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NewPages Book Reviews

Posted January 13, 2015

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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Arna Bontemps Hemenway
  • Date Published July 2014
  • ISBN-13 978-1-9396747-76-4
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 224pp
  • Price $15.95
  • Review by Trena Machado
Elegy on Kinderklavier is a debut collection of seven short stories. The driving force across the stories is violence. The characters are forced to the edge of the world, intruded upon by one form of violence or another: war, terminal illness, loss of loved ones before their time, death and mutilation by explosives. Violence, in all its forms, is the hovering, unpredictable specter and Hemenway handles it with innovative, effective techniques.
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Pete Fromm
  • Date Published August 2014
  • ISBN-13 978-1-59709-538-9
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 240pp
  • Price $15.95
  • Review by Jason Hess
Pete Fromm's If Not For This was the most moving novel I read in 2014. The main characters are raft guides in the interior west. Fromm worked for many years as a river ranger in Grand Teton National Park. I chose the book based on those two kernels of information. I left the west three years ago. Before beginning my drive east in earnest, I spent a few days camping in the Tetons.
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Roberto Bolaño
  • Translated From the Spanish
  • by Natasha Wimmer
  • Date Published September 2014
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8112-2335-5
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 128pp
  • Price $19.95
  • Review by Olive Mullet
Deceased Chilean novelist Roberto Bolaño is known for experimental fiction like By Night in Chile, which is told without paragraphing, but this work, A Little Lumpen Novelita, is written chronologically, with standard punctuation and paragraphing. It is a story told from the perspective of an older sister (19 years old) named Bianca, about herself and her unnamed younger brother after their parents’ fatal auto accident. As she tells us in the opening sentence, Bianca is now married with children,
  • Subtitle Three Novellas
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Patrick Modiano
  • Translated From the French
  • by Martin Polizzotti
  • Date Published November 2014
  • ISBN-13 978-0-300-19805-8
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 232pp
  • Price $16.00
  • Review by Olive Mullet
Literary Nobel Laureates are not known for readability and popularity, yet the novels of 2014 winner Patrick Modiano (also winner of Prix Concourt and Prix MondialCino Del Duca for lifetime achievement) are easy to read and popular. His novels are short with short prose pages. Plus he recreates atmospheric noir settings, such as eerie dark abandoned castles or noble estates, and the characters he introduces are ever mysterious. His narrator, mostly unnamed and a persona for him, is constantly reminded of the past and wants to go back to understand it.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by elena minor
  • Date Published March 2014
  • ISBN-13 978-1-934819-31-9
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 75pp
  • Price $15.00
  • Review by Elizabeth O'Brien
Titulada is, without question, one of the best books of poetry I’ve read this year. Formally exploratory, sonically interesting, and rich with meaning, this book offers exactly what I’m hoping to find every time I pick up a new poetry collection: a challenge that rewards the effort put into reading it.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Brandon Som
  • Date Published March 2014
  • ISBN-13 978-1-937658-18-2
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 104pp
  • Price $15.95
  • Review by Ryo Yamaguchi
The Tribute Horse, Brandon Som’s debut full collection, is a surprising title once you wade into the first few pages of this beautiful mediation on migration, cultural memory, and the great mitigating force of both, language. The title image is almost like a piece of statuary, a trophy or memorial object, and to be sure, this collection does feel like a tribute, but it spends far more time at sea and among the heights of birdsong and other utterances than would seem to warrant that powerfully terrestrial and corporeal image of the horse.
  • Subtitle From the first 20 years of Creative Nonfiction Magazine
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  • Book Type Nonfiction Edited
  • by Lee Gutkind and Hattie Fletcher
  • Date Published August 2014
  • ISBN-13 978-1-9371631-6-7
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 320pp
  • Price $15.95
  • Review by Jason Hess
The twenty-two selections in this nonfiction collection are culled from twenty years of Creative Nonfiction Magazine. I was worried it would inevitably suffer from aesthetic myopia. But the selections are eclectic enough to avoid this. I learned about the history of sign language, the particulars of Finnish baseball, and about the difficulties and rewards of teaching a university course on the philosophy of death. This whirlwind collection features an exceptionally talented stable of writers, all of whom are present as characters in their essays.
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Peter Grandbois
  • Date Published May 2014
  • ISBN-13 978-1877655821
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 120pp
  • Price $12.00
  • Review by Patricia Contino
The best movie monsters come back to life in sequels or remakes that can be masterpieces (Aliens) or miscalculations (the two American Godzillas). The late Friday night TV marathons or Saturday afternoon matinees that influenced at least three generations of movie makers and goers are a regular part of Turner Classic Movie Channel’s schedule. Like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (his monster played by Boris Karloff, Christopher Lee, and Benedict Cumberbatch to name a few), classic movie monsters endear because they are more human than their creators or tormentors.
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