Bond tries poetry, Wang debuts a novel, and Kallick sings bluegrass.
The Drum That Beats Within Us by Mike Bond (Big City Press, 2018, $5.99, 108 pp.)
Poetry is an emotional art form. It conveys the truths of our innerverse and elucidates the mysteries of the universe. Mike Bond, award-winning poet, critically acclaimed thriller novelist, ecologist, and war and human rights journalist, uses rhythm and rhyme to perfection in The Drum That Beats Within Us, his first book of poetry. His poetry portrays human nature, love, anger, political turmoil, and the vanishing beauty of the natural world. Bond claims in his foreword, “Nothing important in life is learned rationally. What counts is what we learn emotionally.” First published by San Francisco’s City Lights Books, Bond’s book leverages the power of emotions and poetry to illuminate the human experience that we all share. —Francesco Guerrieri
Family Trust by Kathy Wang (William Morrow, 2018, $26.99, 400 pp.)
The Huang family is relatable. Stanley Huang, whose wealth in older age has enabled his marriage to a second, younger wife, heads this Silicon Valley Chinese-American household. His ex-wife, Linda Liang, wants little to do with him since her divorce and lets online dating take center stage. His son, Fred, deals with the insecurities of a lavish life his MBA from Harvard University has not bestowed upon him, while his daughter, Kate, brings home the bread while she waits for her husband’s startup to start up. Family Trust, which opens with Stanley’s grim medical diagnosis, tells a story of cultural expectations, career ambitions, and personal disappointments, and draws a loving, if painful, portrait of family in the 21st century. Wang, a former technology product manager, lives in Los Altos with her family. —FG
Horrible World by Kathy Kallick Band (Live Oak Records, KathyKallick.com)
Forty-three years ago, as a founding member of Good Ol’ Persons, Kathy Kallick pioneered a place for women in bluegrass. Some 20 albums and several major awards later, the East Bay singer-songwriter/guitarist approaches her music with the same irrepressible enthusiasm. Horrible World’s 13 songs survey the range of American vernacular music mastered by Kallick, fiddler Annie Staninec, acoustic bassist Cary Black, dobro and banjo player Greg Booth, and mandolinist Tom Bekeny. You’ll marvel at the individual virtuosity and the group cohesiveness, and you’ll hear new takes on the Carter Family and Bill Monroe, a Mike Eisler banjo piece reworked into a fiddle tune that showcases Staninec, an example of how the folk process produces one song (“Solid Gone”) related to may others, a Western swing pedal steel classic played by Booth on dobro, and several beautifully sung Kallick originals that express both timely pessimism (“Horrible World” and “Nothin’ So Bad It Can’t Get Worse”) and tireless hope (“This Beautiful World”). —Derk Richardson