The Winter Sun: Notes on a Vocation

By this point, Fanny Howe, who was born in 1940, has had many lives and many sorts of intellectual hunger. Nevertheless, some of her deepest questions seem unchanged from when she was about eight and did not like to speak to anyone. At this time, the woman who would give her life over to creating fine and lasting writing was a girl who did not like to believe in the reality of time, and wished to feel her own presence as timeless. Looking back now, Howe meditates, "I was often mute the background, sucking my thumb and daydreaming. In this posture, I was conscious of being coherent inside my skin, but it would take a while before I found out that I could test this coherence to see if it could survive changes in time and space -- by moving great distances." It is fitting that Howe should focus in on her own early feeling of coherence, because it is exactly what she is trying, in complex ways, to reassemble in this book. She is not after physical, narrative, or even linear coherence, but a philosophical coherence. Her essays are made partly by leaping through a meditation whose whole transcends the sum of the parts. This collage-like book of essays is in fact a kaleidoscope. The reflective fragments grow into wider, seemingly geometric patterns. Howe's early struggles to find what coheres lead to later, brooding preoccupations with finding God. And while her essays meander and seem often to splinter into fragments, they frequently catch themselves in refractions of an original delight. The older Howe writes: "For we gather and discard simultaneously as we move in time?. Only recognition can serve us in the end." She's after that recognition, and finds it, in moments.

April 23: " 'A job,' the woman repeated again, smiling, as if I hadn't heard her. 'Would you like one?' "

Kenneth Calhoun (Black Moon) and Lysely Tenorio (Monstress) of the Discover Great New Writers program on B-movies, heritage, and finales.

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Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
A Private Venus

Dubbed "the Italian Simenon," Giorgio Scerbanenco (1911-1969) began his crime-writing career with books set in the USA, but quickly shifted scene closer to home, the city of Milan.  In this adventure, appearing in English for the first time, his underdog hero Dr. Duca Lamberti finds himself in the middle of a seedy, scantily clad criminal racket, where the presence of an outsider could result in death.

The Promise of Hope

Killed last year in the infamous terror attack at Nairobi's Westgate mall, Kofi Awoonor was a national treasure in his native Ghana.  His career began in 1964 with Rediscovery, and this magnum opus serves as a tribute to his entire long journey charting his beloved nation's course through his accomplished poetry.

Winter Mythologies and Abbots

A pair of linked stories finds that, as translator Ann Jefferson relates, "[Pierre] Michon's great theme is the precarious balance between belief and imposture, and the way the greatest aspirations can be complicated by physical desire or the equally urgent desire for what he calls glory."