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NewPages Book Reviews

Posted December 14, 2010

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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Daniele Pantano
  • Date Published April 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-098263187-6-7
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 88pp
  • Price $14.00
  • Review by Sima Rabinowitz
Daniele Pantano is a Swiss poet, translator, critic, editor, and Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at Edge Hill University in England. Work from this volume was published in numerous journals and anthologies in the U.K., Germany, Italy, Australia, Switzerland, Canada, and the U.S.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Micah Ling
  • Date Published November 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-1-934513-25-5
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 58pp
  • Price $13.00
  • Review by Chey Davis
I am convinced this will end well,
That it will not be too late,
That it will take place without witnesses.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Manoel de Barros
  • Translated From Portuguese
  • by Idra Novey
  • Date Published September 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-0-88748-523-7
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 95pp
  • Price $16.95
  • Review by Sima Rabinowitz
The ninety-two-year old de Barros, recipient of the most prestigious poetry awards in his native Brazil, is author of more than 20 books, though this is the first to appear in English. (Birds for Demolition is a collection of poems from the poet’s oeuvre over the last few decades.) Novey, director of Columbia University’s Center for Literary Translation and author of the poetry collection, The Next Country (2008), explains in her introductory note that de Barros writes of the wetlands and rivers, the “poverty and solitude of rural life,” the part of Brazil where he was raised and which he knows best, not the city, where we often expect (however erroneously) to find most poets. She classifies his writing as “riverbed-poems” and describes the intensity of the experience of translating their unique sense of place.
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  • Book Type Edited
  • by Cynthia L. Haven
  • Date Published January 2011
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8040-1133-4
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 273pp
  • Price $26.95
  • Review by Lisa Dolensky
Cynthia L. Haven has gathered an exquisite collection of thirty-two memoirs, which pay tribute personally through historical and personal accounts of one of the most celebrated poets, Czeslaw Milosz. The bevy of contributors who share encounters with Milosz spin intimate stories oft with intimate ease—spanning from the 1930s until just days before his death in 2004. Haven did an excellent job selecting memoirs from a well-credentialed, diverse group of contributors who represent political, literary, environmental, cultural and spiritual spectrums on many levels. She also weaves in lines form Milosz’s vast works in relation to the time period, stories, and references.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Caroline Knox
  • Date Published 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-1-933517-48-3
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 48pp
  • Price $20.00
  • Review by Renee Emerson
Nine Worthies by Caroline Knox is a book that blends the genres of prose and poetry to tell the story of Nathaniel Smibert (1734-1756) painting the portraits of nine men and women from Boston and Newport in the year of Nathaniel’s death.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Kelli Russell Agodon
  • Date Published October 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-1935210153
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 99pp
  • Price $16.00
  • Review by Renee Emerson
Letters from the Emily Dickinson Room, by Kelli Russell Agodon, is a collection of charming, intelligent poems that invoke the idea of a modern day Emily addressing the world from the safety of her room. Agodon incorporates anagrams in many of the poems; for example, in “Believing Anagrams,” “funeral” becomes “real fun,” “Emily Dickinson” becomes “inky misled icon” and “poetry” becomes “prey to.” While with some poets this kind of word play can become gimmicky, Agodon masterfully weaves the words into the poem in a natural, organic way. “In the 70s, I Confused Macramé for Macabre” is another poem where language is taken apart and put back together, using the words incorrectly in two different memories, as the speaker “wanted / my mother to remind me / that sometimes we survive.”
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Juan Jose Saer
  • Translated From Spanish
  • by Steve Dolph
  • Date Published November 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-1-934824-20-7
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 220pp
  • Price $14.95
  • Review by Olive Mullet
The Sixty-Five Years of Washington by Juan Jose Saer flows like the walk it entails, divided into three sections of seven blocks each, in the Argentinian town of Rosario, taking place around 10 a.m. on October or November 1960 or 1961. On that day Angel Leto decides not to go to work and encounters The Mathematician, just back from his grand tour of Europe. The two men, different in important respects (class, town’s years of residency), nevertheless walk together for most of the distance, the Mathematician regaling his companion with accounts of Noriega Washington’s sixty-fifth birthday, a party to which neither man was invited.
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Paula Bomer
  • Date Published December 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9779343-7-9
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 176pp
  • Price $15.95
  • Review by Elena Spagnolie
In her collection of short stories entitled Baby and Other Stories, Paula Bomer explores the dark underbelly of marriage and parenthood and fearlessly puts to paper horrific human desires. Anger plays out through violent (and sometimes sexual) acts and, even more dangerously, through toxic passive aggression. There is a stark contrast between what her characters say and what they think, and real communication takes a backseat to resentment and isolation. She raises questions that aren’t easy to answer, as in the title story “Baby”:
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Susan Henderson
  • Date Published September 2010
  • ISBN-13 9780061984037
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 317pp
  • Price $13.99
  • Review by Alex Myers
Striking, sad, suspenseful, Up From the Blue tells the coming-of-age story of Tillie Harris. Set in her third-grade year, the novel focuses on the home life of Tillie. The father, a colonel in the air force, develops navigation systems for missiles. The older brother, Phil, tries his hardest to be a small soldier: orderly, emotionless, and compliant. Tillie herself is an energetic eight-year-old, full of conflicting emotions and confusing expectations from the adult world. It is her mother, though, who is the star of the book. Red-headed, dreamy-eyed, the mother swings from being loving and tender, the only one who understands Tillie, to vacant and lost, sitting on the couch or lying in bed for days on end. As the mother’s depression deepens and the conflict extends from between the parents to create an ever-widening gulf into which the entire family slides, Tillie risks losing not just her mother but herself.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Beckian Fritz Goldberg
  • Date Published October 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-1-930974-94-4
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 214pp
  • Price $18.00
  • Review by Sima Rabinowitz
The final lines of the book’s opening poem (“Our questions are / our miracles.”) are uncharacteristically positive (even to use the word “positive” here seems an awkward choice, perhaps “affirming” is more apt) for Goldberg. Drawing a poem to an eloquently surprising and surprisingly eloquent and obsessively conclusive conclusion, however, is not. In fact, this is Goldberg’s special talent—perfected over twenty years and throughout her six books—demonstrated with astonishing consistency and brilliance in her new poems, of which a dozen and a half appear in this volume. “It’s not a season if it expects / a conclusion. That’s what I think, / because of you,” she concludes in “Everything is Nervous.” “If you can’t bear to forget don’t / be born,” concludes “Absence.”
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Lisa Lewis
  • Date Published October 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-1-930974-92-0
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 95pp
  • Price $15.00
  • Review by Sima Rabinowitz
Vivisection—such an evocative word—is experimental surgery performed on animals typically for research purposes, considered unethical by many, and harsh and aggressive as the word itself sounds. I am somewhat surprised at this title, wondering at the poet’s choice of a word with such negative connotations for her book, but the title poem (the final in the collection) demonstrates how poetry can take any term and make it one of great power, salvaged by artistic achievement, prowess, and mastery, rendering it positive on some level. Despite difficult and painful images (or, perhaps, because of them), the title poem reminds us that poetry’s unique power resides in its ability to make every human experience unique (yet universal) and exquisite.
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