Bibliohio: Recommended reading from the heart-shaped state

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

“Tomorrowland,” Joseph Bates (Curbside Splendor, 2013)

Why you’ll love it:

Oh, the downtrodden, lovable/terrifying weirdos that fill “Tomorrowland.” Joseph Bates’ short stories possess a stretchy reality. There’s a prone-to-heatstroke Elvis impersonator limping down a boardwalk, a city populated with people you’ve screwed over (my favorite story in the book) and Gas Head (a dude with a flame-engulfed head). Fun, clever and beautifully designed by the publisher.

See for yourself:

“You build a city in your backyard and invite everyone you’ve ever wronged to live there rent-free. The place fills up quickly ... you turn no one away. There’s plenty of room, you say.”

--from “Guilt City”

“We Over Here Now,” Scott Woods (Brick Cave Media, 2012)

Why you’ll love it:

Hearing Scott Woods read his poems, I have often thought, “Now THAT is how you read a poem aloud.” Delightfully, his poems carry equal power on the page, mostly due to his authoritative but welcoming voice. Full of humor, empathy and specificity, these poems warmly invite you into a juke joint and the songs of Prince, into schools, a horror movie marathon, church camp, emergency room and barber shop.

See for yourself:

“She has the kind of black eye/ cartoons used to put steaks on to heal./ I pretend the erosion in my gut is a yearning,/ that my express purpose for being here was to worship at her feet./ Did you hear that, Saint Veronica? Someone loves you still.”

--from “Saint Veronica of the Emergency Room”


My five favorite books of 2013

“The Faraway Nearby,” Rebecca Solnit (Viking Books)

“O Holy Insurgency,” Mary Biddinger (Black Lawrence Press)

“Tina,” Peter Davis (Bloof Books)

“The Big Smoke,” Adrian Matejka (Penguin Books)

“Little Stranger,” Lisa Olstein (Copper Canyon Press)