Earth Day. Poetry Month. The anniversary of the fall of Saigon 35 years ago. April is a month of celebrations and remembrances. For their April radio show, The Book Babes recommend books for all these occasions.
Catch the show on WMNF-88.5 in the Tampa Bay area and down the west coast of Florida or streaming on the Internet at wmnf.org on Wednesday, April 21, at 11:30 a.m.
Here are some highlights:
APRIL IS THE CRUELLEST MONTH FOR EVERYONE BUT POETS
Margo interviews poet and Florida State University professor David Kirby about his anthology, "Seriously Funny: Poems about Love, Death, Religion, Art, Politics, Sex, and Everything Else," just out from the University of Georgia Press. He edited the volume with fellow poet (and wife) Barbara Hamby (The University of Georgia Press) and they're still talking to each other. The book includes a poem perfect to give mom on Mother's Day (to keep up the celebration theme): Billy Collins' "The Lanyard." During the interview, listen to Kirby define what seriously funny poetry is (forget Ogden Nash) and ruminate on why he likes long book titles. Also hear him read a poem about Rotarians (yes, it's seriously funny).
HAS IT BEEN 35 YEARS? THE FALL OF SAIGON, APRIL 30, 1975
Ellen recommends two very different books about the Vietnam War:
"Matterhorn," by Karl Marlantes (El Leon Literary Arts/Atlantic Monthly Press) -- This nearly 600-page work of fiction is the life's work of a Marine veteran who recreates his combat experience in graphic detail. His story, which culminates with a bloody battle as the troops fight to retake an area in the demilitarized zone that they had given up a short time before, told entirely from the perspective of those in the bush, casts the Vietnam War as the product of American hubris and callous disregard, as the legal suits would say, for the men (no women in this book) on the ground.
"The Lotus Eaters," by Tatjana Soli (St. Martin's Press) -- Photojournalist Helen Adams is drawn to Vietnam after her brother dies in battle and is caught up in the heady atmosphere and adrenaline rush of war. Like the Marlantes' book, this novel captures the senselessness of money and treasure spent in a hopeless cause, but its lyrical images of the country and Adams' relationships with two men make it more than a war story.
EARTH DAY IS FOR TREE-HUGGERS AND SO IS THIS BOOK
"Lives of the Trees: An Uncommon History," by Diana Wells (Algonquin Books) -- Wells, author of "100 Flowers and How They Got Their Names," writes the kind of nature book even non-gardeners can appreciate. Who know those trees outside your house had such interesting stories to tell? Margo reads a snippet from the chapter on bamboo (yes, it's technically a tree) and reads a poem by T.S. Eliot about it. (Hey, Earth Day just connected to National Poetry Month!).