Tongues of Fire, by Seán Hewitt

I spend every possible moment outdoors. Garden, mountain, forest, ocean, wildflower field, all are preferable to windows and walls. Indeed, I’ve spent so many hours writing in the gardens of my local arboretum, the chief horticulturist has taken to calling my favorite writing spot “Caprice’s Office.” 

If nature is my office, it is even more my temple. Words that bring me to see more in nature than I might otherwise see on my own are a divine gift. Tongues of Fire, by Seán Hewitt, is filled with such words, immersive and exultant, deepening my regard for the grace of the sacred wild.

“…an extraordinary collection …beyond-gorgeous, beyond-glorious, blood-felt, feral, luminous.” – Fiona Benson

“Seán Hewitt understands that poetic form is sacred and mysterious. In these godforsaken times his reverent procedures are food for the soul.” – Michael Longley 

Tongues of Fire is a beautiful book and Seán Hewitt is an extraordinary writer.” – Liz Berry

Black American Short Stories, Edited by John Henrik Clarke

I was a college student when I first read Everyday Use, by Pulitzer Prize winner Alice Walker. Years later, during my teaching days, I shared this masterpiece with my own college students. Most recently, I had the pleasure of experiencing the story without any concern for lessons, as my book club made our journey through the Black American Short Stories anthology. At every reading, I have found myself astounded by Walker’s accomplishment. To me, Everyday Use offers one of the finest examples of symbolism in short fiction. With a quilt as its center symbol, the story explores themes as complex and weighty as The Divisive Power of Education and Heritage versus Disassociation, while never once abandoning the emotionally charged narrative thread. Black American Short Stories brims with such masterful writing. In my bookclub, the lesser known, Marigolds, by Eugenia W. Collier, proved to be another favorite from this collection.

“The success of John Henrik Clarke’s American Negro Short Stories, first published in 1966, affirmed the vitality and importance of black fiction. Now this expanded edition of that best-selling book, with a new title, offers the reader thirty-one stories included in the original—from Charles W. Chesnutt and Paul Laurence Dunbar in the late nineteenth century to the rich and productive work of the Harlem Renaissance: writers like Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes, and Richard Wright; the World War II accomplishments of Chester Himes, Frank Yerby, and many others; and the later fiction of James Baldwin, Paule Marshall, and LeRoi Jones (Imamu Amiri Baraka). Seven additional contributions round out a century of great stories with the work of Maya Angelou, Toni Cade Bambara, Eugenia Collier, Jennifer Jordan, James Allan McPherson, Rosemarie Robotham, and Alice Walker. Dr. Clarke has included a new introduction to this 1993 edition, and a short biography of each contributor.” (From the publisher)

Beyond the Ghetto Gates, by Michelle Cameron

Too few historical novels are being published these days, particularly novels set before the twentieth century. So I feel very fortunate to have this beautifully written tale, set in the turbulent days of Napoleon Bonaparte’s Italian campaign, to add to my library.

A captivating historical novel, both emotionally rich and exquisitely researched, Beyond the Ghetto Gates, by Michelle Cameron, explores the cultural underpinnings and the historical struggles of its Jewish characters.

“…gripping…” (Kirkus Review) “…timeless…” (Foreword Clarion Review). Awarded a silver medal in the 2020 Historical Fiction category by the Independent Publisher Book Awards (IPPY).