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NewPages Book Reviews

Posted December 1, 2010

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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Camille Martin
  • Date Published February 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-1848610705
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 108pp
  • Price $16.00
  • Review by Carol Dorf
Can you pour new wine into old bottles? Well, if you are Camille Martin and the bottles are sonnets, the answer is an emphatic, "Yes." By her flexible use of the idea of the sonnet, Camille Martin has written a book that holds a pleasing balance of unity and variation. In the second sonnet, Martin seems to be speaking to the form as the beloved:
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Anna Rabinowitz
  • Date Published September 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-1890650452
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 96pp
  • Price $14.95
  • Review by Renee Emerson
Present Tense, by Anna Rabinowitz, phases through genres, using poetry as a vehicle to explore politics, gender, culture and human nature. The book opens with a prologue, a single sentence that declares the purpose of the book and the long list of who the book is for:
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Thomas Sayers Ellis
  • Date Published September 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-1555975678
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 176pp
  • Price $23.00
  • Review by C.J. Opperthauser
Ellis’s collection of poems, Skin, Inc, is an aggressive book to say the least. It is a statement in itself. A statement that is different and powerful. The language coursing through the veins of this collection is raw, real, and full of earnest emotion. It is calm, yet aggressive. Strong, yet tamed. One poem that really sets the tone for the first portion of the book is “My Meter Is Percussive”:
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Star Black; Paintings by Bill Knott
  • Date Published October 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-9818591-7-0
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 69pp
  • Price $16.00
  • Review by Sima Rabinowitz
This is the sixth volume in Saturnalia’s Artist/Collaboration Series. I am impressed by and grateful for publisher Henry Israeli’s commitment to making available the collaborative efforts of visual and literary artists. The books are beautifully conceived, designed, and composed, and they occupy a uniquely wonderful place in the world of small press poetry publications.
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  • Book Type Art/Popular Culture
  • by Nick Zinner, Zachary Lipez, Stacy Wakefield
  • Date Published August 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-1-936070-62-6
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 150pp
  • Price $15.95
  • Review by Gina Myers
Please Take Me Off the Guest List is a collaboration between three people: Nick Zinner, of the band Yeah Yeah Yeahs, provides the photographs; Zachary Lipez, of the band Freshkills, provides the essays; and Stacy Wakefield, former design director of Artforum, pulls it all together into a wonderfully designed object. It has already been noted elsewhere how rare it is for the book’s designer to have her name on the cover, but here it is earned. Zinner’s photographs and Wakefield’s design are the true highlights of this collection, which should appeal to anyone interested in book arts. Unfortunately, Lipez’s essays do not measure up to the quality of the photographs and the quality of the design elements.
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Emma Rathbone
  • Date Published August 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-0316077507
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 206pp
  • Price $13.99
  • Review by Tessa Mellas
Emma Rathbone’s debut novel The Patterns of Paper Monsters is about Jacob Higgins, an angry kid incarcerated in a juvenile detention center. But like any great book, this one can’t be reduced to its plot. Its magic lies in the sarcasm that drools from its narrator’s voice and in the beauty of the way that voice strings together language. Listen, as Jacob describes the crime that landed him in the JDC:
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Jon Paul Fiorentino
  • Date Published October 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-1-55245-234-9
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 74pp
  • Price $14.95
  • Review by Sima Rabinowitz
I adore Coach House Books. The book design is smart, inventive, spot on. Poetry is clever, original, risky, inspiring. You want to go back to these books again and see them as if new each time you pick them up. You’re happy to give them to others, to show them off. You return to them as, and I am not exaggerating, a reason to keep going on. And on. A reason to read. A reason to write. A reason to believe in poetry. Even, maybe especially, when they are difficult (emotionally or intellectually or in a reader-ly way).
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Jane Gardam
  • Date Published October 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-1-933372-76-1
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 195pp
  • Price $15.00
  • Review by Olive Mullet
For fans of Jane Gardam’s Old Filth and The Man in the Wooden Hat, God on the Rocks, a 1978 Booker Prize finalist, will satisfy. As Gardam wrote in the November 20, 2010 Op-Ed article “Richard’s Glove, Kate’s Hand” (which gives an historical perspective to Kate and Prince William’s upcoming wedding), “In my novels I write about the ‘old world,’ my parents’ world, where people wore hats—and gloves.” But “the old world is not so far away from this one.” Therefore, this novel, set along the northern English coast in 1938, between the world wars, is not chronological but jumps back and forth between different characters’ perspectives and pasts. In a book both humorous and tragic, the reader has to read carefully to notice switches in perspective and Gardam’s parceling out of information during the unfolding of fully defined lives.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Seth Berg
  • Date Published July 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-0615357171
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 92pp
  • Price $12.00
  • Review by H.V. Cramond
The mind is a smelly heap of compost comprising our greatest hopes, delusions and sexual fantasies about robots. We explain its function with analogies to computers or other machines, trying to impose a structure on a ghost. So when our bodies and minds start to fail, we panic. We grope about in the dark for a user's manual, a crossword puzzle or anti-depressant that will put our brains in the order that we suppose it should have. Seth Berg explores this dark space in his first book of poems, Muted Lines from Someone Else's Memory.
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  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by John McNally
  • Date Published September 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-1-58729-920-9
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 274pp
  • Price $19.95
  • Review by Elena Spagnolie
In his new book, The Creative Writer’s Survival Guide: Advice from an Unrepentant Novelist, John McNally gives an honest and highly informative account of his experiences in the writing/publishing industry. As he cautions his readers in the introduction entitled “The Writer’s Wonderland—Or: A Warning,” this book is not an instruction manual on how to write short stories, it’s not a place to seek writing prompts, and the author does not claim to have a formulaic answer to getting published. Rather, he explains:
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Terese Svoboda
  • Date Published September 2010
  • ISBN-13 9780982631805
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 147pp
  • Price $14.95
  • Review by Alex Myers
Put aside any expectations of swashbuckling that this title might inspire. Pirate Talk or Mermalade has its share of cutlasses, of peg legs, of sailors marooned on desert isles. But it is far from a typical pirate tale. Described as a “novel in voices,” the story is told entirely in dialogue. No quotation marks, no helpful tag lines (i.e. he said, she replied): each page is simply the conversation, with an indentation serving as the indication that the speaker has shifted. At first, I thought the “only dialogue” rule would limit the scope—where would the description be? The thought and reflection?—but within a few pages, it was apparent that Svoboda is a masterful writer and is no more constrained by this selection of form than a poet is constrained by composing a sonnet: the novel delights because of this rule, succeeds because of this confinement.
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