Book Report: Murder, poignant perceptions of large family offered this week
TV personality Al Roker has made himself an American presence over the years.
From my point of view he's lost too much weight because as a fat guy, I always liked him as a fat guy. Now he looks like a refugee from Buchenwald.
But that's beside the point. The point is, he has become a prominent author. But is he writing about the weather or 105-year-old-women from Crown Point, Ind.?
No. He and his collaborator, the prominent mystery writer Dick Lochhte, have created a character named Blessing, who bears a close resemblance to Roker. He's a New York City TV personality who solved a crime a few years ago in the Roker/Lochte first outing, "The Morning Show Murders."
In the new novel, Blessing is called to the West Coast to work a job as a second banana on a talk show. Well, it doesn't work out too well because the top banana is blown to hell in the first episode and Blessing suspects foul play.
It's lots of fun and Roker provides insight into the goings-on of big time TV shows. It's called "The Midnight Show Murders," by Al Roker and Dick Lochte (Delacorte Press, $26).
Not many poets publish their first major collections at age 94, but Lucille Broderson, who was born in Willmar, Minn., in 1916, has done just that.
She has lived in Wisconsin and Minnesota and has been writing and publishing for years, has received numerous awards and issued two chapbooks, but now she's out with a big book, "But You're Wearing a Blue Skirt the Color of Sky," published by Minneapolis' by Nodin Press ($17).
She's had wonderful teachers like Michael Dennis Browne, Jim Moore and Patricia Hampl and it shows in her wide ranging poetry
I normally don't reprint the first poem in a book, but Broderson's "Eight of Us" tells it all:
"Brought Mother jars of crocuses
stole the neighbor's watermelons
forgot to hoe the corn.
Whirled our waists on the school's iron fence,
exposing our panties and petticoats.
Smashed our dolls, then howled
with the broken pieces in our hands.
Fought over the wishbone, wouldn't eat the neck
"Father shook the brothers,
rapped his knuckles on their heads.
Mother muttered and rubbed
our sunburned backs with Vaseline.
"We thought we'd last forever,
but we grew long and brittle
and split like fluff on dandelions.
"Johnny left first, there was nothing here to hold him.
Then Mary dropped laughing in a parking lot.
How like her, that big booming woman.
But dishes were piled high in her kitchen sink,
the dogs unfed for days.
Then it was Liz, always first up in the morning,
finally too slow on a busy street.
"The others wrinkled and shrank, sagged
in their chairs, afghans on their knees,
eyes huge behind thick lenses.
In pairs they left, two in one year,
two in the next.
"Now I'm the last,
of all those faces around the table,
all those bodies warm in bed."
But that's not the end of it. More follows with wonderful poems about her late husband Phil, her kids, her tough-minded attitude toward life, death and carrying on.
Wonderful. Just wonderful.
And she's only 94 years old.
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