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NewPages Book Reviews

Posted March 01, 2016

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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Brian Ascalon Roley
  • Date Published April 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8101-3322-8
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 160pp
  • Price $17.95
  • Review by Sheelonee Banerjee
Sometimes our roots are someplace else and we craft our whole lives in places away from our original source like outsiders wishing earnestly to ‘belong.’ We absorb a lot of what is new and retain or let go of our past. Generations pass, the memory of the roots begin to get weaker, yet it filters through families, countries, history. History absorbs the effects of immigration and narrates his stories, her stories, their stories. We meet people, engage in relationships, progress through situations, and separate moments from our different lives converge at common points of emotional realizations.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Noelle Kocot
  • Date Published May 2016
  • ISBN-13 9781940696300
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 96pp
  • Price $18.00
  • Review by Benjamin Champagne
Phantom pain is one of those peculiar syndromes that has received widespread recognition for its oddness, mostly. Noelle Kocot’s Phantom Pains of Madness trickles and drips with oddity as well, the entire piece written one word at a time. Each word receives its own line, which makes the book very easy to read: a delight in the modern age. It also gives the book a dimension and heft that is incomparable. But Noelle’s humor disarms the reader often and keeps the book light, while its content is quite heavy. This is her seventh book of poetry, and there is no doubt that she has achieved a wringing out of all that isn’t her. Phantom Pains of Madness is a truly original work and a very rewarding read.
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Ben Tanzer
  • Date Published January 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-1-934513-50-7
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 72pp
  • Price $13.00
  • Review by Heath Bowen
The blank page, always a canvas with vocabulary a pallet and creativity the brush, is a daunting image; it is there though, hanging in the balance like a friendship on a tightrope. It is what can be done with such a task that matters the most. And Ben Tanzer emphatically delivers with an unapologetic stroke in his latest collection Sex and Death.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Rick Bursky
  • Date Published September 2015
  • ISBN-13 978-1-938160-70-0
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 72pp
  • Price $16.00
  • Review by Heath Bowen
I used to laugh at the notion of singularity because it objectified the pluralizing concept of always wanting more. Good poetry is like that; it is circulatory, a wheel constantly spinning between the yin and the yang of existence. I don't mind that one poem is different than the next, only that somehow the wheel doesn't get stuck and I become lost in the duality of it all.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Michael Donhauser
  • Translated From the German
  • by Nick Hoff and Andrew Joron
  • Date Published 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-1-936194-20-9
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 128pp
  • Price $14.00
  • Review by Ryo Yamaguchi
Michael Donhauser is an accomplished Austrian poet, essayist, and critic whose books date back nearly thirty years, but he is not widely known to English readers. It makes him a great candidate for Dichten—Burning Deck’s translation series, which brings this rich and varied collection, Of Things (first published in German nearly twenty years ago), to a needed new audience. It’s a dizzyingly varied work, finely translated by Nick Hoff and Andrew Joron. It is philosophically poised but historically informed, personal, scientific, whimsical, and serious—showcasing a real rucksack of literary tools that Donhauser brings into the field with him to sketch, like the plein air painter, his subjects.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Magdalena Zurawski
  • Date Published May 2015
  • ISBN-13 978-1-933959-19-1
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 88pp
  • Price $15.00
  • Review by Dana Johnson
Magdalena Zurawski began writing her poetry collection Companion Animal in a state of doubt about her own abilities as a poet (to cite her final selection from the book, “Dear Reader,”). In 2009, when she was feeling particularly unsure about her abilities to write, a close friend encouraged her to read and write poetry daily and cultivate a loosely-supervised writing routine. The poems that stemmed from this exercise explore the realities of daily life—financial stress, relationships, lost loved ones, and of course, the companionship of a tiny dog—while questioning the relevancy of poetry and the act of writing itself.
  • Subtitle A Father, His Daughter, and the Great Books of the Western World
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  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Matt Burriesci
  • Date Published June 2015
  • ISBN-13 978-1-63228-017-6
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 250pp
  • Price $17.95
  • Review by Valerie Wieland
If you half-snoozed through the classics at school, reading Matt Burriesci’s Dead White Guys is a shrewd way to refresh your knowledge. The book is subtitled A Father, His Daughter and the Great Books of the Western World. It includes visits to philosophers and storytellers such as Plato and Plutarch, Montaigne and Shakespeare, John Locke, Adam Smith and other notables. Author Matt Burriesci deftly combines their teachings with his own experiences and ideas to equip his daughter with lessons for a good life.
