[REVIEW] Communion, by Curtis Smith

Dock Street Press
153 pages, $14.00


Review by Cate Hennessey


In her marvelous book, I Could Tell You Stories: Sojourns in the Land of Memory, Patricia Hampl ponders some of Rilke’s advice from Letters to a Young Poet. She comes to rest on this:

[Rilke] was not a sentimentalist of childhood. He is directing the young poet, rather, to the old religions of commemoration in whose rituals the glory of consciousness presides. He believes, as I cannot help believing as well, in the communion of perception where experience does not fade to a deathly pale, but lives evergreen …

This ‘communion of perception’ characterizes Curtis Smith’s new collection of twenty-one essays, aptly titled Communion. And while the book’s cover bears three holy wafers, perception here is driven not by a devotion to God or church, but by an ordinary father’s love for his son. Continue reading

[REVIEW] H is for Hawk, by Helen Macdonald


Grove Atlantic

300 pages, $26.00, hardcover


Review by Cate Hennessey



All great books are works of obsession, but Helen Macdonald’s H is for Hawk grasps obsession with its elegant, terrifying claws and carries it to the wild intersection of loneliness, grief, falconry, and literature.

After her father’s sudden death, MacDonald attempts to assuage her grief by training a young goshawk she names Mabel. Despite her experience training falcons, Macdonald doubts her ability with the goshawk, a notoriously difficult raptor. But in doubt is often where we find ourselves most alive, and Macdonald is no exception. Continue reading