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NewPages Book Reviews

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

Posted July 07, 2016

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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Brian Booker
  • Date Published May 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-1-942658-12-2
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 256pp
  • Price $16.95
  • Review by Allyson Hoffman

Tinged with mystery and magical realism, Brian Booker’s Are You Here for What I’m Here For? is an outstanding collection of self-contained short stories with themes of sleeplessness, sadness, and sickness. The characters, setting, and point of view vary from each story, which demonstrates the wide range of Booker’s fiction writing skills. Furthermore, the stories occur in different, sometimes undeterminable time periods, adding flavor and movement to the reading experience.

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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Lisa Anne Gundry
  • Date Published October 2015
  • ISBN-13 978-1-943548-10-1
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 115pp
  • Price $9.95
  • Review by Kimberly Ann Priest
“The body of a child is a playground” -from “Red Rover”

Lisa Anne Gundry’s often sparse lines of poetry about childhood sexual abuse and its lingering effects is haunting. While some of her poems reflect a juvenile attention to the art, Gundry’s grasp of the subject matter is spot on—partly because she lived it and partly because she has clearly carefully researched each phase of her own pain and healing and just as carefully referenced these phases in her work. At 116 pages, A Crowd of Sorrows addresses neither too little or too much, spanning accounts of the abuse, counseling, trauma, and the reactions of family members to her confession that her grandfather was a pedophile who had violated both she and her sister in cars and on couches, during the day and at night.

  • Subtitle Contemporary Tales of Crime and Other Dark Deeds
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  • Book Type Anthology Edited
  • by Kenneth Wishnia
  • Date Published November 2015
  • ISBN-13 978-1-62963-111-0
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 432pp
  • Price $17.95
  • Review by Valerie Wieland

A short story is the perfect medium for busy people, and Jewish Noir, heralded as the first book of its kind, presents a month’s worth of short stories to delight any reader of the genre. Editor Kenneth Wishnia sums up the lure: “[ . . . ] a majority of the world’s Christians are taught that if you follow the right path, everything will turn out well for you in the end. In Judaism, you can follow the right path and still get screwed (just ask Job). That’s noir.”

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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Susan Briante
  • Date Published February 2016
  • ISBN-13 978­1­934103­64-7
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 128pp
  • Price $18.00
  • Review by Benjamin Champagne

The Dow that can be named is not the eternal Tao. This is the message of Susan Briante’s great and fun new work The Market Wonders. The economic market is a man made concoction, yet it behaves in an almost random manner that seems to follow rules of nature. In the beginning of the book she quotes, “Blake reminds us, ‘For everything that lives is Holy!’” and sure enough the market seems to be alive. This book associates a volatile reverence to money. The subject is about as transgressive as can be. Most people do not read poetry, half of us that read barely understand it, and certainly, nobody is making a living from it. That is to say, unless you’re Tao Lin or Ben Lerner who undoubtedly have other means of income. The rare Ted Kooser who can make a rock star’s living at poetry is once in a lifetime. But Briante builds a relationship between the flow of the market and the flow of words and poetry. The ticker at the bottom of the book is definitely the philosophical icing on the cake.

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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Jesús Salvador Treviño
  • Date Published September 2015
  • ISBN-13 978-1-55885-819-0
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 160pp
  • Price $17.95
  • Review by David Morgan O'Connor

When filmmakers turn to fiction, plot is always king. Characters and their motivations take a back seat, and the subtle components—the way fiction can get deep inside your mind and play with your inner voice—are often forgotten.

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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Rudolfo Anaya
  • Date Published April 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8061-5226-4
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 224pp
  • Price $24.95
  • Review by David Morgan O'Connor
“We live for a brief moment en este valle de lágrimas”

Maybe that’s why there is no resolution in my letters. There is no hero announcing at the end that good will triumph over evil [ . . . ] If my letters were a plea for sanity, then writing them was worthwhile [ . . . ] Remember, the observer of any artistic work changes the work, and in turn is changed by it.
  • Subtitle A Novella and Stories
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Maceo Montoya
  • Date Published September 2015
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8263-4199-0
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 200pp
  • Price $19.95
  • Review by David Morgan O'Connor

Maceo Montoya’s You Must Fight Them, a debut collection which begins with the namesake—a ninety-nine-page novella, in which Chicano stereotypes are deciphered, defined, mocked, challenged and rendered in heart-shattering detail—is poignant and entertaining. Montoya’s narrators are mostly bookish and well-educated. They are searching for identity and often do not find what they are expecting. The doctorate student is supposed to be tough and fight the brothers of a girl he worshipped in high school. Why tough? Why fight? Because that is how it is and always will be. Lupita, the girl, wants out of this macho-viciousness, but can’t figure out how. Nothing is cut and dry. Montoya deals with smudged borders and crooked lines.

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