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NewPages Book Reviews

Posted June 1, 2010

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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Matt Jasper
  • Date Published August 2009
  • ISBN-13 978-1-93540-254-1
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 81pp
  • Price $16.00
  • Review by Christine Kanownik
The first poem in Matt Jasper’s Moth Moon is one of the best poems I’ve read recently. It is called “Flight” and it describes two people watching a group of black birds fly towards the moon. There is a shift in the last two lines with the fear that “all of the light in the world will be blotted out forever.” This poem is four lines long and complete and moving. I even enjoyed the next few poems in the book as well; however, I detected an unsettling trend in the second half of the book.
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  • Translated From Spanish
  • by Orlando Ricardo Menes
  • Date Published 2009
  • ISBN-13 978-1-891270-51-2
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 197pp
  • Price $19.00
  • Review by Lisa Dolensky
I recently found myself submerged in unexplored waters discovering the selected and celebrated works of the late Argentine poet, Alfonsina Storni. My Heart Flooded With Water is a captivating collection of translations from Spanish to English by Orlando Ricardo Menes. In fact, Menes practically makes his own artistry appear as effortless as floating. I especially enjoyed the companion reading format, i.e. Spanish text of each poem on the left and the translated English version on the right.
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  • Book Type Novel
  • by Carol Sammy
  • Date Published January 2010
  • ISBN-13 9781408231289
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 178pp
  • Review by Alex Myers
Carol Sammy’s debut novel, Dilemmas of Deokie, captures the spirit and culture of Trinidad through the story of the young woman, Deokie. Though Deokie is too old for this novel to properly be termed a coming-of-age story, it is certainly the tale of a coming-of-self. Gradually, over the course of the novel’s anecdotes and scenes, the character and quandary of Deokie emerges: a young woman who loves her country and wants to make it better, yet feels helpless to do so.
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Boris Pintar
  • Translated From Slovene
  • by Rawley Grau
  • Date Published December 2009
  • ISBN-13 978-1-58498-070-4
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 138pp
  • Price $17.95
  • Review by Laura Pryor
Boris Pintar’s Family Parables is not light reading. Don’t take it with you to the beach or on the airplane. The stories, most of them dark and sinister, need your full, undivided attention. And even then, you may find yourself asking: what just happened?
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Suzanne Frischkorn
  • Date Published March 2010
  • ISBN-13 1599482266
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 57pp
  • Price $14.00
  • Review by Jeremy Benson
If I selected reading material by title and title alone, I admit I probably wouldn’t have chosen to read Girl on a Bridge by Suzanne Frischkorn. The phrase “girl on a bridge” carries a lot of overdramatic weight with it, baggage my friends and I would like to leave with our overdramatic high school selves – or at least, left with blocked-up Hollywood writers in need of a setting for their coming-of-age climax.
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  • Book Type Edited
  • by Kim Roberts
  • Date Published December 2009
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9778243-6-6
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 160pp
  • Price $20.00
  • Review by Kimberly L. Becker
If anthology means a “gathering of flowers,” then Full Moon on K Street: Poems about Washington, DC is a resplendent bouquet accompanying editor Kim Roberts’s “love letter” to the City. 101 contemporary poems by current and former Washington residents honor the literary diversity of a city rich with history: “all these centuries we drag into the next century and the next,” writes Sarah Browning in “The Fifth Fact.”
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  • Book Type Novel
  • by Selcuk Altun
  • Translated From Turkish
  • by Clifford Endres and Selhan Endres
  • Date Published August 2009
  • ISBN-13 978-1-84659-067-2
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 270pp
  • Price $13.95
  • Review by Christina Hall
Selcuk Altun’s novel is a page-turning adventure story, and miraculously one filled with mystery, despite the fact that every detail of the story is spoon fed to the reader via monologues. A self-proclaimed narrative of “a wild goose chase,” Many and Many A Year Ago follows retired Turkish Air Force pilot Kemal Kuray through various cross continental detective expeditions. While Kemal often feels as if a joke is being played on him through these sometimes fruitless voyages, the reader discovers early on the not-so-subtle meaning behind these quests. Through musical symbolism, Altun writes about the beautiful tragedy of endless love.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Sarah Eaton
  • Date Published January 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-1935402619
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 93pp
  • Price $16.00
  • Review by Michael Flatt
Sarah Eaton’s Tough Skin is a fun, scary book of prose-y poetry. Most people would probably agree that “scary” is an unusual quality to find in poetry. I can explain, I promise. While a lack of attachment to extended narrative prohibits the contemporary poem from creating the aspects of story necessary to truly feel fear – empathize-able characters, anticipation/suspense, etc. – Eaton’s poems make gestures toward horror in narrative microbursts. Think of the campy, shrewdly written episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, which don’t give the viewer time to truly care whether the main character is murdered, but give pleasure of fright in their 30-minute mime shows of horror-film dialogue, melodrama and plot twists.
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  • Book Type Novel
  • by T.A. Roberts
  • Date Published April 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-1-57962-197-1
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 176pp
  • Price $28.00
  • Review by Laura Pryor
Drake’s Bay is an old school mystery novel, the type of mystery that relies on intelligent plot twists and well-paced revelations to draw the reader along, rather than relentless violence and gore. There is a murder, but Roberts discreetly avoids graphic descriptions of the killing or the body, other than to say that it was a “brutal” murder.
