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NewPages Book Reviews

Posted February 1, 2010

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  • Book Type Novel
  • by Lucha Corpi
  • Date Published September 2009
  • ISBN-13 978-1558855472
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 239pp
  • Price $15.95
  • Review by Elizabeth Townsend
I can honestly say Death at Solstice by Lucha Copri has taught me something. I like mystery novels. I’ve avoided reading them if I could for most of my life because I thought I didn’t like them. Now, this is not the first mystery I’ve read, but it did confirm that I enjoy the genre, something I’d been wondering about recently. It’s likely that having started reading this thinking that I didn’t like the mystery genre may have led me to being more critical of this story than I normally would have been towards a novel. Having said that, there were a great many things about this novel that I did enjoy.
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Perry Glasser
  • Date Published November 2009
  • ISBN-13 978-1-886157-69-9
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 192pp
  • Price $16.95
  • Review by Alex Myers
This volume, which won the G.S. Sharat Chandra Prize, features six pieces that bring the realities of human nature into focus. It is the realities, not the dramatics, that Glasser writes about. His stories have familiar surroundings, familiar people, and are written in prose that is a flowing, melodious tune – one you could hum.
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Lori Ostlund
  • Date Published October 2009
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8203-3409-7
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 214pp
  • Price $24.95
  • Review by Laura Pryor
It seems fitting that this debut short story collection by Lori Ostlund won the Flannery O’Connor award for short fiction, because Ostlund’s writing has a classic, timeless feel to it that would not have been out of place in O’Connor’s time. The title story, the first story in the book, could have been written last week or fifty years ago. Ostlund creates an eccentric nanny, Ilsa Maria Lumpkin, charming enough to rival Mary Poppins, though life for her two charges, Veronica and Martin, is no fairy tale. Ostlund writes with great sensitivity about children, and the inability of adults to understand their point of view. In addition to the title story, “The Day You Were Born” and “All Boy” both deal with a child’s view of their parents’ crises; in the former, a young girl copes with her father’s mental illness and the resulting disintegration of her parents’ marriage, and in the latter, an effeminate eleven year old boy copes with the stigma of being different, at the same time that his father admits that he is gay and moves out of the house.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Sarah O'Brien
  • Date Published September 2009
  • ISBN-13 978-156689-237-7
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 92pp
  • Price $16.00
  • Review by Gina Myers
Selected by David Shapiro for the National Poetry Series, Sarah O’Brien’s debut book of poetry appears at first glance to be an extended meditation on photography. The collection is divided into seven sections, with each one made up of lyric poems investigating what it means to see something – to capture a moment, even if it’s blurred.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Sabrina Orah Mark
  • Date Published October 2009
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9818591-2-5
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 65pp
  • Price $14.00
  • Review by Roy Wang
Tsim Tsum derives its title from an idea in Kabbalah that a being cannot truly exist unless the creator departs from his creation. This must refer to the fact that the two main characters, Walter B. and Beatrice, seem like abandoned children left to find their way through a fairy-tale landscape of allegorical friends and props. Rather, the spirit must have left them and their world midway through creation, as both characters have just enough intelligence to be confused. This is the central dilemma of Tsim Tsum.
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  • Book Type Novel
  • by Graciela Limon
  • Date Published March 2009
  • ISBN-13 978-1-55885-585-4
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 177pp
  • Price $24.95
  • Review by Christina Hall
The beauty of Graciela Limon’s writing lies in her unadorned, tell-it-like-it-is style. While you’re reading, you don’t get tripped up and mesmerized by crafty phrases and descriptions so original that you have to stop and think in order to actually see them. All you see in The River Flows North is character. People. Their painful pasts, difficult voyages, and hopeful futures.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Christine Hume
  • Date Published December 2009
  • ISBN-13 9781933996165
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 104pp
  • Price $14.95
  • Review by Marthe Reed
Christine Hume’s language, “alive and lying,” takes us – shot or shunted – down into night, the imaginal-space of gestation. Mina Loy’s daughter-poet, Hume composes a Baedeker of the body pregnant, mapping a haunted landscape with a language she makes strange, dream wording a dream world: “I hear myself coming from your thoughts . . . Skull pockets that burn without warnings.”
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Joseph Young
  • Date Published December 2009
  • ISBN-13 978-0982081341
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 100pp
  • Price $12
  • Review by John Madera
With their directness and precision, their attention to what Ezra Pound would call “luminous details,” Joseph Young’s microfictions might be mistaken for Imagist poems, but with their shift away from showing “things” as “things” toward “things” as something else, or, rather, toward portraying both the “thingness” of the thing and of some different “thing,” his miniatures suggest something altogether different. But where they fit is less important than what they do, how they make you feel. In Easter Rabbit’s miniatures, its sharp sentences focused on often mundane details, Young offers epics. Seemingly channeling William Blake, he offers further “auguries of innocence,” further testaments to worlds in granules, heavens in flowers, and – well, suffice to say, these are sentences to linger over.
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