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Short Takes 

Vanguard Voices of the Hudson Valley
Actors & Writers: Odd Shorts
edited by Mikhail Horowitz & Nina Shengold
Mohonk Mountain Stage Company, 2008, $15.95

Ten pick hits from the Olivebridge theater’s annual shorts binge, by Katherine Burger, Laura Shaine Cunningham, Mary Gallagher, Sigrid Heath, Adam LeFevre, Nicole Quinn, David Smilow, Mary Louise Wilson, and both editors, with a smashing cover by Carol Zaloom. Book signing/performances at Unison, New Paltz, 4/4 at 8pm, $15; High Meadow Auditorium, Stone Ridge, April 26 at 8pm. Donations accepted.

The Hudson: America’s River
Frances F. Dunwell, foreword by Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
Columbia University Press, 2008, $74.50 hardcover; $29.95 paper

A splendid tribute to the river Kennedy calls “the Noah’s ark of the East Coast and perhaps of the entire North Atlantic.” From Henry Hudson’s Half Moon to the Clearwater, Dunwell’s vivid prose enlivens the river’s storied history, environmental issues, and hard-won survival. Lavishly illustrated with Hudson River School paintings, archival and contemporary photographs, vintage postcards, and maps.

Soldier’s Heart: Reading Literature Through Peace and War at West Point
Elizabeth D. Samet
Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2007, $23
Yale Ph.D. Samet, a civilian professor at West Point, teaches English literature to cadets on their way to a war she opposes. Some former students write from the front; some will never return. “Should a dangling modifier need reattaching, a sentence fragment suturing, or a metaphor anatomizing in a storm,” she writes, “I will be first on the scene.” A moving and insightful meditation on why writing matters.

An Endless Harvest: Preserving and Using Fruits, Vegetables, and Herbs
Betty Levine, illustrations by Emanuel Schongut
Manorville Publishing, 2007, $15.95

What do you do with those garlic scapes? Betty Levine grew up on a North Carolina farm and, after “retiring,” threw her substantial energies into managing a Woodstock CSA (community-supported agriculture) group. This helpful book teaches CSA members and farmstand patrons how to cook and enjoy fresh produce in season, and how to preserve it when their harvest basket runneth over.

Sex and Sensibility: Ten Women Examine the Lunacy of Modern 200 Cartoons
edited by Liza Donnelly
Twelve, 2008, $22.99

Vassar professor of humor, New Yorker cartoonist, and Chronogram contributor Donnelly corrals a marvelously loopy assortment of cartoons by women, with quotes and illuminating essays on gender and humor. Cartoon self-portraits and bios by Roz Chast, Carolita Roberts, Marisa Acocella Marchetto, Victoria Roberts, and others are a particular treat. Reading 4/4 at 7:30pm, Oblong Books & Music, Rhinebeck.

Waiting For God: The Spiritual Explorations of a Reluctant Atheist
Lawrence Bush
Ben Yehuda Press, 2007, $16.95
Jewish Currents editor and Accord resident Bush’s sixth book explores the spiritual questing (with and sans deity) of the baby boom generation. A broad-minded skeptic with a “hereditary allergy to religion,” he examines his parents’ old-line Communist fervor and all things New Age, maintaining a grain of salt while admitting he’s “always wanted to belong to John Lennon’s league of ‘dreamers.’”
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