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NewPages Book Reviews

Posted February 01, 2016

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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Jennifer Nelson
  • Date Published Fall 2015
  • ISBN-13 978-1-937027-51-3
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 88pp
  • Price $14.00
  • Review by Benjamin Champagne
Aim At The Centaur Stealing Your Wife amalgamates the slang of the centuries. Jennifer Nelson is an art historian with a Twitter feed and some resolve. The title is apt to produce a complex thought system about the nature of relationships. Philosophy majors may recall Heracles shooting the poison arrow at Nessus, the centaur trying to force himself upon his wife. Nessus lies to the woman and deceives her into killing her own husband. Whether the extrapolation is made unto interpersonal living, it can certainly be seen intrapersonally. 
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by A. Igoni Barrett
  • Date Published March 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-1-55597-733-7
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 272pp
  • Price $16.00
  • Review by Jason Hess
Furo Wariboko is a Nigerian man living in his parents’ home in Lagos. Like many young Nigerians, he is looking for work. He wakes up one morning to find that overnight, he has transformed into a white man. Barrett’s premise—to explore how Furo’s aesthetic metamorphosis does or does not affect personal change—could produce serious explorations of race’s role in contemporary Nigerian society, as it does. But Barrett’s literary skills are many, and he has produced a first novel that is both contemplative and comic.
  • Subtitle Essays
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  • Book Type Anthology Edited
  • by Caroline Casey, Chris Fischbach, Sarah Schultz
  • Date Published September 2015
  • ISBN-13 978-1-56689-411-1
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 208pp
  • Price $16.95
  • Review by Patricia Contino
The January 16, 2016 episode of Saturday Night Live included the skit “America’s Funniest Cats.” The week’s guest host Adam Driver played the emcee of a TV program spoofing the long-running America’s Funniest Home Videos, only here the felines’ dignity prevailed whatever their selfie-obsessed humans did to them. Driver’s two guests (SNL regulars Cecily Strong and Kate McKinnon) played hosts of an artsy French, existential spin-off. While the blond-wigged Driver and the two series regulars were silly, the audience audibly cooed and giggled over the cats’ antics.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Diane Seuss
  • Date Published October 2015
  • ISBN-13 978-1-55597-722-1
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 88pp
  • Price $16.00
  • Review by Elizabeth O'Brien
In Four-Legged Girl, Diane Seuss’s latest book of poems, we move from the rural country of Wolf Lake and into the city, where the speaker shows us her younger self lounging on red velvet sofas, parading in pink leopard print pants, and generally swapping naivety—this is, after all, a book that opens with a jump rope song—for misdeeds, true love or, in a pinch, ecstatic moments. And in the interstices, there is wisdom to be found here as well, the kind of wisdom that one misfit passes along to another.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Annie Guthrie
  • Date Published October 2015
  • ISBN-13 978-1-936797-59-2
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 55pp
  • Price $16.95
  • Review by Melinda Ruth
Annie Guthrie’s first book The Good Dark is a rhythmic journey where darkness occupies the spaces in between silence and belief, morphing into the things needed most: sand, sight, star. Guthrie’s haunting sonic landscape shakes the foundation of belief, and gives darkness a cadence to its face.
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by David Armand
  • Date Published October 2015
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9962596-2-0
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 148pp
  • Price $15.00
  • Review by Valerie Wieland
David Armand’s third novel The Gorge follows the publication of his 2013 novel Harlow, and his first novel The Pugilist’s Wife, which won the George Garrett Fiction Prize from Texas Review Press.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Bunkong Tuon
  • Date Published June 2015
  • ISBN-13 978-1-63045-006-9
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 130pp
  • Price $16.95
  • Review by Trena Machado
At the beginning of his life, Bunkong Tuon was caught in the takeover of Cambodia by the Communist Party of Kampuchea under Pol Pot. At three, his mother died from starvation, his father remarried and remained in Cambodia. His grandmother carried him out of Cambodia to a UN refugee camp in Thailand when he was six or seven (he cannot remember precisely). From there, a Christian sponsor brought him to Massachusetts. He has no specific memories of his parents.
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Jay Neugeboren
  • Date Published February 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-1-942134-17-6
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 206pp
  • Price $19.95
  • Review by Jason Hess
In June of 1933, American boxer Max Baer and German heavyweight Max Schmeling, a former world champion, fought a highly publicized bout in front of sixty thousand fans in New York’s Yankee Stadium. Schmeling was Hitler’s favorite fighter and was favored to win. In the days leading up to the fight, Schmeling told American reporters that stories of Germany’s persecution of Jews were untrue. Max Baer, in a move that was part publicity stunt and part sincere act of defiance, sewed a large Star of David to his trunks. Baer’s subsequent victory over Schmeling became an international symbol of Jewish resistance to fascism. One year later, Baer, still with Star of David on the left leg of his trunks, became heavyweight champion of the world.
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Margaret Malone
  • Date Published December 2015
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9893023-6-4
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 146pp
  • Price $16.00
  • Review by David Breithaupt
Margaret Malone’s debut short story collection visits places we all recognize but don’t always think about or allow a second thought. Most likely you will find kindred spirits in these pages and acknowledge situations you may have forgotten or tried to repress. A case in point, the title story, People Like You, finds a young couple (Cheryl and Bert) invited to a friend’s surprise party. “Friend” is a loose term as the narrator explains, “we have no friends,” she confesses, “we have acquaintances from work, or old friends who live in other cities, or people who used to be our friends who we either borrowed money from and never repaid or who we just never bother to call anymore because we decided we either don’t like them or we’re too good for their company. We are not perfect.”
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Larissa Szporluk
  • Date Published 2015
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9832317-5-2
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 35pp
  • Price $10.95
  • Review by Melinda Ruth
The mythic and the humane combine in Startle Pattern to create an arrow of divination that pierces the heart of injury and healing. Larissa Szporluk delivers prophecy in the form of bone, loss in the form of tone, and violence in the form of stone.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Mark Statman
  • Date Published April 2015
  • ISBN-13 978-1-935084-81-5
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 126pp
  • Price $16.00
  • Review by Valerie Wieland
At first I was baffled by Mark Statman’s style—succinct, clipped verses, and scant punctuation. But as I progressed through the pages of his new poetry book That Train Again, his poems took on more meaning. Having published numerous books of poetry and now teaching literary studies at Eugene Lang College, The New School for Liberal Arts, Statman’s skill and experience shows throughout this collection.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by David Lazar
  • Date Published May 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9903221-1-5
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 72pp
  • Price $15.00
  • Review by Valerie Wieland
Check out your favorite bookstore in May. That’s when Who’s Afraid of Helen of Troy: An Essay on Love by David Lazar will be available, and it’s one fun book. Though it’s subtitled an essay, his ninth book is written in a series of short prose poems that mesh bits of autobiography with strong portions of mythology and dreams, accented with songs and movies.
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