Book report #20 (2021)

How to Fly (in Ten Thousand Easy Lessons), by Barbara Kingsolver. Pub 2020

I picked up this slim book of poetry just before vacation (allowable on my book diet, as Barbara Kingsolver is a favourite author). This is not Kingsolver’s first book of poetry, but it is her first in nearly 30 years. And a lovely little volume it is.

There are 7 sections of poems, each with a theme that ties the poems together. The first “how to” section includes the titular How to Fly, but a better poem is “How to Drink Water When There is Wine” – thoughts on the sacrifices we all make to be diligent or virtuous or safe, ending with “Now I have lived long and I know better.” A variation on a favourite quote of mine: In youth, we learn; in age, we understand (by Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach).

The second section is an excellent series based on a trip to Italy with her Italian mother-in-law. You can see and feel Kingsolver and the family supporting the older woman on this trip back in time and place, and absorbing her memories to carry them on after she’s gone.

The third section is the best, a series called “This Is How They Come Back to Us” (which would have been a better title for this book IMHO). These are aching elegies to departed family and friend, with the best being the ode to her grandfather.

The remaining sections are good but not as good as the first ones, with the exception of “Love Poem, With Birds”, a delightful love poem for her husband. “But who could be more present than a man/with the patience of sycamores…”.

This was a nice way to do poetry – short and sweet and enjoyable.

Fate: I might hang on to it, and revisit those ones that I liked, but eventually will pass along to another reader.

4 – a book published in 2020
8 – a book with a female author
15 – a book with a number in the title
22 – a book of poetry

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