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NewPages Book Reviews

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

Posted August 01, 2017

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  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by James Allen Hall
  • Date Published April 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9963167-7-4
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 156pp
  • Price $16.00
  • Review by MacKenzie Hamilton

A collection of essays has never been so utterly tragic and full of truth. James Allen Hall’s I Liked You Better Before I Knew You So Well is overflowing with vulnerability, and it is the vulnerability that makes the reading experience worth it. Hall’s essays demonstrate his ability to marry poetry and prose in a relationship that I hope will only continue to blossom.

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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Dave Housley
  • Date Published February 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-1944853143
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 122pp
  • Price $14.00
  • Review by DM O'Connor

In recent headline news: 14,000 inhabitants of British Colombia were evacuated as wild fires approached; 8,000 Southern Californians dashed for safety; 62 victims died in a forest fire in Northern Portugal; London’s Grenfell Tower fire took the lives of “around 80 people.” The threat of infernal combustion is the leitmotif that ties Dave Housley’s latest collection of short stories Massive Cleansing Fire together. Although it is unknown whether the fires that bridge the stories are started by folly or malice or divine lightning rod, what remains clear is the horror, destruction and often mundane reactions to our inevitable demise. As the flames approach, an insurance salesman commits double suicide, a clown and a monkey die together, a writer hiding in the Museum of Modern Art attempts to save some Rothkos, a bible thumper prays away, and a lab worker at a New Mexican cryonics lab follows final instructions. Suspenseful, dense, and unpredictable, Housley keeps the pages turning.

  • Subtitle A Reckoning with Loss
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  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Martha Cooley
  • Date Published April 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-1-936787-46-3
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 192pp
  • Price $16.95
  • Review by Valerie Wieland

Martha Cooley’s first book-length collection of essays, Guesswork: A Reckoning with Loss, is premised on the fact that eight of Cooley’s friends died within 10 years. I’m not sure that’s unusual for anyone who’s eased past a 50th birthday. Nevertheless, Cooley and her husband Antonio Romani spend 14 months in Italy’s Castiglione del Terziere where she reflects on life, friends, and her mother. She surveys the effects of losing loved ones and her means of adapting to those losses in this blend of travelogue and memoir.

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  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Gregor Hens
  • Date Published January 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-159051793-2
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 175pp
  • Price $16.95
  • Review by MacKenzie Hamilton

Are you a smoker? When did you start smoking? How many cigarettes have you smoked in your lifetime, and what were the brands? Did they have filters? Have these questions ever crossed your mind before? Maybe you're not a smoker, so these questions are useless to you, but maybe you used to be a smoker and now you're trying to recall some of these answers. Or, maybe, you are a smoker, and some of these questions are on your mind every single day. That is exactly the case for Gregor Hens.

  • Subtitle A Year Alone through Latin America
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  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Kate McCahill
  • Date Published May 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-1-939650542
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 350pp
  • Price $16.95
  • Review by Kelly Sauvage Angel

The writing of a travel memoir is, from my perspective, very much akin to the unfolding of the journey described. In spite of copious amounts of preparation, forethought, and heartfelt intent, it is all too easy to stumble along the path, or even find oneself completely lost somewhere along the way. After all, how does one successfully navigate the terrain of readers’ expectations? Are they looking for landscapes captured through lush, photographic language or a dredging of the traveler’s inner landscape? How much anthropology, history, reflection or poetic license is enough? Perhaps too much? All the while remaining true to one’s own experience.

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  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Ariel Goldberg
  • Date Published December 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-1-937658-51-9
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 304pp
  • Price $16.95
  • Review by Scott Russell Morris

As I read Ariel Goldberg’s The Estrangement Principle, a book-length meditation, examination, and critique of the term “queer art,” I was reminded of an essay I often teach: G. Douglas Atkins’s “The Return of/to the Essay,” in which he argues for a type of academic criticism which “reestablish[es] contact with the Anglo-American tradition of the personal or familiar essay without sacrificing intellectual rigor or forgoing the insights and accomplishments of recent theory.”

  • Subtitle American Essays
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  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Edward McPherson
  • Date Published May 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-1566894678
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 288pp
  • Price $16.95
  • Review by Scott Russell Morris

At one point while I was reading The History of the Future, someone asked how it was, and I looked up and exclaimed, “The essays are almost too perfect.”

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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Matthew Rohrer
  • Date Published May 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-1-940696-40-9
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 248pp
  • Price $18.00
  • Review by Kimberly Ann Priest

If you happened to glance at the number of pages in this manuscript (listed above) you’ll have noticed that it is much longer than your typical book of poems. In fact, The Others is not really a book of poems; it is a thick 4 x 7 paperback that looks very much like a typical novel. Amazon calls it a “gripping, eerie, and hilarious novel-in-verse,” and that description seems about right.

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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Erdağ Göknar
  • Date Published April 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-1-933527-87-1
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 80pp
  • Price $16.00
  • Review by Valerie Wieland

Erdağ Göknar has a conversational way of writing poetry, yet his phrasing is not at all ordinary. He allows us to eavesdrop on his life in Turkey and America in his first book of poems Nomadologies. Göknar teaches Turkish and Middle Eastern Studies at Duke University, and is an award-winning translator, but it has been a circuitous journey to arrive at his current status.

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