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Book Reviews by Title - B (121)

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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Kirstin Allio
  • Date Published October 2018
  • ISBN-13 978-1-60938-596-5
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 284pp
  • Price $17.00
  • Review by Cody Lee

This book is tough. Buddhism for Western Children is a novel about a ten-year-old boy and his family, who drive from Halifax, Canada to Maine in order to meet and live with Avadhoot Master King Ivanovich, spiritual guru. It’s not a light, beach read, but a pearl that takes time. I will go ahead and say that it might irritate you a bit. There aren’t many quotation marks—and plenty of people speak throughout the novel—but once that epiphany sparks, the fact that the ten-year-old boy (Daniel) is just as perplexed, if not more, Buddhism for Western Children becomes this unbelievable, almost method-acted attempt to convey sensory overload.

  • Subtitle An Unlikely Manual for Erasing Heartbreak
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by J.M. Farkas
  • Date Published April 2018
  • ISBN-13 978-1-4494-8976-2
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 112pp
  • Price $14.99
  • Review by Denise Hill

Be Brave: An Unlikely Manual for Erasing Heartbreak is tremendous. I came upon this volume by sheer dumb luck—through a professional discussion board on which I was posting my first ever reply after lurking for years—to J.M. Farkas, who had written her first ever post to the group “looking to connect with teachers teaching Beowulf” who were open to unexpected ways of approaching the text. Yes, please! But, as I learned, Be Brave isn’t just about Beowulf. In fact, it’s hardly about Beowulf per say. It is a complex, layered work, starting with its origin.

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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.

  • Subtitle Money, Class, & Cycling
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  • Book Type Anthology Edited
  • by Elly Blue
  • Date Published July 2018
  • ISBN-13 978-1-62106-090-1
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 128pp
  • Price $9.95
  • Review by DM O'Connor

Elly Blue of Microcosm Publishing has complied a mixed-genre anthology including essays, poetry, fiction, and even a recipe on cycling, empowerment, and the politics around transport and urban living. If you live in Portland, have a tendency for activism, or have just traded in your used Ford Corolla for a refurbished fixie, then this just might be the zine to slip into your back pocket for that next ride.

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  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Paisley Rekdal
  • Date Published September 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8203-5117-9
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 160pp
  • Price $24.95
  • Review by Scott Russell Morris

Paisley Rekdal’s The Broken Country, winner of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs Award for Creative Nonfiction, grips you from the beginning, starting with a vivid description of a stabbing in a Salt Lake City parking lot, a crime perpetrated by a Vietnamese refugee. We later learn that Rekdal, who lives in Salt Lake City, just a few blocks away from the site of the crime, happened to be in Vietnam when it happened and daily visited the war memorial featured on the book cover—a sculpture created from the wreckage of wartime airplanes, tanks, and other vehicles. Gripped by the realization that the trauma of the Vietnam War still affects American culture—especially in the private communities of refugees and immigrants—Rekdal weaves together an investigation into trauma, war, and refugees that makes it impossible to forget the ongoing tragedy of wars, past and present.

  • Subtitle Essays on the Writing Life
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  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Jenny Boully
  • Date Published April 2018
  • ISBN-13 978-1-56689-510-1
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 152pp
  • Price $16.95
  • Review by Valerie Wieland

My first introduction to Jenny Boully’s work was her essay The Body, which is written entirely in footnotes and has a whole lot of white space. What an inventive mind, I thought, and her latest book, Betwixt-and-Between: Essays on the Writing Life, reinforces that thought.

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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Mather Schneider
  • Date Published March 2018
  • ISBN-13 978-1-931307-36-9
  • Format Chapbook
  • Pages 31pp
  • Price $7.00
  • Review by DM O'Connor
Best not to imagine your love dead
or to put literature ahead of life.
Best not to write certain things down.
—from “Cartas de Amor”

If forced to write a narrative log-line for Mather Schneider’s A Bag of Hands, Rattle Poetry’s 2017 Chapbook Prize selection, it would be simple: Cab driver marries Mexican, life ensues. But that is veneer.

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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Jennifer Elise Foerster
  • Date Published February 2018
  • ISBN-13 978-0-816537334
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 88pp
  • Price $16.95
  • Review by Benjamin Chase

Jennifer Elise Foerster’s brand-new poetry collection Bright Raft in the Afterweather is an elegant, lyrical journey across lands near and far and times past, present, and future. A very gifted poet with an NEA Creative Writing Scholarship, a Lannan Foundation Writing Residency Scholarship, and a Wallace Stegner Fellowship, Foerster, a member of the Muscogee Nation of Oklahoma, writes poems that are teeming with connection to the natural world, yet also aware of the dangers of human greed.

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  • Book Type Anthology Edited
  • by Jason Lee Brown & Shanie Latham
  • Date Published September 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9982159-4-5
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 107pp
  • Price $17.00
  • Review by Valerie Wieland

I’ve discovered that the donut is a popular topic for books, but I haven’t noticed an entire book of poems on the subject. The Book of Donuts, edited by Jason Lee Brown and Shanie Latham, helps fill in the gap. The editors have brought together several dozen diverse poets with equally diverse attitudes toward the confection.

  • Subtitle A Body of Essays
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  • Book Type Anthology Edited
  • by Stephanie G’Schwind
  • Date Published May 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-1-885635-57-0
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 256pp
  • Price $19.95
  • Review by Scott Russell Morris

The essays in Beautiful Flesh: A Body of Essays make up, collectively, a body, each essay on a single body part and so, moving from head to foot, the essays tell stories of the body, one that is multi-gendered, multi-ethnic, and multi-abled. The whole collection is, for me, summed up in a middle passage from Hester Kaplan’s essay “The Private Life of Skin,” a tale about her battle with psoriasis: “The heart beats faster when we’re scared, the chest clenches as we dial 911, the stomach flips with remorse, the head pounds with indecisions, the mouth waters for a kiss; we are our bodies.”

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