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NewPages Book Reviews

Posted May 04, 2015

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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Magda Szabó
  • Translated From the Hungarian
  • by Len Rix
  • Date Published January 2015
  • ISBN-13 978-1-59017-771-6
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 280pp
  • Price $16.95
  • Review by Olive Mullet
Magda Szabó wrote this well-known Hungarian classic in 1987, and fortunately The New York Review of Books reissued it with an excellent introduction by Ali Smith. The novel is about the relationship between a young writer (the narrator) and her husband with their housecleaner Emerence, who proves to be so much more than that. The book could be viewed as autobiographical because the narrator, now a famous writer, is looking back on herself as young when she first met the old woman Emerence who announces, “I don’t wash just anyone’s dirty laundry.” She arrives at the apartment wearing, as she always does, a headscarf covering her hair and face like a veil. Hiding herself, the headscarf serves as the equivalent of Emerence’s locked door at her own villa.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Patricia Waters
  • Date Published October 2014
  • ISBN-13 978-1-934695-40-1
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 72pp
  • Price $18.00
  • Review by Kimberly Ann
Patricia Waters’s Fallen Attitudes beautifully betrays her artistic and intellectual maturity. This is not novice poetry, but poetry in which scenes, locations, history, and memory are culled for what they cannot possess rather than for epistemological revelations. Waters is not attempting to prove anything, to justify a life lived a certain way; this is a memoir of letting go of proof and justification, of finding peace with whatever remains, and what remains seems to be a love.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Nickole Brown
  • Date Published April 2015
  • ISBN-13 978-1-938160-57-8
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 136pp
  • Price $16.00
  • Review by Benjamin Champagne
Somebody pour me / a fresh Pepsi?” Fanny Says is an amalgam of the south. A woman striving for class in a society that worked hard against her. The author Nickole Brown peels away the caricature that could be Frances Lee. What is revealed is Fanny, an archetypal southern woman, yes, but a participant in a modern and changing world. There is a universalism at work in Fanny Says that Brown allows and directs rather than forms and shifts. It is a dense work of poems, functioning as a memoir and a history lesson by way of the comedian. Brown is always tender but does not shy from exposing faults and social problems. Her ability to record and recreate the things her grandmother said is a prowess far beyond her. The reader is so immersed in Fanny it is as if we know her. Getting to know Fanny is like examining America, first the shoes, then the belt, and finally the hair-do.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by TC Tolbert
  • Date Published May 2014
  • ISBN-13 978-1-934103-52-4
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 96pp
  • Price $18.00
  • Review by Trena Machado
In Gephyromania, which means the love of building bridges, we are given a “subtextual consciousness of queer” per the author, TC Tolbert, who is a genderqueer feminist poet and teacher. S/he is co-editor for The Feminist Wire and a curator for Trickhouse, an online cross-genre arts journal. Tolbert also founded Made for Flight, a youth empowerment program using writing and kite building, commemorating murdered transgender people, to bring awareness about homophobia and transphobia.
  • Subtitle Five Novellas-in-Flash and a Study of the Form
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Tiff Holland, Aaron Teel, Meg Pokrass, Chris Bower, Margaret Patton Chapman
  • Date Published November 2014
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9887645-8-3
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 328pp
  • Price $15.98
  • Review by Rhonda Browning White
Editors Abigail Beckel and Kathleen Rooney have assembled, edited, and published this brilliant collection of specialized coming-of-age novellas—each one special because it is composed entirely of cohesive, yet stand-alone works of flash fiction—defined in the introduction as stories of 1,000 words or less. Helpful, informative essays by each of the five authors whose stories appear in this collection expound upon their creative process in birthing these works. Part craft-of-writing book and part novellas-in-flash collection, this unique text is both educational and entertaining: an excellent textbook or self-instructional manual on the form.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Sean Bishop
  • Date Published December 2014
  • ISBN-13 978-1-936747-93-1
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 65pp
  • Price $14.95
  • Review by Brian McKenna
The poems in Sean Bishop’s elegiac debut collection The Night We’re Not Sleeping In seethe with animosity—sometimes humorously, sometimes righteously—toward all manner of received wisdom about life, death, grief, and consolation. Selected by Susan Mitchell as the winner of the Kathryn A. Morton Prize for Poetry, the collection centers around the death of the speaker’s father, with several longer poetic sequences throughout the book’s four sections interrupting and elaborating on similarly turbulent themes.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Siobhan Scarry
  • Date Published 2014
  • ISBN-13 978-1-60235-481-4
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 77pp
  • Price $14.00
  • Review by Kimberly Ann
For there is something to be said for the even spacing of certain
   kinds of structures.
For it is important to love the spaces in between—Remember the
   interstitial bins and shapes that accommodate.
     - “Jubilate: Burden, Kansas”
I admit, it wasn’t until I came across the above lines, 20 pages into the book, that I began to feel some affinity for Siobhan Scarry’s poetry.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Ken Mikolowski
  • Date Published April 2015
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8143-4065-3
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 71pp
  • Price $14.99
  • Review by Benjamin Champagne
Haiku is excessive. What luxury. In five mere words, Ken Mikolowski can do what the ancients needed seventeen syllables to accomplish in his book That That. Take the poem “No more / and / no less.” This says it all. It says everything that is needed to be said. It is a commentary on the state of the art and on the personal lives that we all carry in ourselves. Math uses simplification to produce elegant equations. In this same vein, Mikolowski uses reduction to get to the heart of the issue. These poems take on enormous universal equations by mimicking tiny proverbs. It is a great read for the age of Tweets. It reaches hearts and minds with the wisdom of Solomon using the tactics of a Facebook advertisement.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Filip Marinovich
  • Date Published April 2015
  • ISBN-13 978-1-937027-46-9
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 104pp
  • Price $16.00
  • Review by Patrick James Dunagan
During the Occupy Movement in New York City when The People literally took over Zuccotti Park, poet Filip Marinovich was right there in the mix, helping to set up and run the People's Library and reading his poems over the People's Mic, "the people's mic is intoxicating / that's why I am its pauper king" ("Zuccotti Park Fugue State"). The poems gathered in Wolfman Librarian stem directly from Marinovich's experience with Occupy.
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