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NewPages Book Reviews

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

Posted April 04, 2017

  • Subtitle A Biographical Collage
  • Image Image
  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Kelcey Parker Ervick
  • Date Published November 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-1-941628-07-2
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 348pp
  • Price $17.95
  • Review by Valerie Wieland

Who was this 19th century Czech woman that Kelcey Parker Ervick writes about in her book, The Bitter Life of Božena Němcová? And why, she wonders, hadn’t she previously heard about this woman who is so famous in Europe? I also wondered why I’d never heard of her. In checking with friends in Prague, I discovered that Němcová was indeed a cherished figure who is introduced to school children and is still held in esteem almost two centuries later. In fact, she’s pictured on the Czech 500 koruna bill.

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  • Book Type Anthology Edited
  • by Laura Long and Doug Van Gundy
  • Date Published March 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-1-943665-54-9
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 336pp
  • Price $32.99
  • Review by Valerie Wieland

One should think of reading Eyes Glowing at the Edge of the Woods as a welcome to West Virginia. Sixty-three West Virginians fill this anthology with vivid poetry and fiction that serve to characterize their “wild and wonderful” state.

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  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Kendra Levin
  • Date Published November 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-1573246880
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 256pp
  • Price $18.95
  • Review by Scott Russell Morris

Perhaps one of the most difficult things about being a writer is knowing how you’re supposed to go about being a writer. Pretty close to the front of Kendra Levin’s The Hero Is You, she says, “Many books and writing programs place so much emphasis on craft, they neglect one of the most challenging aspects of writing: how to go about actually getting the words from your brain onto the page on a regular basis.” This book is, naturally then, trying not to be a book about craft, but rather one about establishing healthy work patterns.

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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Rosalie Moffett
  • Date Published November 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8142-5384-7
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 64pp
  • Price $14.95
  • Review by Valerie Wieland

Rosalie Moffett won The Journal Charles B. Wheeler Poetry Prize with her debut collection of poetry titled June in Eden. In this, her prize-winning book, Moffett shapes original ideas into poems that reflect her interest in family, science and technology. It’s dedicated to her mother and father, and they’re featured throughout.

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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Jason Allen
  • Date Published September 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9962596-5-1
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 72pp
  • Price $14.00
  • Review by Daniel Klawitter

Poet Jason Allen is a poetical pyromaniac who guides his readers through a tour of hell involving scenes of addiction, suicide, homelessness, and family dysfunction. And even if we are tempted to withdraw from such smoldering carnage, ruin and rubble, Allen reminds us that “while we sleep, our worst nightmares / continue happening to someone else.” The thing is though, the poems in this debut collection are a controlled burn. The fire never gets out of hand, which is the mark of a skilled verbal arsonist. Paraphrasing William Wordsworth: a more amateur poet would have left too much spontaneous overflow of emotion in these pages without the necessary distance needed to craft the poems as they are “recollected in tranquility.”

  • Subtitle The Life and Art of Horace H. Pippin
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Janice N. Harrington
  • Date Published October 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-1-942683-20-9
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 104pp
  • Price $16.00
  • Review by DM O'Connor

With great erudition and a fine eye for the lyric, Janice N. Harrington’s Primitive: The Art and Life of Horace H. Pippin is an essential biographical reflection which traces the life of one of America’s most underrated painters. Horace H. Pippin, born in Pennsylvania in 1888, fought in WWI in France. After being injured by a German sniper, he returned to The United States to paint.

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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Catherine Pierce
  • Date Published December 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-0-996-22066-8
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 88pp
  • Price $16.00
  • Review by Kimberly Ann Priest
Once, a hundred years ago, the tornado
was a young man being pulled along
by the Missouri River while his friends
laughed, then called, then screamed, then
went silent . . . .  — “On the Origins of the Tornado”
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Sun Yung Shin
  • Date Published October 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-1-56689-451-7
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 136pp
  • Price $16.00
  • Review by DM O'Connor

Sun Yung Shin’s Unbearable Splendor is full of big questions: Where do we come from? What is our origin? What is family? What is change? What are our fetal dreams? What is an orphan? Why is adoptee not recognized in the plural? Were we born to love? Can the whole world see me all at once? What is a foreigner? Was Antigone the first cyborg?

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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Jaimee Wriston Colbert
  • Date Published October 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-194349105-6
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 218pp
  • Price $15.95
  • Review by MacKenzie Hamilton

Jaimee Wriston Colbert has created an incredible connection between the endangered nature of humans and the environment around them. Wild Things is a collection of linked stories that showcase desperation and heartbreak felt by both humans and animals, and the landscape they are all trying to survive in. Colbert crafts a world all readers will be able to vividly picture, and that's if they haven't already experienced the all too true reality in each of the stories.

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