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NewPages Book Reviews

Posted April 05, 2016

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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Mark Brazaitis
  • Date Published January 2015
  • ISBN-13 978-1-938769-03-0
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 180pp
  • Price $17.95
  • Review by Rhonda Browning White
“Katherine’s son was about to wrestle a blind boy. . . .” So begins “The Blind Wrestler,” the first short story in Mark Brazaitis’s collection Truth Poker.­ Surprising, intriguing, declarative sentences like this sink teeth into you and don’t let go, until you’ve reached each story’s satisfying ending. In “The Blind Wrestler,” Katherine has an affair with her son’s high-school-wrestling opponent. She regularly meets the handsome young man in a vacant house, “a den of mild iniquity,” where she confronts not only the loneliness in her marriage to a man eighteen years her senior, but also the way she blindly trudges through motherhood toward old age, without enjoying the journey or considering her destination.
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Paolo Giordano
  • Translated From Italian
  • by Anne Milano Appel
  • Date Published December 2015
  • ISBN-13 978-0-525-42876-3
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 146pp
  • Price $22.00
  • Review by Olive Mullet
Italian novelist Paolo Giordano’s novella Like Family, in spite of its short length, encapsulates as much of life as his well-known novel The Solitude of Prime Numbers. His previous career as a physicist shows up in both works, while in this one, he is married with a small child employing a housekeeper. As the husband, father, and employer, he is the unnamed narrator in the story. The housekeeper, a central character, is also the child’s caretaker and confidante to the couple. The housekeeper is a middle-aged widow whom the narrator refers to Mrs. A while at the same time being named Babette by the couple (after the Karen Blixen story and film about a woman who prepares a fabulous feast to strict, frugal northerners). We do not know the housekeeper’s real name until the very end, which is important: she is family to the couple but they barely know her.
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Selah Saterstrom
  • Date Published August 2015
  • ISBN-13 978-1-56689-395-4
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 186pp
  • Price $16.95
  • Review by Elizabeth O'Brien
Selah Saterstrom’s Slab opens with a gripe, or a warning, perhaps, that the play won’t start. But then it does, and from page one, the story takes off at a breakneck pace and proceeds with all the force of a hurricane.
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  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Adam Tipps Weinstein
  • Date Published March 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-1-934254-60-8
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 96pp
  • Price $17.00
  • Review by Ryo Yamaguchi
Reading the surrealist essays in Adam Tipps Weinstein’s Some Versions of the Ice, one is quick to make comparisons. The most obvious is to magical realist writers such as Jorge Luis Borges or Italo Calvino, but there are many other resonances. His essay “The False Pigeon: A History”—a fictional account of a natural history museum—reads like it dropped straight from the pages of George Saunders’s CivilWarLand in Bad Decline, and the deceptively straightforward expositional tone that he employs throughout—which Michael Martone mentions in his wonderful blurb as a “hyper-rational empiricism [running] stoically and joyfully amok”—often echoes Lydia Davis.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by John Amen
  • Date Published February 2015
  • ISBN-13 978-1-63045-008-3
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 108pp
  • Price $14.95
  • Review by Trena Machado
Strange Theater brings us a reality where words can deposit you, drop you off, let you move struck by what you know, yet cannot quite believe (this is where we are at?). John Amen is in conversation with us. There is a we, and we have come to a turning point, we of this culture, we of this species, not knowing what we thought we were:
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by M.L. Liebler
  • Date Published April 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-­0-­8143-­4202-­2
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 88pp
  • Price $15.99
  • Review by Benjamin Champagne
A friend of mine said Google killed the revolutionary. The 99% feel rich. We’re numb and fat. I have access to everything I could ever want. As a matter of fact, my imagination no longer seems as vast as the possibilities created by the internet. However, M.L. Liebler confronts this notion a bit. It is a nudge of awakening. In a generation of Americans with infinite privilege, poverty isn’t even true poverty. He has seen the revolutions in Detroit and the raging in the desert on the other side of the planet. I Want to Be Once ​has the heart of a sage bringing wisdom to those without experience. While I may be stuck behind my computer, living a life of privilege and low conceit, seeking out only those things pertinent to me, Liebler delivers the news of reality and a slant to go along with it. The revolution is in the letter.
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Jade Sharma
  • Date Published July 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-1-56689-442-5
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 208pp
  • Price $16.95
  • Review by Katy Haas
Maya has problems. In fact, Maya has Problems with a capital P. She’s in a boring marriage with Peter, an alcoholic with a conservative family she doesn’t fit into. She’s having an affair with Ogden, one of her former professors who is more than twice her age. She struggles with an eating disorder. Her mother has MS and struggles to care for herself. There are changes happening at her job which may leave her desperate for money. And she juggles all these problems under the haze of her biggest problem: a budding addiction to heroin. Jade Sharma guides us through the haze in her forthcoming, aptly-named novel, Problems.

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