Friday, June 20, 2014

Best Book of May

I was so busy in May that I didn’t have a chance to write the Best Books post. I did read a lot of books in May, but most of them weren’t very good, so there’s only one book in this post. It’s a very, very good book. Go read it.

Around the void left by the murder of Medgar Evers in 1963, the poems in this collection speak, unleashing the strong emotions both before and after the moment of assassination. Poems take on the voices of Evers's widow, Myrlie; his brother, Charles; his assassin, Byron De La Beckwith; and each of De La Beckwith's two wives. Except for the book's title, "Turn me loose," which were his final words, Evers remains in this collection silent. Yet the poems accumulate facets of the love and hate with which others saw this man, unghosting him in a way that only imagination makes possible.

My review: This is the best book that I've read in a long time. It's possibly the best book that I've read so far this year. There are a lot of great poems in this collection, but my favorite was probably "Ambiguity Over The Confederate Flag." I kept coming back to that one because it was so attention-grabbing.

These forty-nine poems explore the 1963 murder of civil-rights activist Medgar Evers. This is the type of book that you keep thinking about long after you've finished it. The poems are beautiful, powerful, and disturbing. What impressed me most was the author's ability to get inside the heads of real people and make it sound so authentic. The poems are told from the points-of-view of Evers's wife and brother as well as his murderer and his murderer's ex-wives. Each poem explores some element of Evers's life and death.

This book could have the power to leave the reader feeling hopeless, but the author handles the subject so skillfully that it doesn't. The book perfectly captures the complexity of human nature. It shows humans' capacity for love and hate, despair and forgiveness.

If you are interested in poetry or American history, I'd highly recommend this book.

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