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NewPages Book Reviews

Posted March 02, 2015

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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Kimberly Burwick
  • Date Published December 2014
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9895611-4-3
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 63pp
  • Price $13.00
  • Review by Kimberly Ann
Every line, phrase, and syllable of Kimberly Burwick’s Good Night Brother is thick with a language that perhaps only angels know. As I read these dense, imagistic lines, I recall the charismatic churches of my youth when, at Sunday morning worship, any number of individuals might erupt into an otherworldly song in “tongues,” coming from the spirit within. Perhaps Burwick has such a spirit—a poetic spirit that transforms “milkweed,” “geese,” “pheasants,” “berries,” “roads,” and “flies” into abstractions, the reader reveling in the feel of this strange language passing over the pores of the page.
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Ann Pancake
  • Date Published January 2015
  • ISBN-13 978-13-61902-464-9
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 291pp
  • Price $24.00
  • Review by Rhonda Browning White
Me and My Daddy Listen to Bob Marley, Ann Pancake’s collection of novellas and short stories, is steeped in the culture and dialect of generations of rural West Virginians; moreover, it’s awash with heartache, brutal honesty, mistrust of strangers, and the necessary and stubborn resolve that illuminates the mountain-state people’s passion for family and the place they call home.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Brittany Cavallaro and Rebecca Hazelton
  • Date Published September 2014
  • ISBN-13 978-1-62557-999-7
  • Format Chapbook
  • Pages 36pp
  • Price $8.95
  • Review by Ryo Yamaguchi
It’s funny to think of No Girls, No Telephones in the context of the fan genre, like everyone’s favorite 50 Shades of Gray, but let’s do that for just one wincingly good second. Okay. Of course, this isn’t 50 Shades of Gray. This is poetry, for one. It’s a collaboration between Brittany Cavallaro and Rebecca Hazelton, two talented and accomplished poets. And perhaps most importantly, it riffs not off of a tweeny bestseller but one of the most sophisticated, startling, and idiomatic literary works of the American tradition, John Berryman’s Dream Songs.
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Santiago Vaquera-Vasquez
  • Date Published March 2015
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8263-5573-7
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 136pp
  • Price $18.95
  • Review by Girija Sankar
The characters in Santiago Vaquera-Vasquez’s stories navigate many worlds, literally and figuratively traversing continents, global metropolises, national borders, and epistemic boundaries, all in a quest for that universal human need for belonging and connectedness. In a collection of fourteen stories, Vaquera-Vasquez, an assistant professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of New Mexico, draws the blinds into a sub-culture of Eses, hombres, border crossers, and all things Chicano.
  • Subtitle The Complete First Edition
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Jacob & Wilhelm Grimm
  • Translated From German
  • by Jack Zipes
  • Date Published October 2014
  • ISBN-13 978-0980644708
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 568pp
  • Price $35.00
  • Review by Patricia Contino
Along with Shakespeare, Tolstoy, Twain, and Anonymous, the authors of this anthology are among the most recognized in literature. Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm were also preservationists, transcribing fairy tales verbally passed down from generation to the next. With book in hand—something increasingly common during the course of the nineteenth century—the “Story Teller” no longer had to rely on memory. Since their publication in 1812, these stories found their way into other narrative forms including visual and/or animated art, music, opera, ballet, and film. Artists from Walter Crane to children sitting at the kitchen table have drawn Rumpelstiltskin, Snow White, and Rapunzel.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Chris Green
  • Date Published October 2014
  • ISBN-13 978-1-936419-44-9
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 74pp
  • Price $15.95
  • Review by Benjamin Champagne
In the dedication Chris Green states that there is “no straightforward compensation.” The rest of the poems follow Joseph Brodsky’s quote during his employment trial, “Everything was interesting to me. I changed jobs because I wanted to learn more about life, about people.” There is a Midwestern, blue collar motif to the language that runs through the poems. There is plenty of indirect and direct evidence of the observations of a poet from Chicago. Many times I thought of Nickel and Dimed, Barbara Ehrenreich’s exposé on living a low-wage lifestyle.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Mary Biddinger
  • Date Published May 2014
  • ISBN-13 978-1-62557-908-9
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 75pp
  • Price $13.95
  • Review by Elizabeth O'Brien
Mary Biddinger’s fourth poetry collection, A Sunny Place with Adequate Water, grapples with social mores, loneliness, and isolation through serial non-sequitors and questions that seem sincerely non-rhetorical, yet go unanswered. Tonally, A Sunny Place with Adequate Water is reminiscent of the poetry of Mary Ruefle, or of Steven Millhauser’s prose poem novella, Enchanted Night.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Matthew Rohrer
  • Date Published April 2015
  • ISBN-13 978-1940696-03-4
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 112pp
  • Price $18.00
  • Review by Brian McKenna
Every evening in the city
is a deep pool of wine

Everyone who lives in the city
is drunk with it

And cannot leave

            They are surrounded by friends
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  • Book Type Cross-Genre
  • by M
  • Date Published November 2014
  • ISBN-13 978-0692334799
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 130pp
  • Price $8.00
  • Review by Trena Machado
Un-Sight/ Un-Sound (delirium X.) is published by gnOme press, which specializes in anonymous, pseudepigraphical and apocryphal works; a press that also eliminates the name of the author because “The self in no way matters . . . (the reader) is any one and I (the author) am also anyone. . . .” The author, represented by the initial M, has written a text in three parts, each part its own distinct structure of fragments, each of the structures with its own specific effect. Across all three parts, the fragments of syntax elements yield each part’s content. This is not a theoretical exercise, but a language born of the body, the senses, the gut. . . born of the anguish and power of flesh in the world.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Diana Hamilton
  • Date Published December 2014
  • Format Chapbook
  • Pages 36pp
  • Price $12.00
  • Review by Ryo Yamaguchi
Diana Hamilton’s Universe is one of the tightest projects I’ve ever read: a chapbook length poem on ethics, broken into two sections (one roughly on property/possession, the other on race) and comprised largely of analytical propositions angularly cut into strikingly short lines. “You and I exist in a civil condition” the speaker asserts. Doesn’t sound very exciting, does it?
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Noah Eli Gordon
  • Date Published April 2015
  • ISBN-13 978-1-936767-38-0
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 158pp
  • Price $18.00
  • Review by Benjamin Champagne
This is not a pipe. The word is not the thing. The Word Kingdom in the Word Kingdom shares this sentiment. Noah Eli Gordon presents a modern treason of symbol. His words take flight in the very airplanes he describes. The trajectory is set by meta ontology. As the poems move forward and take shape, there is the sense that a message was thought of before the descriptions, that the writing has an agenda. However, there is a playful sense of tumbling through, that the words are allowing each other to create the next one. The message of origins of language and the etymology of our very ideas are shrouded in mystery.
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Becky Adnot-Haynes
  • Date Published November 2014
  • ISBN-13 9781574415650
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 192pp
  • Price $14.95
  • Review by Girija Sankar
In The Year of Perfect Happiness, nobody is perfect. Under a veneer of normalcy and seeming perfection lie malice, cunning, chicanery, and evil. In people like you and me that populate the landscape of Middle America—the ones with dreams and aspirations to have good jobs, a family, career and friends—have a little malice in us. Characters in Becky Adnot-Haynes’s The Year of Perfect Happiness, a collection of ten short stories, are etched with the slightest of kinks, of imperfections, that allow the evil to seep through, making the ordinary seem that much less so. Female protagonists are drawn with an eye towards the slightly weird, the eccentric, with tinges of idiotic. The characters stay with you long after you’ve flipped the page.
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