I just got back from a two-week road trip through Pennsylvania and New York to visit some family and friends, and did some book shopping along the way, all at independent bookstores. Here is what I acquired:
Ashbery, John. Breezeway. New York: Ecco, 2015.
I have always enjoyed Ashbery’s work, and his newest book has gotten good reviews, and I’ve been craving some poetry lately, so I thought I would pick it up. I bought it, Gessen and Squibb’s anthology, and Koch’s book at my favorite place in the world, the Strand.
Gessen, Keith, and Stephen Squibb, eds. City by City: Dispatches from the American Metropolis. New York: Farrar, 2015.
One of the things I love about going to the Strand is finding amazing books that I otherwise wouldn’t have discovered, and this book looks like it will be another instance of that tradition. It is a collection of essays about the current status of various American cities (some large, like Los Angeles, and some relatively small, like Syracuse) and how they have coped with the aftermath of the 2008 economic crash. I am fascinated by both halves of this topic, thus the decision to buy the book was an instant one.
Holmes, Safiya Henderson. Madness and a Bit of Hope. New York: Harlem River, 1990.
I haven’t heard of Holmes before, but her book caught my eye because of the name of the publisher. It has a blurb by June Jordan, who has been an important poet for me, and even though it is signed (“To: Nancy Thank you so much for being here snow & all Safiya ’92”) I was able to buy it for only $5.00 from the Rose & the Laurel Bookshop in Oneonta, New York.
Koch, Kenneth. On the Edge: Collected Long Poems. New York: Knopf, 2007.
I really enjoy Koch’s work and think that his longer poems are some of the best in the American tradition. I’ve been wanting to buy this book for a while: I first discovered it at the Strand several years ago, but didn’t buy it, and have regretted it ever since. Happily, on this visit they had a copy in pristine condition, much better than the original one that I had considered buying.
Lee, Harper. Go Set a Watchman. New York: Harper, 2015.
Like everyone else interested in American literature, I am in a tizzy about Lee’s new novel, in which Atticus Finch is apparently not nearly as sympathetic as he is in To Kill a Mockingbird. I am horrified that Go Set a Watchman might destroy the experience of To Kill a Mockingbird for me, but of course have to read it anyway. I bought my copy at The Green Toad Bookstore in Oneonta, New York.
Sexton, Anne. Selected Poems of Anne Sexton. Ed. Diane Wood Middlebrook and Diana Hume George. 1988. Boston: Houghton, 2000.
I’ve enjoyed Sexton’s poems that I have encountered in anthologies and in the one collection of hers that I’ve read, Transformations. As noted above I’ve been in a poetry-reading mood lately, so when I found a copy of this book in excellent condition for a good price ($9.50) at Winding Way Books in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, I decided to buy it.