DOG GONE IT. By Spencer Quinn. Atria, February 2009. 305 pages. $25.
If dogs could translate their thoughts into English, they would undoubtedly sound pretty much like Chet, canine co-owner (or so he fancies himself) of the Little Detective Agency in some unspecified western state: “Bernie rose. Me too. Enough of this chit chat. It was time to crack this case the way we usually do, with me sniffing out the perp.”
COURAGE: A Novel of the Sea. By Alan Littell, Illustrated. St. Martin’s Press. 148 pages. $16.95.
It surely was not Vineyard Haven harbor waters lapping the beach near the Mary Guerin Inn in Eastville that inspiredthis thrilling sea tale. But its author, Alan Littell, spent childhood summers there. More likely, his later years as a merchant mariner provided the background for this story of the dangers of the enthralling sea.
THAT OLD CAPE MAGIC. By Richard Russo. Alfred A. Knopf, New York. 261 pages. $25.95.
O ne afternoon two friends happened to drop by my house. The first arrived in a little sports convertible. When the second showed up in his VW bus he walked inside and said, “It looks like a middle-aged meltdown out there.”
SKUNK NIGHT SONNETS. By Daniel Waters. Bright Hill Press, Treadwell, N.Y. 2009. 38 pages. Softcover, $10.
One of my favorite booths at the West Tisbury Artisans’ Fair is that of poet Daniel Waters. It is a wellspring of words! And not just any words, but the crisp, intuitive, fun-filled wordplay of Mr. Waters’ short poems, many of which are displayed on his distinctive hand-carved blockprint greeting cards.
Witness to the Rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan, by Barbara Bick, The Feminist Press, $14.99.
History has left us the chronicles of a number of intrepid women of the West who have traversed the Near and Middle East. In this tradition, but surpassing it in many ways, Barbara Bick of Vineyard Haven has written Walking the Precipice: Witness to the Rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan, a testimony for our time. It is a lucid, passionate and at times harrowing political book written on behalf of the women of Afghanistan.
The book is called Poems from the Gray Bar Hotel. The title refers to the nickname that inmates have given to the Edgartown House of Correction, where West Tisbury poet laureate Fan Ogilvie held poetry classes last winter. But Mrs. Ogilvie said the jail is more like a revolving door for prisoners with haunted pasts who often can’t seem to get out of their own way.
If you look up libraries on Wikipedia, you’ll learn that a golden age arose from 1600 to 1700 when cities all over the world had to erect a big, baroque building for books. If there’s ever been a new claim for a golden age, it’s right here, right now, involving our Island libraries, all of them, where circulation is up as never before (25 per cent at the Edgartown library alone), and community participation is off the charts.