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NewPages Book Reviews

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

Posted November 01, 2017

  • Subtitle A Body of Essays
  • Image Image
  • Book Type Anthology Edited
  • by Stephanie G’Schwind
  • Date Published May 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-1-885635-57-0
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 256pp
  • Price $19.95
  • Review by Scott Russell Morris

The essays in Beautiful Flesh: A Body of Essays make up, collectively, a body, each essay on a single body part and so, moving from head to foot, the essays tell stories of the body, one that is multi-gendered, multi-ethnic, and multi-abled. The whole collection is, for me, summed up in a middle passage from Hester Kaplan’s essay “The Private Life of Skin,” a tale about her battle with psoriasis: “The heart beats faster when we’re scared, the chest clenches as we dial 911, the stomach flips with remorse, the head pounds with indecisions, the mouth waters for a kiss; we are our bodies.”

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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Camilla Grudova
  • Date Published October 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-1-56689-490-6
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 162pp
  • Price $15.95
  • Review by MacKenzie Hamilton

Camilla Grudova’s first collection, The Doll’s Alphabet, is causing a literary stir. It has been compared to the writing of Margaret Atwood, Angela Carter, and Franz Kafka—one of the authorial inspirations for the collection. Grudova’s stories inhabit a time and space that is unclear to the reader, but never so far off to be unbelievable. Her writing is haunting and humorous, and the attention to gender dynamics adds a layer of truth to these dark tales.

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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Shane McCrae
  • Date Published February 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-0819577115
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 108pp
  • Price $24.95
  • Review by Kimberly Ann Priest

When I began reading Shane McCrae’s In the Language of my Captor, an 86-page book of poems and prose highlighting racial prejudice in both historical and present contexts, I was not the least familiar with the story of Jim Limber, an octoroon (1/8 African ancestry) orphan taken in by Jefferson Davis and his wife, Varina, from 1864 to 1865. Growing up in the American north during the 80s and 90s, I learned Civil War history from a northern grade school perspective that celebrated the greatness of leaders like Abraham Lincoln, the importance of the Union, and that highlighted the incredible progresses made toward racial justice then and since. Limber was not part of that learned history.

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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Jacqueline Doyle
  • Date Published September 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-1-62557-983-6
  • Format Chapbook
  • Pages 32pp
  • Price $8.95
  • Review by Katy Haas

You soon may be the missing girl, you have taken the missing girl, you fantasize about the missing girl, you are the missing girl. In Jacqueline Doyle's aptly-named The Missing Girl, we briefly take on all the roles before shucking the skin we're in and donning a new one. Winner of the Black River Chapbook Competition through Black Lawrence Press, The Missing Girl draws us into the seedy darkness of everyday life in small bursts of haunting prose as Doyle forces us to consider being both the hunter and the hunted. Regardless of which position she leads us to, none is a comfortable role to be in.

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  • Book Type Anthology Edited
  • by Jane Ormerod, Thomas Fucaloro, David Lawton, George Wallace, Aimee Herman, Mary McLaughlin Slechta
  • Date Published August 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9981440-2-3
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 167pp
  • Price $19.00
  • Review by Valerie Wieland

I figure most people who read book reviews are also writers. So let’s dig right into David Lawton’s interview with Pulitzer Prize winner Paul Harding, featured in a new anthology called The Other Side of Violet. Harding endured rejections with his first novel, Tinkers, but five years later it was published by a literary press. He was teaching at the time and happened to look online to see who won the Pulitzer. “Honestly, I sort of half fainted—‘swooned’ would not be inaccurate—onto the floor of the crummy grad student apartment I was staying in. Totally surreal,” he says.

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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Alex Behr
  • Date Published October 2017
  • ISBN-13 978–0–998 4092-2-1
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 154pp
  • Price $15.95
  • Review by David Breithaupt

Alex Behr has a wide-ranging resume which has served her well over the years, providing a cornucopia of material to feed her writing. During the 1990s, she contributed to underground zines while performing in bands. She moved up the West Coast from San Francisco to Portland, Oregon in 2003, and published all the while as she did stints in comedy.

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