Sunday, September 25, 2011

Iowa Poetry Prize Winners Announced

The 2011 Iowa Poetry Prize winners have been announced. Thanks to our friends at the Iowa City Press Citizen for the heads up, and congratulations to the winners:

- Joseph Campana for "Natural Selections"

- Kerri Webster for "Grand and Arsenal"

Both works will be available from the UI Press in 2012.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

First Officer's Log No 39: Reckless Recommended Reading

When someone recommends a book to me, it tends to go on my List of Books to Read. Sometimes I get to it, but, more often than not, I don't, because too many other books come my way. However, Nialle mentioned a book that caught my attention: Reckless by Cornelia Funke, the author of Inkheart. Intrigued by the premise - a young man has to save his brother from a curse while immersed in a fairy tale type world - I grabbed a copy and started reading.

Two days later, I was done, and... wow. It wasn't quite what I expected. The story is a familiar enough one, but the world that Funke has built is outstanding, with fairy tale elements popping up, and fantastical races all acting as independent nations. There are some heavy metaphors in this story, especially with regard to the racial dynamics of the world. Nialle explained it as a thinly veiled pre-World War I world, and by the novel's conclusion, I could see it.

The story itself is fast-paced, with little exposition, allowing the reader to experience what happens as the characters do. The main character is a loner who prides himself on his ability to read people, even when he's terribly wrong about their intentions. Jacob Reckless lives up to his name, in his every action, word, and thought.

It's the world itself that draws the reader in, with its complex politics, schemes, and wonders hidden beneath the beginnings of industry. It's a stellar book, one that I was tearing through from the first. I intended to read just a few chapters, and before I knew it, I was half-way done. It's a stunning piece of young adult fiction that might actually sit better with adults. I highly recommend it.

Until next time, fellow bibliophiles.