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 June 1, 2012

  • Image Image
  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Eileen Myles
  • Date Published April 2012
  • ISBN-13 978-1-933517-58-2
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 224pp
  • Price $20.00
  • Review by Patrick James Dunagan
Eileen Myles hides the trout. She’s at it again. This new double collection of poems from Wave Books in Seattle has everything readers of Myles adore in her work. All the wit, charm, honesty, sexiness, and surprises are here for another go-round. Yes, Myles has gotten older:
  • Image Image
  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Zara Raab
  • Date Published September 2011
  • ISBN-13 978-1-936370-44-3
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 116pp
  • Price $20.00
  • Review by Kevin Brown
Zara Raab’s collection centers around place and people, the Eel of the title a river in California where generations of Raab’s family settled. Raab lets the reader know early on that place will serve as an important theme throughout the collection, as each of the three section titles relate to place: “A Land of Wonders,” “Coming to Branscomb,” and “Hills above the Eel.” The collection shows a place changing, moving from a place that is not even a town, where a family’s house can serve as the one-room schoolhouse, to a contemporary city, though still small, with contemporary troubles.
  • Image Image
  • Book Type Fiction
  • by David Huddle
  • Date Published October 2011
  • ISBN-13 978-1-936797-11-0
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 300pp
  • Price $16.95
  • Review by Wendy Breuer
Nothing Can Make Me Do This, a novel in linked stories by David Huddle, excavates the geography of loneliness and relationships. Each story looks at a sedimentary layer in the history of the Houseman family circle, not necessarily in chronological order. These characters, revealed in close third person narration or first person, do not wander geographically far from the home nest for very long. Journeys are internal and sometimes deeply buried. The through-thread in this family history is the voice of the secret sexual self, somehow unshared even in intimacy.
  • Image Image
  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Rebecca Lindenberg
  • Date Published March 2012
  • ISBN-13 978-1-936365-79-1
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 96pp
  • Price $18.00
  • Review by Patrick James Dunagan
Rebecca Lindenberg’s first book of poems is concerned with loss. She takes up composing an extended elegy with little unnecessary adornment of sentiment. Lindenberg deserves credit for not making this book a clear-cut narrative of her years-long serious romance with the poet Craig Arnold, who vanished in 2009 while on a hiking visit to an active volcano—an apparent passion of his. In place of that, these are poems built of necessity; some happen to be soundings of specific moments of Lindenberg’s life with Arnold, but such concern remains secondary.
  • Image Image
  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Sybil Baker
  • Date Published May 2012
  • ISBN-13 978-1938126-01-7
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 208pp
  • Price $14.95
  • Review by Jodi Paloni
Into This World is a novel that spans time, point of view, and geography to tell the story of a family’s search for identity and relationship. Mina is a child brought home from the Korean War by Wayne to join his American family that consists of his wife Bonnie, who longs for a second child, and his daughter Allison, who is not so pleased by the family’s new addition. The story opens when Allison and Mina are adults. Mina has moved to Korea in search of her birth mother and to reclaim her heritage. Allison discovers she has unfinished business with Mina and travels to Seoul in hopes of unraveling their complex past.
  • Image Image
  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Janyce Stefan-Cole
  • Date Published April 2012
  • ISBN-13 978-1-60953-075-4
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 352pp
  • Price $25.95
  • Review by Patricia Contino
Hollywood is an industry town that manufactures dreams. Those dreams can be nightmarish, as in Nathaniel West’s Day of the Locust (whose woefully underappreciated 1975 film adaptation is as disturbing and ugly as its source), or bittersweet, like Michel Hazanavicius’ The Artist.
  • Image Image
  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Jane Gardam
  • Date Published April 2012
  • ISBN-13 978-1-60945-069-4
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 265pp
  • Price $16.00
  • Review by Olive Mullet
Jane Gardam’s magnificent novel Crusoe’s Daughter, first published in 1985 in England and only now published in the U.S., was Gardam’s favorite of her novels: “Take it or leave it, Crusoe’s Daughter says everything I have to say.” Those familiar with the books of this largely unknown, very British novelist will recognize aspects of Gardam’s writing later echoed in Old Filth, The Man With the Wooden Hat and the more recently published God on the Rocks: the wonderfully odd characters sometimes reminiscent of Dickens; the humor; an era’s precise, tiny details of place and people; and indirectly given information, often about past forbidden romances.
