Book Report: Hallett book deals with love, loss

“Salt Heart,” by Kate Hallett Dayton (Nodin Press, $16, paper) deals with love and loss and is set on familiar ground that seems more than that.

In some ways it reminds me of the Coleridge/Wordsworth collaboration in their book “Lyrical Ballads,” in which Wordsworth sought to make the commonplace seem strange and Coleridge to make the strange seem commonplace.

Dayton takes us to familiar places like the Apostle Islands and Tofte Bay and faraway places like Hadrian’s Wall.
And she invests them with her own life as well as the lives and deaths of those close to her.

Here she is saying goodbye to her friend Lily and their times on board the Lake Superior boat Freya:

the length I stretch
my arms to bring her
back to sail Superior,
but cannot.

back-winded,
running, I toss

her ashes into frigid water
after not opening my heart.

close-hauled instead,
I wind sheets around
her invisible body,
enshroud her dissolving ashes.

Freya,
who kept us together—
Superior and sailing,
centerboard down,
sails trimmed —
gone.

And before her friend’s death

After delaying first rounds
with travel to Tasmania–
she loved the wild
green—the cancer didn’t
slow.  The dose soaked her
body, a toxic cocktail, uprooting
her black hair, so she bought
cloches, turbans, exotic caps.
In her bedroom,
brochures of Mexican Miracles
covered her comforter.

“If this doesn’t work—Tijuana,” she said.
She planned to spend her last years
on beaches, but reeled them
out in a Fairview hospital room.

Newspapers and magazines are full of stories about college student debt and exacerbated by taking too long to finish a four year degree.

Now along comes a practical book that seeks to explain how to shorten the time between matriculation and graduation and get into the job market and pay off those college debts.

“Graduate and Start a Career on Time: Tips for College Students and Parents,” by Neal Prochnow and edited by Suzanne Hagen (Infinity Publishing, available at Amazon.Com and Barnes & Noble e-book, at $9.95 price) looks to be just the ticket to face the future..

It’s written and edited by two longtime University of Wisconsin-River Falls teachers and administrators who know whereof they speak.

In an earlier version, it was titled “Get out of College,” which some prospective readers mistook for advice to skip college altogether.

That’s not an option the, so the book went back to the drawing board, got a new title and was sweetened by lengthy “test questions at the end of each chapter, which deals with creating an efficient schedule, staying on that schedule as well as the ins and outs of course syllabi.

Editor’s note: Dave Wood is a past vice-president of the National Book Critic Circle and former book review editor of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.  Phone him at 715-426-9554.

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