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NewPages Book Reviews

Posted December 3, 2012

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  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Matias Viegener
  • Date Published October 2012
  • ISBN-13 978-193425435-6
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 246pp
  • Price $15.00
  • Review by Patrick James Dunagan
This is a book for the era of Facebook, memes and all. Matias Viegener heard about a spate of peeps posting Facebook lists of 25 Random Things about themselves and decided to assign himself the task of creating such a list for 100 days, posting each daily to Facebook. Thus he ended up with a total of 2500 ‘things’ which not surprisingly proves more than enough to fill a book.
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Gregory Spatz
  • Date Published June 2012
  • ISBN-13 978-1-934137-42-0
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 192pp
  • Price $14.95
  • Review by Olive Mullet
Gregory Spatz’s well-written novel Inukshuk involves two alternating and to some extent paralleling stories: a father-son story and an historical recreation of the last days of 19th century explorer Sir John Franklin and his crew members on the ice-bound ships Terror and Erebus, trying in vain to discover the Northwest Passage. The parallels come first from the same names: the father is named John Franklin and his son, who is convinced he is related to the explorer, is Thomas, a name he shares with a crewmember. The father has moved the two of them to Alberta, Canada to be closer to his wife, who is on her own Arctic observation exploration. And both the explorer’s wife and the father’s wife are named Jane. What really links the two stories, however, is the thirteen-year-old’s escape into the world of the explorer’s expedition in its last days. Meanwhile, the modern John Franklin escapes into his poetry and fascination with the selkie myth (a shape-shifting myth of seal to man and back again, like the father’s own alternating myth with real life). This is a story of the danger of obsessions, the father’s and son’s coming after mother/wife Jane’s abandonment of them for her own obsession. Father and son each suffer alone, especially Thomas, the outsider in his school.
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Jac Jemc
  • Date Published May 2012
  • ISBN-13 978-1-936873-68-5
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 194pp
  • Price $15.95
  • Review by David Breithaupt
Jac Jemc has written a novel so wonderful that if it were a dish served at a social event, I would ask the hostess for the recipe. If I were to place the various ingredients which make up this book I might say a dash of Kafka, maybe a pinch of those new wave French writers like Robbe-Grillet, and a tablespoon of Andre Breton’s classic “A Mad Love.” Mix it all up and place between two covers. Become horizontal, relax, and serve.
  • Subtitle A Celebration of Lesbian Poetry
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  • Book Type Anthology edited
  • by Bryan Borland
  • Date Published August 2012
  • ISBN-13 978-1937420185
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 144pp
  • Price $16.95
  • Review by Aimee Nicole
From Sibling Rivalry Press, publishers of Assaracus: A Journal of Gay Poetry, comes a new contribution to the GLBT canon. This one is a collection of lesbian poetry from both established and new authors. Before the poems, a paragraph or so provides details about each author. While usually this information is found at the end of a collection, here it sets up the reader for what he/she is about to read. This book includes a nice assortment of poems, and it was refreshing to read such a wide variety of works from each author. In this collection, there is no “one and done.” Through their poetry, the reader is truly able to get to know each writer before it is time to move on to the next.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Judy Halebsky
  • Date Published April 2012
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9819816-5-9
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 35pp
  • Price $10.00
  • Review by Jeremy Benson
In Space / Gap / Interval / Distance, Judy Halebsky draws the many strands of her life’s arts together, braiding the leaps and bounds of expression into a fantastic set of ekphrastic poems.
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Anita Endrezze
  • Date Published September 2012
  • ISBN-13 978-08165-0225-7
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 176pp
  • Price $17.95
  • Review by Trena Machado
The short stories by Anita Endrezze in Butterfly Moon are a hybrid of myths and folklore, mostly with a contemporary setting. Many traditions—Native American, Norse, Greek, Romanian, Transylvanian—are used with appearances by guardian angels, gypsies, witches, familiars, shadows, a vampire, the three fates—and a Jungian therapist. The breadth of her reach is not surprising as her father is a Yaqui Indian with roots in Sonora, Mexico and her mother’s roots are in Slovenia, Germany, Romania and Italy. For all the elements combined, the stories run smoothly as they take place in psychological space where we want answers about ourselves in the world. With the prominence of interior space, the drama is within the personal field of the characters . . . and in this personal field of hopes and desire for mercy, human beings haven’t changed much over the millennia.
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by James Friel
  • Date Published May 2012
  • ISBN-13 978-1936797011
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 252pp
  • Price $16.95
  • Review by Olive Mullet
The “Little Man” and the “Fat Princess,” as children in the spring of 1880, trail a red balloon—a “swollen heart”—across Washington Square. And thus begins James Friel’s The Posthumous Affair, a beautifully written and unique, daring love story. Even the end is a risky stand on the part of the author.
