Greg Feiler Feiler de Černuliškės, Lithuania
Not only do I love this terse, evocative, original book, I ordered it as a text for my creative writing students this semester. They loved that they could look at the book as a unified collection (not a "Whitman Sampler" of poetry), and reveled in the surreal martini recipes that accompany each father-son vignette. Check this book out-- you'll be delighted to find that each poem stands on its own, but the group has a powerful impact. Carr specializes in the energetically unified/themed poetry collection; check out all his titles.
Masur depicts 1831 as a year enveloped in uncertainty, radicalism, and a foreboding sense of change. The book illustrates the depth and variety of issues that were highly contended in the era of Jackson, such as slavery and nullification. Because the Civil War would not come for another thirty or so years, it is interesting, and even a bit shocking, that so many Americans were certain that an armed conflict between the North and South was unavoidable. The entire book is well researched. Multiple viewpoints and pieces of evidence are used to detail each struggle, and Masur has a real penchant for memorable quotations. By focusing on the events of single year, Masur has room to highlight lesser-known events of this timeframe, such as those involving labor activists and certain religious groups. Masur's book about a single year in America expands upon topics just long enough to make them understandable, and just briefly enough to pique the reader's interest to further investigate some of the cited artists, activists, and statesmen of 1831.