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Contemporary best-sellers this week

By Harriet Staff

Natasha Trethewey cannot be shaken from the #1 place on this week’s contemporary best-sellers list, even when her fellow top-five neighbors are swept from the stables, Herculean-style. Replacing last week’s top-tier is a group of best-selling, award-winning heavy weights including Patricia Smith at #2 with Blood Dazzler, Jane Hirshfield at #3 with Come, Thief, Philip Levine at #4 with News of the World, and making his debut this week at #5 is C.K. Williams with Writers Writing Dying. Of his latest volume, Williams’s publisher notes that “…he retains the essential parts of his poetic identity—his candor, the drama of his verses, the social conscience of his themes—while slyly reinventing himself, re-casting his voice, and in many poems examining the personal—sexual desire, the hubris of youth, the looming specter of death—more bluntly and bravely than ever.” Not only do we see large changes in the top-five, we also have a number of debuting titles this week. To begin with, Gregory Orr enters the list with two titles at #9, How Beautiful the Beloved and The City of Poetry. Also new to the list is Juan Felipe Herrera’s Half the World in Light: New and Selected Poems, about which Rigoberto González writes: “Intra-lingual and cross-cultural wordplay is the essence of Herrera’s humor, which dances across landscapes and timelines to unmask hypocrisies and expose the absurdist nature in everything from the colonialist past to the imperialist/capitalist practices of the present. But at the heart of book is a celebration of the Chicano identity and community, which continues to thrive after all these years despite internal and external conflicts. At times reflective and exploratory, at times incendiary and polemic, Herrera’s Half of the World in Light offers an extraordinary sweep across a distinguished literary career.” Ada Limón’s Sharks in the Rivers debuts at #11. Publishers Weekly writes: “Vigor, intensity, and informality mark the volatile free verse of this third collection from Limón (this big fake world), who pays homage at once to the dangers in this world (and in the lives of her sometimes ill-fated acquaintances) and to the desires that drive us on.” Lastly, Henri Cole’s Pierce the Skin: Selected Poems, 1982-2007 premiers at #12 this week. This volume “brings together sixty-six poems from the past twenty-five years, including work from Cole’s early, closely observed, virtuosic books, long out of print, as well as his important more recent books… The result is a collection reconsecrating Cole’s central themes: the desire for connection, the contingencies of selfhood and human love, the dissolution of the body, the sublime renewal found in nature, and the distance of language from experience.”


Posted in Uncategorized on Friday, October 12th, 2012 by Harriet Staff.