The Best American Poetry 1999, with guest editor Robert Bly
and series editor David Lehman (Scribner, $32). Searching the
little magazines for poetic ‘heat’ and finding a scene on fire, Bly
has assembled the best proof yet that modern poetry is hot as hell.
Holy Clues: The Gospel According to Sherlock Holmes by
Stephen Kendrick (Pantheon, $21). A fascinating look at the common
ground shared by detective fiction and the spiritual quest, in
which Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s legendary sleuth proves fully worthy
of his enduring worldwide appeal.
The Friendly Jane Austen by Natalie Tyler (Viking,
$24.95). A fine companion for all your videos and glossy new
editions of Emma and Persuasion, this book presents a respectful
and humorous look at the life and work of the Mighty Miss Jane. A
great read for both lifelong and recently converted Janeites.
Believing Cassandra: An Optimist Looks at a Pessimist’s
World by Alan AtKisson (Chelsea Green, $16.95). In this
lighthearted but well-documented analysis of our global
environmental crisis, the former editor of In Context magazine
explains why no one pays any attention to the ecological horror
story we’re collectively writing–even as he convincingly argues
that the final chapter might still be revised.
Building a Bridge to the 18th Century: How the Past Can
Improve Our Future by Neil Postman (Knopf, $24). A refreshing
antidote to the current mania for starry-eyed futurism, Postman’s
book reminds us that Goethe and Voltaire, among others, might be
better guides into the 21st century than Bill Gates or Alvin
Long Life, Honey in the Heart by Martin Prechtel
(Tarcher/Putnam, $25.95). Set against the backdrop of civil war in
Guatemala, this riveting memoir looks deep into a Westerner’s quest
for spiritual meaning–and the Mayan lifeways of the simple village
where he ultimately finds it.