cover image Awkward: A Detour

Awkward: A Detour

Mary Cappello. Bellevue Literary Press, $16.95 (236pp) ISBN 978-1-934137-01-7

This vivid collection from English professor Cappello (Night Bloom) is a rare and insightful series of meditations that takes readers to Russia, Italy and Australia, through the literary and cultural landscape, and into the uncomfortable corners of the human condition: ""Why is there nothing more right, in terms of an image of awkwardness, than shoes on the wrong feet?"" Titling each short essay with a single evocative word (""Spasmodic,"" ""Untoward,"" ""Tactless,"" ""Jamesian""), the author finds more than 70 ways to approach her subject, from Emily Dickinson's ""efforts to perfect an awkward idiom"" to Capello's accidentally eating dog treats in Northern Italy. The huge range of experiences here prove endlessly fascinating, and her prose never loses its grace or delicacy, even as she suffers the embarrassment of a party faux pas: ""a wringing of hands to the tune of the memory of my insensitive blurt."" With keen skills of observation and careful attention to language, Capello has crafted an elegant illustration of her conclusion that ""awkwardness isn't something to grow out of but to grow into.""