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NewPages Book Reviews

Posted July 1, 2010

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  • Book Type Novel
  • by T.M. Murphy & Seton Murphy
  • Date Published May 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-1-935557-55-5
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 272pp
  • Price $15.95
  • Review by Elizabeth Townsend
The Running Waves is a book about two brothers learning to come to terms with hard times in each of their lives. The younger of the two brothers, Colin, is a 19-year-old shoe store employee trying, unsuccessfully at first, to get past the accident that killed his two best friends the previous year. Dermot is the 23-year-old elder brother, home from college for the summer. He comes home to hide for awhile from the fact that his girlfriend, someone he thought might be “the one,” broke up with him. The pair lives in Silver Shores Cape Cod, a popular destination for tourists on their way to Martha’s Vineyard. Dermot can see that Colin is not doing well and wants to help his brother but must first figure himself out.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by David Mills
  • Date Published 2009
  • ISBN-13 0-9773786-5-9
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 84pp
  • Price $15.00
  • Review by Micah Zevin
If you wake up in the morning and fragments of phrases, words, and images coalesce into a beautiful potluck of fascinating, hilarious, and magical linguistic gymnastics that have serious questions and answers about life at their core, then you must be reading The Dream Detective by David Mills. In his first collection, language is a platform for profundity and profundity is a platform for language and its reshaping or remolding that both regales us with its fantastic puns, double-entendres and sexual humor as much as it tackles serious subject matter such as the Sean Bell incident epitomized by the poem “Forever’s Bread.” If you are greedy for adventure through language, its mending, its bending and its manipulation for the greater good, then you’ve come to the right place.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Ben Mirov
  • Date Published May 2010
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 105pp
  • Price $8.00
  • Review by Dan Magers
In Ben Mirov’s debut poetry collection Ghost Machine, the overriding tension is the kinetic, non-reflective “I” (or sometimes “Eye”) stabbing through a list of seemingly random present-tense actions with an ADD-like attention span, overlaid with the sense of a haunting presence (or presences), creating the space of a temporal past. The randomness with which actions and thoughts take place suggests a lack of agency, but as the momentum builds it seems more that that barely-there presence is stirring – if not driving – the action.
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  • Book Type with Polaroids
  • by Tim Rutili
  • Date Published April 2010
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 103pp
  • Price $20.00
  • Review by Kristin Abraham
In his fifth book, Joshua Marie Wilkinson (in collaboration with photographer Tim Rutili) presents to us Polaroid photographs and poetry in gorgeous interplay. The text, broken into five poems/sections with words on the verso and images on the recto, is a fairly quick, very enjoyable read on the surface, but beyond the surface it achieves a brilliant complexity that haunts readers long after they put down the book.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by D.W. Lichtenberg
  • Date Published November 2009
  • ISBN-13 9-781889-292212
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 89pp
  • Price $12.00
  • Review by Gina Myers
In the introduction to The Ancient Book of Hip, D.W. Lichtenberg states his purpose: “This book is a documentation, a case study, an oral history, or whatever you want to call it.” It attempts to document “the phenomenon of hip,” the twenty-something trust-funders who moved to urban areas, specifically Williamsburg, Brooklyn, at the turn of the twenty-first century. What follows are poems that capture the New York School sprezzetura of Frank O’Hara.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Paul Killebrew
  • Date Published April 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9822376-2-5
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 75pp
  • Price $14.00
  • Review by Jeremy Benson
I’m a sucker for well-played formalism. Mongrel poetry; pedigreed from sestinas and villanelles, but – some earlier generation having snuck out the back with a scraggly beat poet – nearly unrecognizable, with crooked teeth and fantastic, durable hips.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Marcela Sulak
  • Date Published April 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-0982622827
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 55pp
  • Price $14.00
  • Review by Skip Renker
The cover of Immigrant reveals the high heels and provocative bare legs of a woman peeling and eating oranges, and indeed the book depicts sexual relationships, but there are also fruits, domestic and exotic, countries of partisans, barbed wire fencing in Texas, layered speech, a clear-eyed love of the world, and dreams, too, of what’s missing. These poems, with exact, evocative lines and phrases, summon, re-awaken, evoke, as in the Latin vocare, to call, call forth. Then they shape, skillfully, the call, the voice, the song, the busses that “splash the same / sloppy syllable across each sidewalk” or “the hieroglyphs that suckle”; they move “like a tongue / through the mouths of the speechless.”
