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Bluefin tuna, one of many ocean fish at risk

Book updates:

Dorothea Lasky‘s most recent book, Black Life, is reviewed in the Boston Globe today. I just recently discovered Lasky and am a fan of both Poetry is Not a Project and Awe. In this review Michael Brodeur speaks to the contrasts at play in her work:

But where “Awe” balanced Lasky’s fascinations with the spiritual self with a caution to “be scared of yourself,” the poems of “Black Life” stay fixed in a darker stare, charting death, desire, jealousy, loss, love, and loneliness with equal parts emotional warmth and factual chill. All the while, Lasky’s mix of stark truth and playful affect effectively foregrounds the former…Though Lasky’s language is simple its often stark clarity is also the source of each line’s force. And in “Style is Joy,” she takes care we know that fidelity to the unpracticed is central to her practice: “every poem full of blood and guts/ Must be stylized to be so.”

Lewis Hyde, author of two books that have touched me deeply , The Gift and Trickster Makes This World, has published a new one, Common as Air. From the review in the New York Times by Robert Darnton:

Hyde, the author of “The Gift” (1983), a defense of the noncommercial aspects of art, does not merely cull the works of the founding fathers for quotations. He pitches his argument at a level where historians and political philosophers have contributed most to our understanding of intellectual history. Instead of treating the ideas of the founders as self-contained units of meaning, he explores their interconnections and shows how they shared a common conceptual frame…Hyde builds his argument by telling stories, and he tells them well. His book brims with vignettes, which may be familiar but complement one other in ways that produce original insights.

Paul Greenberg is the son of an old friend of mine, Harvey Greenberg. Paul’s latest book, Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food, is personal and extremely well timed. I have seen glowing reviews in a plethora of publications. I’ve just started reading his account of the vanishing population of four iconic North Atlantic fish: salmon, sea bass, cod and bluefin tuna. With a son who also approaches the ocean and all creatures therein as the earth’s most sacred domain, I am approaching Greenberg’s book as prescient essential reading.

From a review by Richard Eder in the Los Angeles Times:

Didactic — however worthy — is not much fun. Ecological and planet-saving literature tends to argue for the essential. The discoveries, the questions, the issues it raises must exercise us. And exercise is an excellent thing. Only, in a contemporary contentiousness, that pits puritans against know-nothings, rather excluding play.

So much as preface to Paul Greenberg’s “Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food.” He deals in weighty though never ponderous detail with such matters as the despoliation of our seas by industrial overfishing and the tension between the need to feed our world and to preserve it. He writes with evocative passion about the individual animal wildness of a bluefin tuna, a king salmon, an ocean-spanning cod.

More unusually, he goes on to convey what can only be called the fisherman’s happiness: part battle, part sense of primeval freedom in a constrained world. At 13, he got his hands on a used dinghy and taught himself to navigate and fish: ” Long Island Sound still felt to me like wilderness — a place to freely search out and capture wild game. I thought of the sea as a vessel of desires and mystery, a place of abundance I did not need to question.”