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NewPages Book Reviews

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

Posted May 02, 2017

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  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Laura Raicovich
  • Date Published April 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-1-56689-466-1
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 104pp
  • Price $12.95
  • Review by Valerie Wieland

You may not have heard of conceptual artist Walter De Maria, but if you’re curious like me, you’ll want to know more about him and his career after reading Laura Raicovich’s book-length essay, At the Lightning Field.

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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Keith Taylor
  • Date Published February 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8143-4240-4
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 96pp
  • Price $16.99
  • Review by Natalie Tomlin

Nearly 20 years ago, I was a 19-year old community college student introduced to Keith Taylor’s work via his slim volume of very short stories, Life Science and Other Stories. Since then, I have associated Taylor’s work with a special kind of mindfulness. It does seem redundant to call any poet’s work mindful, really, but his newest book The Bird-while provided me with a more precise way of defining Taylor’s attention . . .

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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Matt Schumacher
  • Date Published October 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9971549-2-4
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 148pp
  • Price $15.00
  • Review by Daniel Klawitter

If you at times find yourself (as I often do) feeling a bit bummed out by the overproduction of postmodern, fragmentary poems that deliberately eschew narrative elements of storytelling, a self or subject, and/or any sense of purpose and closure, then do yourself a favor and pick up Matt Schumacher’s Ghost Town Odes. This is an ambitious book of poetry seeking to narrate tales of tribulation and triumph in the Old West, particularly in Oregon, the state the author currently calls home.

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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by John Skoyles
  • Date Published October 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-0-88748-614-2
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 72pp
  • Price $15.95
  • Review by Daniel Klawitter

“The proper study / of monkey-kind is man, / and the true study / of man is shenanigans.” So writes the playful, keen-eyed and accomplished poet John Skoyles in the poem “Evolutionary Shenanigans” from his fourth book of poetry, Inside Job. Inside Job is divided into three untitled sections, and the poems run the gamut from the autobiographical to sketches of literary figures like Jorge Luis Borges and Grace Paley.

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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Jennifer Givhan
  • Date Published January 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9975805-5-6
  • Format Chapbook
  • Pages 35pp
  • Price $8.50
  • Review by Anne Graue

Jennifer Givhan’s Lifeline opens with a strong voice in the first poem, “Reupholstering a Chair,” that urges one to “look up from the base of your life.” This perspective continues to play a central role in all the poems in this chapbook; the voice remains strong throughout each piece, even (or especially) those that deal with difficult subjects of loss, shame, violence, love, and death. With the final poem, “Machine for Second Chances,” there is hope in a “machine that makes / meaning, like stardust,” and strength to navigate “the footholds steep / & the footholds careless,” as “we step into our lives.”

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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Spree MacDonald
  • Date Published February 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-1-940646-03-9
  • Format Chapbook
  • Pages 28pp
  • Review by Anne Graue

Spree MacDonald writes without punctuation in Milksop Codicil, conscious of the placement of the words, lines, and stanzas on each page and how they interact with space to produce meaning. The effect is attention to images and how they interact independent of grammatical constraint.

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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Jane Alison
  • Date Published September 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-1-936787-12-8
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 230pp
  • Price $16.95
  • Review by MacKenzie Hamilton

Jane Alison masterfully constructs an interiority unlike anything before in her novel Nine Island. The prose used in this novel is experimental, lyrical, and poetic. Alison takes the reader on a journey with an aging woman living in solitude with only the company of her cat. The story is constructed in such a way that the reader has no choice but to ride each and every intimate wave that splashes over the page.

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