LSU Press, $17
Emerson's fourth book, “Figure Studies,” is her first since winning the Pulitzer Prize in 2006 for “Late Wife.” Divided into four sections — All Girls School, Gossips, Early Lessons and IV — this slender volume begins in hushed understatement and breathes its expansion, mounting in revelation in the final pages. Each poem is a meditation on the nature of femininity and observations of womanhood — whether through the veil of a schoolgirl crush or the aftermath of an affair. Often understated, Emerson's poems have a way of purring quietly and only later, upon reflection, pouncing with the power of the cat.
“If the Heart Is Lean”
LSU Press, $15
Luongo never loses her ability to surprise in the 16 quirky stories comprising “If the Heart Is Lean.” Playing fast and loose with reality in stories such as “Boyfriends” in which you are dead and your boyfriends are eulogizing you, or in “Mrs. Fargo” when your deceased first-grade teacher shows up at the Christmas party, Luongo refuses to be pinned down to one version of truth. The opening story, “Pretty,” starts with the lines: “I love being drunk. Is that bad?” and then shakes things up from there. With deceptively simple prose, Luongo lulls you into her world and then shakes you until you're wide-awake.
“Up at the Villa: Travels With My Husband”
Linda Dini Jenkins
Great Little Books, LLC, $18
Midlothian author Linda Dini Jenkins' new book is part scrapbook, part travel guide and part memoir told in short, chunky essays, poems and vignettes. With tasty tidbits such as how to cook exotic snail, handy French phrases such as, “I am going to kill my husband” (Je vais tuer mon mari) and the history of the all-American hamburger, Jenkins takes you with her and her adventurous husband on their gigantic leap across the pond. Ranging from poignant to silly to helpful, “Up at the Villa” provides a good model for documenting your own life's journey — no matter the other passengers or how bumpy the road.
“Manslations: Decoding the Secret Language of Men”
Sourcebooks, Inc. $15
“Manslations” concentrates on three subjects close to the hearts of men: sex, sex and sex. If you're a damsel in distress who's repeated the same dating mistakes three or four hundred times in a row, this book will clear up some of your confusion. Men are dogs, Mac writes, and his writing seems to prove the same point a hundred different ways. Perhaps the best advice — even a true nugget of wisdom to be taken to heart and needlepointed into your hanky — is the Manslator's Golden Rule: “Whenever there is a conflict between what a man says and what he does, always, always, ignore what he says.”