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  • Book Type Memoir
  • by Ira Sukrungruang
  • Date Published March 2010
  • ISBN-13 9780826218896
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 168pp
  • Price $24.95
  • Review by Denise Hill
It seems inherent that immigration stories must revolve around flight from a home country – due to war, political injustice, threat of death, wretched conditions that force a person to seek a better life, or the desire to achieve the American Dream. There is none of this in Talk Thai. Sukrungruang’s parents left Thailand enticed by jobs. He writes, “Most Thai immigrants viewed America only as a workplace. America provided jobs. America provided monetary success. America provided opportunities Thailand couldn’t.” No harrowing tales of escape or of the horrors left behind. Not even a real desire to be here: “My mother often joked that she started packing for home as soon as she arrived in Chicago in 1968.” This kind of immigrant story, then, must settle around some sense of “the other” – the outsider – and the day-to-day struggles of not fully belonging. And in America, this is easy.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Srečko Kosovel
  • Translated From Slovene
  • by Ana Jelnikar and Barbara Siegel Carlson
  • Date Published April 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-1-933254-54-8
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 256pp
  • Price $17.00
  • Review by Larry O. Dean
This selected edition of Srečko Kosovel's poems, translated from the Slovene by Ana Jelnikar and Barbara Siegel Carlson, is a welcome addition to the developing canon of Slovenian poetry, but more so, it's an obvious labor of love by both translators as well as publisher. The book is perfect-bound in a simple but eye-catching jacket from Ugly Duckling, with interior text provided in the poet's native language as well as English on facing pages. Additionally, there are poems reprinted in Kosovel's own handwriting, in part to offer a graphological glimpse into the author's character, but also to promote documenting him as a pioneering yet playful manipulator of language.
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  • Book Type Novel
  • by Alan Reed
  • Date Published April 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-1-55245-227-1
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 156pp
  • Price $16.95
  • Review by Keith Meatto
Isobel & Emile is the story of two young lovers who separate and then try to survive on their own. The novel opens on the morning after their final consummation. Emile boards a train bound for his home in the city. Isobel stays in the town where they conducted their brief affair. For each one, the pain of separation becomes an existential crisis.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Brian Henry
  • Date Published March 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-1844717484
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 66pp
  • Price $14.95
  • Review by Kate Angus
Wings Without Birds, the most recent collection from poet and translator, Brian Henry, is a book that quietly and confidently upends various conventions and expectations. The title itself is a good map for what follows: the mind at flight, tethered but not subservient to the earthly body. Although the speaker in “Where We Stand Now,” the book’s long center poem, claims:
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Becca Klaver
  • Date Published March 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-1-888553-37-6
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 88pp
  • Price $14.95
  • Review by Gina Myers
According to Merriam-Webster, liminal describes a threshold, an in-between state; it is defined as “of, relating to, or being an intermediate state, phase, or condition,” and it is the perfect adjective to describe the state of Becca Klaver’s poems in LA Liminal, her first full-length collection. Prose pieces woven throughout the book present a common narrative: a young lady from a Midwestern town moves to Los Angeles in hope to discover whatever it is that LA promises, grows disenchanted, and leaves. However, this tale is anything but common thanks to Klaver’s spin on the whole experience.
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  • Book Type Novel
  • by Matthew Roberson
  • Date Published March 2009
  • ISBN-13 978-1573661485
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 166pp
  • Price $13.95
  • Review by Caleb Tankersley
If you’ve ever been on a mind-melting prescription drug binge, Matthew Roberson’s new novel Impotent might be nostalgic for you. But for the rest of us in docile society, this new work from Fiction Collective 2 lives up to the bizarre, psychedelic, experimental, and well-crafted reputation of the press’s many outer-rim publications. For example, Impotent opens with the recurring characters L and I, in which L stands for “Last Name, First Name, Middle Initial” and I stands for “Insured.” No character throughout the entire work has a clear name, mirroring the dehumanization that comes with the prescription drug industry.
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