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NewPages Book Reviews

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

Posted July 03, 2018

  • Subtitle A Graphic Novel
  • Image Image
  • Book Type Graphic Novel
  • by Ilan Stavans & Santiago Cohen
  • Date Published January 2018
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8142-5459-2
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 128pp
  • Price $17.95
  • Review by Cody Lee

Reading graphic novels sort of makes me feel like I’m ten years old, but when they include issues like poverty, molestation, and the 1985 Mexico City earthquake, I realize that a ten-year-old me wouldn’t know what to think. I still don’t, for that matter. Angelitos by Ilan Stavans and Santiago Cohen throws you straight into the lion’s den of Mexico, where homeless children run amok, and the only one that seems to care is a Catholic priest by the name of Father Chinchachoma.

  • Image Image
  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Nicole Cuffy
  • Date Published March 2018
  • ISBN-13 978-1-62557-875-4
  • Format Chapbook
  • Pages 17pp
  • Price $8.95
  • Review by Valerie Wieland

If you happen to notice the number of pages in this book before reading the review, don’t think you’ve seen a typo. Nicole Cuffy’s Atlas of the Body is indeed 17 pages long, and she fills out those pages with small scenes that open a larger story.

  • Subtitle Money, Class, & Cycling
  • Image Image
  • Book Type Anthology Edited
  • by Elly Blue
  • Date Published July 2018
  • ISBN-13 978-1-62106-090-1
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 128pp
  • Price $9.95
  • Review by DM O'Connor

Elly Blue of Microcosm Publishing has complied a mixed-genre anthology including essays, poetry, fiction, and even a recipe on cycling, empowerment, and the politics around transport and urban living. If you live in Portland, have a tendency for activism, or have just traded in your used Ford Corolla for a refurbished fixie, then this just might be the zine to slip into your back pocket for that next ride.

  • Image Image
  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Beth Spencer
  • Date Published April 2018
  • ISBN-13 978-1-939639-15-8
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 80pp
  • Price $16.00
  • Review by Valerie Wieland

A figure named Alice dominates the initial section of Beth Spencer’s poetry book, The Cloud Museum. Is Alice real? You’ll have to judge for yourself. The second section of the book swirls around the definitely real artist Jay DeFeo.

  • Subtitle A Memoir of No Memory
  • Image Image
  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Amy Nawrocki
  • Date Published April 2018
  • ISBN-13 978-1-947003-61-3
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 48pp
  • Price $12.00
  • Review by Vivian Wagner

The Comet’s Tail is a book about memory, the lack of memory, and the slow and painstaking process of recreating life and meaning after a coma.

  • Image Image
  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Cindy Veach
  • Date Published November 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-1-933880-64-8
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 88pp
  • Price $16.00
  • Review by Renee Emerson

Gloved Against Blood by Cindy Veach is about the textile industry in the 19th century, and the people whose lives it directed, including the lives of Veach’s ancestors. Her poems bring to light the oppressing conditions the women who worked at the mills endured. She uses found poems from news and slave narratives to add a level of expose to her work. The poems also weave a history of Veach’s family, and she hints at the fact that this history, like many hardships endured, is never completely shaken but inherited, like a thimble passed down might hold a stain of blood.

  • Image Image
  • Book Type Cross-Genre
  • by Sofia Samatar & Del Samatar
  • Date Published February 2018
  • ISBN-13 978-1-941628-10-2
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 84pp
  • Price $14.95
  • Review by DM O'Connor

Not since Jose Luis Borges’s Manual de zoología fantástica, a dictionary of 120 mythical beasts meant to be “dipped into” and read “randomly, just as one plays with the shifting patterns of a kaleidoscope,” have I picked up such an intriguing and beautiful collection as Monster Portraits by brother-sister, artist-author, extraordinaire collaborators, Del and Sofia Samatar. The fact that Borges was not a Somali-American growing up in the 1980s makes all the difference between the two works. Style, structure, and intention draws parallels, but the narrative of “other,” of foreign, of nomad, adds a profound political and emotional layer.

  • Image Image
  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Libby Burton
  • Date Published March 2018
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9980534-8-6
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 80pp
  • Price $16.00
  • Review by DM O'Connor
What other dangers will you step through tonight?
The hours baggy and gathering.
There is nothing mere about this.
I wanted like hot skin thumping around
the splinter caught within. That, and a tidy gold peace.
—from “Where God Was Not”

Libby Burton’s collection Soft Volcano is a delicate and sensuous meditation on the quotidian. By taking the smallest detail and transcending into the metaphysical, Burton is doing what the best writers do, asking questions that linger in the mind and heart.

  • Subtitle A Love Story
  • Image Image
  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Nicole Walker
  • Date Published August 2018
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8142-5485-1
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 288pp
  • Price $23.95
  • Review by Cody Lee

Toward the middle of Sustainability: A Love Story, I decided to read slower in order to sustain it, if only for a minute longer. I didn’t want the journey to end, just as the author, Nicole Walker, doesn’t want the world to end; there are too many great things to live for, this book being one of them. It is composed of thirty-eight essays, all of which read like prose poems, stuffed with scientific research on topics such as recycling, McDonald’s, and suicide. Most of all, it’s a love story written to Portland, Oregon; Walker’s family; and the little blue dot.

  • Image Image
  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Stu Krieger
  • Date Published November 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-1941861-44-8
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 361pp
  • Price $22.95
  • Review by DM O'Connor

What if Lee Harvey Oswald’s assassination of JFK was thwarted? What if a hardworking FBI agent discovered the 9/11 plot and arrested the terrorists before they boarded planes? What if an 80-year-old Martin Luther King swore Barak Obama into office as the 44th president? What if a California screenwriter and professor, Stu Krieger, followed four families through these what-ifs from 1963 to 2009? Well, that would be That One Cigarette.

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