cover image Kind Mirrors, Ugly Ghosts

Kind Mirrors, Ugly Ghosts

Claire Donato. Archway Editions, $17.95 trade paper (216p) ISBN 978-1-64823-039-4

Poet and novelist Donato (The Second Body) touches on food, sex, and religion in this incisive collection. Highlights include “My Albatross,” which depicts a toxic relationship with brittle humor and brutal honesty; “11:11,” a brief, pungent critique of Catholicism; the haunting and elliptical “Captive Father”; “Spores,” which begins at an acupuncturist appointment and ends at a church; and “Bone Piece,” a short, provocative essay about language. Some entries are illustrated, such as “David,” about a hookup in California, which includes a luscious photo of an ice cream cone, a dark photo of a cat, and an abstract drawing of stars and other symbols. The collection concludes with a rollicking and imaginative novella, “Gravity and Grace, the Chicken and the Egg, or: How to Cook Everything Vegetarian,” which is composed of homages to the narrator’s favorite dishes, such as tofu with mango sauce (recipes are included). Donato’s economy of style, range of interests, and grasp of language impress. Admirers of the avant-garde will enjoy thumbing through this diverting collection. (Nov.)