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NewPages Book Reviews

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

Posted June 01, 2017

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  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Patricia Horvath
  • Date Published July 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9903221-9-1
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 188pp
  • Price $16.95
  • Review by Valerie Wieland

Imagine being a 13-year-old in the hands of a “large, stubble-faced man who was smoking a cigar. [ . . . ] a man who would spread his tobacco-stained fingers on my torso, breathe his sour breath into my face.” Sounds like a child about to undergo a nasty ordeal. Though it’s not what you may be thinking, Patricia Horvath did, in fact, experience this ordeal after being diagnosed with scoliosis, “a double, S-shaped curvature of the spine.”

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  • Book Type Anthology Edited
  • by Tricia Reeks and Kyle Richardson
  • Date Published May 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9966262-6-2
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 280pp
  • Price $16.95
  • Review by Valerie Wieland

Two years ago, Meerkat Press founder Tricia Reeks listened as co-editor Kyle Richardson talked enthusiastically about comic book superheroes. That led to issuing a call for submissions. Seven hundred stories poured in, 20 of which are published in the delightfully entertaining book, Behind the Mask.

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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Taylor Brorby
  • Date Published April 2017
  • ISBN-13 9781888160222
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 92pp
  • Price $14.95
  • Review by Valerie Wieland

Taylor Brorby is outspoken when it comes to the devastation of land in the Great Plains. To voice the issues he is most concerned about, he wrote a book of poetry called Crude. Brorby is a fellow at the Black Earth Institute, which defines itself as a “progressive think-tank dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society." He also educates people around the country by speaking about fracking.

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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Juliet Patterson
  • Date Published November 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-1-937658-55-7
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 80pp
  • Price $15.95
  • Review by Ryo Yamaguchi

“Toward a flower- / ing I came // lowly lupine raised / wrist,” Juliet Patterson begins in “Toward,” the opening poem of her latest collection, Threnody, out last fall from Nightboat Books. And with these few lines, she deftly establishes the themes and sensibilities of her project: nature raised up into inspection, and with it, inspection itself (the wrist). Quiet, patient, yet often with a swarming force, these poems worry the fraught intersection between humanity and nature, where, as we quickly see, threat abides. If nature is a flowering, it is a flowering against the edges of nothingness.

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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Gillian Wegener
  • Date Published April 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-1-939639-13-4
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 96pp
  • Price $16.00
  • Review by Daniel Klawitter

In the poem “16 Reasons You Shouldn’t Like Me (And I Don’t Like Me Either),” Gillian Wegener writes: “I mine the cupboards of memory / And all I come up with is / A treasury of embarrassments.” But there is nothing embarrassing about this new full-length collection of poems, This Sweet Haphazard.

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  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by José Antonio Rodríguez
  • Date Published February 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8061-5501-2
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 208pp
  • Price $19.95
  • Review by Scott Russell Morris

There is no doubt that House Built on Ashes by José Antonio Rodríguez is an important story. It focuses on the youngest child of Mexican immigrants, who cross the border frequently to visit family in Mexico but then return to their impoverished life in Texas, where a young Rodríguez confronts issues of poverty, of family uncertainty, bullying at school, and also Rodríguez’s own developing sexuality. The book is organized in vignettes, not a single plot arc, but rather a painting of a life told through one- or two-page essays and narratives, sometimes even bordering on prose poems.

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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Kate Fadick
  • Date Published March 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9975805
  • Format Chapbook
  • Pages 25pp
  • Price $8.50
  • Review by Daniel Klawitter

Poet Kate Fadick (who uses the pronouns “they, them, their”) has written a compact and thematically focused chapbook of poems inspired by the life of the German Benedictine abbess Hildegard of Bingen. Hildegard died in 1179 but remains remarkable for her ecological/cosmological mysticism as well as her achievements in music, theology, languages, playwriting, natural science and botany. Fadick, who only began writing poetry in their late 60’s, is the author of a previous chapbook of poems, Slipstream, published by Finishing Line Press in March, 2013.

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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Craig Morgan Teicher
  • Date Published April 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-1-942683-31-5
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 80pp
  • Price $16.00
  • Review by Kimberly Ann Priest

“I was made // to be good like this, a father / before I was done being my father’s / son.” -from “Tracheotomy”

While most of the nation is wrangling over politics, some poets, like Craig Morgan Teicher, are reminding us of our human fragility in this pandemonium of voices. Poets like Teicher are forced by circumstance to cultivate a stillness of spirit for fear of inhaling or exhaling too carelessly and thereby breaking the already frayed cord of life struggling to hold itself together—that frayed cord being the speaker’s son so consciously observed in this 88-page manuscript of poems, The Trembling Answers.

 

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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by A.G. Harmon
  • Date Published July 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-1-927409-97-8
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 228pp
  • Price $19.95
  • Review by MacKenzie Hamilton

Some Bore Gifts is a fantastical take on the inner workings on the average person’s conscious mind. It is clear A.G. Harmon is precise and specific when it comes to each and every detail that he either includes or omits. The precise attention to detail and the playfulness applied to the everyday character in these stories will enchant and affect each and every person that flips through its pages.

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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by TJ Beitelman
  • Date Published November 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-1-62557-942-3
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 200pp
  • Price $16.95
  • Review by MacKenzie Hamilton

TJ Beitelman’s Communion is unlike any collection before it. The stories are written in pairs that, like the body and blood of actual Communion, are strikingly different in form, but very similar in underlying meaning. Beitelman’s stylistic approach showcases his mastery of multiple genres. Some of the stories resemble flash fiction or prose, while others resemble free-standing short stories or chapters in a book. One thing is for sure, Communion will trouble its readers in the most memorable of ways.

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