Not TV

By JOHN FREEMAN  |  December 28, 2006

Then there’s love. Former Phoenix contributor MICHAEL LOWENTHAL’s Charity Girl (Houghton Mifflin, January 3) is set during the age (World War I) when women with venereal disease were sent off to camps. LIONEL SHRIVER drops her guard in The Post-Birthday World (HarperCollins, March 1), which imagines what would have happened had a woman kissed her husband’s best friend. In Devotion (Houghton Mifflin, February 8), Howard Norman has a new Nova Scotia tale of love’s sabotage that will make even the most tangled threesome seem unchallenging. And Icelandic writer OLAF OLAFSSON emerges from the really far north with Valentines (Pantheon, January 30), a collection of a dozen stories about middle-age marriage, one tale for each month of the year.

It will be a good year for poetry in translation. The late ZBIGNIEW HERBERT’s The Collected Poems: 1956–1998 (Ecco, February 1) and TADEUSZ RÓZEWICZ’s New Poems (Archipelago, February 1) should keep readers stocked for Polish poetry through the winter. KIRMEN URIBE brings dispatches from the Basque country in Meanwhile Take My Hand (Graywolf, January 9), and America’s own JOHN ASHBERY files A Worldly Country (Ecco, February 1). And a few major new-and-selected collections will arrive: ELLEN BRYANT VOIGT’s Messenger (Norton, January 8) gives readers a chance to look at three decades of her work, W.S. DI PIERO asks how do you like them Chinese Apples (Knopf, February 7), and DEREK WALCOTT shows why he earned his Nobel laurels in Selected Poems (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, January 9).

It’s amazing what a difference an election will make. Or not. As we went to press, the Iraq Study Group Report was being shooed away and troop-level increases were being discussed by Ted Kennedy of all people. CHALMERS JOHNSON would say this is exactly the fatal imperial overstretch that’s going to bring America to its knees. The former CIA analyst makes this point and others in Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic (Metropolitan, February 7), the final volume in his “American Empire” trilogy.

Soldiers coming home from the front have been telling their stories for a while now, but JOSHUA KEY’s The Deserter’s Tale: The Story of an Ordinary Soldier Who Walked Away from War in Iraq (Atlantic, January 28) is the first of its kind, a real-life version of Tim O’Brien’s great Vietnam War novel Going After Cacciato. There are hints of Cacciato in TOM BISSELL’s eagerly awaited memoir, The Father of All Things: A Marine, His Son, and the Legacy of Vietnam (Pantheon, March 6). Also look out for former Sierra Leonean ISHMAEL BEAH’s A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, February 13), which puts the grim cost of fighting in terrible perspective.

National Book Award winner WILLIAM VOLLMANN has been studying the effects of war his entire career, but he has finally narrowed in on its handmaiden — poverty — with Poor People (Ecco, March 1), a cycle of true-life stories about the struggle of getting by from the perspective of the people themselves. BILL MCKIBBEN has a few answers for how this problem became so intractable with Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future (Times Books, March 6). Perhaps JOHN KERRY and TERESA HEINZ do too, but we won’t know until we see their as-yet-untitled memoir, which is scheduled for March 30 from PublicAffairs.

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