By: Em Perper

Perfect 70-degree days, followed by torrential rainstorms: April has been living up to its moniker as the cruelest month. Nevertheless, I recommend bringing a book and an old blanket to the banks of the nearest body of water as soon as the sun appears and embracing spring in all its fickle glory. On to Sneak Peek!

April is National Poetry Month, so I’d be remiss if I didn’t feature a poet in Sneak Peek Sunday. I studied Wendell Berry extensively in college, and his novels and poetry are special to me. Berry is an agrarian intellectual living in Kentucky, and his poetry reflects his surroundings. A Small Porch: Sabbath Poems 2014 and 2015 collects the poems Berry wrote while spending his Sundays in nature, rather than a traditional four-walled church—a tradition he’s maintained for over 35 years. I’ll leave you with an excerpt:

“Love is the crisis of our work.

When the watcher speaks of love

he is speaking not of history, not
of past or future, but of the love
in which all time has moved, in which
all things were and are and are to be,
the love that is before the beginning,
that is beyond the end, that is
entirely present as the flower of a day.”

I was lucky enough to receive a galley copy of Sarah Gerard’s new essay collection, Sunshine State. Topics range from Christian Science to toxic friendships to the Amway empire to the mysterious proprietor of a seabird sanctuary. The spiritual and physical environment of Florida’s Gulf Coast bonds these essays. As I wrote to Gerard’s publisher, she cultivates an easy intimacy with the reader, even though her subjects are as dense as the Everglades. A recent review compared Gerard’s work to consummate essayists John Jeremiah Sullivan (Pulphead) and Leslie Jamison (The Empathy Exams). It seems this rising literary star has found her constellation.

If you couldn’t put your copy of The Secret History by Donna Tartt down, If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio is your literary destiny. At his elite liberal arts school, Oliver Marks was part of a gang of seven Shakespearean actors who blurred the lines between onstage and offstage, drama and reality. Detective Colborne is on the brink of retirement, but before he can relax, he needs to know the truth: Did Oliver rightly serve a ten-year sentence for murder or was he unjustly accused? You can read the first two “scenes” here.

Double Bind: Women on Ambition collects essays by “bad feminist” Roxane Gay, showrunner Theresa Rebeck, storyteller Nadia Manzoor, playwright Sarah Ruhl, and many more. While feminist ideas have permeated the mainstream, women are still accused regularly of being bossy, controlling, or arrogant when they demand equality in the workplaces or in their homes. Editor Robin Romm has assembled a team of women thinkers ready to interrogate the boundaries of and their right to ambition. Can’t wait? You can read novelist Ayana Mathis’ contribution to the anthology here.

Other new releases:

  • The Delight of Being Ordinary: A Road Trip With the Pope and Dalai Lama by Roland Merullo (fiction)
  • An American Sickness: How Healthcare Became Big Business and How You Can Take It Back by Elizabeth Rosenthal (medical/health policy)
  • Naked Money: A Revealing Look and What It Is and Why It Matters by Charles Wheelan (business/economics)
  • It’s Up to the Women by Eleanor Roosevelt (women’s studies/history)
  • The New Urban Crisis: How Our Cities are Increasing Inequality, Deepening Segregation, and Failing the Middle Class—and What We Can Do About It by Richard Florida (social science)
  • Music of the Ghosts by Vaddey Ratner (fiction)
  • Notes on a Banana: A Memoir of Food, Love and Manic Depression by David Leite (memoir/culinary/LGBTQ)