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NewPages Book Reviews

Posted November 3, 2014

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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Ron Carlson
  • Date Published August 2014
  • ISBN-13 978-1597092753
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 96pp
  • Price $14.95
  • Review by Audrey Quinn
It’s the rare book that will compel me to read it aloud rather than silently, and reading The Blue Box by Ron Carlson turned out to be one of those experiences. Flash fiction is a genre that can so easily become pretentious or overly complicated. To fit a distinct narrative voice in such a short span of time while also enticing the readers with an intriguing plot, humor, and depth is no easy feat, but Carlson seems to accomplish it all with little more than a snap of his fingers. Though the circumstances in the stories were often surreal, the voice felt cemented in a witty hyper-reality.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Betsy Andrews
  • Date Published July 2014
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9830747-5-5
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 55pp
  • Price $15.00
  • Review by Andrea Dulberger
How does a poet who perceives the depth of trouble humans have sunk themselves and other living species in convey the confusion and range—the tumultuous feeling—of this trouble? The long poem by Betsy Andrews titled The Bottom swims right into these waters with a voice that jumps from clear-eyed anger to imaginative wonder as it catalogues and presses close to “the sea’s delicious mess.” This is a relentless swimming, tense with music, urgent in its journey toward a sense of safety and home.
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Halina Duraj
  • Date Published 2014
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9887355-3-8
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 116pp
  • Price $15.00
  • Review by Girija Sankar
The Family Cannon is Halina Duraj’s debut short story collection on family, loyalty, and fidelity. The collection of ten stories revolve around Magda, a 20-something woman (perhaps modeled after the writer herself?) and her immigrant parents from Poland who survived the Nazis and WWII. The father immigrates to the United States after the war and, in a few years’ time, visits his birth country to find a wife. The stories do not follow a narrowly defined linear trajectory;
  • Subtitle On the Life & Work of a Modern Master
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  • Book Type Collection Edited
  • by Kathryn Nuernberger and Bruce Whiteman
  • Date Published June 2014
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9641454-5-0
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 144pp
  • Price $12.99
  • Review by Patrick James Dunagan
The Unsung Masters Series published by Pleiades Press performs a remarkable service to writers whose work has been eclipsed for one reason or another during the ensuing decades after its original appearance. Each volume focuses upon a writer relatively unknown, providing a relatively quick, yet nonetheless detailed, summation of his or her biography along with some critical overview and examples of the work itself. Francis Jammes (1868-1938) was a major presence in the French literary scene of his day. He also received significant attention from English readers.
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  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by William Logan
  • Date Published April 2014
  • ISBN-13 978-0-231-16686-7
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 328pp
  • Price $35.00
  • Review by Patrick James Dunagan
William Logan's poetry reviews found in Guilty Knowledge, Guilty Pleasure don't mince words. Never drab, his criticism will entertain and never bore. It doesn't much matter whether readers agree or disagree with his judgments, as he generally delivers them with enough original panache to readily amuse all the same. He doesn't quite reach far enough out from the borders of the poetry world to be of interest to those readers unfamiliar with poetry-at-large, but anyone with a decent background in the field, whether reading for a degree or for pleasure, will be quite well acquainted enough to follow along.
  • Subtitle Iris Barry and the Art of Film
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  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Robert Sitton
  • Date Published April 2014
  • ISBN-13 978-0-231-16578-5
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 496pp
  • Price $40.00
  • Review by Patricia Contino
The “moment” in Robert Sitton’s Lady in the Dark: Iris Barry and the Art of Film does not involve Ms. Barry. Over a series of formal meetings and parties, several millionaires (Nelson Rockefeller and Jock Whitney) and their talented, educated friends (architect Philip Johnson and the wealthy painter Gerald Murphy) decided to create The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). That they accomplished this during the Great Depression is miraculous. They knew society—not the types in nightclubs or their equivalent to the red carpet—could not survive without culture.

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  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by John Skoyles
  • Date Published June 2014
  • ISBN-13 978-1-57962-358-6
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 256pp
  • Price $29.00
  • Review by Cheryl Wright-Watkins
John Skoyles, poetry editor of Ploughshares and professor at Emerson College, unveils in this memoir his journey as the son of a working class family in Queens whose mother introduces him to poetry, to student at a Jesuit all-male college, to the Iowa Writers Workshop, Provincetown, Yaddo, and a long, successful career as professor and published writer. He takes the reader along through his interactions with intimidating professors, competitive classmates, indifferent women, and flawed mentors. He skillfully weaves the diverse elements
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa
  • Translated From the Italian
  • by Stephen Twilley
  • Date Published June 2014
  • ISBN-13 978-1-59017-719-8
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 69pp
  • Price $12.95
  • Review by Olive Mullet
Stephen Twilley’s new translation of Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa’s last work The Professor and the Siren would appeal most to those who loved di Lampedusa’s masterpiece The Leopard, as both are beautifully written. Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa witnessed the demise of his aristocratic family’s holdings in Sicily after the rise of Garibaldi and the subsequent unification of Italy. The Leopard’s story traces the aristocracy’s downfall in the person of Don Fabrizio Corbera, Prince of Salina, known as “the Leopard.”
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Rusty Barnes
  • Date Published March 2014
  • ISBN-13 978-1934513453
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 240pp
  • Price $16.00
  • Review by Audrey Quinn
Reckoning by Rusty Barnes is the story of a Richard Logan, a fourteen-year-old boy in a small Appalachian town. Richard and Katie, the pretty new girl in town, find an unconscious woman in a lake one day while swimming. This woman, Misty, along with Katie’s mother and Lyle, Richard’s adult nemesis, lead the way down a path into debauchery and violence in their wooded hamlet. In the description on the back of the book, it is called “brutal and beautiful” which is true in parts. The brutality is clearly used as a selling point, unsurprising when shows like Breaking Bad and True Detective are being celebrated
  • Subtitle Poems 1998-2008
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Hoa Nguyen
  • Date Published September 2014
  • ISBN-13 978-1-933517-92-6
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 272pp
  • Price $22.00
  • Review by Elizabeth O'Brien
Red Juice: Poems 1998-2008 is the first compilation of Hoa Nguyen’s work, gathering several of her previous small press chapbooks, including Red Juice from effing press, Your Ancient See Through from subpress, and Hecate Lochia from Hot Whiskey Press. Arranged chronologically, the book demonstrates the progressive development of some of Nguyen’s key interests—including the contradictions of popular culture; the visceral nature of childbirth, mothering, and womanhood; and a clashing sense of both culpability in and removal from impending environmental collapse.

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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Julia Elliott
  • Date Published October 2014
  • ISBN-13 978-1-935639-92-3
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 288pp
  • Price $15.95
  • Review by Kirsten McIlvenna
Flipping a page in Julia Elliott’s short story collection The Wilds is opening a page upon whole new futuristic worlds that do not stray that far from our own. On one page you’ll enter a spa for “bodily restoration” with goat-milk-and-basil soaks, kelp baths, and lunches of raw vegetables and fermented organ meats. Turn the page and you’ll enter a scientist’s lab where a sexless robot falls in love. Further in still, you’ll discover a disease that feeds on teenagers, causing them to obsess over videogames or social-networking sites and to have a social withdrawal and “a voracious appetite for junk food.”

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