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Short Takes 

Words Without Borders:
The World Through the Eyes of Writers

Edited by Samantha Schnee, Alane Salierno Mason & Dedi Felman
Anchor Books, 2007, $14
How can a writer be both renowned and unknown in America? By writing in any language but English. This groundbreaking anthology features such international literati as Ha Jin, Edwidge Danticat, and Naguib Mahfouz introducing 28 stellar stories by lesser-known peers. A sure cure for Anglocentric myopia, this is truly eye-opening reading.

Half Moon Over Midnight
Poems by Mala Hoffman
Paper Kite Press, 2007, $8
Hoffman’s deceptively simple, eloquent poems about mothers and daughters, the numbing routines of housework, and the anguish of loss have been published in Chronogram, the Village Voice, and elsewhere. Twenty of them have been gathered into this slim and elegant chapbook, whose vertical format aptly suggests an opening door.

he Rise and Fall of the Taconic Mountains: A Geological History of Eastern New York

Donald W. Fisher
Black Dome Press, 2007, $24.95
The result of knowledge gathered over years spent hiking through the Taconics, paleontologist emeritus Fisher, a Kinderhook resident, walks us through the astounding climate changes that formed this eastern range. From volcanoes to tropical oceans to mile-thick sheets of ice, Fisher gives a voice to the very ground beneath our feet.

On Christmas Eve

Ann M. Martin illustrations by Jon J Muth
Scholastic, 2006, $15.99
Babysitters Club author and Ulster County resident Martin spins the Capraesque tale of young Tess, a true believer in Santa Claus with a special wish for Christmas 1958. Her friend’s father is dying, and she hopes that Santa—not the mall version, the genuine article—can save the day. A heartbreaking, heartwarming treat for young readers.

Toward Totality
by Henri Michaux
translated by Louise Landes Levi
Shivastan, 2006, $15
Woodstock’s premier publisher of Nepalese-handcrafted chapbooks released Levi’s striking translation of French-language writings by the celebrated Belgian-born poet, painter, and mystic Michaux, spanning five decades (1929-1973) of his extraordinarily wide-ranging life. “Don’t weigh more than a flame and all will be well.”

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