Books in Brief

February 2022

A girl who stands alone at the shore appears eight times in Valerie Martinez’s book-length poem about climate change, Count: “During the day, at night / when looking straight on in that highway-drive / hypnotic state.” Floods reappear, too, in retellings of indigenous folk tales and in car washes, in the inundations of the climate crisis and in the comfort of splashing in a bathtub as a child. Opposites are drawn together here: the language of legends and contemporary climate science; deserts and tides; reasons to care and the temptations of despair. Count is deeply moral, but never moralizing. Reckoning with grief, responsibility, and a deep love of nature, it manages “a delicate balance of beauty— / willows, beaver dams—and warning.”

Count
Valerie Martinez
University of Arizona Press
$16.95 | 64 pp.

 

As Omicron delays yet another round of return-to-office plans, workers are once again left to question what two years of pandemic-induced remote work have meant to them. While the transition to working from home could be challenging (to say nothing of the essential workers who had no choice but to continue working in person), it also allowed some employees to answer the question, “Is there another way to work?” Journalists Charlie Warzel and Anne Helen Petersen’s book-length exploration of that question, Out of Office, is less a blueprint for how we might rethink our day-to-day work habits (fewer meetings, greater “flexibility”) and more an argument for rethinking the nature of work itself: as one part of a good life, rather than the whole purpose.

Out of Office
The Big Problem and Even Bigger Promise of Working from Home

Knopf
$27 | 272 pp.

 

“We can trust in silence, where depth and fulfillment become possible and where stillness is true beauty.” A statement like that carries a lot of weight when it comes from  one of the most distinguished conductors in the world. A student of classical music from childhood and director of the Cleveland Orchestra for the past twenty years, Franz Welser-Möst is versed in the intricacies and complexities of sound. His serenely reasoned case for meditativeness in the face of so much modern noise grows out of a series of “silences” experienced as a youngster—the death of his sister, his own near-fatal car accident—and is deftly backed by thoughtful, informed reflections on performing classical works in contemporary settings, the importance of music in children’s education, and the role his Catholic upbringing played in shaping his creative and spiritual sensibilities.

From Silence
Finding Calm in a Dissonant World

Franz Welser-Möst
Clearview Books
$30 | 184 pp.

Published in the February 2022 issue: 
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