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NewPages Book Reviews

Posted January 11, 2010

  • Subtitle A Reader's Guide to The Remembrance of Things Past
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  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Patrick Alexander
  • Date Published September 2009
  • ISBN-13 978-307-47232-8
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 385pp
  • Price $15.95
  • Review by Jeanne M. Lesinski
French author Marcel Proust created an acknowledged masterpiece of modern literature in his 3,000 page novel The Remembrance of Things Past, which is also known as In Search of Lost Time, first published in seven volumes from 1913 to 1927. Patrick Alexander’s guide to this work serves as an introduction to readers who haven’t yet read Proust’s masterpiece, a useful tool for those in the process of reading it, and a refresher for readers who’d like to revisit favorite passages.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Kristi Maxwell
  • Date Published October 2009
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9818591-3-2
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 62pp
  • Price $14.00
  • Review by Krystal Languell
As the epigraph from Gertrude Stein suggests, Hush Sessions is a collection of poetry interested in wordplay, but Kristi Maxwell’s new book also assesses ways of approaching intimacy and fertility in long-term relationships. By presenting the body as imperfect, these poems expose the disappointment a lack of control brings.
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Lorraine M. Lopez
  • Date Published November 2009
  • ISBN-13 978-1-886157-72-9
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 263pp
  • Price $16.95
  • Review by Alex Myers
It should come as no surprise that the ten stories in Lorraine Lopez’s collection Homicide Survivors Picnic make an impact, bringing the reader face-to-face with situations that are realistic and gritty but never hopeless or pitiful. Lopez, the winner of the International Latino Book Award for short stories, among other accolades, handles intricate characters and complex emotions deftly, all while spinning out plots that are captivating and believable.
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  • Book Type Novel
  • by Jane Gardam
  • Date Published November 2009
  • ISBN-13 978-1-933372-89-1
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 240pp
  • Price $15.00
  • Review by Laura Pryor
The bad news: if you have a less than comprehensive knowledge of British history and culture (as I do), you may have to run to Google periodically to understand all the acronyms and historical references in Gardam’s novel. The good news: it won’t matter. Gardam’s book is primarily a character study, the affectionate chronicle of a long marriage between two flawed but lovable characters.
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  • Book Type Edited
  • by Kevin Morgan Watson
  • Date Published September 2009
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9824416-9-5
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 202pp
  • Price $14.00
  • Review by Henry F. Tonn
This is the second year of this anthology which features poetry, flash fiction, short-short story, short story, genre fiction, creative nonfiction, young writers, and novella. There is a total of 28 works from 21 authors and the editor proudly points out in his introduction that entries came from 32 states and eight foreign countries. Two of the winners were from overseas: Jerusalem, Israel and Bogotá, Columbia. All judging was done blind.
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  • Book Type Novel
  • by Anastasia Hobbet
  • Date Published January 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-1-57962-191-9
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 344pp
  • Price $29.00
  • Review by Alex Myers
Ever wondered about those Americans who take jobs in treacherous foreign countries? Ever wanted to know what it is like to move to the Middle East and try to fit in to conservative Islamic culture? Anastasia Hobbet’s novel Small Kingdoms answers these questions through its carefully structured narrative. Set in Kuwait after the first Gulf War, Small Kingdoms takes place in a region familiar to us from TV news broadcasts; Hobbet portrays the decadence and the difficulty of this country masterfully. The story follows five main characters: two American expatriates, one native Kuwaiti woman and her Indian maid, and one a Bedooin or resident alien, a Palestinian woman living in Kuwait. Hobbet constructs her book in short chapters, each following a single character, as these five individuals’ fates are drawn closer and closer together.
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  • Book Type Edited
  • by Delia Sherman, Christopher Barzak
  • Date Published November 2009
  • ISBN-13 978-1931520614
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 302pp
  • Price $16.00
  • Review by John Madera
Interstitial fiction is imaginative writing that slips through the cracks between literary genres. It’s an umbrella term under which numerous stylistic approaches like new weird, slipstream, fantastica, liminal fantasy, transrealism, and many more may fall. Though these terms lack precision, they do bear some resemblance to more established genres, using familiar science fiction tropes like spaceships and aliens, time travel and alternate histories; fantasy tropes like ghosts, fairies, as well as mystery and romance conventions. Interstitial fiction is distinguished by how it blurs the boundaries between genres and, if ever placed in one of these slots, rests uncomfortably. It blends the realistic and the fantastic in such a way that everything is defamiliarized, or where everything is (borrowing a term coined by Russian Formalist Viktor Shklovsky) “enstranged.” Paradoxically, it is its “in-betweeness” that defines it.
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Sean Lovelace
  • Date Published August 2009
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9789848-7-8
  • Format Chapbook
  • Pages 41pp
  • Price $12.00
  • Review by Cynthia Reeser
How Some People Like Their Eggs by Sean Lovelace is the recipient of the Rose Metal Press Third Annual Short Short Chapbook Contest. A collection of 10 works of very short fiction, Lovelace's book is as much about movement as it is about structural deception.
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Richard Hoffman
  • Date Published October 2009
  • ISBN-13 978-0-89823-247-9
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 260pp
  • Price $14.95
  • Review by Alex Myers
As Richard Hoffman is equally well known for his verse as his prose, it should come as no surprise that the thirteen stories (plus six interstitial very short-shorts) in this volume are at times lyrical, often beautiful, and move with a sense of rhythm and deep perception.
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