Here’s what Alternating Current staffers have read lately.
Brendan Walsh’s forthcoming poetry collection, Go, is a rare book that effortlessly blends travels, friendship, a sense of place, philosophy, and the finding of the self with words so fresh and lovely that you can’t put them back between the covers once they’ve reached you. It is exceptional, and the poetry is vivid, deep (and shallow when it needs to be), in command, and at times day-stoppingly good. The poet takes his subject as a whole — Laos, Korea, the US (and within those, travel, in general) — and wraps it all up with the everyday, and underneath all of that, is intertwined philosophy. Uniquely beautiful and so worth your time.
Lori Jakiela’s memoir, The Bridge to Take When Things Get Serious, is a blue-collar tale with its feet firmly planted on the ground and its head set only a little bit higher. When her mother’s health fails, Jakiela returns home, leaving behind New York, a job, and a boyfriend, to care for her. The reader is taken through the slow process of rebuilding a life on uncertain ground, and that process is met with all the blows and rewards reality can provide. Relentlessly funny, persistently sad, Jakiela renders all the things that make a life with impressive insight and skill.
Katherine McCord’s My CIA: A Literary Memoir is at once funny and cutting. Told in glimpses, flashes, and the occasional long burst, McCord’s memoir of growing up under the roof of a CIA agent father propels the reader into a tale maddeningly tangled my memory, bureaucratic obfuscation, and absence. McCord’s prose is straightforward, but the content is a maze; My CIA sarcastically mirrors the impossibility of a straight answer to a life, and lives, intertwined with the government.
In Susan Rukeyser’s debut, Not on Fire, Only Dying, Marko Holomek, ex-con, chooses to live under the shadow of his past crimes by returning to his hometown of Schendenkill, New York. He’s not too long back when his unstable former flame, Lola, reports her baby as missing outside of a local bar. With a history of drink and illness well-known, and no evidence of the baby to be found except a stroller, Marko is the only person who chooses to act. Clinging hard to the neglected side of the tracks, Rukeyser brings a fresh perspective to a tender, carefully wrought story.
Sarah Layden’s Trip through Your Wires is a thrilling literary murder mystery and a trip of self-discovery and constant questions for protagonist Carey, following new clues into the murder of her boyfriend seven years prior. The memory tricks us all as guilt and loss consume her in her struggle for answers, all wrapped neatly within Layden’s punchy, detailed, and competent prose.
Originally published on 3/19/16.