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NewPages Book Reviews

Posted October 1, 2008

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  • Book Type Stories
  • by David Gianatasio
  • Date Published October 2008
  • ISBN-13 978-0977934314
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 95pp
  • Price $10.00
  • Review by Laura Di Giovine
David Gianatasio’s Mind Games messes with your head, but in the best way possible. A follow-up to 2006’s Swift Kicks, this brief collection of stories grabs you by the jugular. A mutiny of fervent voices bursts from the page, and each story is clever, bold, and off-the-charts surreal.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Mark Halliday
  • Date Published September 2008
  • ISBN-13 978-1932195729
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 83pp
  • Price $16.95
  • Review by Roy Wang
From the beginning epigraphs to the last grasping on the final page, the sanity-bending, necessarily inadequate search for permanence is clearly foremost in Mark Halliday’s mind. With its nuanced, multi-faceted meditations on those things that matter most, Keep This Forever moves naturally through three sections from the question of mortality, brought on by turning over the death of his father in his mind; to the primary solace for most people, love and passion; until we are finally left with what the blessed few cling to in the end: their art.
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  • Book Type Novel
  • by Eugene Marten
  • Date Published September 2008
  • ISBN-13 978-0963753618
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 132pp
  • Price $10.00
  • Review by Matt Bell
Eugene Marten's second novel Waste will entrance you from the very first page, drawing you in with its tight, evocative language and magnificent pacing. For the first third of the book, you'd be excused if you thought that all you were getting was a wonderfully written but generally quiet book about a creepy janitor working late nights in a high-rise office building. You'd be wrong, but your mistake would be understandable, and quickly rectified: What follows is one of the most disturbing stories I've read.
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  • Book Type Novel
  • by Emil Hakl
  • Translated From Czech
  • by Marek Tomin
  • Date Published September 2008
  • ISBN-13 978-8086264301
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 154pp
  • Price $14.50
  • Review by Cynthia Reeser
Translated from Czechoslovakian by the noted curator, producer and journalist Marek Tomin, Emil Hakl’s Of Kids and Parents received a Magnesia Litera Book of the Year award in 2003 and has been made into a feature film. With the English version debuting this year from the Prague-based publisher Twisted Spoon Press, this engrossing book is worth checking out.
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  • Book Type Short Stories
  • by Norman Waksler
  • Date Published August 2008
  • ISBN-13 978-0981589923
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 132pp
  • Price $16.00
  • Review by Laura Di Giovine
Norman Waksler’s second short story collection Signs of Life reveals just that. Throughout these colorful vignettes, the reader detects signs of life, a glimpse of those small elements that illustrate humanity’s solidarity. The six stories tumble through our consciousness, some unearthing a longing for the past or the sweet innocence of first love, others revealing the inevitable regret that stems from apathy and the dull disappointment of the typical workday.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Donna Stonecipher
  • Date Published September 2008
  • ISBN-13 978-1566892216
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 88pp
  • Price $16.00
  • Review by Rachel Harkai
Thimbles, nosegays, daguerreotypes, Baudelaire – only the most precious and precocious of objects are presumed to hold value in the culturally saturated world of Donna Stonecipher’s The Cosmopolitan. Borne of an interest in the found-object shadow boxes of artist Joseph Cornell, and built around isolated quotations of renowned poets, writers, and scholars, this 2007 National Poetry Series Winner ponders the reduction of existence to a collection of novelties showcased behind glass.
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  • Book Type Novel
  • by Dominique Fabre
  • Translated From French
  • by Jordan Stump
  • Date Published February 2008
  • ISBN-13 978-0977857692
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 160pp
  • Price $15.00
  • Review by Laura Di Giovine
In Dominique Fabre’s The Waitress Was New, the narrator Pierre, affectionately known as Pierrounet, is a veteran bartender in the Parisian suburb of Asnières. He is fifty-six and has worked at Le Cercle bistro for 30 years. He spends his days watching people rush to and from the train station, serving his customers, empathizing with them and even, at times, emulating them – a young man in black broods over a beer and Primo Levi and Pierre attempts to read If This Is a Man at home just “to keep up on things.”
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  • Book Type Novel
  • by Ginnetta Correli
  • Date Published September 2008
  • ISBN-13 0615213847
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 238pp
  • Price $15.95
  • Review by Cynthia Reeser
In Ginnetta Correli’s debut novel, The Lost Episodes of Beatie Scareli, the reader, cast as an audience member, is no less a part of the script than the other offbeat characters. The only stipulation is that our participation is limited solely to watching the scenes play out from Beatie Scareli’s unfortunate life. Written as a pseudo-screenplay, the “cast” includes Beatie’s father, a neglectful man with a strong potential for danger; Beatie’s mother Frata, a schizophrenic who believes she is Lucy Ricardo; Beatie at age 12; Beatie as an adult commenting on scenes from her troubled youth; and the reader, identified simply as “You.”
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  • Book Type Novella
  • by Hesh Kestin
  • Date Published September, 2008
  • ISBN-13 978-0979312359
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 182pp
  • Price $13.95
  • Review by Laura Di Giovine
In Hesh Kestin’s Based on a True Story, three novellas set during the World War II era take readers on a journey from East Africa to the South Seas to Hollywood. A former foreign correspondent, Kestin peppers his tales with exotic plots and resilient characters.
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by David McGlynn
  • Date Published October 2008
  • ISBN-13 978-0879745508
  • Format Cloth
  • Pages 256pp
  • Price $22.50
  • Review by Ryan Call
Readers of David McGlynn’s debut collection The End of the Straight and Narrow should put aside any assumptions they may have about religious fiction and its sometimes evangelical qualities. The stories in this book break away from the generic conventions of Christian literature both in form and content. This is due to the often complicated, expansive nature of each story’s unraveling and the many struggles the characters face regarding faith and morality in a secular culture. Reading this book, one gets the sense that these are stories about pathetic people rather than some allegorical world vision. Unfortunately for McGlynn’s characters, there is no clear difference between right and wrong, good and evil, and this confusion often leads them through some of the darkest moments of their lives.
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  • Book Type Novel
  • by Lucia Nevai
  • Date Published June 2008
  • ISBN-13 978-0979419836
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 240pp
  • Price $14.95
  • Review by Laura Di Giovine
Crane Cavanaugh is one of the most endearing, strange and exceptional protagonists I have encountered in recent memory. Take the strong opening of the prologue:
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