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Short Takes: May 2012 

Interview with a Jewish Vampire
Erica Manfred
Fredonia Communications, 2011, $12.99
Rhoda barely blinks at learning her hottie date is undead—a zaftig divorcee could do worse on JDate. Undercover as Hasidic (pale, covers mirrors, shuns others’ food? No problem!), Sheldon loves late-night shopping and tantric sex. When Rhoda persuades him to turn her ailing mother and her retiree pals into vampires, the “goils” go wild. A snortingly funny page-turner. Reading at Woodstock Library Forum, 5/12 at 5pm.

The Emerald Diamond: How the Irish Transformed America’s Greatest Pastime

Charley Rosen
Harper, 2012, $25.99
This lively history sprints from “No Irish Need Apply” prejudice to the “Emerald Age” of the late 1800s, when Irishmen ruled the sport, to the steroid-fueled downfall of Roger McGwire. Ulsterman Rosen spotlights legendary manager Connie Mack, Mike “King” Kelly, the five Delehanty brothers, and hundreds of groundbreaking Irishmen (first NL grand slam; first AL no-hitter)—even “Casey at the Bat” poet Ernest L. Thayer.

A Fish Trapped Inside the Wind

Christien Gholson
Parthian, 2011, $14.95
On the morning of St. Woelfred’s festival, the inhabitants of a Belgian factory town find their streets covered with dead fish. Is it a freak of nature, a protest installation by ecoterrorist performers, or something more mysterious? Threading together six diverse characters and Rimbaud’s rumored lost poems, Gholson’s lyrical magic-realist novel has big fish to fry. Reading at COW, Beahive, Kingston, 6/2 at 7pm.

The Russian Writer’s Daughter: Stories of Growing Up American
Lydia S. Rosner
Mayapple Press, 2012, $15.95
Rosner’s graceful memoir-in-stories evokes a singular New York childhood, full of larger-than-life Russian relatives, neighborhood dramas, and intellectual ferment in the shadow of McCarthyism. Details abound: the acrid smell of papers burned in fear, the gardenia cologne of an exiled aristocrat, campfire songs with Paul Robeson. Readings 5/5 at 7pm, Family Traditions, Stone Ridge; 5/6 at 5pm, Kleinert/James, Woodstock, cosponsored by Golden Notebook.

A Very Funny Fellow

Donald Lev
NYQ Books, 2012, $14.95
The nonpareil Home Planet News founder offers nearly 100 brief, wry observations of everyday life (“the nothingness / the All, the All-in-All”), leavened by wine and good company, scuttled by loneliness. Even readers who have never heard Lev perform may hear a distinctive New York-cabbie cadence in their mind’s ear, reciting “the poem / so real it scratches.” Reading at Kleinert/James Arts Center, sponsored by Golden Notebook, Woodstock, 5/20 at 5pm.

The First Warm Evening of the Year

Jamie M. Saul
William Morrow, 2012, $24.99
In the opening pages of Saul’s luminous second novel, voiceover actor Geoffrey Tremont learns that an old friend has died, asking him to be her executor. Dutifully heading upstate to her sleepy hometown, he meets her friend Marian, looking “like a burst of bittersweet among the winter branches in her bright red coat and orange scarf.” Will love take root? It’s complicated. Reading at Oblong Books & Music, Rhinebeck, 5/6 at 4pm.


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