NewPages.com is news, information, and guides to literary magazines, independent publishers, creative writing programs, alternative periodicals, indie bookstores, writing contests, and more.

NewPages Book Reviews

Posted September 2, 2009

  • Image Image
  • Book Type Novel
  • by Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer
  • Translated From Dutch
  • by Michelle Hutchison
  • Date Published June 2009
  • ISBN-13 978-1-934824-09-2
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 131pp
  • Price $14.95
  • Review by Joseph Wood
Even for a novella (though the publishers call it a novel) of slightly over one hundred and thirty pages, there is not a lot of plot movement in Rupert: A Confession. The story is basic: the protagonist, Rupert, gives a three-art confession to a jury about a crime he was alleged to commit. In the process, we discover he has a vast array of pornography meticulously cataloged, has been thrown out of massage parlor for ejaculating on the proprietor, and conceives of his own life as either a stage production or an offspring of Japanese warriors. Otherwise, the book centers on the rise and fall of his idealized girlfriend Mira, who at turns is taciturn, cranky, or sexually insatiable.
  • Image Image
  • Book Type Novel
  • by Peter Selgin
  • Date Published May 2009
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9793123-8-0
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 252pp
  • Price $16.95
  • Review by Elizabeth Townsend
Life Goes to the Movies tells of the uncanny friendship of two men growing up in the 1970s. Both men struggle to define who they are in a world where they don’t seem to fit in. Nigel DePoli, son of Italian immigrants, wants desperately to be someone with a sense of belonging. Dwaine Fitzgibbon is looking for a way to be separate from society while still intermingling enough to show others the parts of life that they don't normally see. Their bond begins in a mutual love of movies and only grows stronger as they start making short films that show “true life” rather than losing “themselves in some totally made up bullshit that has nothing, absolutely nothing to do with real life.” However, things change as Dwaine becomes more passionate about his movies and Nigel desires more and more the ‘normal’ life that Dwaine diverted him from. The reader will find themselves laughing at some of Dwaine’s outrageous ideas and rooting for the friends when things seem to be at their lowest point. An enjoyable read from the beginning, Selgin grabs the reader’s interest and drags them along for all of Nigel and Dwaine’s fascinating adventures in life and film.
  • Image Image
  • Book Type Edited
  • by Anne Waldman, Laura Wright
  • Date Published June 2009
  • ISBN-13 978-1566892278
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 234pp
  • Price $15.95
  • Review by Vince Corvaia
In a 1948 conversation with John Clellon Holmes, Jack Kerouac said, “Ah, this is nothing but a beat generation.” The phrase, like Gertrude Stein’s “lost generation,” soon became emblematic of its time, though not all of its adherents approve of the label (Diane di Prima, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and Gary Snyder are just three of its detractors). What most of the “Beats” found in Beats at Naropa have in common is their connection with Kerouac himself. The book contains mostly transcripts of speeches and conversations held at what is now called Naropa University but what was originally known as the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics in Boulder, Colorado. It’s a compulsively readable volume, full of facts and opinions.
  • Image Image
  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Nathan Graziano
  • Date Published September 2009
  • ISBN-13 978-934513-19-4
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 96pp
  • Price $15.00
  • Review by Joseph P. Wood
The characters that populate Nathan Graziano’s new book of poetry, After the Honeymoon, remind me of my neighbors and friends growing up in working class Philadelphia: many of these folks had rough, troubled lives, and more often than not happiness was squelched by substance abuse, poverty, poor education, and unemployment. It was the rare exception that someone had the self-reflection and self-discipline to ascend the neighborhood’s social pitfalls. While Graziano’s book could be set in almost any working poor urban area in our country, its depictions of hard-scrabbled living – and the desire to rise above it – is utterly familiar to my autobiography and is refreshing to see in contemporary poetry.
  • Image Image
  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Carol Dine
  • Date Published July 2009
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9786335-2-3
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 103pp
  • Price $21.00
  • Review by Cynthia Reeser
In the introduction to her most recent book of poetry, Van Gogh in Poems, Carol Dine writes of the research she undertook to pen her artist-inspired poems. Her book, she writes, led her to Amsterdam three times, where she visited the Van Gogh Museum to study the artist's original work – up close. Dine describes how she was allowed to sit in a room while an attendant brought her requested works on paper. She studied them for inspiration, and deemed them holy. Her viewing of the artist's sketchbook brought her to tears. Van Gogh in Poems contains 18 plates of the artist's works on paper.
  • Image Image
  • Book Type Stories
  • by Stephanie Johnson
  • Date Published July 2009
  • ISBN-13 978-098215121
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 170pp
  • Price $13.95
  • Review by John Madera
“I try to name the thing we never missed until it was lost, all the things that never stood a chance in this beautiful world.” So ends “My Neighbor Doesn’t Remember Everything She Forgets” from Stephanie Johnson’s debut One of These Things Is Not Like the Others, and it may well serve as a capsule of its concerns: to carefully observe life’s vicissitudes, to spotlight minutiae, to bear witness. The book is filled with internal squalls and domestic squabbles. In story after story, scene after scene, there is Johnson’s unwavering focus, and you can almost see her sharpening her senses.
  • Image Image
  • Book Type Stories
  • by Tod Goldberg
  • Date Published October 2009
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9815899-9-2
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 232pp
  • Price $16.95
  • Review by J.R. Angelella
In his second collection of short fiction, Tod Goldberg delivers ten seductive stories that target the traumatic reality of failed dreams and the struggle to make amends with the past. Each kinetic story pulses and pops with authenticity. Goldberg has not a word misplaced, often times weaving tragedy and beauty with the result of heartbreaking height, similar in style to Mark Richard or Thom Jones. His characters find themselves trapped, whether literally or figuratively – lost in a world where they cannot connect with the projected image of themselves or attain the goal of a satisfied life. In one of the most moving and powerful stories “Walls,” Goldberg navigates the fractured childhood of an unspecified number of siblings, using We as the narrator, dissecting their Mother’s sexual relationships to ultimate and devastating effects.
  • Image Image
  • Book Type Novel
  • by Edward Falco
  • Date Published October 2009
  • ISBN-13 978-1-932961-88-1
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 432pp
  • Price $16.95
  • Review by Laura Pryor
Falco begins this novel by introducing us, one by one, to the characters: Avery, a rebellious art student at Penn State, Lindsey and Hank, Avery’s aunt and uncle, and Kate, Avery’s widowed mother who is having an affair with Hank, her brother-in-law. The main story involves Avery and Grant, a thirty-something former performance artist from New York she meets at a campus party. Avery runs away to New York with the mysterious Grant after knowing him for less than 24 hours. In New York, Avery is thrown into the heart of the avant-garde art scene; Grant’s friends include a famous artist, a successful TV writer and a restaurateur. Grant himself had early success as a writer, but after he killed a man in self-defense while trucking stolen goods across state lines for his shady uncle Billy, he stopped writing. Now Grant’s only source of income is further work for Billy, who keeps him on the fringes of his criminal enterprises out of respect for his brother, Grant’s father.
newpages-footer-logo

We welcome any/all Feedback.