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Holding down the kid-front

James Proimos

Holding down the kid-front

Suzanne Collins of “Hunger Games” fame has written a haunting, autobiographical children’s book about having a loved one go off to war.

In 1968, when she was 6 and her family was living in Indiana, her dad, a career Air Force officer, was sent to Vietnam. As a year passed, the postcards from him arrived less frequently, and she worried that he might not ever come home. Eventually he did, though he endured nightmares for the rest of his life. She tells her story in “Year of the Jungle: Memories From the Home Front” (Scholastic), illustrated (above) by James Proimos.


In an interview with The New York Times in 2011, Collins, who lives in Connecticut, discussed the project that became “Year of the Jungle.” “I specifically want to do this book, one as a sort of memory piece, kind of honoring that year for my family, and two, because I know so many children are experiencing it right now — having deployed parents,” she said. “And it’s a way I would like to try and communicate my own experience to them.”

Awards put Liu in demand

For the second year in a row, science fiction writer Ken Liu has won a Hugo Award for best short story. In Liu’s story “Mono No Aware,” Hiroto is the last Japanese person in the universe. He lives on an American space habitat after an asteroid destroyed the Earth when he was a child. Hiroto feels a responsibility to preserve and pass on Japanese culture, though he has only a hazy idea of what it is. The story was published in the 2012 anthology “The Future is Japanese” (Viz).

Poetry marathon

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All 1,789 of Emily Dickinson’s poems will be read aloud at the Emily Dickinson Museum in Amherst Sept. 20 and 21. The poems will be performed in chronological order from 3 to 8 p.m. Sept. 20, resuming the following day at 7 a.m. The estimated time of completion is 5 p.m. The marathon dovetails with the museum’s 10th anniversary celebration and marks the kickoff for the first Amherst Poetry Festival. Details at

Poe in flight

Would you like to see Edgar Allan Poe walking the streets of Boston once again? Join a tour of sites associated with the writer at noon on Sept. 22 and Oct. 20. The $15 fee will benefit the campaign to install in Boston a statue of him in mid-stride with pages falling out of his briefcase and a raven on the scene. Paul Lewis, vice president of the Poe Studies Association and an English professor at Boston College, will lead the 90-minute walk that starts at the corner of Boylston and Charles streets. Details at

Coming out

 “The Remarriage Blueprint: How Remarried Couples and Their Families Succeed or Fail” by Maggie Scarf (Scribner)


 “The Tenth Witness”by Leonard Rosen (Permanent)

 “Who Asked You?”by Terry McMillan (Viking)

Pick of the Week

Annie Philbrick of Bank Square Books in Mystic, Conn. recommends “Men We Reaped” by Jesmyn Ward (Bloomsbury): “Everyone should read this book if they want to learn a vital lesson about being black and poor in our South and what all of that means to many of us who have no such sense of loss.”

Jan Gardner can be reached at
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