Writing for Your Life

For years after her daughter was diagnosed with a neurological disorder, writer Susan Zimmermann (Grief Dancers), then a lawyer, longed for a miracle cure. When the cure failed to surface, Zimmermann quit her job, began writing about her pain and experienced a different miracle: "I'd stopped hurting." In Writing to Heal the Soul: Transforming Grief and Loss Through Writing, Zimmermann urges others to find solace in journal keeping. Drawing on experiences of her family and friends, she shares inspirational stories of self-discovery, then guides readers through writing exercises ("remember a time when everything went wrong"; "list five new things you are going to do") designed to stimulate reflection. (Crown/Three Rivers, $13 paper 192p ISBN 0-609-80829-X; Feb.)

Former Oregon governor Barbara K. Roberts, who lost her husband to lung cancer eight years ago, has written a guide for those grieving the death of a loved one. Written in a warm, personal tone and drawing on Roberts's own experiences, Death Without Denial, Grief Without Apology: A Guide for Facing Death and Loss counsels readers on coping with the terminal diagnosis, preparing for their loved one's death and grieving in whatever way they feel comfortable. While it's not meant to be a comprehensive guide to the stages of loss, this concise volume should be a comfort to those looking for reassuring words from a fellow mourner. (NewSage [P.O. Box 607, Troutdale, Ore. 97060-0607], $12 paper 144p ISBN 0-939165-43-0; Feb. 25)

The death of a spouse is made doubly frustrating by the mountains of financial and bureaucratic paperwork that one normally has to sort out. Lost and Found: Finding Self-Reliance After the Loss of a Spouse by tax and estate attorney P. Mark Accettura and financial planner Steven J. Case is for widows and widowers bewildered by their new financial landscape. While there's a section on grieving (guest-written by hospice president Dorothy E. Deremo), most of the book is a practical, step-by-step guide to navigating insurance forms, Social Security, retirement fund distributions, estates and taxes after one's loss. (Collinwood [35055 W. Twelve Mile Rd., Ste. 132, Farmington Hills, Mich. 48331], $24.95 paper 320p ISBN 0-9669278-1-8; Jan.)

Spiders from Mars

"I'm just on the borders of DTs darling, and I've wasted some of my tremendous love for you on a lank redmouthed girl with a reputation like hell," writes Dylan Thomas to his first love, Pamela Hansford Johnson. Johnson ended their relationship soon after this revelation, but Thomas would write many more contrite letters in the course of his life, collected in The Love Letters of Dylan Thomas. Edited by Peter Lynch, the impassioned and often witty missives to Johnson; Thomas's wife, Caitlin; and other lovers eloquently document the cycles of dissipation and remorse that ended in the poet's death. (Sourcebooks, $14.95 128p ISBN 1-57071-873-3; Jan.)

Clayton Eshleman, poet, founder of literary magazines Sulfur and Caterpillar, and translator of Aimé Césaire, Antonin Artaud and Cesar Vallejo, has authored a collection of essays on the reading and writing of poetry, Companion Spider. In it, Eshleman parses works by Lorca, Artaud and Césaire. He argues for a system of apprenticeship for young poets, and he excoriates The Norton Anthology of Poetry for its neglect of Objectivist and Language poets. With a foreword by Adrienne Rich. (Wesleyan, $19.95 paper 352p ISBN 0-8195-6483-4; Jan.)

For a man who hated interviews, William Burroughs (1914—1997) ended up doing quite a few of them over 30-plus years, appearing in print everywhere from Mademoiselle to Semiotext(e). Gathered for the first time in Burroughs Live: The Collected Interviews of William S. Burroughs, edited and annotated by Sylvère Lotringer, the 99 pieces begin with the fictional interviews that Burroughs wrote himself, elaborating his hallmark junkie personae, and ending on a conversation with Allen Ginsberg about Burroughs's exorcism. In betweem, the writer discusses interplanetary invasions, morphine addiction treatments, the influence of Rimbaud and Céline, his three lines of defence against criminals (a mace gun, a cobra, and a cane) and more. (MIT, $29.95 paper 848p ISBN 1-58435-010-5; Feb.)

