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Short Takes: May 

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The Mysterious Life of the Heart: Writing From The Sun About Passion, Longing, and Love
edited by Sy Safransky with Tim McKee & Andrew Snee
The Sun Publishing Company, 2009, $18.95

The 50 richly varied titles in this anthology’s table of contents make for irresistible browsing. Local contributions include Omega editor James Kullander’s heart-searing personal essay about rediscovering love at his ex-wife’s deathbed, and eight miniature love poems by Sparrow, bumper sticker bard of Phoenicia and erstwhile Chronogram columnist.

The Cambridge Companion to Bob Dylan
Edited by Kevin J.H. Dettmar
Cambridge University Press, 2009, $24.99

Dylan’s name should be engraved among the great sages above the columns of university libraries—and this academy-friendly volume helps guarantee this shall happen (move over, Demosthenes!) Galvanized by 2004’s Chronicles Vol. 1, Dylan Studies is as shape-shifting as its subject. Current analyses of our most-analyzed icon are provided by Alan Light, Anthony DeCurtis, and other rock intellectuals.

Alice Fantastic
Maggie Estep
Akashic Books, 2009, $15.95

Spoken-word performer and Hex author Estep gets inside outsiders’ skins like a tattoo needle. Life-bruised sisters Alice and Eloise share a fierce bond with their mother, a free-spirited, bisexual dog rescuer with a past who lives—where else?—in Woodstock. Estep will read 5/23 at 5pm at the Woodstock Guild (sponsored by Golden Notebook) and 5/31 at 4pm at Muddy Cup/Inquiring Minds, Saugerties.

Louise Shaffer
Ballantine, 2009, $14.95

Carrie’s meandering life is overdue for change when her mother’s death prompts her to trace her matriarchal roots, journeying from the old world certainties of an immigrant household to the glitz of Streisand-era Broadway. Hudson Valley actress/writer Shaffer has a fine ear for the hushed tones and coloratura of both worlds. Shaffer will read 5/13 at 6:30pm at the East Fishkill Library; call to confirm time.

Dirt: The Quirks, Habits & Passions of Keeping House
edited by Mindy Lewis, foreword by Penelope Green
Seal Press, 2009, $15.95

Lewis (Life Inside) gathers startlingly diverse meditations on the deeper meanings of cleaning, in which Julianne Malvaux, Joyce Maynard, Thaddeus Ruttkowski, and 35 others reveal what’s swept under the rug. Laura Shaine Cunningham’s glowingly erotic ode to floor wax is a standout. Lewis, Cunningham & Rand Richards Cooper will read 6/6 at 7pm at Inquiring Minds, New Paltz.

Amrita of Eloquence, A Biography of Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche
Lama Karma Drodul, translated by Lama Yeshe Gyamtso, foreword by the Gyalwang Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje
KTD Publications, 2008, $19.95

A long-awaited and skillful offering of journalism, poetry, and vintage photography, illuminating the challenges and triumphs of one of the great Tibetan masters of the Kagyu lineage. Born in 1924, Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche serves as beloved abbot of Karma Triyana Dharmachakra (KTD) in Woodstock, and retreat master at Karma Ling Center in Delhi.

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  • From Hibbing to the Himalayas, all literary roads lead to the Hudson Valley.


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