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NewPages Book Reviews

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

Posted March 01, 2017

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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Katie Hartsock
  • Date Published November 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-1-927409-65-7
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 163pp
  • Price $19.95
  • Review by Daniel Klawitter

Katie Hartsock’s debut full-length collection of poems is a sprightly and sophisticated exploration of its title: Bed of Impatiens. Most probably know impatiens as a species of flowering plant, which, according to some 18th Century botanists, the flower is so named because its capsules readily burst open when touched. However, it also shares the same Latin root for the word “impatient” which has other definitions, including “eagerly desirous” and “not being able to endure.” Hartsock’s book has very little to do with a literal bed of flowers, but rather more to do with lying down in a bed of various desires that requires or inspires a restless (and lyrically fruitful) impatience.

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  • Book Type Anthology Edited
  • by Jane Ormerod, Thomas Fucaloro, David Lawton, George Wallace, Russ Green
  • Date Published August 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9857317-9-3
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 188pp
  • Price $17.00
  • Review by Valerie Wieland

The mystifying title of this anthology—The Careless Embrace of the Boneshaker—calls for an explanation, which is forthcoming in the introduction. “Here are writers claiming who they are and screaming it from the top of their lungs. They are the boneshakers. [ . . . ] Like the 19th century bicycle prototype from which they get their name, they have no means of shock absorption.”

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  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Diane Simmons
  • Date Published August 2016
  • ISBN-13 9781609384616
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 272pp
  • Price $19.95
  • Review by Cameron Chase

Drawing on some eight hundred letters and other research documenting over two decades, Diane Simmons illuminates the unusual life of family friend, Eva Eldridge during and after WWII America. Simmons, originally neighbors and friends with Eva's mother, Grace, when she was just a young girl, became the executor of Eva's estate upon her death, leading her to secrets “hidden away in the arid eastern Oregon attic” of Eva’s home. Drawn by return addresses from Italy, North Africa, “somewhere in the Pacific,” and from all over America, Simmons looked past “a creepy sense of voyeurism,” grabbed a knife and cut through the “loops of tightly knotted kitchen string” that held together envelopes “collected into fat packets.”

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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Melissa Reddish
  • Date Published August 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-1-942387-08-4
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 98pp
  • Price $14.00
  • Review by Kelly Sauvage Angel

Over the past couple of years, more than a bit has been written about the re-emergence of the novella as a respected literary form. Given that most of us tend to be caught between a perpetual time crunch and a desire for the aspects of our lives that truly matter, it only makes sense. Shorter works are able to accommodate our constraints while providing that glimmer of the richer experience we seek. All the while, a move toward a relative minimalism has revealed that breadth does not necessarily equate with depth. Sometimes, an author’s choice to refrain from filling in all of the blanks just may allow for a more satisfying experience on the part of the reader.

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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Jacob M. Appel
  • Date Published March 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-1-57962-495-8
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 256pp
  • Price $28.00
  • Review by Valerie Wieland

Jacob M. Appel explains the title of his mystery novel, The Mask of Sanity, by crediting psychiatrist and psychopathy pioneer Hervey Cleckley, who used the phrase as the title of his 1941 book. It referred to people who “at their cores proved incapable of feeling empathy or compassion for their fellow human beings,” writes Appel.

  • Subtitle Poems in Conversation and a Conversation
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Kim Addonizio & Brittany Perham
  • Date Published 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-1-940646-02-2
  • Format Chapbook
  • Pages 25pp
  • Price $15.00
  • Review by Kimberly Ann Priest

The Night Could Go In Either Direction is, as the subtitle states, a conversation; a conversation between speakers, Kim Addonizio and Brittany Perham both contributing to this conversation on facing pages of this twenty-five page chapbook covered in lux pink paper that shimmers slightly in natural light. I have never read Perham, but Addonizio’s poems, quickly recognizable, are reminiscent of her collection What is This Thing Called Love. Perham’s prose poems contribute a raw symmetry to this tale of love gone wrong while Addonizio is so Addonizio, saying things that only Addonizio can say in that very Addonizio way.

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