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 August 1, 2012

  • Image Image
  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Carol Guess
  • Date Published March 2012
  • ISBN-13 978-1-936873-16-6
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 84pp
  • Price $14.00
  • Review by Alyse Bensel
Doll Studies: Forensics, a collection of tightly woven prose poems, investigates a series of crime scene dioramas portrayed with dolls and doll sets. A strong, questioning voice describes and comments on each diorama from various perspectives, piecing together a narrative built from individual scenes. Through engaging, fine-tuned poems, Carol Guess leads the reader through the dramas and mysteries left behind and reenacted with these dolls, creating a strange yet fascinating glimpse into two artistic mediums playing off one another and commenting on human fault and tragedy.
  • Image Image
  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Sergio Chejfec
  • Translated From Spanish
  • by Heather Cleary
  • Date Published June 2012
  • ISBN-13 978-1-934824-39-9
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 227pp
  • Price $13.95
  • Review by Olive Mullet
The Planets, by Argentinian-born writer Sergio Chejfec, is a go-with-the-flow novel that blends the characters walking the streets of Buenos Aires with a contemplation of several subjects like dreams, friendship, memory, and the mysteries in life. What little plot there is involves a friendship between M and the narrator. M is an innocent during the turbulent time of Argentinian political abductions and executions. Living next to the train tracks, M is abducted, disappears, and then is presumably killed by an explosion, which the narrator hears.
  • Image Image
  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Eric Gamalinda
  • Date Published June 2012
  • ISBN-13 978-1-936873-13-5
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 115pp
  • Price $16.00
  • Review by David Breithaupt
If Surrealists told stories around the campfire, they might do well to bring a copy of Eric Gamalinda’s new book of short fiction, People Are Strange. Here is a collection that contains a swath of wide-ranging episodes that take the reader through a gamut of emotions, not the least of which is surprise.
  • Image Image
  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Joel Lewis
  • Date Published June 2012
  • ISBN-13 978-1-934909-26-3
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 124pp
  • Price $18.00
  • Review by Pia Aliperti
“You’re reading the poems of a man,” Joel Lewis offers in Surrender When Leaving Coach, “who feels all the time / . . . like he’s rooting about / in the ruins of a cheap Pompeii.” Pompeii, for Lewis, is the familiar bus line along Staten Island’s Port Richmond Avenue that he will return to throughout the book, among the other well-worn routes he will cull for the daily strange, the repetitive, the hilarious, and the ephemeral. “Once again my obsession with / the motion of buses, trains and canal boats,” Lewis notes in the title poem of the collection, named for the instructions printed on the old bus tickets of his New Jersey youth. These poems look to the past even as the trains in them lumber to their stations on schedule. “In an absolute theater of time,” Lewis says, “everything happens at once.”
  • Image Image
  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Piotr Gwiazda
  • Date Published January 2012
  • ISBN-13 978-0971974128
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 62pp
  • Price $16.00
  • Review by Joanna Kurowska
Piotr Gwiazda’s Messages includes twenty-two poems (some of which are cycles of three to seven parts) and an interview with the author. The collection opens with a quotation from Joe Milutis’s Ether: The Nothing That Connects Everything, which describes “materialist interpretations” as “poor readings of rationality.” Gwiazda’s very first poem elaborates this theme further, by expanding poetry’s cognitive domain to “anything, anything”; whereas the poet’s task is “to translate the anything”—in other words, to show things’ true significance, as this excerpt demonstrates: “You think this is freedom, / but it’s a Chinese toy.”
  • Image Image
  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Paula Bohince
  • Date Published April 2012
  • ISBN-13 978-1936747283
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 80pp
  • Price $14.95
  • Review by Trena Machado
Hornets, locusts, bees, trees, the heart: recurring images bring us into the river, the river we ride inside us in Paula Bohince’s The Children. Bohince spares children no respite due to young age in “Pussy Willow”:
  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Aaron McCollough
  • Date Published October 2011
  • ISBN-13 978-1-934103-22-7
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 128pp
  • Price $17.50
  • Review by Gina Myers
Aaron McCollough’s fourth book, No Grave Can Hold My Body Down, is the most ambitious project we’ve seen released by the young author. In this book-length series, each section is titled after the songs on John Fahey’s album America—in fact, if you’ve followed McCollough’s work in recent years you would have seen some of these pieces, or versions of, published in journals as “selections from John Fahey’s America.” The book’s title recalls Johnny Cash, which along with Fahey and mentions of “Little Sadie,” “Tom Dooley,” Charley Patton, and the blues, places this collection squarely in conversation with the American songwriting tradition.
  • Image Image
  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Kelly Kathleen Ferguson
  • Date Published October 2011
  • ISBN-13 978-1-935708-44-5
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 183pp
  • Price $17.95
  • Review by Cheryl Wright-Watkins
Kelly Ferguson’s book chronicles the two weeks she spent retracing the pioneer journey of Laura Ingalls Wilder. The book opens in an antique clothing and costume shop in Missoula, Montana, where Ferguson buys her outfit for the trip: a floor-length bright blue flowered dress, the closest available facsimile of a prairie dress Laura would have worn. To explain her decision to make this journey, Ferguson reveals that she’s been obsessed with Laura since her mother gave her the yellow-covered Harper Trophy Edition box set of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books for her sixth birthday. Ferguson not only reads the books, she immerses herself in them; she carries the characters around in her head like imaginary friends.
  • Image Image
  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Karen Rigby
  • Date Published January 2012
  • ISBN-13 978-1-934103-25-8
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 64pp
  • Price $17.50
  • Review by Alyse Bensel
The lush and tactile imagery of Chinoiserie overwhelms the senses to invigorate a poetic world full of objects, people, and places. Spanning cities and centuries, Karen Rigby’s debut collection and winner of the Ahsahta Press 2011 Sawtooth Poetry Prize enraptures the reader through vivid and carefully rendered description, from flowers to fabrics to street scenes. A noteworthy collection of free verse engaged in shape and line, Chinoiserie enthralls throughout each poem, always connected to the senses.
  • Image Image
  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Dante Alighieri
  • Translated From Italian
  • by Mary Jo Bang
  • Date Published August 2012
  • ISBN-13 978-1-55597-619-4
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 352pp
  • Price $35.00
  • Review by Patrick James Dunagan
As far as serious, professional literary translation goes, Mary Jo Bang’s Inferno tests the boundaries of acceptability. Just how far afield from the original text the translator may venture yet still be found to be arguably holding true to the original is relentlessly challenged. Bang contends that since “Dante paid homage to poets and figures who meant something to him and to his readers; he appropriated stories once told by Virgil, Ovid, Lucan, and sometimes adapted them to suit his purposes,” her translation likewise will “include, through allusion, some of the poets and storytellers who have lived and left a mark in the time since Dante wrote.”
  • Image Image
  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Annemarie Schwarzenbach
  • Translated From German
  • by Lucy Renner Jones
  • Date Published October 2011
  • ISBN-13 978-0-85742-016-9
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 140pp
  • Price $15.00
  • Review by Wendy Breuer
Lyric Novella, by Swiss writer Annemarie Schwarzenbach, was published in 1933. The novella is slim. This edition, translated by Lucy Renner Jones, adds more weight with a translator’s introduction and an afterword that examines Schwarzenbach’s life and literary influences. I wanted, first, to let this lyric of youth and obsessive love stand on its own, to be convinced by the writing rather than be influenced by all the interpretation.
newpages-footer-logo

We welcome any/all Feedback.