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Paul Christman
  • Date Published May 2012
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9847399-8-1
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 397pp
  • Price $16.99
  • Review by Elizabeth O'Brien
Solian Lede is a New Zealand runner who possesses a wealth of talent but who lacks sufficient discipline to excel at her sport. As Paul Christman’s The Purple Runner begins, Solian strives to become a winning professional runner, but she expresses ambivalence about the possibility of fame, the need to give up partying in order to focus on her running, and her frustrated attempts to find a partner who takes the sport as seriously as she does. Meanwhile, Chris Carlson is a television news editor working in New York City, whose true lifelong passion is for running, and Warren Fowles is a thirty-six-year-old San Francisco lawyer who seems to possess fortune in spades. Warren has good looks, a comfortable trust fund, and natural running ability, but what he lacks is the impetus to focus: whether on his running or on his creative dream of finishing a substantial poetry manuscript. As The Purple Runner develops, the narration moves between these three characters, and all three find themselves moving to London in order to fulfill their individual dreams.
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Graciela Limón
  • Date Published April 2012
  • ISBN-13 978-1558857421
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 240pp
  • Price $19.95
  • Review by Patricia Contino
Her story reads like fiction. In 1864 Napoleon III and sentimental Mexican royalists re-established a Mexican monarchy, placing the Austrian Prince Maximilian and his Belgian wife Carlota as rulers. The move, in hindsight as grotesque as the gaudy art and fashion of Napoleon’s era, was extremely unpopular in the Americas. Following the Civil War, the American government supported an uprising spearheaded by lawyer/reformer Benito Juarez. The puppet monarchy was overthrown in 1867, and Maximilian was executed. Carlota escaped, never recovered from a subsequent nervous breakdown, and lived in a castle serving as an asylum until the age of 87.
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  • Book Type Young Adult Fiction
  • by Kathy Stinson
  • Date Published September 2012
  • ISBN-13 978-1926920818
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 146pp
  • Price $11.95
  • Review by Karen Seehaus Papson
David Burke may seem like an awkward, average teenager, and in most ways he is. However, unlike most teens, David spends a good deal of time looking after his severely disabled younger sister, Ivy. She gets all the attention, whereas David believes he’s practically invisible to his parents. It’s not surprising that sometimes David feels resentful of Ivy, and it is in one of these moments of frustration that Kathy Stinson begins this compelling family drama, What Happened to Ivy. Given that Stinson has penned more than thirty titles across many genres, it’s not surprising that her prose effortlessly captures the range of emotions encompassed in this story.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Hoa Nguyen
  • Date Published September 2012
  • ISBN-13 978-1-933517-61-2
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 88pp
  • Price $16.00
  • Review by Patrick James Dunagan
Hoa Nguyen, similar to Louis Zukofsky—another poet whose work indelibly again and again proves the apt suitability of the term when intended as sincere compliment and appropriately applied—deserves the title of A Poet’s Poet. Nguyen’s poems approach pure poetry. That is to say, there’s no shtick, no commentary, no gloss, or outside concern beyond what the poem is busying itself being as a momentary occurrence of heightened language use. Any intrusion or obscuration is absent. While it’s obviously possible to situate Nguyen within a historical English language poetic lineage (which would run something like: Chaucer, Wyatt, Donne, Shakespeare, the Wordsworths, Keats, the Shelleys, Dickinson, Hopkins, Whitman, Hawthorne, Melville, Stein, Pound, Zukofsky, Olson, Duncan, Kerouac, Whalen, Notley, Mayer, Kyger) her work exists in a timeless flow of language and song; daily routines, observances, and distractions carrying the poems along:
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  • Book Type Young Adult Fication
  • by Alice Walsh
  • Date Published September 2012
  • ISBN-13 978-1-926920-79-5
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 176pp
  • Price $11.95
  • Review by Elizabeth O'Brien
Alice Walsh’s A Long Way from Home is a compassionately told novel that straddles the line between children’s and young adult fiction, and the story it tells will appeal to younger and older audiences alike.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Michelle Disler
  • Date Published November 2011
  • ISBN-13 978-1933996-25-7
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 120pp
  • Price $14.95
  • Review by Jeremy Benson
I have not yet seen it, myself, but I hear in the latest James Bond film, Skyfall, Agent 007 may or may not cry. According to eonline.com, a tearful James Bond is a sin against the Ten Commandments of the James Bond franchise. When asked, Daniel Craig (the sixth official Bond, for those still counting) defended his character’s face-water: “He doesn’t cry, he’s sweating.” What’s funny is that in author Ian Fleming’s original dozen novels, the character Bond is found crying or sobbing about five times. His “heart lifts” a further six times; he’s rescued by a girl four times. I know this not because I’ve painstakingly read through all the books, but because Michelle Disler has—and has compiled her findings in the form of poems in [Bond, James]: alphabet, anatomy, [auto]biography.
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