Monday, September 28, 2009
Thank you! To all of the new wonderfuls that I met and the old pals that gave me the stink-eye--the Midwest Booksellers Association conference was amazing. I felt honored to read among you (Kent Myers, JSF, and Elizabeth Berg). Elizabeth's homage to her parents (who were in attendance) made my insides jello-y, and teary-eyed I listened as JSF made me think about the herd of animals I'll eat in my lifetime. Also, my new friend Chris made a plant wither and die by staring at it. Michael Perry almost made me pee my pants with laughter and, after listening to him read a beautiful poem, finally met the jet-engine-hearted Todd Boss.
Tuesday, September 01, 2009
Weep, laugh, weep Fellow poet Nick Flynn says Alex Lemon's debut memoir, Happy (Scribner. Jan. 2010. ISBN 978-1-4165-5023-5. $25), is “written in blood.” An apt metaphor, but the book made me think of the most addictive candy bar I ever ate. This isn't to belittle what is a serious chronicle of unimaginable medical horrors and the heavy shit young people break through to become adults. But Lemon has also produced a page-turner on par with the best thrillers, a drop down a rabbit hole to the white liberal arts college scene and its hip-hop-referencing children. Lemon's exquisite prose blasts us out of our own time, heart, brain, and body into his, making an acute empathy possible. With its bumble bee–bright cover, the book incites a veritable frenzy to ingest its crackling dark center as quickly as possible. And what a center: it's the late 1990s, and Lemon, a star catcher on the Macalester College baseball team, discovers he has a potentially lethal lesion in his brain stem. In fact, he suffers two hemorrhages and hurtles into a depression leavened only by heavy doses of drugs and denial before getting the lesion removed in a risky operation. Just able to walk, speak, and bear human company in recovery, he invites death but meets a stronger force in his life-affirming artist Ma, an unforgettable character. Read this and weep, laugh, weep.—Heather McCormack