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NewPages Book Reviews

Posted April 14, 2011

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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Mahogany L. Browne
  • Date Published December 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9841513-9-4
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 222pp
  • Price $15.00
  • Review by Aaron M. Smith
If you want spirit, attitude, and a slap of honesty, then #Dear Twitter is the sort of poetry that will be your best friend. Mahogany L. Browne has a way of rendering her poems both aesthetically pleasing and succinct. She can capture a ray of beauty in less than 140 characters and teach the reader a life lesson at the same time. This is a book of poetry that will appeal mostly to younger generations; readers who are avid users of Twitter will garner the most from this book, but everyone will benefit from its humor and wise words—for example, “dear bones: u will break. Dear spirit: u will shatter. Dear heart: u will bruise again & again, but u will be the hardest to fix…”
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Laura McCullough
  • Date Published 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9826364-4-2
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 80pp
  • Price $14.00
  • Review by Skip Renker
What do Ms. McCullough’s poems signify? How can speech act? How are actions inhabited/inhibited by speech? Who’s on first, noun or verb? Penis or vagina? Sex or love or both? Or an avocado that might taste like vanilla? Who’s Ms. McCullough in these pages?
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Norman Stock
  • Date Published September 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-1-935520-30-6
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 105pp
  • Price $14.95
  • Review by Alec Moran
Pickled Dreams Naked, the latest book of poetry from New York poet Norman Stock, puts you, the reader, in a curious place. See, Stock’s poetry is filled with the bizarre and the surreal, showing his penchant for the mesmerizing and often unsettling image. “Give Us This Day” finds Stock painting himself as “the cold cut hanging in the delicatessen of the starving,” a sandwich “barely held together in your hungry hands.” Latinas on subways sucking lollipops, transplanted kidneys, and oh so many chickens carve out perches in the pantheon of Stock’s poetry.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Patricia Jabbeh Wesley
  • Date Published August 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-1932870404
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 88pp
  • Price $14.95
  • Review by Renee Emerson
Where the Road Turns is a rich and textured collection of poems interested in gender roles, issues of cultural identity, and migration. The book opens with the poem “Cheede, My Bride: A Grebo Man Laments—1985,” a narrative poem from the perspective of a Grebo man who contemplates the role of his wife in society: “in Monrovia, women wear pants and a man / may walk around, twisting like a woman” and “they say women fell trees and men walk / upon them like bridges.” The first section of the book contains similar poems that are from the perspectives of tribal men and women, often directly addressing their lovers in a love song or lament. In “Love Song When Musu Answers Her Lover,” the plain diction and repetition of “Let us not make babies, Kono, my lover / Let us collect these timbers, scattered” authenticates the voice of the poem, allowing the reader to enter into a character that they may not be altogether familiar with.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by George Bilgere
  • Date Published January 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-1932870350
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 80pp
  • Price $14.95
  • Review by Renee Emerson
The White Museum is written in the casual, chatty style similar to that of Billy Collins. Bilgere has a dry sense of humor that simultaneously pokes fun and is hyper-aware of his standing as a white, middle-aged man. Like Collins, his humor often takes a turn into the dirty-old-man realm, referring to “the girls” “trying out their newfangled breasts” in “Solstice,” and his “star[ing] at the breasts / of that sixteen-year-old girl / in the sky-colored bikini. Touching them / would mean the electric chair, / but still…” in “Americana.”
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  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Jen Hirt
  • Date Published April 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-1-931968-73-7
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 174pp
  • Price $22.95
  • Review by Evan McGarvey
For the uninitiated reader, greenhouses offer an organic simplicity in which glass filters sunlight and soil keeps different plants in calm synchronicity. But the trained, dedicated eye of Jen Hirt in her debut memoir Under Glass yields more. For Hirt, the scion of an Ohio greenhouse dynasty founded by her great-grandfather in the 19th century, these glass panels, and everything within, signal a family’s and family business’ demise.
