Luci Shaw's new collection (her tenth volume of poems) has an epigraph from the painter Georgia O'Keeffe: "It is only by selection, by elimination, by emphasis that we get at the real meaning of things." Taken in conjunction with Shaw's "fore word," a winsome Christian ars poetica, O'Keeffe's dictum suggests why this book belongs on your shelf whether or not you consider yourself a "poetry type." It teaches, by example, a way of thinking, a way of seeing, that you can take with you anywhere, anytime, whoever you are, and whatever your daily round.

Architects of Power: Roosevelt, Eisenhower, and the American Century
Philip Terzian (Encounter Books)


I dare you to put down this pithy little book once you have started it. And how often can that be said about books dealing with matters of state? At a moment when blather about the American imperium has reached epidemic proportions, it's refreshing to find such a lucid and persuasive account of how American "engagement with the world has evolved." At the same time, Terzian offers two case studies (Roosevelt and Eisenhower) of "the uses to which historical memory may be put." All this in just over 100 pages.

Elegy for April
Benjamin Black (Henry Holt and Co.)


John Banville is a highly esteemed writer of what gets called "literary fiction." Three years ago, he debuted as a crime novelist: Benjamin Black is his alter ego, and Elegy for April is the third book in a series set (mostly) in Dublin in the 1950s and featuring as its unheroic hero a pathologist known simply as Quirke. (His first name, we're told, is so ludicrous that he never uses it.) Although there are signals that Banville/Black is slumming and wants you to know that he knows that, the books are both deliciously entertaining ...

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