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NewPages Book Reviews

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

Posted January 08, 2018

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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Taylor Mali
  • Date Published September 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-1-931307-34-5
  • Format Chapbook
  • Pages 31pp
  • Price $7.00
  • Review by Katy Haas

What do you do when the person who promised to stay with you for better and worse, sickness and health leaves? What if they leave by taking their own life? What do you do with the subsequent feelings of betrayal, sadness, and guilt? If you’re Taylor Mali, you write poetry about it. The Whetting Stone, winner of the 2017 Rattle Chapbook Prize, encapsulates Mali’s grief in the aftermath of his wife’s suicide in 2004.

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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Dawn Lundy Martin
  • Date Published July 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-1-55689-471-5
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 110pp
  • Price $16.95
  • Review by DM O'Connor
"where time, they say, ends. Whereas for extending, whereas what you might call a leaking or a wandering. Incalculable lang, incalcable list—what’s spun down the hole. No pulling or leaping up. Blackness, only the din of our existence. Wishing-rod defunct. Hear my voice without echo, always defunct. A stone in hand. A crown in laughter."
— from “One falls past the lip of some black unknown”
  • Subtitle Notes From a Wounded Place
  • Image Image
  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Rilla Askew
  • Date Published June 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8061-5717-7
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 184pp
  • Price $19.95
  • Review by Kimberly Ann Priest
“One thing we ought not forget in this America is how our impulse to forget is so strong.” Rilla Askew, Most American

From where I sit right in Shawnee, Oklahoma, I am 41 miles from Rilla Askew, a professor at the University of Oklahoma and author of Most American: Notes From a Wounded Place, a collection of essays on race, violence, history, and Oklahoma. Six months ago, I would not have expected this proximity and would have read this novel from a distance out of curiosity, but disconnected from the Oklahoma Askew memorializes in these pages and connects to the larger American drama.

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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Bao Phi
  • Date Published July 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-1-56689-470-8
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 112pp
  • Price $16.95
  • Review by DM O'Connor

The other day a seemingly nice older man whom I don’t know exclaimed, “I really don’t care for this hot weather—are you from Japan?” Hell yeah, I should have said. In fact, you know that movie Godzilla? That’s based on my life. It makes me want to vomit radioactively and commit zombie homicide, except in my version there is more than one Asian who survives. Our real conversation was not nearly as fun, but at least it didn’t end in violence. Our daughter overheard this and admonished me: “Don’t talk to strangers, Daddy.” – from “Greek Triptych”

  • Subtitle A Persistence of Memory
  • Image Image
  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Antonio C. Márquez
  • Date Published May 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-08263-5811-0
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 216pp
  • Price $21.95
  • Review by Scott Russell Morris

Antonio C. Márquez’s Volver is a “memoir” in the truest sense of the word, as its subtitle “A Persistence of Memory” suggests. Beginning in the Pre-World War II borderlands near El Paso, Texas, and moving to Los Angeles, the Midwest, and then all over the world, Volver recounts Márquez’s life and travels, from a poor boy to an established expert in his field who is called on by the government to be a cultural representative in other countries.

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  • Book Type Anthology Edited
  • by Jason Lee Brown & Shanie Latham
  • Date Published September 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9982159-4-5
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 107pp
  • Price $17.00
  • Review by Valerie Wieland

I’ve discovered that the donut is a popular topic for books, but I haven’t noticed an entire book of poems on the subject. The Book of Donuts, edited by Jason Lee Brown and Shanie Latham, helps fill in the gap. The editors have brought together several dozen diverse poets with equally diverse attitudes toward the confection.

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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Lucy Biederman
  • Date Published September 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-1-925417-57-9
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 65pp
  • Price $12.99
  • Review by MacKenzie Hamilton

Lucy Biederman’s newest project The Walmart Book of the Dead has been called “fearsome,” “extraordinary,” and “inventive.” In a work that Biederman calls experimental, she puts together a collection of spells that are meant to remind the reader of the Egyptian Book of the Dead—but in this collection, the tomb is a Walmart.

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