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NewPages Book Reviews

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

Posted September 06, 2017

  • Image Image
  • Book Type Anthology Edited
  • by Gayle Reaves
  • Date Published June 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-1-57441-670-1
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 240pp
  • Price $18.95
  • Review by Katy Haas

There are some books that exist to make their audience walk away feeling good about life and the world around them, and then there are books like The Best American Newspaper Narratives, Volume 4, which makes readers face gritty truths, some harder to process than others. Each year, the anthology “collects the ten winners of the 2016 Best American Newspaper Narrative Writing Contest at the Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference.” This year’s edition, edited by award-winning Gayle Reaves, features first place winner Stephanie McCrummen with “An American Void,” second place Christopher Goffard with “Fleeing Syria: The Choice,” and third place Sarah Schweitzer with “The Life and Times of Strider Wolf,” plus, the contest's seven runners-up.

 

  • Subtitle Seven Contemporary Chinese Novellas
  • Image Image
  • Book Type Anthology Edited
  • by Charles A. Laughlin, Liu Hongtao, Jonathan Stalling
  • Date Published 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-0806154046
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 352pp
  • Price $21.95
  • Review by Trena Machado

By the River: Seven Contemporary Chinese Novellas provides a view of life in China today. The time is the emerging economy of the last few decades. Many people from the countryside have been forced into becoming factory workers, street venders, pedicab operators, schoolteachers, taxicab drivers, any job they can get to survive. The context is economic and political, but the stories are about the personal decisions of individuals to make their own destiny. The drama of human connection is up close with violence as overt as rape and as hidden as gossip, love both lust and of the heart, political resistance by way of satire, internal noncompliance and humor, and the sheer chaos of living in changing times forcing actions that new, uncharted, economic and political situations entail.

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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Geoffrey Nutter
  • Date Published October 2016
  • ISBN-13 9781940696324
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 120pp
  • Price $18.00
  • Review by Natalie Tomlin

In his recent essay at the Poetry Foundation blog, "So Much Depends: On the Particular, the Personal, and the Political," David Trinidad makes a case for concrete imagery in poetry: "Without image I am bereft. I’m reading a poem by Contemporary Poet X and it’s nothing but abstractions, like 'truth' and 'memory,' like 'despair' and 'joy.'" In audacious lushness, Geoffrey Nutter's Cities at Dawn delivers layers upon layers of detail that are refreshing in the face of contemporary poetic trends.

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  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Hipólito Acosta
  • Date Published March 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-1-55885-844-2
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 319pp
  • Price $17.95
  • Review by Valerie Wieland

In Hipólito Acosta’s newest book, Deep in the Shadows, each chapter is a riveting mini-mystery full of felons and malice, countered by bold law enforcement moves. Acosta, now retired, was a key figure in the US Immigration and Naturalization Service for 30 years. While undercover, he “traveled in the backs of trucks and in the trunks of cars with those seeking to enter our country. I had infiltrated human smuggling, as well as narcotics trafficking.” He writes, “I had twice taken down the most notorious counterfeiter who sold false documents to illegals and manufactured U.S. dollars in the millions.”

  • Subtitle True Stories
  • Image Image
  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Minna Zallman Proctor
  • Date Published September 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-1-9367-8761-6
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 160pp
  • Price $16.95
  • Review by Scott Russell Morris

Minna Zallman Proctor’s Landslide is a collection of “true stories” (essays, really) that focus on matters of family, familiar dysfunction, and/or love gone awry. The essays cover a wide swatch of time, with stories from Proctor’s childhood, her young adult years, and her present, and though each essay can be read separately, together they ask a question that comes up several times: Is Proctor fated to repeat her mother’s life?

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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Adam McOmber
  • Date Published September 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-1-942683-41-4
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 153pp
  • Price $16.00
  • Review by MacKenzie Hamilton

Adam McOmber drags each and every reader into a thick, mysterious fog in his latest collection, My House Gathers Desires. McOmber’s stories quite literally have a life of their own, and the subject matter is relevant and important. This collection takes sexual identity and gender and gives them life in the stories and fables of old, while ultimately showing that there is still a light at the end of the tunnel.

  • Image Image
  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Sarah Cheshire
  • Date Published May 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9988976-3-9
  • Format Chapbook
  • Pages 61
  • Price $10.00
  • Review by Denise Hill

Sarah Cheshire’s Unravelings is exactly the kind of book you never want to read again. As fiction based on facts, there’s a fine line between being able to accept the story as not true, and being wholly disturbed by what parts of it may very well be true. Sadly, the premise is one that has been around since I was in college, and since generations before mine: female student is enamored by male professor, engages in flirtations, perhaps falls in love, all while others—including professional colleagues of said professor—see what is happening and do nothing. Could they have? Should they have? I can’t help but wonder where responsibility lies in these situations, and Cheshire offers no answer either.

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