NewPages.com is news, information, and guides to literary magazines, independent publishers, creative writing programs, alternative periodicals, indie bookstores, writing contests, and more.

NewPages Book Reviews

Posted November 1, 2011

  • Image Image
  • Book Type Young Adult Fication
  • by Maia Appleby
  • Date Published December 2011
  • ISBN-13 978-1927004029
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 183pp
  • Price $12.95
  • Review by Aimee Nicole
Calyx of Teversall will entice you from the first sentence to the very last. Maia Appleby’s prose ensnares the reader in a fictional world that is both interesting and realistic at the same time. She plays off of what the young reader is already familiar with in order to structure this fantasy world full of gnomes and elves. In the beginning, we learn that Sigrid is recently widowed and struggling to make ends meet. Her husband maintained a wheat field that she now undertakes, and her three-year-old son Charlie braids the wheat. When Fenbeck, secretly a Borgh Elf, arrives and strikes a deal, Sigrid has no choice but to accept. Fenbeck magically turns many times the normal crop yield and accepts no payment but asserts that Charlie must work for him when he turns nine for one year.
  • Image Image
  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Can Xue
  • Translated From Chinese
  • by Karen Gernant and Chen Zeping
  • Date Published September 2011
  • ISBN-13 978-1-934824-37-5
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 230pp
  • Price $13.95
  • Review by Olive Mullet
Chinese writer Can Xue’s short story collection Vertical Motion captures dream/nightscapes like Steven Milhauser and the surreal like Japanese writer Haruki Murakami. The short stories do reflect real life in activities and mostly relationships, but as she says in one of her stories, “Fantasy is still the way we do things best,” which seems to mean through fantastical experiences people improve. Thus each story explores a “new realm of imagination.”
  • Image Image
  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Alberto Blanco
  • Translated From Spanish
  • by Jennifer Rathbun
  • Date Published June 2011
  • ISBN-13 978-0-97863355-4
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 144pp
  • Price $21.00
  • Review by Patrick James Dunagan
This is the first full collection of poetry by Alberto Blanco to appear in a bilingual edition in the United States. While his reputation in his native Mexico and abroad is well established, here in the States, aside from receiving significant university appointments, he's relatively less known. Bitter Oleander Press and translator Jennifer Rathbun are out to change that.
  • Image Image
  • Book Type Fiction
  • by László Krasznahorkai
  • Translated From Hungarian
  • by Ottilie Mulzet
  • Date Published June 2011
  • ISBN-13 978-0811219167
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 48pp
  • Price $20.00
  • Review by Erik Fuhrer
AnimalInside is a haunting parable of the apocalypse. Not since Yeats’s darkly poetic prophecy of the second coming has literature imagined such a sinister messiah. However, Krasznahorkai’s baleful parable not only predicts the beast’s malefic resurrection, it graphically details its emergence.
  • Image Image
  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Stephanie Deutsch
  • Date Published December 2011
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8101-2790-6
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 244pp
  • Price $24.95
  • Review by Cheryl Wright-Watkins
In Memphis, Tennessee, where I live, the evidence is abundant that our country has not yet achieved racial equality. African Americans make up 61% of the metropolis' population, and a recent report revealed that 24% of the population lives below the poverty level. Stephanie Deutsch's You Need a Schoolhouse reminds us that, although we have a long way to go to achieve equality, our country has made notable strides in the 146 years since the end of the Civil War.
  • Image Image
  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Lisa Fay Coutley
  • Date Published July 2011
  • ISBN-13 978-0982876633
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 26pp
  • Price $9.00
  • Review by Aimee Nicole
Lisa Fay Coutley’s most recent chapbook highlights numerous poems published in an array of literary magazines. Within each poem, the ideas are very fragmented; however, Coutley weaves them together so that each idea feeds from the one that precedes it. While there may be an overall theme, no poem constricts to one image; instead, she creates a collage of images to support a theme. For example, in her poem “After the Fire”:
  • Image Image
  • Book Type Edited
  • by Keith Taylor and Laura Kasischke
  • Date Published September 2011
  • ISBN-13 978-0814334744
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 212pp
  • Price $18.95
  • Review by Ryan Wilson
When we think about North American geography and ghost stories, the Midwest United States feels somewhat lacking. Maybe that’s because we think of the region historically as merely a way toward somewhere else, and thus any good haunting it might have acquired also feels ephemeral. Ghosts also require a decent amount of tragedy. The East has its colonies and its Puritanical roots based in part on superstitions. The South, of course, has its own tragic pillar of slavery and its gothic aftermath. Even the West has plenty of dead and displaced Native Americans. So the Midwest would seem to need its own man-made disaster to birth some spirits.
