John Waters, cult filmmaker and curator of a “filth empire,” is at his outrageous, provocative best in the ten essays of Role Models (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $15), covering topics including Johnny Mathis, bibliophiles, pornography, and Tennessee Williams. Waters excels at collecting the flotsam and jetsam lurking just under the surface of good taste, but Role Models takes a few reflective turns as well, most notably in the lengthy and thoughtful “Leslie,” an essay about his long-time friend, Leslie Van Houten (yes, that Leslie Van Houten). Here Waters raises important questions about the concept of justice: can someone who has committed murder ever pay her debt to society? Is criminal rehabilitation possible? What role does forgiveness have? In true Waters style, the next piece, about the anti-fashion designer Rei Kawakubo, makes a tongue-in-cheek comment on Che Guevara’s homophobia: “His iconic look… proves all ideology can be embraced if the leader dresses well.” Thankfully for us, Waters leaves the boring navy blazer on the rack.
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$16.00
ISBN: 9780374532864
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Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - April 26th, 2011

“Language is matter / leafing like a book,” Kay Ryan states in “Composition.” Ryan’s poems look thin but they’re far from anemic. Her ability to break open a theme with a well-placed word or a cleverly chosen image is the hallmark of her work, as is her deft talent at luring the reader into a poem with a wink and nod. Breeze through the fifteen lines of “Say Uncle” and you giggle to yourself at her wit; read it again and you realize Ryan rewards your persistence with a poem about perseverance. Within the elev- en lines of “Thin,” Ryan raises epistemologi- cal questions; in the nineteen-line “Easter Island,” she lyrically weaves existential matters to material concerns. Both poems draw goosebumps. A compendium of work that ardent fans will love and the unfamiliar should embrace, is there any doubt The Best Of It: New And Selected Poems (Grove, $14.95) is an apt and deserving choice for this year’s Pulitzer?
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$17.00
ISBN: 9780802145215
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Published: Grove Press - April 2nd, 2011

In The Lovers (Ecco, $13.99) the recently widowed Yvonne flees her self-conscious grief and the doting of friends and neighbors for Datça, Turkey, where she spent her honeymoon with her husband, Peter, twenty-five years earlier. As Yvonne attempts to recapture the love she felt for Peter, she runs up against distressing memories that challenge her wish to dwell on only the happy moments of her relationship: the lack of physical intimacy in the later years of her marriage and the pair’s disagreement about how to handle their substance-abusing daughter, Aurelia. When Yvonne forms an odd friendship with a quiet, young boy selling seashells at a nearby beach, Vendela Vida’s subtle exploration of grief, love, and relationships offers both heartbreak and redemption.

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$13.99
ISBN: 9780060828400
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Published: Ecco - June 28th, 2011

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