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NewPages Book Reviews

Posted December 2, 2013

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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Noelle Kocot
  • Date Published October 2013
  • ISBN-13 978-1933517742
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 144pp
  • Price $18.00
  • Review by Kelly M. Sylvester
Soul in Space by Noelle Kocot challenges its readers. Within the first few poems, I recognized Kocot wasn’t going to provide footholds to guide me through her words of whimsy, which hint and glimpse at an uncharted world. I fought for meaning and felt lost in space; I surrendered to the experience, and suddenly Kocot’s vividity sang from the pages.
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  • Book Type Cross-Genre
  • by Donald Wellman
  • Date Published December 2012
  • ISBN-13 978-1-933675-87-9
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 106pp
  • Price $17.00
  • Review by Patrick James Dunagan
The Maximus Poems of Charles Olson continue to inspire, by way of example, many off-shoot projects by poets who came after. Olson’s intimately grand gesture was scooping the local, immediate concerns of Gloucester, Massachusetts onto the historical and mythic world stage, while devoutly insisting the context remain personal. This gave both the permission and encouragement for numerous similar endeavors by poets seeking to weave broad, historical scope into autobiographical material. The most successful of these projects are ones similar to Donald Wellman’s Cranberry Island Series, where the poet steers clear of overly emulating Olson’s work (in terms of the “projective” form it takes across the page) and person. Wellman creates a work shaped according to its own needs assuming a form wholly its own.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Ethan Paquin
  • Date Published March 2013
  • ISBN-13 978-1-934103-38-8
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 117pp
  • Price $20.00
  • Review by Trena Machado
Language let loose: in Cloud vs. Cloud, Ethan Paquin gives us the poet as a fleeting point. His universe is one of words—not a social universe, not the natural world. We are in the quickness of thought, of seeing at the level of language. The author is talking to himself, bending language to a penetrating look at the surface, a surface that bounces him back. All is surface, including his own experience: “What is known, nothing . . . nothing can be articulated.”
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Elena Ferrante
  • Date Published September 2013
  • ISBN-13 978-1-60945-134-9
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 480pp
  • Price $18.00
  • Review by Wendy Breuer
The Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrante is the second volume of a trilogy. It is a novel of a complex friendship between two women, Lenú and Lila, that goes forward with intellectual intimacy, competition, loyalty, anger, and excruciating love. In the first book of this series, My Brilliant Friend, Lenú, in her sixties, learns that Lila has disappeared. She recreates their girlhood sharing fairytale dreams to escape a post-war Neapolitan neighborhood bleeding from fatalism and old betrayals. Lila, risk-taker and quick study, and Lenú the striver carry on friendly competition in school. Lenú is allowed to continue her education while Lila is compelled to work with her shoemaker father. Lenú begins rigorous secondary studies. Lila pulls herself into middle-class comfort at sixteen by marrying an ambitious grocer. The second book picks up at this point.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Jim Daniels
  • Date Published September 2013
  • ISBN-13 978-1-938160-16-5
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 120pp
  • Price $16.00
  • Review by Kelly M. Sylvester
A poet of the working-class and city streets, Jim Daniels’s fourteenth poetry collection travels from Detroit to Ohio to Pittsburgh, from one post-industrial city to another, across jobs and generations. Daniels focuses on the urban landscape and its effects on its inhabitants as they struggle to establish community on streets hissing with distrust and random violence.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Nola Garrett
  • Date Published March 2013
  • ISBN-13 978-1-936419-16-6
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 74pp
  • Price $14.95
  • Review by Emily May Anderson
In Nola Garrett’s second collection, The Pastor’s Wife Considers Pinball, the speaker considers many things in addition to the classic game she imagines in the ten-part title poem. That long poem, organized into ten “games,” covers a lot of ground on its own: from the clear evocation of place early on in “Game 1” when Garrett writes “Here in the Rust Belt // our schools are all rules, our sons play air / guitar, // wait for the army recruiter”; to personal stories of grandfathers, friends, and neighbors; to contemplations of tragedy (“When an airplane crashes, / no one blames the sky” in “Game 2”) and God (described in “Game 5” as a “deist clockmaker”). Pinball, throughout the long poem, serves as both subject of the poem and metaphor for life:
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  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Thomas Doherty
  • Date Published April 2013
  • ISBN-13 978-0-231-16392-7
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 448pp
  • Price $35.00
  • Review by Patricia Contino
In a period in which propaganda has largely reduced the artistic and entertainment validity of the screen in many other countries, it is pleasant to report that American motion pictures continue to be free from any but the highest possible entertainment purpose . . . Propaganda disguised as entertainment has no place on the American screen.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Dodie Bellamy
  • Date Published November 2013
  • ISBN-13 978-1-934254-49-3
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 75pp
  • Price $15.00
  • Review by Patrick James Dunagan
The first piece of writing I ever read by Dodie Bellamy was an essay in an issue of City Lights Review concerning her on-again, off-again fucked-up hotel room romance with the poet John Wieners. Sex, drugs, and his rather poetically peripatetic mental state were the main highlights. After some reflection, after hearing Bellamy read and speak in public and becoming more familiar with her work, I came to the realization that this essay was in fact more or less a fictional story, a literary homage.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Michael Teig
  • Date Published November 2013
  • ISBN-13 978-1-938160-20-2
  • Format Paperback
  • Price $16.00
  • Review by Elizabeth O'Brien
Michael Teig’s second poetry collection, There’s a Box in the Garage You Can Beat with a Stick, is a romping book, full of syntactic (and synaptic) leaps. Organized in three parts, two of which begin with meditations on the possibilities of boxes, these poems hint at a diverse poetic lineage, possibly including James Tate, the New York School poets, and Sombrero Fallout-era Richard Brautigan. Teig finds occasion for poetry in chickens and waltzes and monkeys and hats, and the speaker addresses readers in a casual, friendly mode. The diction of the poems ranges from officious to fanciful, sometimes in the same intake of breath, which is at times both confusing and exhilarating.
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  • Book Type Edited
  • by Kevin Prufer and Michael Dumanis
  • Date Published June 2013
  • ISBN-13 978-0964145443
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 210pp
  • Price $12.00
  • Review by Lydia Pyne
As an undergraduate, I majored in history and archaeology. I suppose part of the attraction to these degrees was an enthusiasm for the undiscovered and all things old. In Russell Atkins: On the Life & Work of an American Master, part of Pleiades Press’s Unsung Masters Series, I was introduced to a new poet and was reminded of that thrill of finding something undiscovered and underappreciated—an artifact or an idea that time had passed by. In this amazing assemblage of poetry and essays, Editors Kevin Prufer and Michael Dumanis work to acquaint readers with an American poet whose life and work are largely unrecognized.
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