You Hear Me? Poems and Writings by Teenage Boys, Betsy Franco, '69, editor, Candlewick Press, 2000; $14.99 (adolescence/literary collections). With no agenda other than to give boys aged 12 to 19 the chance to freely express themselves, the author drew submissions from all across the country, ranging from inner-city Detroit to her hometown of Palo Alto. The resulting anthology of more than 50 contributors offers an uncensored view of late-20th-century America through the eyes of adolescents--some angry or fearful, others full of hope. The writings include a first-person account of living with Tourette's syndrome, the fretful thoughts of a 17-year-old about to meet his birth mother for the first time, and the upbeat narrative of a recovering drug addict who, the editor notes, died of an overdose a year after writing it.
The Lake, Daniel Villasenor, Stegner fellow 1994-96, Viking, 2000; $24.95 (fiction). Protagonist Zach Brannagan is a disturbed philosophy prodigy at the University of Virginia. Late one night, he lies down in the middle of a highway, as Nietzsche did, intending to die. Instead, a sympathetic psychiatrist rescues him. Following a period of treatment, Zach sets out for Arizona to untangle his family roots. He is attacked and robbed along the way but finds refuge and redemption in Anna Beauchamp, a magnetic renegade who shelters disabled orphans. Villasenor, a blacksmith, horse trainer and poet, wrote this first novel on a dare from a Stegner colleague. With sentences that can run for pages and a style that lends poetic shimmer to the everyday, he traces Zach's disenchantment with intellectual abstraction and his return to the real world.