda Litman, foreword by Hillary Rodham Clinton (Atria, $16.99, 9781501180446).

The Deep Dark Descending by Allen Eskens (Seventh Street Books, $15.95, 9781633883550).

IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

From last week's Indie bestseller lists, available at, here are the recommended titles, which are also Indie Next Great Reads:

The Resurrection of Joan Ashby: A Novel by Cherise Wolas (Flatiron Books, $27.99, 9781250081438). "I've always admired people who knew what they wanted to do from an early age, whether that was to be a doctor, a marine biologist, or a writer. Enter Joan Ashby, a young girl determined never to marry and certainly never to have children; then she does both, and that is when her tale truly begins. Not only are we privy to her life's story, we get to read some of her short stories and parts of her developing novels--the stories within the story, if you will. The only thing any of us know for sure, except for death and taxes, is that the hoped-for path is never straight and never predictable. I flat-out loved this book!" --Anne Holman, The King's English, Salt Lake City, Utah

George and Lizzie: A Novel by Nancy Pearl (Touchstone, $25, 9781501162893). "I don't know Nancy Pearl, but I imagine the beloved librarian turned national book commentator would be too modest to recommend her debut for your reading list, so I'll do it for her. Pearl has written an intelligent, character-driven page-turner that asks important questions about honesty and forgiveness and examines how conscious choices and behaviors strengthen us and our relationships. Raised by brilliant but emotionally detached psychologist parents, Lizzie faces ongoing and often humorous internal battles that ultimately lead to a crossroads in her marriage to George. You may examine your own relationships as you read this witty, kindhearted story. Pearl clearly seems to love the characters she has created. You'll fall for them, too." --Mary Vermillion, Village Books, Bellingham, Wash.

The Other Alcott: A Novel by Elise Hooper (Morrow, $15.99, 9780062645333). "The Other Alcott is an imaginative look at May--the youngest sister of Louisa May Alcott--and the relationship between the two siblings. While Louisa's art was created with words, May was a visual artist who hadn't yet hit her stride with painting when Louisa gained fame as the author of Little Women. Readers will be captivated by May's adventures from Concord to Boston and beyond, to Europe, as she grows her talent and is recognized for the artist and the woman--independent of her sister--that she is." --Dawn Rennert, The Concord Bookshop, Concord, Mass.

For Ages 4 to 8
On a Magical Do-Nothing Day by Beatrice Alemagna (HarperCollins, $17.99, 9780062657602). "Sometimes you have big plans for your days off, and sometimes all you want to do is lay around and think. In this beautifully illustrated picture book, you will get a little bit of both. There is adventure, relaxation, peacefulness, and fun waiting to be had in On a Magical Do-Nothing Day." --Meg Hughey, Bookbug, Kalamazoo, Mich.

For Ages 9 to 12
Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling (Sterling, $14.95, 9781454923459). "When Aven's parents accept a job running a Wild West theme park, Aven is thrust into a situation that would make anyone uncomfortable. But Aven also has to deal with the stares and curiosity attracted by her lack of arms. Things get interesting when she meets Connor, whose Tourette's also makes him an outcast, and discovers a mystery. A quirky, feel-good middle-grade mystery for those who love R.J. Palacio's Wonder." --Marika McCoola, Porter Square Books, Cambridge, Mass.

For Teen Readers: An Indies Introduce Title
The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee (Amulet, $18.99, 9781419725487). "In The Epic Crush of Genie Lo, competitive overachiever Genie gets sucked into the world of ancient Chinese gods and demons, but she'd rather work on her college applications. But when you've got the strength of the most powerful weapon in the world and the unwanted assistance of a famous reincarnated trickster god, there's no way out of super-powered temper tantrums, hordes of demons on the loose, and maybe even a reluctant romance. Someone has to save the world, and the only person up for it is Genie Lo. Totally badass and completely terrific." --Sami Thomason, Square Books, Oxford, Miss.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Review: Some Say the Lark

Some Say the Lark by Jennifer Chang (Alice James Books, $15.95 paperback, 100p., 9781938584664, October 10, 2017)

Knowledge is an elusive phenomenon in Jennifer Chang's vivid and often profound poetry collection Some Say the Lark.

Chang (The History of Anonymity) is an accomplished poet with a distinct voice whose work has appeared in Poetry, American Poetry Review and the Nation, among other places. In her second collection, she is at her inventive best. Divided into four sections, the book takes its title from a passage of William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet in which Juliet purposely calls the song of a lark that of a nightingale in order to prolong the amorous night and keep Romeo near.

So Chang plunges into the deceptions of love. Some Say the Lark is not so much about the pain of heartbreak as about love's unstable foundation and the existential crisis that instability precipitates. Matching the book's theme is a poetic style that is wild, unfettered and unpredictable, yet devastatingly precise in the emotions it dredges up. Chang is a poet who merges the abstract and the concrete with fierce, visceral energy. "My guts vast, impossible," she states in "There Are Too Many Other Birds to Write About."

In "Small Philosophies," one of the collection's best, Chang breaks up experience into "Phenomenology," "Logic" and "Epistemology." "You are a quality/ and a thing silenced/ by pine-shrug," the poet writes in the section of the poem devoted to phenomenology--a branch of philosophy concerned with human consciousness and self-awareness. Chang uses language to both engender and describe self-consciousness, highlighting the way the mind is constantly reframing experience. "A door/ falls out of the frame and you're more/ open than you'd like," the poet says in "Terra Incognita."

Chang's best poems are characterized by openness to pain, to language and the mysterious way it interacts with the wounded psyche. "It's work to gather the seasons,/ to ask a question that finds the feeling/ at the troubled core of thought," the poet states in "Lost Child." This poetic self-examination is hard work, but it leads to lines of sublime grace: "I rise/ to light. I am quiet/ and won't/ squander words/ to make what's/ false true." Offsetting Chang's quiet, reflective sequences are moments of wildness, of originality, of fresh vision breaking from the page: "God of steel girders. God of pigeon shit./ A feast of light/ crumbling at our feet."

In Some Say the Lark, language is a redemptive religion, fostering "the kinds of prayers/ that can't help themselves." In being open to the meanings of love and loss, Chang also exposes the reader to new perceptions and possibilities of being. --Scott Neuffer, writer, poet, editor of trampset

Shelf Talker: Acclaimed poet Jennifer Chang reconstructs selfhood from the ruins of love in this deep and affecting poetry collection.

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