An Atlas of the Difficult World: Poems 1988-1991

Winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize.┬áIn this, her thirteenth book of verse, the author of “The Dream of a Common Language” and “Snapshots of a Daughter-in-Law” writes of war, oppression, the future, death, mystery, love and the magic of poetry.

Anne Sexton: A Biography

Anne Sexton began writing poetry at the age of twenty-nine to keep from killing herself. She held on to language for dear life and somehow — in spite of alcoholism and the mental illness that ultimately led her to suicide — managed to create a body of work that won a Pulitzer Prize and that still sings to thousands of readers. This exemplary biography, which was nominated for the National Book Award, provoked controversy for its revelations of infidelity and incest and its use of tapes from Sexton’s psychiatric sessions. It reconciles the many Anne Sextons: the 1950s housewife; the abused child who became an abusive mother; the seductress; the suicide who carried “kill-me pills” in her handbag the way other women carry lipstick; and the poet who transmuted confession into lasting art.

The Jameses: A Family Narrative

Even if the James family hadn’t given us both William the philosopher and psychologist, and Henry the novelist, the story of this quirky, wealthy, socially prominent clan would still be riveting. Full of incidents that would become legendary, The Jameses brings to life 150 years of unforgettable American history.

Praying for Sheetrock

Finalist for the 1991 National Book Award and a New York Times Notable book, Praying for Sheetrock is the story of McIntosh County, a small, isolated, and lovely place on the flowery coast of Georgia–and a county where, in the 1970s, the white sheriff still wielded all the power, controlling everything and everybody. Somehow the sweeping changes of the civil rights movement managed to bypass McIntosh entirely. It took one uneducated, unemployed black man, Thurnell Alston, to challenge the sheriff and his courthouse gang–and to change the way of life in this community forever. “An inspiring and absorbing account of the struggle for human dignity and racial equality” (Coretta Scott King)

Why Americans Hate Politics

At the heart of Why Americans Hate Politics is the view that ideas shape politics far more than most accounts of public life usually allow. I believe ideas matter not only to elites and intellectuals, but also to rank and file voters. Indeed, I often think that the rank and file see the importance of ideas more clearly than the elites, who often find themselves surprised by the rise of the movements that arise from the bottom up and shape our politics.