British novelist and essayist Tim Parks (Destiny, Adultery and Other Diversions) meditates on literature, art, and translation in Hell and Back: Reflections of Writers and Writing from Dante to Rushdie. The book includes close readings of contemporary writers like Ian Buruma and the late W.G. Sebald, as well as high modernists like Joyce and Borges, and Henry Green. Parks is also a translator of Italian, and there are a number of sketches of Italian writers (Italo Svevo, Eugenio Montale) and a piece on fascist painter Mario Sironi (Arcade, $24.95 348p ISBN 1-55970-610-4; Feb.)

Ars Spiritus

Enthusiasts of a celebrated American craft share their stories in Quilts Are Forever: A Patchwork Collection of Inspirational Stories. Editor Kathy Lamancusa, an inspirational speaker and founder of Quilts Are Forever magazine, has gathered personal essays about the importance of quilts and quilt making in people's lives. The short pieces range in tone from mournful to lighthearted; Sarah Jane McMillen describes how quilting sustained her during the terminal illnesses of her husband and three sons, while Joe Lamancusa humorously recalls fending off his mother's attempts to make him a quilt for his college dorm room (so uncool!). (Simon & Schuster/Fireside, $12 paper 224p ISBN 0-7432-1086-7; Mar.)

Despite its whimsical, touchy-feely title, This Time I Dance: Trusting the Journey of Creating the Work You Love is a down-to-earth, often funny account of author Tama J. Kieves's odyssey from high-powered corporate law to a far more fulfilling life of writing. Kieves, a Harvard Law School graduate who is now a motivational speaker, describes how she decided to leave her well-paying job—her first stirrings of discontent, insecurities about finding a different career and fears of losing her overachiever identity, and finally her leap into the unknown. Based on her own experiences, she offers advice to readers on overcoming their own anxieties about switching paths. (Awakening Artistry [P.O. Box 9040, Denver, Colo. 80209-9040], $18.95 paper 224p ISBN 0-9707719-0-8; Mar.)

What is the ineffable force that drives artists, writers, musicians to create? Poet and critic Edward Hirsch (How to Read a Poem) looks for answers in The Demon and the Angel: Searching for the Source of Artistic Inspiration, an erudite exploration of the creative process. Hirsch probes Lorca's idea of the duende, the mysterious inspirational force (a sort of "trickster who meddles and stirs up trouble"), then looks at how artists like Emerson, Rilke and Yeats have explained the creative wellspring. Hirsch is especially interested in how American art forms of the 20th century—abstract expressionism, modern dance, jazz—have been influenced by a uniquely New World perception of the duende. (Harcourt, $24 336p ISBN 0-15-100538-9; Mar.)

Self-exploration pioneer Christina Baldwin (Life's Companion; Calling the Circle) urges readers to connect with the spiritual world in The Seven Whispers: Listening to the Voice of the Spirit. Baldwin shares her own personal daily meditation, which consists of seven phrases—maintain peace of mind, move at the pace of guidance, practice certainty of purpose, surrender to surprises, ask for what you need and offer what you can, love the folks in front of you, return to the world—that she explains in the seven chapters of this volume, showing readers how to attain these attitudes by listening to their inner voice. (New World Library, $16 128p ISBN 1-57731-192-2; Mar. 15)

In the Mood for Love

Marriage at the crossroads is the subject of Why We Stay Together: 25 Writers on Marriage and Its Rewards, an anthology of essays, poetry and fiction about the critical moments that test marriages. The previously published pieces, selected by Jennifer Schwamm Willis (Explore: Stories of Survival From Off the Map), vary wildly in style, tone and genre. They are all, however, thoughtful, honest explorations of the travails and rewards of marriage. Excerpts from Pablo Neruda's 100 Love Sonnets, John Bayley's Elegy for Iris, and Thich Nhat Hahn's Teachings on Love are all here, alongside journalist Cheryl Jarvis's piece on taking a marriage sabbatical and psychotherapist Holly Hein on why infidelity occurs. (Marlowe, $14.95 paper 320p ISBN 1-56924-540-1; Mar.)