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Ben Nickol
  • Date Published November 2015
  • ISBN-13 978-1-938466-50-2
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 142pp
  • Price $16.95
  • Review by Allyson Parsons
A collection of short stories that drips with artistry and revelatory truths, Where the Wind Can Find It is a masterful exploration of the struggle between who and where we were and are, and who we want to be.
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Tara Laskowski
  • Date Published May 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-1-939650-38-2
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 235pp
  • Price $15.95
  • Review by Valerie Wieland
Bystanders, by Tara Laskowski, due out May 2016, contains thirteen short stories with titles that make you want to see who the bystanders are and what they’re up to. The majority center on young couples, and several pieces would be right at home in the old TV series “The Twilight Zone,” like “The Monitor” in which neighbors see each other’s babies on their own baby monitors. Plus, there’s another strange figure who keeps appearing.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Lindsay Tigue
  • Date Published April 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-1- 60938-401-2
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 71pp
  • Price $19.95
  • Review by Valerie Wieland
In addition to traditional rain showers, April 2016 will bring the launch of Lindsay Tigue’s book of poetry, System of Ghosts, winner of the 2015 Iowa Poetry Prize. In this, her first book, Tigue has mastered a technique of taking facts—some obscure—and using them as a springboard to wherever her imagination leads her. Judge Craig Moran Teicher says these bits of information are “gathered magpielike,” leading to insight.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Rick Barot
  • Date Published July 2015
  • ISBN-13 9781941411032
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 72pp
  • Price $14.95
  • Review by Elizabeth O'Brien
There is saying that “Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach,” derisively suggesting that teachers only resort to teaching because they are professional failures in their chosen fields. But Rick Barot’s Chord is the kind of book that will make readers see the reality that sometimes those who can—like Barot—are also willing to teach. Luckily for us.
  • Subtitle Writing, Zen, and This Zigzag Life
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  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Natalie Goldberg
  • Date Published February 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-1-61180-316-7
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 224pp
  • Price $22.95
  • Review by Nichole L. Reber
Part travelogue, part Buddhist meditation, Natalie Goldberg’s latest book, The Great Spring: Writing, Zen, and This Zigzag Life, was published this past February along with the 30th anniversary edition of her classic title Writing Down the Bones. Through graceful prose and occasional humor, these essayistic memoirs weave between the covers as she tackles a reel of subjects such as death, the promises and faults of Buddhism, stalking, and, of course, writing.
  • Subtitle Finding a Place in the World from Kashmir to New York
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  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Githa Hariharan
  • Date Published March 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-1632060617
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 304pp
  • Price $16.99
  • Review by Nichole L. Reber
“Stories, like real life, can strip you of the prettier features of illusion.” This is exactly the kind of line that ensures us we are in capable hands with Githa Hariharan, who narrates her travelogue Almost Home: Finding a Place in the World from Kashmir to New York more as a travel guide, less as the star of her own world. To read this book is to venture on a rigorous journey around the globe and through pockets of time. As a fellow travel writer and having also lived a peripatetic life that crosses continents and hemispheres, this is the best travel book I have ever read.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Maria Garcia Teutsch
  • Date Published 2015
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9895745-8-7
  • Format Chapbook
  • Pages 23pp
  • Price $8.00
  • Review by Cheyanne Gustason
As I sat down with The Revolution Will Have Its Sky by Maria Garcia Teutsch, I was, in the longer term, in the midst of reading Tolstoy’s War and Peace. I could never have guessed Maria Garcia Teutsch’s Revolution would be a perfect pairing with that venerable epic, and yet, much to my delight, it is. The Revolution Will Have Its Sky is, of course, much shorter in length, but it explores and illuminates many of the same themes and dichotomies of Tolstoy’s epic novel, and to similar thought-provoking effect. While that may seem hefty praise, I challenge any reader of Teutsch’s work to disagree that its ideas, comparisons, and discoveries succinctly coincide with those long found in War and Peace. The Revolution Will Have Its Sky is in its own right an enticing, nuanced, and many-layered collection of poems that will keep you satisfied while you read, and deep in thought long after you have put it down.
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