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NewPages Book Reviews

Posted December 1, 2011

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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Martha Rhodes
  • Date Published January 2012
  • ISBN-13 9781932870534
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 54pp
  • Price $14.95
  • Review by Aimee Nicole
In 2012, Martha Rhodes will come out with her fourth collection of poetry, titled The Beds.
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Vincent Standley
  • Date Published August 2011
  • ISBN-13 978-0983163343
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 189pp
  • Price $18.00
  • Review by J. A. Tyler
A Mortal Affect, Vincent Standley’s debut novel and the latest release from Calamari Press, is all about creating a world, inventing a vocabulary, and then approaching a proposed conundrum of what it would be like to have a portion of the world immortal, and a portion not. Full of Dante-esque circles of assigned living, painted blue welfare blocs of housing, Rooters (the mortal creatures that populate the novel), and Malkings (the immortals who vie for appropriate living throughout A Mortal Affect), this is a book that attempts to grow a universe, roots and all, in a mere two hundred pages:
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by John Franc
  • Date Published September 2011
  • ISBN-13 978-1935639-16-9
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 250pp
  • Price $15.95
  • Review by David Breithaupt
I have to admire a writer who attempts to take on the adult male sexual psyche. As a 52-year-old male myself, it's still a mystery to me. John Franc, however, has attempted such a feat in his new novel, Hooked. Franc's tale involves the bonding of a group of middle-aged men who meet socially two or three times a month for poker or drinks. They are white, successful, and of course, bored as hell. Their wives are the proverbial soccer moms though still "hot" according to the husbands. They have children, are married and have the potential to be pillars of their community.
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  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Carolyn Weber
  • Date Published August 2011
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8499-4611-0
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 480pp
  • Price $16.99
  • Review by Cheryl Wright-Watkins
Carolyn Weber's relationship with Oxford University began with a surprise when she received a letter in the mail announcing that she had won a full scholarship to pursue her post-graduate studies there. Without her knowledge, a professor had submitted her name for consideration for the scholarship. The book chronicles many more surprises that accompany Weber's Oxford experience, most significantly her spiritual journey from cynical agnostic to evangelical Christian. Without a note of self-pity, Weber describes growing up in poverty with her mother and siblings after her father abandoned the family. A high-achieving student, she realized that through hard work she could improve her future prospects and become self-sufficient. Weber's admission that she lied about her age on the application in order to qualify for her first job is particularly poignant following recollections of her family's lavish lifestyle during her early childhood, before her father's questionable business deals and resulting arrest doomed the family to financial devastation.
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  • Book Type Graphic Novel
  • by Craig Thompson
  • Date Published September 2011
  • ISBN-13 978-0375424144
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 672pp
  • Price $35.00
  • Review by Holly Zemsta
I picked up Habibi and thumbed through it with the intent of gathering its basic information for NewPages. Only a small number of the books we receive here are graphic novels, and my familiarity with the genre extends to buying Batman comics for a family member and having watched the movie version of Sin City. So I was curious to see what a two-inch-thick graphic novel consisted of.
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  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Elizabeth Swados
  • Date Published June 2011
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 200pp
  • Price $19.00
  • Review by Patricia Contino
It wasn’t that long ago when Broadway producers put originality before the box office and tourists. In 1979, the New York Shakespeare Festival moved Runaways, another in a series of sold-out shows (the most successful 1975’s A Chorus Line; the most recent 2010’s Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson), uptown from Astor Place. The musical, featuring real runaway teenagers, was composed, written, and directed by Elizabeth Swados. Runaways received multiple Tony nominations and established Liz Swados’s reputation. As she makes clear in Waiting: Selected Nonfiction, she has been “trashed, resurrected, trashed, and mentored dozens of young artists. I’ve survived well.” Despite its brief length, Waiting is a thoroughly friendly introduction to Swados’s life and work, a wistful remembrance of a vibrant era in New York theatre, and a perceptive look at how theatre is created.
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  • Book Type Edited
  • by Ice Gayle Johnson, Jane Ormerod, Brant Lyon, Thomas Fucaloro
  • Date Published September 2011
  • ISBN-13 978-0979979231
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 144pp
  • Price $15.00
  • Review by Aimee Nicole
Spoken word is powerful not only in language, but also performance. It can be difficult to capture the essence and emotion on the page; however, the writers in –gape–seed– have done just that. The diverse selection of poetry made it difficult to choose the best writers as each distinct piece had punch and power. At first I was wary; making a successful anthology of spoken word seemed like a tall order, but –gape–seed– inspired me to really feel the language as opposed to just reading it.
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Ethel Rohan
  • Date Published September 2011
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9824697-6-7
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 54pp
  • Price $6.50
  • Review by Michele Finkelstein
Hard to Say, recently published by PANK, contains a collection of short personal stories that will pluck at your heartstrings. Ethel Rohan, author of Cut Through the Bone and Dark Sky Books, executes the tone of youthful awkwardness with the perfect amount of bittersweet. The pangs of childhood tales and oddities resonate throughout the book, keeping the reader drawn until the finish.
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Helen Oyeyemi
  • Date Published September 2011
  • ISBN-13 978-1-59448-807-8
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 324pp
  • Price $25.95
  • Review by Olive Mullet
For those familiar with the French folktale “Bluebeard,” especially in its various versions such as the British “Mr. Fox” and “Fitcher’s Bird,” Helen Oyeyemi’s novel Mr. Fox will delight. Even if you are not familiar with these other versions, you get them in this novel. You only need to love fairy tale convolutions, especially when blended with real-life situations.
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Stuart Nadler
  • Date Published September 2011
  • ISBN-13 978-0316126472
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 236pp
  • Price $13.99
  • Review by Jodi Paloni
The seven stories that make up Stuart Nadler’s spirited debut collection, The Book of Life, are about men: husbands and boyfriends, fathers and brothers, sons and grandsons. They’re about relationships, the mistakes and the misunderstandings. As a whole, the collection strikes a balance between characters who reclaim a portion of what is lost and those who are humbled by their circumstances and left to persevere. Infidelity is the crux of six out of the seven stories, but Nadler’s characters find surprises inside surprises inside surprises, spiraling the life out of any potential clichés.
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Daniel Sada
  • Translated From Spanish
  • by Katherine Silver
  • Date Published April 2012
  • ISBN-13 978-1-55597-609-5
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 344pp
  • Price $16.00
  • Review by Wendy Breuer
In the opening scene of Almost Never, by Mexican writer Daniel Sada, the perturbed protagonist, Demetrio, an "agronomist" in Oaxaca, ponders his humdrum life. What will relieve his tedium? The answer: "Sex, as an apt pretext for breaking the monotony; motor-sex; anxiety-sex; the habit of sex, as any glut that can well become a burden; colossal, headlong, frenzied ambiguous sex … pretense-sex, see-through sex. Pleasure, in the end, as praise that goes against the grain of life."
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