Speaking of Pulitzer Prizes...Gregory Pardlo read at Book Culture last night, with several other authors from Four Way Books. Pardlo is instantly likable and honest. He read from his prize winning collection, Digest. Of his poem, "For Which It Stands," he told the audience that when he and his wife decided to have a baby, they had to admit to themselves that they didn't know their own roots very well: that they needed to take some trips to where they had come from, so that they could adequately teach it. Pardlo is funny, too: he doesn't take himself too seriously; or, he encourages us all to just be a little more real with ourselves. These poems are full of growing up: what it means to learn a few things the hard way. They're full of pop-culture and familiar places: superheroes, and literary heroes, and ordinary men.
Anthony Doerr is getting a lot of press lately: a Pulitzer Prize will do that. All the Light We Cannot See is worth the hype. It's one of those books you can't put down, and then, when you're nearing the end, you dread to finish. You get attached to the characters: you think about them throughout your day. All of the sudden, the things you learned about in history class, are entirely imaginable. This is a story about human beings. Marie Laure and her father (Papa) live in Paris. Marie goes blind, and Papa creates intricate models so that she can learn and master where she is. Her story converges with that of a German boy, Werner, who loves radios, and anything that he can take apart, and fix. Doerr is poetic in his ability to weave snails and keys and music into these dark scenes. Read this, but take your time.