Dinah Miller, Annette Hanson, and Steven Roy Daviss
Shrink Rap (The Johns Hopkins University Press)
Written by three local psychiatrists, this book makes an excellent resource for anyone curious about how psychiatry works. Because mental health treatment isn't as cut-and-dried as treatment for physical maladies, it can conjure confusion or, sometimes, outright suspicion among those who are unfamiliar with its methods. Most of us easily understand how to treat a broken arm, but a fractured psyche? That's an entirely different matter. Or is it? This clear-headed presentation of psychiatric services and methods covers a lot of ground and achieves a conversational tone that's both educational and entertaining. By using fictional scenarios, the authors address the generalities and specifics of their work without compromising or omitting its very personal nature. Knowing these scenarios are fictional might lead to skepticism about resolutions that seem too tidy or self-serving. ("Twelve days after Josh had charged at his roommate with a knife, he was much better and went home from the hospital.") But that's a minor quibble for such an informative and worthwhile book.
Since You Have No Body (Plan B)
Fallon, a senior lecturer in English at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, writes perceptively about loss and grief. These interrelated, elegiac poems dance around the mysteries of death, as they celebrate friendship and ponder the notion that life's grand waltz eventually slows to a roaring silence that can make even the most avowed atheists and religious devotees flinch. At his best, Fallon inhabits that stillness, conveys its profundity, and does some roaring of his own. File this chapbook next to Lucille Clifton's classic Blessing the Boats and check in with it periodically.
Michael Fallon reads at Minás Gallery and Boutique in Hampden on October 22.