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NewPages Book Reviews

Posted February 1, 2008

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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Chris Green
  • Date Published 2007
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 78pp
  • Price $14.95
  • Review by Roy Wang
The wonderings and wanderings of the maturing poet, recollected in elegy, self-deprecating humor, and moments of personal clarity seem to be a perennial favorite among Midwestern voices, and Chris Green’s first book clearly defines him as a champion of this mode. From his choice of puns and candid scenes to the obvious displays of technical skill and learning, Green exemplifies the ironies and neuroses that plague the writer who sees himself as Dante-prophet in the isolation of Midwest winters and towns. And his limits are as high as the skies over a Walgreens.
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  • Book Type Stories
  • by Margot Singer
  • Date Published 2007
  • ISBN-13 0820330000
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 213pp
  • Price $24.95
  • Review by James Menter
The nine linked stories in this collection follow Susan Stern, a New York City photo journalist who often finds herself operating between two lives. The life she leads in the U.S. has its problems, relationships mostly, but she does all right. Her personal and familial ties to Israel and the Middle East, however, provide a much richer source for conflict. Bombs in Haifa, buzzing helicopters, border patrol violence, a massacre in Palestine–these events are merely background noise compared to the nuanced consideration of the personal lives and family history deeply imbedded within this chaos.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Maram al-Massri
  • Translated From Arabic
  • by Khaled Mattawa
  • Date Published 2007
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 145pp
  • Price $15.00
  • Review by Sarah Sala
Whenever a man
leaves me
my beauty increases.
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  • Book Type Novel
  • by Steven Gillis
  • Date Published 2008
  • ISBN-13 0976899361
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 203pp
  • Price $20.95
  • Review by Matt Bell
Like many readers my age, I grew up reading not literary fiction but the twin pillars of fantasy and science fiction.  As an adult, I've mostly left those pleasures behind, except for those genre-bending writers in the mainstream literary world, writers like George Saunders, Aimee Bender, Michael Chabon, or Jonathan Lethem. For the most part, I don't regret the transition in my reading habits, but I do miss the invented worlds and cultures that came with the best genre writing. Thankfully, Steven Gillis has created just such a place in Bamerita, the floating island country of his newest novel, Temporary People.  Much like Tolkien raiding Norse and Christian mythologies to create his own world, Gillis paints his culture with shades of Central American dictators and revolutions, then puts American pop songs on his character’s lips while giving them the oppression, ingenuity, and knowledge needed to forge true revolutionaries from Bamerita’s most common citizens.
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  • Book Type Stories
  • by Jonathan Messinger
  • Date Published 2007
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 183pp
  • Price $13.95
  • Review by Sarah Sala
Jonathan Messinger’s debut collection of short stories, Hiding Out, hits the mark in every possible way. From the winding layout of the book, to the basic line drawings accompanying each story, to the wildly engaging story plots, Messinger’s book storms out of nowhere, his characters real enough to leave fingerprints on a windowpane.
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  • Book Type Stories
  • by Dave Housley
  • Date Published 2008
  • ISBN-13 0977669343
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 202pp
  • Price $16.95
  • Review by Matt Bell 
If you're the kind of person who reads book reviews, you're also probably the kind of person who occasionally says things like, "I don't really watch that much TV," or who likes to pretend they've never sang along to a boy band in the shower. If this in any way describes you, then prepare to squirm a little while you read Dave Housley’s Ryan Seacrest is Famous. This debut collection is littered with pop culture references, and I can almost guarantee that you'll catch way more of them than you'd like. These stories, which originally appeared in magazines such as Nerve, Backward City Review, and Hobart, take on a variety of pop culture types, including reality television, professional wrestling, and wedding DJs. Fortunately for us, Housley goes past the most obvious hipster-ironic observations and into the more earnest territories reserved for true pop culture fanatics.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Rick Campbell
  • Date Published 2008
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 85pp
  • Price $14.95
  • Review by Michael Hettich
Rick Campbell is a friend of mine, someone whose capacious heart and mind have served me as a touchstone of the genuine for over a decade. As director of Anhinga Press, as well as founder and director of the Florida Literary Arts Coalition (FLAC), Rick has performed immense and selfless service for poetry both in Florida and nationwide. For years he has advocated for good poetry, worked to make poetry a larger presence in our culture, and supported the work of his fellow poets. His work promoting other people’s writing has been so significant, in fact, that his own fine poetry, while not exactly overlooked, has garnered less attention than it deserves. His new book, Dixmont, outshines his previous collections by a long shot; it is a powerful, honest, finely-crafted book of emotionally-honed poems whose cumulative effect is simultaneously harrowing and life-affirming. Quite simply, Dixmont is the real thing, a genuine contribution to our poetry.
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  • Book Type Stories
  • by Roy Kesey
  • Date Published 2007
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9793123-0-4
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 152pp
  • Price $13.95
  • Review by Josh Maday

Roy Kesey’s debut story collection, All Over, was also the groundbreaking ceremony for Dzanc Books, a new publishing house based in Michigan. Dzanc “was created in 2006 to advance great writing and champion those writers who don't fit neatly into the marketing niches of for-profit presses.” Dzanc did well to procure talent like Kesey to launch their press.

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