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NewPages Book Reviews

Reviews of newly published and forthcoming independent and university press titles.

Posted October 05, 2016

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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Marc Harshman
  • Date Published September 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-1-943665-22-8
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 114pp
  • Price $16.99
  • Review by Daniel Klawitter

Marc Harshman is the current poet laureate of West Virginia, a prolific author of children’s books, and a 1994 recipient of the Ezra Jack Keats/Kerlan Collection Fellowship from the University of Minnesota for research on Scandinavian myth and folklore. In this collection of poems, Harshman creates poetic/folkloric myths around the “ordinary” lives of everyday people. But as C.S. Lewis once wrote in The Weight of Glory: “There are no ordinary people.”

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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Ocean Vuong
  • Date Published April 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-155659-495-3
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 89pp
  • Price $16.00
  • Review by Kimberly Ann Priest

I didn’t know that Ocean Vuong was merely 23 years old upon publishing Night Sky with Exit Wounds when I read the book’s opening lines: “In the body, where everything has a price, / I was a beggar.” I didn’t know this, and I’m glad I didn’t. For if I had, the lines of this first poem, “Threshold,” might have been emptied of their testimony to life experience and the whole manuscript’s maturity as reflected in tempered openness and exquisite poetic craft. But art comes to the artist without regard for time, and maturity is as much an act of will as it is a product of experience; this artist has embraced both in his youth, as evidenced in these poems. To date, he is already the recipient of several national awards including a Pushcart Prize and the author of two previously published chapbooks. Simply said, he has not suddenly risen to celebrity status in the world of poetry (if such a thing can be claimed), but has achieved this status gradually through multiple shorter publications and recognitions.

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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Jacob M. Appel
  • Date Published September 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-1-62557-953-9
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 184pp
  • Price $16.95
  • Review by Valerie Wieland

Usually I’m well into reading a book before I have to look up a word. Not so with Coulrophobia & Fata Morgana. This time I hadn’t even opened the book. I thought maybe these were stories about ancient mythological characters, but Google informed me that coulrophobia is fear of clowns, and fata morgana is a form of mirage seen right above the horizon.

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  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Chris Campanioni
  • Date Published March 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-1-936196-60-9
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 226pp
  • Price $19.00
  • Review by Valerie Wieland

Death of Art, 31-year-old Chris Campanioni’s memoir, is an amalgam of prose, poetry, and text messages. His name might not be familiar to you, though he’s appeared in commercials, numerous print ads and occasional acting gigs. If you look for Campanioni’s photo at the end of the book you’ll be disappointed. But fear not, there are plenty of pictures of him on the internet. Among his writing credits, Campanioni’s 2014 novel Going Down won the International Latino Book Award for Best First Book, and a year earlier he won the Academy of American Poets Prize. He teaches literature and creative writing at Baruch College and Pace University, and interdisciplinary studies at John Jay.

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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Vladislav Vančura
  • Translated From the Czech
  • by Carleton Bulkin
  • Date Published July 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-80-86264-43-1
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 183pp
  • Price $22.50
  • Review by Valerie Wieland

Czechoslovak citizen Vladislav Vančura was executed by the Nazis in 1942. He’d been a novelist, playwright, and film director, and he left behind a corpus of work that includes ten novels, five plays, a children’s book, and an unfinished chronicle of Czech history. He studied law and medicine at Charles University in Prague, and was a founding member of an avant-garde association of artists. When Nazi Germany occupied Bohemia in 1939, he was active in the Czech resistance. He was arrested in 1942, tortured and imprisoned. After the assassination of a high ranking Nazi official during World War II, Vančura was one of thousands of Czechs who were murdered in reprisal.

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  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Chloe Caldwell
  • Date Published October 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-56689-453-1
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 184pp
  • Price $16.95
  • Review by Kelly Sauvage Angel

If truth be told, I simply wasn’t prepared for my reality to shift. My perspective, my worldview, suited me just fine. Yet, upon encountering I’ll Tell You in Person, a collection of essays by Chloe Caldwell, which appears deceptively unassuming at first glance, I rediscovered a lushness within the human experience that had somehow slipped from my grasp over the course of four decades plus three intentionally subdued years with hopes of merely staying afloat.

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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Sheryl Monks
  • Date Published November 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-1-943665-39-6
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 192pp
  • Price $16.99
  • Review by Allyson Hoffman

A mix of darkly funny and shockingly somber stories, Sheryl Monks’s Monsters in Appalachia is an outstanding short story collection. She masterfully draws readers into many lives in Appalachia through setting, characters, and, most importantly, dialogue. Some stories are fantastical, others are more traditional, and all are worth reading, either one right after another or, slowly, one at a time.

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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Kathryn Nuernberger
  • Date Published September 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-1-942683-14-8
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 96pp
  • Price $16.00
  • Review by Ryo Yamaguchi

There is an abiding anguish that swells like a tidal water through Kathryn Nuernberger’s new book, The End of Pink. It’s an emotional force that takes a little while to establish, not yet fully evident while reading through the table of contents or perusing the first few poems, which seem at first like relatively straightforward engagements with historic books of science and pseudoscience, poems that are the result of the purposeful taking of a subject of study.

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