Sarah Bagby

Book reviewer

Sarah Bagby is the owner of Watermark Books & Café, and publisher of Watermark Press. As such, she has been reading and recommending books to readers for over 30 years. Involved in numerous regional and national industry organizations, she advocates for issues facing local independent businesses.

She loves her store and café, and all the opportunities it affords the staff and customers to come together to create a vibrant literary culture in Wichita and Kansas.

She is married to Eric Cale and they have one daughter.

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Commentary
5:30 am
Mon April 20, 2015

'Light Of The World' Is A Portrait Of Love, Life And Loss

The Light of the World: A Memoir is an elegant book by Elizabeth Alexander, a poet, mother and widow. Her husband of 16 years was found dead next to their treadmill, just after his 50th birthday. The multiple blocked arteries that caused a massive heart attack had gone undetected by medical tests.

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Commentary
5:30 am
Mon April 6, 2015

'Comma Queen' Is A Joy To Read

Mary Norris describes the birth of her love affair with the New Yorker in her new book Between You and Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen.

In the summer of 1977, she was reading one of writer John McPhee’s impeccable and exact pieces about the Alaskan wilderness, and came across a new word, "synecdoche." She could deduce what it meant from the context—a small thing writ large—as in the wilds of Alaska. What made her ecstatic was the knowledge that when McPhee used such a word, she knew it was the right word at exactly the right time.

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Commentary
5:30 am
Mon March 23, 2015

'Just Mercy' Will Change How You See The World

Bryan Stevenson gives a talk in 2012
Credit James Duncan Davidson / Wikimedia Commons / Creative Commons

Bryan Stevenson is the executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Ala., a private, nonprofit human rights organization, helping the poor, the incarcerated, the condemned and children. He is also professor of law at New York University School of Law and received the MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant, and also won national acclaim for his work challenging bias against the poor and people of color.

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Commentary
5:30 am
Mon March 9, 2015

'Dead Wake' May Be Larson's Best Yet

If you’re travelling to Berlin, you’d do well to read Erik Larson’s In the Garden of Beasts. Going to Chicago? Read his The Devil in the White City. However, if you’re going on a cruise, beware Larson’s latest-- and, I think, best-- book, Dead Wake. Larson combines impeccable research, fully drawn characters and social history to tell of a fateful journey when the rules of war became more dangerous for all people.

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Commentary
5:30 am
Mon February 23, 2015

'The Whites' Is Electrifying

Richard Price writes immaculate crime novels. He set his lengthy novel Clockers in one square mile of the Lower East Side of Manhattan, where a cop can see an entire world making only right-hand turns. As a writer for HBO’s series “The Wire,” Price immersed himself in the vernacular of cops and drug dealers particular to Baltimore.

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Commentary
5:30 am
Mon February 9, 2015

Story Collection Brings Secrets To The Surface

In an interview, short story writer Charles Baxter explained that, “the short story begins when things start to go wrong.” Elsewhere, he maintained that, “no story can keep a secret. A writer needs to find the secret and bring it to the surface.”

If measured by his own comments, Baxter’s new collection, There’s Something I Want You to Do, is triumphant. Set mostly in Minneapolis along the Mississippi River, the 10 stories are divided into two sections-- one devoted to virtues and the other to vices.

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Commentary
4:59 am
Mon January 26, 2015

A Relentless 'Descent'

Tim Johnston’s suspenseful novel, Descent, kept me up late. Then, I reached for it first thing the next morning.

Caitlin Courtland, 18, disappears in the mountains of Colorado. Until the mystery of the disappearance is solved, Caitlin’s family suffers deeply from the tragedy and Johnston examines the fragility of life and faith.

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Commentary
5:30 am
Mon January 12, 2015

'Secret Wisdom' Is Thoroughly Satisfying

Christopher Scotton’s debut novel The Secret Wisdom of the Earth is riveting.

Set in Medgar, Kentucky, in 1985, it is the multigenerational story of a disparate population of mine owners and their laborers in a community on the verge of major change. Scotton explores the epic theme of man’s dominion over nature and beautifully renders his reverence for the natural landscape.

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Commentary
10:20 am
Mon December 29, 2014

A Challenging Collection of Cocktails

Leave it to the creatives at the Berkeley-based Ten Speed Press to team up with the uber-fanatic leaders of the craft cocktail underground to create the elegant new book Death & Co: Modern Classic Cocktails. The book is designed for enthusiasts and professionals alike, as the owners of New York-based lounge Death & Company share their passion and extreme knowledge of all things cocktail.

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Commentary
5:00 am
Mon December 15, 2014

The Art and Life of a Playwright

Credit Creative Commons. Courtesy of the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

KMUW book reviewer, Sarah Bagby, looks at the latest works by playwright and essayist Sarah Ruhl.

Sarah Ruhl is an award-winning playwright, an essayist, a drama teacher, and mother. Her play Dear Elizabeth and a her collection of essays called 100 Essays I Don’t Have Time to Write on Umbrellas and Sword Fights, Parades and Dogs, Fire Alarms, Children and Theatre have been recently released. Read together, they illuminate the art and life of a playwright.

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