Books in Brief

April 2022

Amanda Oliver’s new book, Overdue, is a provocative crossover between a memoir and a research project, recounting Oliver’s seven years working as a librarian in Washington D.C. and analyzing the history of the American public library. Oliver offers an on-the-ground view of how local libraries meet the social and physical needs of their communities, but she also grapples with the public-library system’s history of racism and objectification. Overdue is ultimately a reckoning with the past in an attempt to dispel the romantic myth of the American public library in order to move toward a future where libraries are inclusive spaces for everyone—“repositories of language, literature, community care, and human growth.”

Overdue
Reckoning with the Future of the Public Library

Amanda Oliver
Chicago Review Press
$28.99 | 224 pp.

 

Christianity is a global religion with practitioners found throughout the world. Christians themselves are just as diverse as the countries and cultures they hail from. But despite this diversity, the study of theology in the United States operates from an almost entirely Western perspective, which often fails to take into account the distinctiveness found within a global faith. William A. Dyrness and Oscar García-Johnson explore this perspective in their book, Theology without Borders: An Introduction to Global Conversations. Rather than ignoring the colonialism that exists within Western theology, Dyrness and García-Johnson propose a “global theology” that takes into account not only the politics of location, but also the doctrines, institutions, and social practices that can inform day-to-day faith.

Theology without Borders
An Introduction to Global Conversation

William A. Dyrness and Oscar García-Johnson
Baker Academic
$24 | 192 pp.

 

In each of the poems of Ocean Vuong’s Time Is a Mother, tenderness and violence exist side by side, sometimes in the same line (“to live like a bullet, to touch people with such intention”). It could not be otherwise in an elegy to his late mother, whose ghost fills pages that circle back to family, war, nature, loathing, and love. Throughout the collection, precise and delicate language builds layers of meaning, petals of a rose that “blooms back as my own / pink mouth,” all the while playing with Vuong’s relationship to the reader and the page: “I found a payphone in the heart of the poem & called you / collect to say all this.”

Time Is a Mother
Poems

Ocean Vuong
Penguin Press
$24 | 128 pp.

Published in the April 2022 issue: 
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