Worth Reading…

Some things (I think are) worth reading:

1. My friends’ new book blog: Take Five. This month, visit them for some summer reading suggestions to hide with in a cool dark room, far from the heat (or alternately to fry with on the beach).

2. This short piece I wrote on Adrienne Rich: The World As It Is: Learning to Read Adrienne Rich. (Also, the other things on JWA’s blog, Jewesses With Attitude, maybe starting with Tara Metal’s piece about Roz Chast’s new graphic memoir, Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?)

3. I’m sure someone has told you this already, but Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche’s novel, Americanah, is probably as good as its best review says it is.

4. Poetry: Gabrielle Calvocoressi’s The Last Time I Saw Amelia Earhart, Matthea Harvey’s Modern Life, and Peter Redgrove’s Sons of My Skin. Oh and Gwendolyn Brooks. All things Gwendolyn Brooks.

5. Ta-Nehisi Coates’s “The Case for Reparations,” published in The Atlantic a few weeks ago.


O is for Ode

I am actually not as big a fan of the ode as I think I am. 

Let me explain: I really like the word ‘ode.” It reminds me of that Billy Collins’ poem where he describes reading a favorite haiku as “eating the same, small perfect grape/ again and again.” To me, the word ‘ode’ is like that grape. It’s a perfect, joyful syllable. I like that when I write odes in my head, I feel like Walt Whitman and I want to start all my lines with “I sing…” 

I tend to like things that make me feel more like Whitman.  And I love the ode in theory. But in practice? …I like odes a lot, just not anywhere near as much as I like the word “ode” all on its own. Maybe the Whitman comparison can continue to be useful: Whitman is in a lot of ways an informal poet—not to say that his poetry doesn’t have form, it obviously does (and what form it is, too!)—but his form is about looseness, breath, inclusion. It isn’t rigid or overly ceremonious, as some (even really great) odes are.

So while I love Keats, like Horace, love Sappho, etc., here’s an example of the sort of ode I really, really love, the sort of ode-grape I could eat all day: 


She minces squid and a marinated scallion,
Mixes rice with shrimp and olive paste. . . .
Hope for the English meal, though half Italian
With her jet black hair and her elastic waist.

Unlike the other television cooks,
She brings to life a lobster that was dead
With common spices, her exotic looks,
And recipes she dreamed about in bed.
~ Wilmer Mills
(if you’re unfamiliar with Nigella Lawson, treat yourself to www.nigella.com):

Christie Covers

Look at the awesome covers on these paperback Agatha Christie mysteries:

from upper left to lower right: A Murder is Announced, 13 Clues for Miss Marple, Murder in Retrospect, Funerals are Fatal, Murder on the Links, and The Seven Dials Mystery

I should have checked publication dates on these, but regardless, I wish more books still looked like these.

A Murder is Announced and 13 Clues for Miss Marple

My favorite of these: The Seven Dials Mystery