It Itches

Franklin Habit is a photographer, knitter, blogger, and -- not least -- humorist. Would anyone who is not a knitter get the jokes in It Itches? Probably not, but who cares? (It's not like I would think that a book of golf cartoons was funny. So if you or someone you know has a stash -- skeins and skeins of yarn set aside for a someday project -- or has a strong opinion of acrylic versus natural fiber, this book of cartoons and light essays is just the ticket. Habit's pencil drawings of sheep, yarn, and knitters, underscored with witty, one-line captions, would be at home in The New Yorker. A boy is knitting in the schoolyard with a girl bully towering over him. Caption: "If it bothers you that much, Caitlin, then I suggest you and your teddy and your mid-Victorian ideas about gender get the hell back to the other side of the playground." Meanwhile, the selection of his prose pieces varies in style. I was charmed by his impassioned plea to take back the word "craft" from the psychiatric wards, nursing homes, and summer camps and proudly label knitting as a craft -- "Craft (n) 1. An occupation, trade or activity requiring manual dexterity or artistic skill (v) 2. To make or produce with care, skill of ingenuity." He begs us to stop equating a beautifully knit cabled sock with a tissue box made of popsicle sticks. "Craft", he states, "is too ancient, beautiful and noble a word to leave to the hacks of less-inspired housekeeping magazines. My knitting is my craft; therefore I am a craftsman. It is a badge I wear with pride. I made it myself."

April 18: "[W]ould it be too bold to imagine that all warm-blooded animals have arisen from one living filament…?"

Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch is the winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. James Parker calls this Dickensian coming-of-age novel "an enveloping…

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Poems That Make Grown Men Cry

And women too.  Luminaries from Colin Firth to Nick Cave and Jonathan Franzen chose the poems that bring them to tears, and the result is a stunning collection of poignant verse from writers like Auden, Whitman, Bishop, Larkin, Neruda and many others.  Warning: choking-up hazard.

The King of Pain

Trapped beneath his entertainment system, reality TV mastermind Rick Salter reflects on his life and tries to piece together the events of the previous evening. Seth Kaufman’s romp is an outrageous meditation on pain and entertainment in a deranged world in which the two are often interchangeable.

The Good Inn

Frank Black, frontman for the Pixies, has written a transgressive historical fiction with shades of Thomas Pynchon (focused as it is on the history of explosives and cinematic pornography), all set in a hallucinatory Edwardian Europe.