  • Image Image
  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Doug Nufer
  • Date Published August 2011
  • ISBN-13 978-1934254240
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 202pp
  • Price $15.00
  • Review by J. A. Tyler
Doug Nufer makes me wish I knew more about horse racing because if I was more knowledgeable about horse races and the art of betting on this sport, I’d get so much more from By Kelman Out of Pessoa. As book 4 of 5 in the TrenchArt Recon Series, Nufer’s novel swings a wide arc of gambled characters and the throw of the die, using a backdrop of gaming as the setting of the novel as well as a means to writing it, a sleight of hand best described by the editors of Les Figues Press:
  • Image Image
  • Book Type Drama
  • by Michael Weller
  • Date Published August 2011
  • ISBN-13 978-1-55936-399-0
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 240pp
  • Price $17.95
  • Review by Patricia Contino
Lindy is married to Hugh. They live in the Midwest. Adam is married to Jan. They live in Brooklyn. Lindy and Adam have resumed their affair that began in Manhattan and ended when Hugh took over his family’s bicycle business. Jan and Hugh know what’s going on but there are careers, children, and, most importantly, routines to consider. Routines that hurt rather than ease.
  • Image Image
  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Kevin Pilkington
  • Date Published May 2011
  • ISBN-13 978-0982636466
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 70pp
  • Price $14.00
  • Review by Erik Fuhrer
In the fall of 2004, I attended a faculty reading at Sarah Lawrence College featuring Kevin Pilkington. I can still hear Kevin’s voice tenderly describing how his niece helped him look for “poet trees,” after they drank a glass of “apple spider.” This poem, aptly titled “Apple Spider,” is from Pilkington’s 2004 collection Ready to Eat the Sky. Far from being trite and sentimental, this poem captures the magical essence of childhood innocence in a sincere narrative that exemplifies Pilkington’s ability to convey the extraordinary beauty and revelation inherent in ordinary life. His new volume, The Unemployed Man Who Became a Tree, continues to express Pilkington’s trademark emotional clarity, as is evident from the heartfelt simplicity of the last lines of “A View From Here,” in which Pilkington sits alone with his wife on a pier:
  • Image Image
  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Ellen Airgood
  • Date Published June 2011
  • ISBN-13 978-1-59448-793-4
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 384pp
  • Price $25.95
  • Review by Olive Mullet
Ellen Airgood’s debut novel South of Superior is categorized first under “self-realization in women” and secondly under “Michigan Fiction.” Such categories never tell the full story. Certainly there is a female main character, but she is for much of the book unsympathetic and certainly not a superwoman, and the novel’s delight is in the realism of all the vividly portrayed characters and of Michigan life in a place like Grand Marais, here renamed McAllaster. All Michiganders (not just women) should relish this book for the reliving of this state’s recognizable features and lifestyles.
  • Image Image
  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Hugh Fox
  • Date Published July 2011
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9835982-5-1
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 70pp
  • Price $11.95
  • Review by Patrick James Dunagan
Boston area poet Doug Holder noted the recent death of Hugh Fox with a blog post in which he remarks, “Whatever you say about Fox, he wasn’t a cliché of a man—he was a total original. He was a PhD with a big disdain for the academy; his breadth of knowledge left me breathless; he could be incredibly kind and incredibly rude, but I loved him warts and all.” He continues a little further on, “I asked Fox a few years ago what he would like to be remembered for. He told me: ‘That I reminded people to take a close look and engage the world around them.’ Fox took it all in: from sex, the Aztecs, religion, the meaning of being, the meaning of meaning…you name it.” On all these counts, The Year Book doesn’t disappoint.
  • Image Image
  • Book Type Poetry
  • by David Trinidad
  • Date Published September 2011
  • ISBN-13 978-1-933527-47-5
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 493pp
  • Price $19.00
  • Review by H. V. Cramond
Dear Prudence: New & Selected Poems, the latest work by poet and Columbia College Chicago professor David Trinidad, collects new poems and selections from over a thirty-year publishing history, including most recently By Myself (with D.A. Powell, 2009), Tiny Moon Notebook (2007), and The Late Show (2007). In 2000, he was a finalist for the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize for his collection Plasticville. The scope of Dear Prudence allows readers unfamiliar with Trinidad’s work a thorough introduction; those familiar with his work will find an indispensable exploration of the poet’s task of collecting, arranging and remembering.
newpages-footer-logo

We are currently in beta and welcome any/all Feedback.