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long time: books

ok, decided to divide up the long time posts. bought 2 new books last night.

slate.com told me that beasts of no nation, by uzodinma iweala was genius debut fiction. i set a lot of store by slate, so i bought it. i'm all of 8 pages in, but i can say that mr. iweala has a gift for capturing voice - this is story of a west african boy who becomes a child soldier. and it's not like i know the author, but he just graduated from harvard, he's a year older than i am, and he's got this award-winning, highly praised book published. i have enormous amounts of respect for that.

and on the poetry front (i love you poetry!) i bought yusef komunyakaa's book taboo. i enjoy mr. komunyakaa's style - no trickery, and he knows the difference between a word that's big/obscure/otherwise impressive and the word that does the job and functions perfectly in the line/stanza/poem/collection. i mean, i guess he would, he's published 11 books of poetry, won the pulitzer and the ruth lilly prizes, etc, etc, etc.

a tangent: sometimes, i have a hard time understanding when people say they don't like poetry. then, i pick up some books and realize that the poet is working really hard at showing everyone how poetic he or she can be, but isn't saying anything the average reader can make heads or tails of without a map. and i guess all poets will fall into that trap at some point, it makes you feel smart and awfully talented. but it's also awfully isolating to the poet and to poetry as a genre. and mr. komunyakaa blessedly proves that less can be more, that poetry can be understandable and beautiful. so i'm reading him to hopefully pick up a little of that.