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NewPages Book Reviews

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

Posted December 05, 2017

  • Subtitle A Memoir
  • Image Image
  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Sharon Harrigan
  • Date Published October 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-1-61248-210-1
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 240pp
  • Price $16.95
  • Review by Valerie Wieland

Parents can be strange and dichotomous creatures, and delving into their lives doesn’t always give us answers we expect. Sharon Harrigan, who teaches memoir writing at WriterHouse in Charlottesville, Virginia, discovered this when she set out to learn more about her father, Jerry. She compiled the results in her first book Playing with Dynamite: A Memoir.

  • Image Image
  • Book Type Anthology Edited
  • by Stefan Kiesbye
  • Date Published August 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9988072-0-1
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 248pp
  • Price $19.95
  • Review by Valerie Wieland

Writer and editor Stefan Kiesbye believes that “every story leaves a multitude of stories untold.” He acted on this idea by inviting fifteen writers to each choose a favorite story, then write a cover for it. The resulting anthology is appropriately titled Cover Stories. Most of the favorites were pulled from the past, but contemporary writer ZZ Packer also made the list.

  • Subtitle Inside the Soul of the City
  • Image Image
  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Herman Portocarero
  • Date Published September 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-1-933527-88-8
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 304pp
  • Price $18.95
  • Review by Valerie Wieland

If you’re locked into learning about far off locations through TV, movies, or social media, it’s time to stimulate your brain with a different interpretation. Herman Portocarero fulfills that task with his latest book, Havana Without Makeup: Inside the Soul of the City. Portocarero was born in Belgium of Spanish and Portuguese descent, and for the past 20-plus years has been ambassador to Havana from Belgium and then for the European Union, completing his post in September 2017. His take on Cuba’s capital city offers unique insights.

  • Image Image
  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Donte Collins
  • Date Published July 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-1943735112
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 72pp
  • Price $16.00
  • Review by DM O'Connor
i am alive by luck at this point, I wonder
often: if the gun that will unmake me
is yet made, what white birth

will bury me, how many bullets, like a
flock of blue jays, will come carry my black
to its final bed, which photo will be used

                    “What The Dead Know By Heart”
  • Image Image
  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Robert Fanning
  • Date Published February 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-1-910669-67-9
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 82pp
  • Price $12.00
  • Review by Natalie Tomlin

The word “museum” is usually associated with velvet ropes, alarms, roving guards. As Fanning introduces the word sudden into these carefully executed spaces filled with unfamiliar objects, he invites motion into a static world, redrawing the boundaries of artifact and observation. Though Our Sudden Museum is dedicated to the memory of his father, sister, and brother, and is filled with funny and painfully wrought elegies, unforeseen death reverberates his attention into new, unexpected places. Ultimately, with a broad range of forms and tones, Fanning ushers us into an elevated, enlightened space only reached through profound grief. Fanning's delivery is charged with urgency and grace, since at any moment, the mundane or cherished could be taken away, suspended under glass.


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