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Catherine Brady
  • Date Published February 2009
  • ISBN-13 978-0-87417-763-3
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 228pp
  • Price $25.00
  • Review by Sara C. Rauch
In the title story of Catherine Brady's new collection of short stories, the main character wakes up naked in a bathtub, hung over, and finds his guitar in the toilet. After he makes his way downstairs to ask his female roommate (their complicated relationship soon emerges) what happened, she says, "You got your hands on a bottle of tequila." After some teasing, their exchange continues:
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Elizabeth Jolley
  • Date Published April 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-0892553525
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 568pp
  • Price $19.95
  • Review by Jason Hinkley
The Vera Wright Trilogy brings together Elizabeth Jolley’s three semi-autobiographical novellas; My Father’s Moon, Cabin Fever, and The Georges’ Wife. Set in England during the Second World War and it's aftermath, the trilogy follows Vera on her journey from an adolescent nurse in a wartime hospital to a comfortably settled wife and mother in postwar Australia with a medical practice of her own. Throughout the novellas, much space is given to the host of intimate relationships that Vera has with both men and women. These relationships bring countless emotional and material complications to Vera’s life – along with two children, a stint in a tuberculous sanctuary and a trip halfway around the world.
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  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Patrick Dobson
  • Date Published November 2009
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8032-1616-7
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 279pp
  • Price $29.95
  • Review by Ann Beman
Blue Highways changed my life. I read William Least Heat-Moon’s account of his journey along the back roads of the United States when I was twenty, and I’ve been looking to repeat that literary thrill ever since. Enter Patrick Dobson, whose Great Plains quest, Seldom Seen, seems to plumb the philosophy of George Clooney’s Up in the Air character, Ryan Bingham. “Imagine for a second you’re carrying a backpack. I want you to pack it with all the stuff that you have in your life. […] Feel the weight of that bag,” says Bingham. “Make no mistake. Moving is living.”
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Zoe Zolbrod
  • Date Published May 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9825204-3-7
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 232pp
  • Price $16.95
  • Review by Robert Paul Moreira
This farang enjoyed Currency.
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  • Book Type Novel
  • by Andrea Jones
  • Date Published August 2009
  • ISBN-13 9780982371497
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 293pp
  • Price $24.95
  • Review by Alex Myers
Welcome back to Neverland. For those who loved the stories of the boy who wouldn’t grow up, Andrea Jones’s novel Hook & Jill will absolutely delight. All of Sir James Barrie’s characters appear, from Peter Pan and Tinkerbell to Mr. Smee and the ticking Croc. There are hideouts, Indians, bedtime stories, flying, and battles. And a good bit of passion, too.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Sandra Beasley
  • Date Published April 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-0-393-07651-6
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 90pp
  • Price $24.95
  • Review by Kate Angus
I Was the Jukebox, selected by Joy Harjo for the 2009 Barnard Women Poets Prize, is Sandra Beasley’s witty and furious second collection (her first, Theories of Falling, won the 2007 New Issues Poetry Prize).
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by F. Daniel Rzicznek
  • Date Published August 2009
  • ISBN-13 978-1-60235-118-9
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 71pp
  • Price $14.00
  • Review by Kristin Abraham
The self-described mission of Free Verse Editions (in new partnership with Parlor Press) is to publish free verse that “[uses] language to dramatize a singular vision of experience, a mastery of craft, a deep knowledge of poetic tradition, and a willingness to take risks.” Divination Machine, a new release from the Free Verse book series presents to us the very archetype of that poetic mission and aesthetic.
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  • Book Type Edited
  • by Lara Glenum and Arielle Greenberg
  • Date Published April 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9818591-4-9
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 300pp
  • Price $20.00
  • Review by Dan Magers
The highly-anticipated poetry anthology, Gurlesque: The New Grrly, Grotesque, Burlesque Poetics has aroused a vigorous discussion since its release. Most of the discussion has surrounded the concept, definition, and limitations of “Gurlesque,” a term coined by co-editor Arielle Greenberg in 2002 to map certain tendencies of a number of female American poets born between the late sixties and the early eighties writing in this last decade.
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Harold Abramowitz
  • Date Published 2010
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 81pp
  • Price $15.00
  • Review by Keith Meatto
The best writers tell the same story over and over again. In his new book, Harold Abramowitz takes this idea to an extreme. Not Blessed consists of 28 chapters, each between two and three pages in length. Each chapter in this slim volume tells the same story: A boy wanders from his grandmother’s house, gets lost in the woods, and is rescued by a policeman.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Simone Muench
  • Date Published February 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-1-932511-79-6
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 96pp
  • Price $14.95
  • Review by Kate Angus
I too am a fan of certain horror films, an admission that seems appropriate in the context of this review not only because the same sentiment is expressed in Simone Muench’s Author’s Note, but also because her third collection, Orange Crush, has much of the same pleasures as the best horror films – images and lines that shine sharp and precise as moonlight on knives, a simultaneous yearning for and horror at the body and its desires, a voluptuous darkness, and – almost everywhere – lost girls.
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