Dog Songs -- Poems by Mary Oliver, Penguin Press '13, $26.95, 127 pages, ASIN #1594204780. B&W images sprinkled through text.
Pulitzer-Prize winning poet Mary Oliver has forged relationships over the decades with varieties of living things. In her latest work, she singles out the canine world for her attention in this collection of 35 dog songs and one essay. Some of her poems are but a paragraph long, others go on for several pages.
Let's sample a couple of the shorter ones:
"If You Are Holding This Book:
You may not agree, you may not care, but if you are holding this book you should know that of all the sights I love in this world -- and there are plenty -- very near the top of the list is this one: dogs without leashes."
"1. Said Bear (poet's dog), I know I'm supposed to keep my eye
on you, but it's difficult the way you
lag behind and keep talking to people.
"Well, how can you be keeping your eye on me
"When you're half a mile ahead?
"'True,' said Bear. 'But I'm thinking of you
"all the time.'
"2. I had to go away for a few days so I called
"the kennel and made an appointment. I guess
"Bear overheared the conversation.
"'Love and company,' said Bear, 'are the adornments
"that change everything. I know they'll be
"nice to me, but I'll be sad, sad, sad.'
"And pitifully he wrung his paws.
"I cancelled the trip."
The Neanderthals Rediscovered -- How Modern Science is Rewriting Their Story by Dimitra Papagianni and Michael A. Morse, Thames & Hudson '13, $29.95, 208 pages, ASIN #0500051771. Index, bibliography, in-text notes, two groupings of color glossy images, other b&w images sprinkled through text.
"The Neanderthals Rediscovered offers a fairer assessment of a species whose name is still often used as a pejorative and reveals that the superiority of Homo sapiens may be less self-evident than we supposed," write the authors. "Papagianni and Morse contextualize the Neanderthals in a full dramatic arc of their history -- from their evolution in Europe and expansion into Siberia to their subsequent disappearance (and ultimate revival in popular culture)."
In this fascinating volume, Papagianni and Morse recount how advances in DNA technologies have compelled us to reassess their place in our own past. "It turns out that the Neanderthals' behavior was surprisingly modern. They buried the dead, cared for the sick, hunted large animals in their prime, harvested seafood, used red paint and spoke." Yet these advances collectively have done little to shake the image of Neanderthals as our "dim-witted cousins."
About the authors:
"Dimitra Papagianni holds a doctorate in archaeology from the University of Cambridge. Michael A. Morse holds a Ph.D. in the history of science from the University of Chicago.
The Discovery of Middle Earth -- Mapping the Lost World of the Celts, by Graham Robb, Norton '13, $28.95, 387 pages, ASIN #039308163X. Geographical Index, General Index, works cited, notes, chronology, b&w images sprinkled through text.
From the dust jacket:
"Fifty generations ago the cultural empire of the Celts stretched from the Black Sea to Ireland and the Highlands of Scotland. In six hundred years, the Celts had produced some of the finest artistic and scientific masterpieces of the ancient world. In 58 BC, Julius Caesar marched over the Alps, bringing slavery and genocide to western Europe. Within eight years the Celts of what is now France were utterly annihilated, and in another hundred years the Romans had overrun Britain. It is astonishing how little remains of this great civilization.
"While planning a bicycling trip along the Heraklean Way, the ancien route from Portugal to the Alps, Graham Robb discovered a door to that forgotten world -- a beautiful and precise pattern of towns and holy places based on astronomical and geometrical measurements: this was the three-dimensional 'Middle Earth' of the Celts. As coordinates and coincidences revealed themselves across the continent, a map of the Celtic world emerged as a miraculously preserved archival document."
Author Graham Robb is the author of three prize-winning biographies, each one selected as a New York Times Best Book. He lives on the Anglo-Scottish border.