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Book Reviews by Title - B (111)

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  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Kathryn Nuernberger
  • Date Published July 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8142-5409-7
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 100pp
  • Price $19.95
  • Review by Valerie Wieland

Years ago, a hot air balloon landed directly outside my house. I don’t remember the circumstances, but the resulting fascination with them has never left me, so I was delighted to read Kathryn Nuernberger’s opening essays in Brief Interviews with the Romantic Past about ballooning’s forgotten women.

  • Subtitle Seven Contemporary Chinese Novellas
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  • 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 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.

 

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  • Book Type Anthology Edited
  • by Tricia Reeks and Kyle Richardson
  • Date Published May 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9966262-6-2
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 280pp
  • Price $16.95
  • Review by Valerie Wieland

Two years ago, Meerkat Press founder Tricia Reeks listened as co-editor Kyle Richardson talked enthusiastically about comic book superheroes. That led to issuing a call for submissions. Seven hundred stories poured in, 20 of which are published in the delightfully entertaining book, Behind the Mask.

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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 . . .

  • Subtitle A Biographical Collage
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  • 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 Poetry
  • by Katie Hartsock
  • Date Published November 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-1-927409-65-7
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 163pp
  • Price $19.95
  • Review by Daniel Klawitter

Katie Hartsock’s debut full-length collection of poems is a sprightly and sophisticated exploration of its title: Bed of Impatiens. Most probably know impatiens as a species of flowering plant, which, according to some 18th Century botanists, the flower is so named because its capsules readily burst open when touched. However, it also shares the same Latin root for the word “impatient” which has other definitions, including “eagerly desirous” and “not being able to endure.” Hartsock’s book has very little to do with a literal bed of flowers, but rather more to do with lying down in a bed of various desires that requires or inspires a restless (and lyrically fruitful) impatience.

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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Monica Youn
  • Date Published September 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-1-55597-750-4
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 85pp
  • Price $16.00
  • Review by Kimberly Ann Priest

The synopsis at the back of Monica Youn’s Blackacre, describes the poems in this collection as “treacherously lush or alluringly bleak.” And they are.

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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Emily Leithauser
  • Date Published July 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-1927409671
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 84pp
  • Price $18.95
  • Review by Daniel Klawitter

The title of Emily Leithauser’s debut poetry collection, The Borrowed World, hints at the theme of impermanence that runs throughout the book. Whether it is the fleeting nature of childhood in the poem “Chest of Dolls” or the dissolution of a marriage in “Haiku for a Divorce,” Leithhauser gestures toward the price we pay as finite beings living in a world that is on loan to us. What is borrowed must eventually be returned. There is sadness in this, but sweetness and nostalgia too, for such fleeting moments of experience can be treasured precisely because they cannot be repeated.

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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Marc Harshman
  • Date Published September 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-1-943665-22-8
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 114pp
  • Price $16.99
  • Review by Daniel Klawitter

Marc Harshman is the current poet laureate of West Virginia, a prolific author of children’s books, and a 1994 recipient of the Ezra Jack Keats/Kerlan Collection Fellowship from the University of Minnesota for research on Scandinavian myth and folklore. In this collection of poems, Harshman creates poetic/folkloric myths around the “ordinary” lives of everyday people. But as C.S. Lewis once wrote in The Weight of Glory: “There are no ordinary people.”

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