Lovebirds and starstruck voyeurs may be interested in Count the Ways: The Great Love Stories of Our Time. Journalist Paul Aron (Unsolved Mysteries of American History) writes about celebrated (or reviled) couples like Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Ronald and Nancy Reagan, and Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker. The couples—mostly straight, white and extremely well known—are divided into categories like "Actors and Actresses" and "Royals and Rulers." Aron briefly summarizes each relationship, outlining how the couple met and following the trajectory—whether tragic, sordid or heartwarming—of each romance. (McGraw-Hill, $19.95 256p ISBN 0-07-138174-0; Feb.)

February Publications

West Point famously graduated generals like Grant and MacArthur, but it's perhaps less well known that James Whistler also matriculated (he was a poor student who dropped out, but not before drawing some humorous sketches of cadet life), or that one of the first cadets to graduate, Simon M. Levy, was Jewish. These and other trivia are collected in West Point: The First 200 Years, a glossy photo book celebrating the academy's distinguished history. John Grant, producer of a PBS special to which the book is a companion, and writers James Lynch and Ronald Bailey have put together a capsule history illustrated with copious photographs of the campus, cadets and renowned alumni. (Globe Pequot, $29.95 208p ISBN 0-7627-1013-6)

In Ralph W. Yarborough: The People's Senator, University of Texas historian Patrick Cox explores just what the Texas congressman (1903—1996) did to earn that honorable nickname. From his legal and judicial career in the 1930s and his service in WWII to his failed gubernatorial campaigns and his successful years in the U.S. Senate, Yarborough was, Cox writes, "a man of the people who fought for the people." A champion of civil rights, education, historical preservation and health care, Yarborough was a defiant, dedicated liberal in the face of conservative Southern politics, and inspired a "living legacy of Texas officeholders" to emulate him. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy contributes a foreword. Illus. (Univ. of Texas, $39.95 368p ISBN 0-292-71243-X)

The Prints of Josef Albers: A Catalogue Raisonné 1915—1976 collects the graphic works of the legendary abstract artist and Bauhaus design teacher. Early woodcut self-portraits, increasingly abstract lithographs, the famous Homage to the Square, and 10 prints that are the beginning of Albers's experiment in color are all featured here, as are the posters, album covers and greeting cards that Albers created toward the end of his career. The pieces were culled by Brenda Danilowitz, chief curator of the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, who's written a lucid introductory essay on the evolution of Albers's oeuvre. (Hudson Hills, $75 216p ISBN 1-555595-199-6)

January Publications

With reprinted articles that span nearly a century—from Ella C. Sykes's 1910 consideration of women's powerlessness in Shiite Persia to Edward Girardet's 2001 reflection on Muslim warlords and a surprise conversation with Osama bin Laden—the National Geographic Society's The World of Islam, edited by Don Belt, offers a panoramic portrait in words and photographs. Over 150 striking illustrations reveal cities, mosques, marketplaces and battlegrounds, and more than 25 articles cover the rich history of a religion that's practiced today by one person in every five in the world. $22 288p ISBN 0-7922-6894-6)

In a riff that mirrors the tone and content of his celebrated stand-up routines, Cedric the Entertainer now offers Grown A$$ Man. Jocular and friendly, yet socially and politically observant, these 23 essays cover the usual comic ground (credit cards, dating, working out) with a distinctively African-American spin. Never recoiling from explicating the foibles of the African-American community ("You know how black folks like to show off. When we get a little money, we like to make sure everyone knows we hit it. It's part of being ghetto fabulous"), Cedric finds his broader appeal in his cross between being a hip "playa" and his mixture of good sense and ethics. (Ballantine, $22 253p ISBN 0-345-44778-6)

Corrections: Due to an editing error, the Jan. 7 review of Another Vietnam (National Geographic) implied that the book includes photos of dead American soldiers. It does not.

The Jan. 7 note on Pass the Mic (powerHouse) incorrectly identified the book's distributor. powerHouse distributes its own titles.