New in the library: Sep 11, 2021 | Life
Indigenous writer tells the most important stories
The first Indigenous writer to be the United States Poet Laureate, Joy Harjo is revered for speaking the truth to power with lyricism and compassion in her nine books of poetry and memoir, “Crazy Brave.” His new book, “Poet Warrior”, is a hybrid memoir, combining poetry and prose as he looks back at the passages of life revealed in “Crazy Brave”.
The father who abandoned her, the stepfather who abused her, the mother who inspired her, the Indigenous friends at school with whom she discovered activism and built a community, the mentors and teachers who nourished his mind – they find themselves in these pages, their long shadows moving in the road of his life.
The connection made here between physical and spiritual healing, between healing of the individual and healing of the collective, is at the heart of Harjo’s identity. At the University of New Mexico, plans for a premeditated medical specialization dissolved as its focus became painting, poetry, and the Kiva Club, the Native American student organization. Fortunately, Harjo, now a mother of two young children, has thrived in a circle of “brave, bright and hilarious” friends.
Continually eliminating the material and the ethereal, the political and the mystical, the poetry of words and the poetry of action, Harjo ends this iteration of his life story with a trip to the Amazon, a sighting of pink dolphins, and in the last pages, the death of his mother.
If his many fans could do whatever they wanted, this won’t be the last we hear about these things.
– Marion Winik, Star Tribune
French teenager becomes formidable prioress of convent
Lauren Groff’s new novel, “The Matrix,” offers a fascinating insight into some of her findings. A daring and thrilling work that showcases the wide range of Groff’s wild imagination, “Matrix” follows the life of Marie, a French teenager sent to a ruined medieval convent in England to become her new prioress. Through her rise as a formidable force for change, Marie charts a course that subverts gender rules, examines the limits of responsibility, and redefines what it means to love and leave a mark on the world.
But at 17, without friends and alone, she arrives discouraged in front of the ruin of a convent, unloved and unloved, a “young girl’s giant”. She is a child of rape, her father a rude Plantagenet, her mother a daughter too far from safety. This act provided a first lesson: the world is predatory. Act in consequence.
Marie has been abandoned by the one she loves the most: Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine. Cool, beautiful and well versed in cruelty, flattery and the exercise of influence, the queen decided the girl was too unsightly and ugly for marriage and dumped her among the hungry nuns with little worry.
But Marie came from a family of warriors: her brazen and zealous aunts went on a crusade in the Holy Land, taking little Marie with them. And somewhere within her, an understanding blossoms as she begins to see the possibilities of her new existence.
– Connie Ogle, Star Tribune
Insightful novel about relationships
In her latest novel, “Beautiful World, Where Are You”, Sally Rooney once again turns her attention to romantic entanglements. This time, instead of putting an Irish couple in the spotlight, she takes the structure of her debut album, “Conversations with Friends”, and examines the dynamics of two couples. She also extends her gaze beyond sexual relations to explore the sometimes tense but ultimately unbreakable friendship between her two female protagonists.
These women feed the novel. Alice is a 29 year old writer from Dublin whose books have made her rich and famous. However, success did not bring her happiness: she was admitted to a mental hospital after suffering a nervous breakdown and now lives alone on the west coast of Ireland.
Her best friend, Eileen, is an editorial assistant for a literary magazine in Dublin and is struggling to make ends meet. Similar to Alice, she goes through difficult times where she feels like a failure.
Alice tries to ease her loneliness by connecting with Felix through a dating app. Eileen rekindles a spark with her childhood friend Simon. Felix works in a shipping warehouse and is prone to blindingly drunk; Simon is a senior political adviser and a committed Catholic. After a series of encounters and spinoffs, the four of them meet in Alice’s immense presbytery by the sea. There, they test the limits of the forces that bind them.
– Malcom Forbes, Star Tribune