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Steve Himmer
  • Date Published April 2011
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9845105-8-0
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 222pp
  • Price $14.95
  • Review by Aaron M. Smith
The Bee-Loud Glade will make you fall in love with the simplicity of nature. It is a story about returning and integrating one’s self into nature—true Walden style. The ability of Steve Himmer to create a longing for nature via the words and storyline in this story is phenomenal. I, personally, have never felt a calling or inclination towards nature. After reading this novel, I feel like becoming a hermit and simply reveling in the beauty of nature would be an amazing life.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Justin Hamm
  • Date Published 2011
  • ISBN-13 978-1-4507-4865-0
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 29pp
  • Price $10.00
  • Review by C.J. Opperthauser
Justin Hamm's first chapbook of poems, Illinois, My Apologies, is a wonderful sampling of Midwest-soaked poems, dripping in fathers and broken down factories. As a Midwesterner, I not only identify with these poems, but feel they express the frustrations of the region with the utmost accuracy, accompanied by some light humor and beautiful language. The beginning of “At Sixteen” showcases this best:
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Carol Frost
  • Date Published October 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-0810127104
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 64pp
  • Price $16.95
  • Review by Tanya Angell Allen
In “Pretty to think of the mind at its end,” Carol Frost describes the mind of an Alzheimer’s patient as “a metaphysician beekeeping / after the leaves have fallen at autumn’s end.” In “I remember the psychiatrist’s exam—”, it is “a papery hive sliced / open, herself furious.” In “Two anthills and a late summer hive,” she writes:
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Harry Mathews
  • Date Published October 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9843312-3-9
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 56pp
  • Price $15.00
  • Review by Gina Myers
The New Tourism is a collection of new poems by Harry Mathews, the avant-garde writer with associations to both Oulipo and the New York School. The book is divided into three sections, each quite different from one another. The first section consists of a single poem, written in six parts, called “Butter and Eggs: a didactic poem.” Using language more often found in a cookbook than in a collection of poetry, the poem may remind readers of Mathews’s short story “Country Coking from Central France: Roast Boned Rolled Stuffed Shoulder of Lamb (Farce Double),” with its rich writing about food and deadpan use of humor.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Kate Colby
  • Date Published December 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-1-933959-11-5
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 120pp
  • Price $15.00
  • Review by Angela Veronica Wong
Kate Colby’s Beauport is both a book-length poem and a collection of poems; it is a semi-narrative, part-memoir, part-lyric essay, part-historical exploration, part-imagined conversation work which wraps history with history. “History is spreading,” Colby states, toward the beginning of the collection. But whose history? Beauport is about layering histories: the story of Henry Davis Sleeper, the American antiquarian and decorator, whose house is named Beauport, the harbor along with an exploration of Colby’s own connections to Massachusetts and Gloucester, and the history of Beauport, the house itself.
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Ben Tanzer
  • Date Published April 2011
  • ISBN-13 978-1-4507-4839-1
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 214pp
  • Price $12.00
  • Review by Jeremy Benson
At some point in your relationship with You Can Make Him Like You, you may want to familiarize yourself with the Hold Steady, a Brooklyn-based rock group with roots in Springsteen, Husker Du, and the Twin Cities. Author Ben Tanzer says the novel is “inspired by, and an homage to” the group: It’s from their discography that Tanzer borrows its title and section headings, and when protagonist Keith can’t handle the pressures of a thirtysomething Chicagoan, he spins Boys and Girls in America or Stay Positive, the group’s two break-out records.
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by James Kaelan
  • Date Published July 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9820348-4-2
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 214pp
  • Price $15.00
  • Review by Tessa Mellas
James Kaelan’s We’re Getting On opens with an inscription that reads, “This book is dedicated to Leslie Epstein who hated this novella, and to Ha Jin who was considerably more amenable.” This prelude is odd but apt, a warning that says,
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