Book MarksSelected new and noteworthy books written by University of Calgary faculty members and alumni — and reviewed by Autumn Fox, trade buyer for the University of Calgary bookstore
The Stag Head Spoke
by Erina Harris (candidate for PhD in Creative Writing and Poetics)
Dark like a fairy tale forest, Erina Harris’ collection of poetry is broken into two “books” with musings on natural mysticism, devastating loss, atonement, and ultimately hope. These seemingly quiet, subtle poems can only really be read in a roar — be that of the river, the almost deafening silence of the forest, or your own overwhelming Whitman-esque yawp. Take a lantern and some breadcrumbs — the path these poems will carve out for you will steal your very breath, but ultimately lead you to twilight.
by Garry Ryan, DipEd’99
With this year marking the centennial anniversary of World War I, and next year being the 70th since the end of World War II, we are going to be seeing a barrage of historical novels covering those eras over the next few months. What sets this second book — in a three-part series — apart from other WW fiction is that its female protagonist, Sharon Lacey, isn’t your stereotypical nursing volunteer doing her part while the menfolk are away fighting. Instead, she is in the thick of it, leaving Canada for the UK and ultimately enlisting as a pilot in the Air Transport Auxiliary there. Two Blackbirds is an even more intense portrayal of not only the hidden history of these intrepid female pilots, but also the political and questionable machinations of war — even from those who are fighting alongside you.
by Nikki Reimer, BA’02
A critical, yet darkly comedic collection of poetry, Reimer turns her gaze to the irony of modern life, “first world problems,” “hashtags,” social media saturation, and media-spun social activism. Clever and witty, some passages will leave you wondering whether you should be laughing or outright weeping at how dead-on Reimer is at depicting a lifestyle of absolute absurdity.
Double Pregnant: Two Lesbians Make a Family
by Natalie Meisner, PhD’05
First dates are terrifying. Blind dates? Even worse. And yet even more so when the fellow sitting in front of you and your wife is vying for the coveted spot of potential father of your first child. We are quickly learning two things about modern life — that our concepts of family and love are fluid; while our world, though growing smaller everyday — is quickly becoming one of the most impersonal places in the universe. Or, so it seems. So can you blame Natalie and Viviën for wanting to skip the anonymous, emotionless and business-like trip to the sperm donor clinic? Deciding that they want their children to be in some way connected to their father, the two women instead choose to hold a series of dates (or daddy auditions, if you prefer) with potential sperm donors. The results are funny, brave, and brilliant.
by Natalie Simpson, MA’01
Best read aloud, Thrum is a fascinating patchwork of cadence and subtle alliterations. If (like me) you often feel like you are completely missing the point of contemporary poetry, Thrum is an excellent place to start appreciating it. Not to say it’s overly simplified — but there is a lightness, spontaneity, and a lack of pretentions, in which modern works often get mired. If a book could have a facial expression, Thrum would be smirking right now. It’s the sassy underdog valedictorian of the spring poetry releases.