Saturday, April 4, 2009


Recovery from total knee replacement is hard, boring work. I’m finding solace in books. Here are three that have kept my mind off my aching leg. Bicycles by Nikki Giovanni is a book of poetry but you needn’t be a poetry lover to find yourself in a world of humor and insight. The poetic snapshots she creates in Bicycles look at love in all its permutations. Irreverent and saucy, mystical and poignant, this is Giovanni at her best. I picked up Lark and Termite after hearing MPR’s Kerry Miller discuss the book with author Jayne Anne Phillips. I'm glad I did. This is a multi-voiced, clearly written novel about people you’ll care about. Their lives surround Termite, a severely handicapped child and his older sister Lark, whose love for the boy asks us to take a hard look at how we perceive mental handicaps. Little Bee, a Novel by Chris Cleave, is a fictional tale based on the all-too-horrid realities of refugees from violent cultures. Little Bee, a very young girl and a refugee of the oil wars in Nigeria, escapes to England and is aided by a middle-aged British woman who, two years earlier, sacrificed a part of herself in order that Bee might live. My banal summary doesn’t begin to touch on what grabbed me by the throat in this book; that is, an opportunity to recall the idealism of my younger days and to try to recover the sense that what I do for someone in need, no matter how small my contribution, can matter. These books make me wish I were still teaching. I love the power of good literature that turns my attention to worlds larger than own, and I still miss sharing that possibility with my students.

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