  • Image Image
  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Annemarie Schwarzenbach
  • Translated From German
  • by Isabel Fargo Cole
  • Date Published October 2011
  • ISBN-13 978-0857420152
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 124pp
  • Price $15.00
  • Review by Lydia Pyne
Travel literature and memoir is a jumble of familiar tropes and themes, and All the Roads Are Open: the Afghan Journey certainly contains all of those recognizable elements and more. All the Roads Are Open is Annemarie Schwarzenbach’s collection of essays, stories, notes, and thoughts about her overland travels from Geneva to Afghanistan through Afghanistan’s Northern Road with herself, fellow writer Ella Maillart, and their third companion—a Ford with a mind and temperament of its own.
  • Image Image
  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Deni Y. Béchard
  • Date Published April 2012
  • ISBN-13 978-1-57131-331-7
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 320pp
  • Price $24.00
  • Review by David Breithaupt
“Memory holds us until we are ready to see,” Deni Y. Béchard writes in his memoir, Cures for Hunger. The passage of time has given him a panorama from which to piece together the missing links of his life. Béchard’s book is his tale of the sometimes hardscrabble childhood he endured in British Columbia with a mother from Pittsburgh and a father of very vague origins. The existence was sometimes hand-to-mouth, with a father who sold fish during the summer and Christmas trees during the winter, ways of life that seemed to have as many ups and downs as the stock market.
  • Image Image
  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Patti Smith
  • Date Published November 2011
  • ISBN-13 978-0811219440
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 80pp
  • Price $18.95
  • Review by Erik Fuhrer
Metaphysical, haunting and meditative, Woolgathering’s lyrical musings very much mimic Patti Smith’s song lyrics in that they are constantly in structural flux, seamlessly flitting from personal narratives to abstract wanderings to slim lines of poetry. The result is reminiscent of an intimate journal, scattered with childhood photographs, reaching for truth, beauty and transformation.
  • Image Image
  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Evelyn Posamentier
  • Date Published 2011
  • ISBN-13 978-1907812699
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 48pp
  • Price $8.00
  • Review by Joanna Kurowska
Evelyn Posamentier’s Poland at the Door is a remarkable book. It is a collection of very short poems, the longest being ten lines while most of poems oscillate between four to six lines. The collection’s poetic “I” remains in a room, behind a closed door. She half-expects, half-dreads some visitors. Her short statements help to visualize her surroundings—walls, door, monitors in the hall outside, a broken phone, the weather in- and outdoors, and the luring but never really appearing guests. Longer poems are intertwined with single lines that laconically state “the days of awe” and “the days between” (or either of the two). This gives the impression of the passage of time in an unfamiliar place, reflecting perhaps Posamentier’s time spent in Poland. Occasionally, the “days of awe/days between” are replaced by the exclamation “holy, holy, holy,” which refers either to Poland’s Catholic culture or to the subject’s sense of the world’s sacredness.
  • Image Image
  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Jeff Alessandrelli
  • Date Published November 2011
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9835982-6-8
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 66pp
  • Price $11.95
  • Review by Gina Myers
Jeff Alessandrelli’s debut book of poems, Erik Satie Watusies His Way Into Sound, is an homage of sorts to Satie, the 19th- and 20th-century avant-garde composer. Throughout the collection, a portrait of Satie emerges ghostlike through bits of autobiography, both real and imagined. However, through the insistent refrain of “tells us nothing,” the reader is reminded of how little access or insight one can really be given into another life—how little understanding one can glean from facts and details, and even from the composer’s own writing. Even so, the fragments assembled portray Satie as an eccentric genius who was both admired and reviled during his lifetime.
newpages-footer-logo

We welcome any/all Feedback.