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NewPages Book Reviews

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

Posted August 01, 2018

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  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Ira Sukrungruang
  • Date Published March 2018
  • ISBN-13 978-159732-157-0
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 192pp
  • Price $25.00
  • Review by Denise Hill

Buddha’s Dog & Other Meditations by Ira Sukrungruang is a testament to the variety of forms nonfiction writing can reach as well as this author’s mastery of each. For teachers of creative nonfiction, this text models a range of approaches; for students of CNF (whether formally enrolled or not), this is a wonderful mentor text; and for us more general readers, this is a book to expand our experience with great satisfaction.

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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Jehanne Dubrow
  • Date Published August 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8093-3609-8
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 88pp
  • Price $15.95
  • Review by Kimberly Ann Priest
        . . . I met my husband in a class
on Ovid where we learned longing
changes us
        to limestone, or causes us
to caress the white bull—no matter
that he’s animal and his child minotaur,
the divided

                    offspring of our love.
from “At the Reading of the Antiwar Poets, 2007”

Every time I read Jehanne Dubrow’s work, I write a good poem. In fact, after reading and reviewing her book The Arranged Marriage over a year ago, I wrote a whole chapbook, published the following year. Perhaps she is something of a muse to me. Perhaps this is why, after spending nearly two years in Denton, Texas, and nearly also working as an adjunct instructor at the University of North Texas where she serves as an associate professor, I did not try to meet her even though I was encouraged to.

Maybe our muses are best left alone, enigmas granted asylum from gaze and inquiry. In any case, Dubrow continues to bring me good luck and inspire more poems.

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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Cameron Barnett
  • Date Published November 2017
  • ISBN-13 976-1-938769-26-9
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 96pp
  • Price $17.95
  • Review by DM O’Connor
Whereas the race card is now everyone’s card
in a deck I did not cut. I hate card games,
the conceit of the shuffle. I hate when white people
hate white people because hating white people
is fashionable. A person’s color is a still thing
to hate.
        —from “Nonbinding Legislation, or a Resolution”

Cameron Barnett’s first collection, published by Autumn House Press, is powerful. Each poem in The Drowning Boy’s Guide to Water is a full meal, and not always easy to digest. His craft is superb, pure excellence in both expression and thrust, but the themes are exhausting, necessary, and yes, every single thing is race. Barnett’s endurance analyzing America’s binary black and white world is honorable, essential, and true, yet leaves the reader bone-tired.

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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Geoffrey G. O’Brien
  • Date Published April 2018
  • ISBN-13 978-1940696669
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 144pp
  • Price $18.00
  • Review by Cody Lee

Let’s start here: Experience in Groups is a book of poetry. Specifically, it’s a book of poetry written by a well-established poet—Geoffrey G. O’Brien—which means that I’m sure that a lot of it went right over my head. But, all I can do is explain the things that I thought I understood, and see where it goes from there. Perhaps everything I say in the next seven hundred words or so is gobbledygook, but then again, there’s a chance that it’s not. Overall, that’s kind of how I felt about Experience in Groups.

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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Ahmed Ismail Yusuf
  • Date Published June 2018
  • ISBN-13 978-1-946395-07-8
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 190pp
  • Price $15.95
  • Review by Valerie Wieland

Ahmed Ismail Yusuf’s The Lion’s Binding Oath and Other Stories, presents an insider’s view of everyday life in Somalia during the mid to late 20th century. Yusuf had fled his birth country in the late 1980s during the Somalia civil war, and has since lived, educated himself, and worked in Minnesota.

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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Renee Simms
  • Date Published April 2018
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8143-4512-2
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 160pp
  • Price $18.99
  • Review by Cody Lee

The stories in Meet Behind Mars by Renee Simms touch on womanhood, family, sacrifice, and morals. Some of the tales are twisted with a bit of surrealism, a little Twilight Zone to counterbalance the absolutely real, cramped truth of growing up not only period, but a woman and black.

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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Nausheen Eusuf
  • Date Published November 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-1-63045-050-2900
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 96pp
  • Price $15.95
  • Review by DM O'Connor

Nausheen Eusuf’s debut collection Not Elegy, But Eros is conversing with giants. Wallace Stevens, Robert Frost, Emily Dickinson, T.S. Eliot, Freud, and a slew of other great names are sitting at the table. In both form and content, Eusuf is serving what these great minds have tackled before.

  • Subtitle A Daughter’s Memoir of Love after Loss
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  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Lisa Romeo
  • Date Published May 2018
  • ISBN-13 978-1-943859-69-9
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 240pp
  • Price $19.95
  • Review by Vivian Wagner

Starting with Goodbye: A Daughter’s Memoir of Love after Loss is a powerful new book by Lisa Romeo about the way our relationships with those we love change and deepen, even after death. Telling the story both of her father’s death and of her need to heal and go forward, this memoir is a moving account of the never-ending love between a father and daughter.

  • Subtitle Stories of the Sixties
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Sandra Scofield
  • Date Published Fall 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-1-930835-18-4
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 127pp
  • Price $15.00
  • Review by Kimberly Ann Priest

With the #metoo movement still changing the conversation on how women are treated in the US, this book of stories set in the 60s felt culturally relevant rather than retro. In three short fictions, Sandra Scofield examines the ambivalence and vulnerability of three women as well as the entitlement and ignorance of the men in their lives. Gender, more telling of one’s mobility and expectations in the 1960s than today, casts the male and female characters in narrowly defined roles. Women long for masculine freedoms and adopt a rebellious edge to keep themselves out of prepackaged social norms, while the various men in their lives conform to egoism, salvific nostalgia, and violent acts of privilege.

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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Li-Young Lee
  • Date Published February 2018
  • ISBN-13 978-0-393-06543-5
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 96pp
  • Price $25.95
  • Review by Renee Emerson

The Undressing examines the physical, bodily relationship with the spiritual relationship between two lovers. There are elements of the political—the strongest portions of the book—and of the foreign. Li-Young Lee’s collection is philosophical, not exactly accessible for a first-time poetry reader, but one that with re-readings gathers depth and meaning each time.

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