Puerto Rican history in a literary debut of poetry and prose
Claudia Acevedo-Quiñones anchors her debut, “The Hurricane Book: A Lyric History,” put out by the Brookline-based Rose Metal Press, with six hurricanes that stormed across Puerto Rico between 1928 and 2017. Acevedo-Quiñones brings poetry and history and memory together — facts and impressions, archive and imagination, the different shapes truth takes — in her exploration of where she comes from, and who. “Secrets are family members, too,” she writes. She writes of her grandfather picking her up from school in his old blue Oldsmobile, always on time. He was “thin, wiry, pockmarked, annoyed, impeccably dressed. . . . But for all his hardness, he was always surrounded by flowers.” Acevedo-Quiñones’s prose activates the senses; we smell and taste and hear and feel and see with her, through her, the syrupy sweetness of Kola Champagne, the sound of rain on a metal roof, the click of dominoes, cigarettes, cognac, beer. The book tracks a person coming into their adulthood among other adults, what it is to leave home, to return to it, to have it with you despite being away. Acevedo-Quiñones speaks what had been unspoken, the transgressions, the assaults, the catastrophes, personal, political, environmental. It’s a book of political force: She shows how the colonial relationship between the US and Puerto Rico lives in the bodies of Puerto Ricans and impacts how the island, and the people on it, recover from storm.
Newtonville Books celebrates 25th anniversary
Newtonville Books has been a force on the Boston literary scene for a quarter of a century this year. The bookstore opened in 1998, and has since made its home in three different spots. It’s weathered a faltering economy, a move to a church space complete with sliding bookshelf ladders, and the pandemic, and it’s thriving in its current home at 10 Langley Road in Newton under the leadership and ownership of Mary Cotton and Jaimie Clarke. Celebrators of local authors, hosts of countless readings and events as well as a podcast from Cotton, and a neighborly community spot to gather and browse, Newtonville continues to be a treasure. And as part of their 25th anniversary celebrations, they’re trying to reach 2,500 members. An individual membership is $65, a household membership is $100, and membership gets you 20 percent off every purchase. And not only that, they point out, it’s a way of keeping money in the local community, and investing in the ongoing health of the bookstore, so that it’ll be a place of warmth and welcome and bookish delights 25 years from now. For more information on membership, visit newtonvillebooks.com.
Antiquarian book fair turns 45 this weekend
The Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair celebrates its 45th anniversary this coming weekend at the Hynes Convention Center, bringing together over 100 dealers from the US and abroad selling and exhibiting maps, rare books, illuminated manuscripts, prints, drawings, rare first editions, and all sorts of antique literary ephemera. Besides the objects, art, and books, the weekend also involves a number of discussions. A sampling includes Erica Ciallela and Anne-Marie Eze’s discussion of “Belle da Costa Green: A Librarian’s Legacy”; Michael Buehler’s exploration of “From Riot to Revolution: Revolutionary-era Boston in Maps & Prints”; and “Female Provenance: Book Collecting by Women” with Devon Eastland, Meghan Constantinou, and Sarah Funke Butler. Highlights of the fair also include first editions of Sylvia Plath’s “A Winter Ship,” John Steinbeck’s “East of Eden,” Corman McCarthy’s “Blood Meridian,” as well as a Black Panther Party “Black Is Beautiful” engraving from 1965, and a 1563 edition of “On the Nature of Things” by Lucretius. The Antiquarian Book Fair runs Oct. 27-29 at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston. The opening night is $25; the rest of the weekend is free. For more information and a complete schedule visit bostonbookfair.com.
“Pay as You Go” by Eskor David Johnson (McSweeney’s)
“Nefando” by Mónica Ojeda, translated from the Spanish by Sarah Booker (Coffee House)
“With and Against: The Situationist International in the Age of Automation” by Dominque Routhier (Verso)
Pick of the week
Rachel Cass at Harvard Bookstore in Cambridge recommends “Very Cold People” by Sarah Manguso (Hogarth): “Ruth’s story in ‘Very Cold People’ is told the way we remember our childhoods: in isolated moments, in moods, in settings. It is a haunting look back at her life in a New England town awash in denial and secrets. This is a novel that lingers, dredging up memories, asking questions.”