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Dave Wood's Book Report, March 4, 2009

Award-winning Minnesota poet Larry Schug just sent me his new book, a gem called "Arrogant Bones,"(North Star Press, $12.95).

Schug works at the College of St. Benedict, by St. John's University, where Sen. and poet Eugene McCarthy went to schools.

Schug's down-to-earth, sardonic rural poems remind me of the senator's. There must be something in the water in Stearns County.

Here's the title poem:

'A broke-down old farm house

sinks into South Dakota prairie;

the ground here not fussy,

will eventually eat everything

placed on its plate

that the wind doesn't take first,

including families foolish enough to think

they could make a living with a bunch of kids

and that old steel-wheeled McCormick

rusting away out back;

but the soil's going to eat that, too

along with the stones tilting over arrogant bones

that thought their houses of flesh

would never succumb to fatal prairie gravity.'

Here's another, entitled "The Way Horses Are"

'He was silent for a moment,

then came back on the line,

a catch in his voice.

He said his horse, standing at the corral fence,

had been looking toward the house

since early this morning.

He's looking for me, he said,

doesn't understand

I don't have the strength any more

to go out and feed him, brush him,

scratch his ears.

He choked up again, said

that horse would wait for him

'til the end of its days,

unaware he'd reached the end of his.

That's just the way horses are.

My friend can't see me,

but I'm standing beside that horse

and I'll be looking for him

until the end of my days, too,

wishing we could talk once more.

That's just the way friends are.'

OK. Let's move from the sublime to the ridiculous with a sequel to Jordan Belfort's bestseller "The Wolf of Wall Street."

It's Belfort's personal story of Wall Street corruption during the go-go 1990s, about the millions he made, fortunes he squandered and how everything came crashing down.

"Catching the Wolf of Wall Street," (Bantam, $25) won't be anything new to Wall Street insiders, because the venality -- ah, let's call it depravity -- has always been there.

But for the neophyte it's a fascinating run through of what goes on in our country's fabled financial district.

The usually staid Times of London called this book's predecessor "A cross between Tom Wolfe's "The Bonfire of the Vanities" and Scorsese's "GoodFellas."

Dave Wood is a past vice president of The National Book Critics circle and former book review editor of The Minneapolis Star Tribune. He can be reached at 715.426.9554.