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NewPages Book Reviews

Posted March 2, 2009

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  • Book Type Novel
  • by Nora Eisenberg
  • Date Published November 2008
  • ISBN-13 978-1931896474
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 288pp
  • Price $15.00
  • Review by Jessica Powers
Nora Eisenberg tackles a touchy topic in When You Come Home – specifically, she writes about the mysterious Gulf War illness that afflicted a quarter of returning soldiers from the Gulf War, but, more generally, she explores the damage that soldiers sustain physically and emotionally during wartime.
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  • Book Type Flash Fiction
  • by Howie Good
  • Date Published Achilles Chapbook Series, December 2008
  • Format Chapbook
  • Pages 24pp
  • Price $4.00
  • Review by Ryan Call
A vague, unnamable danger drives much of the language throughout Howie Good’s Tomorrowland. The narrator speaks of a land in which “bodies in the early stages of decay hang like gray rags from the trees” and authorized personnel instruct evacuees “to wait for the destroying angels to tire and the broken buildings to stop burning.” It seems that the characters of this world cannot escape no matter how carefully they plot: secret police and paid snitches abound, and the whirring ceiling cameras never cease.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Rich Murphy
  • Date Published 2008
  • ISBN-13 978-1599243092
  • Format Chapbook
  • Pages 27pp
  • Price $14.00
  • Review by Roy Wang
Family Secret is an exercise in using whimsical metaphor and sound to illustrate the rather serious business of love's inadequate worldly manifestations. With his quatrains of irreverent, fanciful observations, Murphy draws conclusions about the absurdity of love in the world we've elected to build.
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  • Book Type Novel
  • by Ami Sands Brodoff
  • Date Published October 2008
  • ISBN-13 978-1897187494
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 302pp
  • Price $18.95
  • Review by Christina Hall
You could say this is a novel about the Holocaust. You could say this is a story about secrets and the past, control and acceptance, love and emptiness. And The White Space Between is all these things, but, above all else, Ami Sands Brodoff has crafted a tale of ancestry and the familial bond.
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  • Book Type Novel
  • by John Addiego
  • Date Published October 2008
  • ISBN-13 978-1932961546
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 241pp
  • Price $24.95
  • Review by Laura Di Giovine
Like most families, the Verbicaros are anything but ordinary. Following five generations of a close knit Southern Italian family over the span of a century, The Islands of Divine Music by John Addiego follows the Verbicaros’ journey from Italy’s boot to San Francisco to the Yucatán Peninsula. Along the way, they encounter traces of the sacred and the profane, discovering themselves in the process.
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  • Book Type Novella
  • by Tim Horvath
  • Date Published March 2009
  • ISBN-13 978-1934513149
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 68pp
  • Price $10.00
  • Review by Jason Hinkley
In his introspective novella Circulation, Tim Horvath devotes special attention to examining the grey areas of modern life where reality and fantasy often meet and the distance between life and death dwindles. In what would best be described as character self-development, Horvath brings the reader face to face with the narrator Jay's dual preoccupations of family connection and recorded knowledge. The self examining nature of Circulation presents the reader with a sympathetic look at these twin pillars of the protagonist's identity, even as Jay begins to slowly tear them down.
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  • Book Type Stories
  • by Mary Miller
  • Date Published February 2009
  • ISBN-13 978-0974954189
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 200pp
  • Price $9.95
  • Review by Ryan Call
Mary Miller’s Big World, the second release from the mini-books division of Hobart: Another Literary Journal, is physically reminiscent of the 1950s-era pulp paperbacks you see stacked around used book stores. If I were older, I imagine that David Kramer’s bright front and back illustrations, the colored edges of the book’s pages, and the book’s small size would remind me of the good old days when I could buy naughty books for ten cents apiece and hide them in my back pocket.
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  • Book Type Prose
  • by Allison Carter
  • Date Published November 2008
  • ISBN-13 978-1934254073
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 105pp
  • Price $15.00
  • Review by Sarah Sala
Allison Carter’s book of experimental prose isn’t, as Danielle Dutton suggests in the introduction to the slender volume, “a kind of writing that gets called ‘cross-genre’ because it pulls all the best aspects from poetry and all the best aspects from fiction.” A Fixed, Formal Arrangement is far beyond that in its originality of thought and image as to feel like a new genre altogether; something like a planet and a star colliding, fusing a third heavenly body in the process. No longer a star and a planet, they orbit away – a wondrously altered thing.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Chris Vitiello
  • Date Published February 2008
  • ISBN-13 978-1934103005
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 101pp
  • Price $17.50
  • Review by Karyna McGlynn
Here is an austere and well-made collection which brings to mind a spitfire of phrases, like “German ingenuity” and “high modernism” and the “plasir” of the “illisable texte.” The book shifts its glasses and a-hems a bit before engaging me in a conversation which is charmingly incomprehensible. And despite its attempts to be cordial and funny and warm (okay, maybe not quite warm), I can't quite shake that feeling I used to have when I met my physicist boyfriend for beers after work and he'd start talking about trapping ions with lasers: it was sexy as hell but my eyes glazed over almost immediately – not because it was boring, but because I wasn't smart enough. I admit it: this book raises the presumed-dead spectre of my math fear. It feels clean and masculine and well-groomed and logical and intimidating in a way that made me put off writing this review for months. This isn't easy-going for me, but then, I don't think it's supposed to be.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Isabelle Baladine Howald
  • Translated From French
  • by Elena Rivera
  • Date Published October 2008
  • ISBN-13 978-1886224919
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 27pp
  • Price $14.00
  • Review by Joseph P. Wood
In one of the early poems of Isabella Baladine Howald’s haunting new collection, Secret of Breath, the poet writes, “What I love is not seeing, but the effort of seeing.” This untitled poem’s opening line could easily serve as the book’s Ars Poetica: Howald relentlessly self-interrogates as she scrutinizes the philosophical meaning behind her lover’s/husband’s death (it’s never quite specified who exactly died) – and, by extension, life.
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