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A poem by Charles Simic: The Secret

Sunday, October 4, 2015

On Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the Concord City Auditorium, Charles Simic will receive the 2015 Donald Hall and Jane Kenyon Award in American Poetry and give a reading of his poems. Tickets are $10 ($5 for students) and are available at Gibson’s Bookstore, the Concord Monitor front desk and To prepare for the event, the Monitor is running a series of three Sunday poems by Simic with commentary …

A reflection on race in America

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Susan Sontag once observed, “Great writers are either husbands or lovers. Some writers supply the solid virtues of a husband [while others have] gifts of a lover, gifts of temperament rather than of moral goodness.” She was writing about Albert Camus, “the ideal husband,” but she also mentions in passing George Orwell and …

A look back to when Detroit’s promise seemed boundless

Saturday, October 3, 2015

The city that remains synonymous with America’s auto industry has a newer identity as an emblem of urban decay. Its decline is all the more tragic when one looks in the rearview mirror to see how Detroit seemed to be firing on all cylinders a half-century ago. Detroit native David Maraniss recalls that …

A Q&A with poet Charles Simic

Sunday, September 13, 2015

On Oct. 6, poet Charles Simic will be awarded the Donald Hall-Jane Kenyon Prize in American Poetry. The Monitor’s monthlong celebration of Simic and his work begins with this Q & A, conducted by fellow poet Wes McNair. …

Forgers are cheating themselves

Saturday, September 12, 2015

The most abstract aspect of art today is its price: High-value fine art now fetches so much at major auctions that the cost of a painting by Gaugin or a balloon sculpture by Jeff Koons is meaningless outside …

The view of Dickenson’s maid

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Nuala O’Connor’s lovely novel, Miss Emily, immerses us in the day-to-day drama of a fictional, spirited Irish maid who comes to work for the Dickinsons of Amherst in 1866 and stirs up their reclusive poet-in-residence. Told in alternating …

Rewarding experience with a coldblooded killer

Saturday, September 12, 2015

I feel sorry for British readers, who had to wait a full year – from January 2013 until January 2014 – for all three installments of this mesmerizing trilogy to be available. Here on this side of the …

Encouraging respect toward animals

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Once in a long while, a book is published that felicitously combines lambent writing with dazzling facts, while also illuminating our knowledge of significant and engaging subjects. Beyond Words by Carl Safina, a scientist who has won a …

Pop ought to have meaning

Saturday, September 5, 2015

In much of today’s pop-culture commentary, musicians seem less like artists and more like symbolic sounding boards for theory-inclined critics. How do Beyonce and Taylor Swift perform third-wave feminism? What does One Direction say about the semiotics of …

Vargas Llosa combines previous stories

Saturday, September 5, 2015

For decades, the acclaimed Peruvian novelist Mario Vargas ­Llosa has split himself into two personalities: There is Vargas Llosa, the author of dazzling political novels such as Conversation in the Cathedral and The Feast of the Goat. Then …

Surf’s up in “Barbarian days”

Saturday, September 5, 2015

In March of last year, the New Yorker writer William Finnegan nearly drowned while surfing off the west coast of Oahu. A giant wave buried him under an avalanche of whitewater, holding him down for so long that …

Weiner explores idea of soul mates in ‘Who Do You Love’

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Author Jennifer Weiner delicately sets the stage for a story detailing the celebrations and challenges of romance in Who Do You Love. She chronicles a relationship that spans 30 years. Readers will laugh, cry and find themselves caught …

‘In the Dark Places’ has solid, multilayered plot

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Peter Robinson’s intelligent series about Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks deftly explores contemporary issues that by their nature often take place in the urban areas of Yorkshire, England, with the occasional trip to London. But in his 22nd …