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NewPages Book Reviews

Reviews of newly published and forthcoming independent and university press titles.

Posted September 01, 2016

  • Subtitle Philip Booth and the Gift of Place
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  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Jeanne Braham
  • Date Published November 2015
  • ISBN-13 978-0-87233-206-5
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 145pp
  • Price $23.95
  • Review by Valerie Wieland

Available Light: Philip Booth and the Gift of Place is as much a travelogue of picturesque Maine, and especially the town of Castine, as it is a biography of the late poet Philip Booth. In Jeanne Braham’s tidy book, the town and the poet are pretty much inseparable.

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  • Book Type Anthology Edited
  • by Stuart Dybek, Tara L. Masih
  • Date Published September 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-1-938466-74-8
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 148pp
  • Price $14.95
  • Review by Katy Haas

The word “small” often tends to denote something insignificant, something easily overlooked. The Best Small Fictions 2016, guest-edited by Stuart Dybek, completely obliterates that notion: there is nothing insignificant about these small stories. They boom and jump off the page, impossible to ignore.

  • Subtitle Twenty Essays and Interviews with the Writers
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  • Book Type Anthology Edited
  • by Jen Hirt & Erin Murphy
  • Date Published May 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-1-4384-6116-8
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 254pp
  • Price $24.95
  • Review by Valerie Wieland

You may have noticed that today’s personal essays are rarely defined by the five-paragraph model—intro, three body paragraphs, conclusion—that is generally taught in English composition classes. What remains standard, though, is the significance of the personal element. Creating Nonfiction: Twenty Essays and Interviews with the Writers exhibits wonderful examples, and the interviews are enough to encourage current and future essayists to keep writing.

  • Subtitle A Love Story and Meditation on Murder
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Janyce Stefan-Cole
  • Date Published September 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-1-60953-133-1
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 384pp
  • Price $18.00
  • Review by Valerie Wieland

Prowl around Brooklyn back in 1995 and you’ll catch retired homicide detective Emil Milosec digging in his garden—well, actually, his late wife’s garden. What he unearths is a woman’s pinkie finger and an opal ring. The ring belonged to his wife. The finger didn’t. Such is the premise for Janyce Stefan-Cole’s novel, The Detective’s Garden: A Love Story and Meditation on Murder.

  • Subtitle A Woman's Journey
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  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Kathryn Ferguson
  • Date Published August 2015
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8263-4058-0
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 240pp
  • Price $24.95
  • Review by Trena Machado

The Haunting of the Mexican Border: A Woman’s Journey by Kathryn Ferguson is written at eye-level. The book’s first half are the stories of the young author when, in her twenties her parents die, she realizes she is free to do whatever she wants. She grew up in Tucson, Arizona, sixteen miles from the Mexico border with fond memories of many childhood family day trips to Mexico. At that time the border was relatively unpopulated and the US government lax about Mexican migrants coming to the US to work and going back home to be with their families. Working at PBS TV, a dream was born in her to do a film of Mexico. She and a friend drove south into Mexico’s Sierra Madre open to what presented itself for a film. On one of the scouting trips, she and her friend reached nightfall. A lone man, wearing a red head band, and his son were walking the dirt road. She leaned out the car window and asked him where a good place was to put down their sleeping bags for the night. He took them to his home to stay with his family and becomes her friend for life. He is a Rarámuri, descendent of the Native Americans who had escaped the Conquistadors into the rugged Sierra Madras and retained their independence and customs. The contemporary story of the Rarámuri, told through three rituals, was her first film.

  • Subtitle Stories of an American Childhood
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  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Paul Hertneky
  • Date Published May 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-0-87233-222-5
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 224pp
  • Price $21.95
  • Review by Allyson Hoffman

Rust Belt Boy: Stories of an American Childhood is an outstanding portrait of Ambridge, Pennsylvania, a steel town which, like so many similar communities, helped shape and build the working America we know today. Gentle and loving, Paul Hertneky pays homage to the hometown he desired to leave for greater, unknown places. Hertneky’s descriptions left me yearning to travel to a version of the city that only exists in history books and his memoir.

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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Sequoia Nagamatsu
  • Date Published May 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-1-62557-944-7
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 162pp
  • Price $16.95
  • Review by MacKenzie Hamilton

Where We Go When All We Were Is Gone is a twelve story collection that throws readers headlong into the deepest depths of the human heart. Each story explores the real life vulnerability people deal with in their darkest hours while seamlessly enchanting the reader with characters that are magically fantastic. Readers will find themselves lost in the mix of these lovely yet terrifying stories.

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  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Ben Doller & Sandra Doller
  • Date Published January 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-1-940090-04-7
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 193pp
  • Price $18.00
  • Review by MacKenzie Hamilton

Ben and Sandra Doller dive straight into a foreboding and brutally honest real-life account of their cohabitation with their newest roommate, cancer. The Yesterday Project was co-written by the Dollers in the wake of a life-threatening diagnosis: melanoma cancer, stage 3. The project lasts a total of 32 days with each writer taking a moment each day to go back and recollect the previous day’s experiences.

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