This was a debut novel for Locke, immersing us in the racial politics of Houston in the 1980s.
At the center of this story is Jay Porter, a strugglingThis was a debut novel for Locke, immersing us in the racial politics of Houston in the 1980s.
At the center of this story is Jay Porter, a struggling black lawyer who is awaiting his first child and who has a troubled past as a civil rights activist who was betrayed by some internal snitches. On a steamy evening, he takes his wife Bernie for a low-rent cruise along the bayou that bisects the booming oil city, and when they are almost done, they hear gunshots and a woman's cry for help. Soon, they are loading a young white woman onto the boat, and they later drop her at a police station.
Paranoid from his previous brushes with the law, Porter does not go to the police with what happened, sure he is likely to become a target. But the case won't leave him alone, because suddenly a mysterious stranger tells him to stay out of the case. Of course, Porter won't, and that leads him into an increasingly murky and harrowing investigation of why the woman he rescued was involved in a shooting death.
In the meantime, his father in law talks him into representing a young African American dock worker who has been beat up during labor strife among the longshoremen, and that provides the book's other subplot, including Porter's past love affair with the woman who is now Houston's mayor.
The book isn't without flaws -- it could have been trimmed, and the bad guy who pursues Porter has an almost Terminator-like ability to keep showing up -- but the characters are complex, the descriptive scenes are rich, and I felt like I got a real taste of this high-danger, high-humidity city. It was also refreshing to see Locke tackle racial prejudice and complexity so honestly....more
This lovely little allegory of a children's book concerns a girl who was full of curiosity and her special relationship with her father, who read to hThis lovely little allegory of a children's book concerns a girl who was full of curiosity and her special relationship with her father, who read to her from a special chair. Then, Oliver Jeffers says, one day the chair was empty, and the only thing the girl knew to do was to take out her heart and keep it safe in a bottle. And there it stayed -- until she met someone younger and more curious then she.
This is an interesting little overview of the big questions in physics, but as much as I admired the attempt, I couldn't quite give it four stars. CarThis is an interesting little overview of the big questions in physics, but as much as I admired the attempt, I couldn't quite give it four stars. Carlo Rovelli, an Italian physicist, wrote these essays for a newspaper Sunday supplement in Italy to try to give non-scientists a look at the big discoveries and unanswered questions in physics.
I think he did a good job, but not one that gave me that jaw dropping amazement I sometimes feel with authors like Brian Greene.
To oversimplify Rovelli's oversimplifications, he describes such things as how space is a fabric that twists and turns as the planets, stars and other objects are embedded in it; how quantum physics postulates that there may be no reality until a particle interacts with another particle; and how thermodynamics suggests that the only reason we have a sense of time flowing in one direction is that heat moves from hotter to colder objects.
In his last essay, he talks elegantly of how we are a part of nature -- not superior to or separate from it -- but that we nonetheless can have a sense of identity and transcendence. It includes this wonderful passage.
"When we talk about the big bang or the fabric of the universe, what we are doing is not a continuation of the free and fantastic stories that humans have told nightly around campfires for hundreds of thousands of years. It is the continuation of something else: of the gaze of those same men in the first light of day looking at tracks left by antelope in the dust of the savannah -- scrutinizing and deducting from details of reality in order to pursue something that we can't see directly but can follow traces of. In the awareness that we can always be wrong, and therefore ready at any moment to change directions if a new track appears; but knowing also that if we are good enough we will get it right and will find what we are seeking. This is the nature of science."...more
I greatly enjoyed this anthology of 20th century poetry for two primary reasons: 1) These poems, from Thomas Hardy to Denise Levertov, are accessible,I greatly enjoyed this anthology of 20th century poetry for two primary reasons: 1) These poems, from Thomas Hardy to Denise Levertov, are accessible, and hardly any of them fall prey to the modern malaise of cryptic, poorly written poetry that comes across my inbox so often; 2) Although they veer into the personal at some points, these poems are strongly engaged with the world and what is going on around us.
The book is obviously top-heavy with UK and Commonwealth poets, with some Americans, Africans and Europeans thrown in, but it's a wide ranging collection. It reaffirmed my admiration for such powerhouses as Eliot, Auden, Thomas and Elizabeth Bishop. Some other notables -- Ezra Pound, Marianne Moore -- left me cold. And it also introduced me to some brand new (for me) poets, including the Australian Judith Wright, Randall Jarrell, Anthony Hecht, Les Murray and the wonderful Seamus Heaney.
The book is also not afraid to deal with religion and spirituality. I leave you with one short example, from Peter Goldsworthy
Deliver me, Lord, from the threat of heaven, from becoming the angel who is not me, who smiles faintly, fondly before shrugging me off like some stiff, quaint pupal case: the battered leather jacket of the flesh, evidence of misspent youth. Grant me, Lord, this last request: to wear bikie colours in heaven, a grub among the butterflies. And this: to take all memories with me, all memories that are me, intact, seized first like snapshot albums from a burning house. Answer, Lord, these prayers, for I would rather be nothing than improved.
What a great find, a serendipity discovery on the shelves of a library. Rosalie Moffett is a young poet who grew up in Washington state and is now basWhat a great find, a serendipity discovery on the shelves of a library. Rosalie Moffett is a young poet who grew up in Washington state and is now based in Georgia.
She has a real gift of language, exploration, and a way of unveiling the world without losing her sense of mystery. Several of the poems in this volume are about her mother, who apparently suffered a stroke and became aphasic. Others deal with the fact that she had a twin in the womb that was absorbed into her body (which always makes me think of Andrea Martin in My Big Fat Greek Wedding).
This is a poet worth spreading the word on.
Here's just one example:
Forget atoms and their empty rooms. Forget what we thought we knew
about space and the Double Dutch of the genome. I know. Built like an ornament, here is my body, the receipt:
an expensive x-ray. I cracked open my fortune cookie, a brown delicate pelvis, and the message
was generic: Luck & Patience. I hadn't wanted to look into the windows
of my own house, but there it was, my bowl of bone glowed and glowed....more