12 Booklist November 1, 2016 www.booklistreader.com
importance or developing rhetoric around
public monuments. —Danielle Susi
Selected Poems, 1968–2014.
By Paul Muldoon.
Nov. 2016. 240p. Farrar, $27 (9780374260828). 821.
Over the past 45 years, acclaimed Irish poet
Muldoon has authored more than 30 books,
most recently, One Thousand Things Worth
Knowing (2015). During this time, Muldoon
has perfected his characteristic sense of wry
understatement, penchant for sly allusions,
birth of a foal or a harmless encounter with
a hedgehog (“the god / Under this crown of
thorns”). Many of Muldoon’s poems can be
read as such whimsical run-ins, situated amid
rural farmland under the “soiled grey blanket
of Irish rain,” populated as it is with foxes,
frogs, and quail. But with his unique voice,
Muldoon is also master of the poetic epic,
long narratives that read like lyrical novellas. As a selection of Muldoon’s most popular
work, this volume is sure to include fan favorites, and will also provide new readers with a
wide-ranging introduction to one of the most
prolific and appreciated poets of contemporary English literature. —Diego Báez
Geography & Travel
Grape, Olive, Pig: Deep Travels
through Spain’s Food Culture.
By Matt Goulding.
Nov. 2016. 368p. illus. Harper/Wave, $35 (9780062394132);
e-book, $19.99 (9780062394149). 915.2.
Goulding’s presentation of the myriad
Spanish gastronomic delights from across the
culturally diverse coun-
try is deliciously enticing
and thoughtfully intro-
spective. The extensive
tapas crawls of Barcelona
and Madrid, the hedonis-
tic pleasures of traversing
Asturias with José Andrés,
and insightful discus-
sions with the fascinating chefs and winemakers
of Basque country are juxtaposed with detailed
descriptions of the ancient traditions of mak-
ing paella in Moor-influenced Valencia, the
curing of the jamon iberico of Salamanca, and
the hearty salmorejo (a garlicky tomato bread
soup) of Córdoba. The importance of specific
local ingredients and recipes to each area’s way
of life are especially illuminated in chapters on
the Galician men known as percebeiros bravely
hunting barnacles, the competitive bluefin tuna
trade of Cadiz, and the simple migas meals of
the cave-dwelling villagers of Granada. Inter-
mezzos are provided throughout the text by
interesting sidebars highlighting such nuggets
of information as how to eat or drink like a
Spaniard, tapas taxonomy, and the various rice
dishes found throughout Spain. Introductions
by way of quotes and short vignettes of a di-
verse cross section of Spain’s unique citizenry,
from fishermen to nuns, chefs to sanitation
workers, further balance Goulding’s culinary
travel guide. —Becca Smith
Crown of Blood: A Deadly Inheritance of
Lady Jane Grey.
By Nicola Tallis.
Dec. 2016. 400p. illus. Pegasus, $27.95
There are many portals into the vibrant Tudor
period in English history, each marked with the
name of an individual whose life contributed
to the drama of the era. One such significant
personage was Lady Jane Grey, who is usually
thought of as a poor little creature caught up
in the devious schemes of opposing court factions. Lady Jane was a great-granddaughter of
Henry VIII. Inheritance of the throne, as we all
know, was a central theme of the Tudor years,
and Lady Jane found herself proclaimed queen
upon the demise of Henry’s son, Edward VI.
Jane’s reign lasted only nine days. Henry’s eldest
daughter booted Jane off the throne and had
her executed for treason. The Jane whom Tallis
presents is a young woman of great intelligence
who received a superior education, especially
for a young lady at that time. A victim easily manipulated by others who were interested
only in pursuing their own selfish goals? No,
Tallis asserts—a heroine who stood up for the
causes in which she believed. —Brad Hooper
Poet and poet laureate Philip Levine, winner of the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize, was working on these books when
he died in February 2015. Friend and fellow poet Edward Hirsch has
steered them to completion and introduces each with radiant insight.
The Last Shift.
By Philip Levine. Ed. by Edward Hirsch.
Nov. 2016. 96p. Knopf, $26.95 (9780451493262). 811.
In his foreword, editor Hirsch writes that Levine (1928–2015)
“was a poet of the night shift, a late, ironic Whitman of our indus-
trial heartland,” and that his poetry expressed
“anger, grief, and, finally, joy,” a progression
concentrated in this potent, subtly liberated,
consciously final collection. Levine looks back
over his life with awe, wry bemusement, and
elegiac imagination. The factories of old Detroit
clang on in his poet’s psyche. He envisions an
assembly line carrying human body parts, “holy
parts,” and after he arrives in what should have
been a paradise, a scrub jay “has a voice like tin snips dragged /
across a steel file.” Levine writes poems of revelatory encounters
in Spain and Italy, offers a dozen “dawn songs,” and ends a poem
about a school trip to a foundry with a line that encapsulates his
work: “the day kept going / on and on into the present.” The past
was Levine’s wellspring, and he evokes its depths with bound-
less gratitude in the magnificent, transcendent, closing poem,
“The Last Shift,” in which everything goes quiet, still, and dark.
My Lost Poets: A Life in Poetry.
By Philip Levine.
Nov. 2016. 224p. Knopf, $26.95 (9780451493279). 811.
This collection of warmhearted, robustly beautiful autobiographi-
cal essays, many originally delivered as lectures, pulses with poems
because the much-revered Levine lived and breathed poetry as a
poet and a teacher. Crisply rendered memories and
observations are conveyed with abiding tenderness,
self-deprecation, sharp humor, and steely lyricism,
all shaped by his profound thankfulness for his guid-
ing lights, his “lost poets.” Levine looks back to his
fatherless boyhood in Detroit and recalls how, at
14, he found himself writing “in the dark” in every
sense of the phrase. He worked in automobile fac-
tories, then attended college, determined to escape
the industrial grind. There he found kindred spirits, aspiring and in-
spiring poet-comrades, “powerfully soulful people” whom he vividly
portrays. He tells richly nuanced, often wild tales of his crucial rela-
tionships with Robert Lowell, John Berryman, and Thom Gunn. Some
of Levine’s “lost poets” are jazz musicians, and Detroit past and
present is also a muse of infinite resonance. This is vital and affecting
testimony to what it means to live as a poet in a largely indifferent,
relentlessly churning world. —Donna Seaman
LAST WRITES FROM LEVINE