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Book Reviews by Title - B (121)

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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by A. Igoni Barrett
  • Date Published March 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-1-55597-733-7
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 272pp
  • Price $16.00
  • Review by Jason Hess
Furo Wariboko is a Nigerian man living in his parents’ home in Lagos. Like many young Nigerians, he is looking for work. He wakes up one morning to find that overnight, he has transformed into a white man. Barrett’s premise—to explore how Furo’s aesthetic metamorphosis does or does not affect personal change—could produce serious explorations of race’s role in contemporary Nigerian society, as it does. But Barrett’s literary skills are many, and he has produced a first novel that is both contemplative and comic.
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  • Book Type Anthology Edited
  • by Robert Olen Butler, Tara L. Masih
  • Date Published October 2015
  • ISBN-13 978-1-938466-625
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 145pp
  • Price $14.95
  • Review by Valerie Wieland
Here’s the solution for people who love to read fiction but haven’t the time or inclination to plow through a novel or even a standard length short story. The Best Small Fictions 2015 lets you peruse 55 short stories—some are as tiny as a paragraph or a sentence. The longest stories in this digest-size book are four pages.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Ada Limón
  • Date Published September 2015
  • ISBN-13 978-1-57131-471-0
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 128pp
  • Price $16.00
  • Review by Dana Johnson
Ada Limón’s fourth collection of poems, Bright Dead Things, faces discontentment, nostalgia, and longing in the face of a changing environment. The speaker examines her place in a varied world littered with its fried pickles, wide expanse of blue skies, fields full of fireflies and the stars they mirror. Limón brings us a world we recognize. Where the death of a loved one comes flooding back over margaritas at a Mexican restaurant, where animals suffer, where we leave small pleasures in old cities, and where life goes on despite all of it.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Reginald Dwayne Betts
  • Date Published September 2015
  • ISBN-13 978-1-935536-65-9
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 72pp
  • Price $15.95
  • Review by Dan Schell
Reginald Dwayne Betts rose from criminal obscurity to a current man of letters with an award-winning memoir and debut poetry collection, a Pushcart Prize, and now his second book of poetry, Bastards of the Reagan Era. The title conjures the time period of much of the work—Betts’s childhood in the 1980s—when he participated in a carjacking that put him in prison for the better part of a decade. Charged as an adult, sixteen year-old Betts spent ten days in solitary confinement while waiting for trial, where he discovered poetry after coming across an anthology of black poets being passed around. Soon after, he began writing heavily, and this dedication appears in his vivid imagery that often bites at the core of longstanding societal issues for urban youth.
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Liz Prato
  • Date Published May 2015
  • ISBN-13 978-1-941209-15-8
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 142pp
  • Price $14.95
  • Review by Denise Hill
Running beneath each story in Liz Prato’s collection, Baby’s on Fire, is a murmuring chaos, the kind that seems to bubble beneath the surface either as the aftermath of or building up to a full-blown eruption. But those eruptions never come to readers in the span of the narratives. They’ve already happened, or this story is the building up to it, or it may never happen at all, and what we witness in these lives is precisely what we witness in the lives of people who surround us on a daily basis. Whole lives lived, the full details of which we have absolutely no awareness, but that simmer there, just below the surface. Just like our own lives in relation to others.
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Laurie Foos
  • Date Published July 2015
  • ISBN-13 978-1-56689-399-2
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 220pp
  • Price $15.95
  • Review by Nate Zachar
A girl with blue skin is found drowning in a lake. A fifteen-year-old girl named Audrey saves her. Audrey’s mother, Irene, stands by. So do Irene’s friends, Magda and Libby. So do Audrey’s friends, Rebecca and Caroline. Audrey is the only one who acts; the rest of them watch. Audrey isn’t only the one who saved The Blue Girl, which is a remarkable thing for a fifteen year-old to do in itself, but she is the only one who attempted to save her. This singular moment—this moment of action and inaction—is the foundation for The Blue Girl by Laurie Foos. This event propels the story forward—how these six characters interpret this event, and thus in the process, how they come to understand themselves.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Lee Upton
  • Date Published May 2015
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9860257-7-8
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 88pp
  • Price $15.95
  • Review by Benjamin Champagne
Lee Upton’s Bottle the Bottles the Bottles the Bottles is a dense work wrapped in a short body. Originally from Michigan, the Midwest comes through Upton’s poetry in a similar way to a classic James Wright poem. It is there when she wants it to be, but she has the control to stray from it when necessary. Many of these poems are closer in scope to Charles Wright, the current Poet Laureate, and readers of her 2005 publication Defensive Measures: The Poetry of Niedecker, Bishop, Gluck, and Carson will see how they’ve influenced her writing throughout this collection.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Betsy Andrews
  • Date Published July 2014
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9830747-5-5
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 55pp
  • Price $15.00
  • Review by Andrea Dulberger
How does a poet who perceives the depth of trouble humans have sunk themselves and other living species in convey the confusion and range—the tumultuous feeling—of this trouble? The long poem by Betsy Andrews titled The Bottom swims right into these waters with a voice that jumps from clear-eyed anger to imaginative wonder as it catalogues and presses close to “the sea’s delicious mess.” This is a relentless swimming, tense with music, urgent in its journey toward a sense of safety and home.
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Ron Carlson
  • Date Published August 2014
  • ISBN-13 978-1597092753
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 96pp
  • Price $14.95
  • Review by Audrey Quinn
It’s the rare book that will compel me to read it aloud rather than silently, and reading The Blue Box by Ron Carlson turned out to be one of those experiences. Flash fiction is a genre that can so easily become pretentious or overly complicated. To fit a distinct narrative voice in such a short span of time while also enticing the readers with an intriguing plot, humor, and depth is no easy feat, but Carlson seems to accomplish it all with little more than a snap of his fingers. Though the circumstances in the stories were often surreal, the voice felt cemented in a witty hyper-reality.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Joseph P. Wood
  • Date Published August 2014
  • ISBN-13 978-1-936767-29-8
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 78pp
  • Price $15.95
  • Review by Elizabeth O'Brien
Joseph P. Wood's most recent poetry collection, Broken Cage, is a short book that takes ideas of symmetry and formal constraint to the extreme. Broken into three sections, the poems grow longer as the book progresses, and then shorter again in the third section. Wood focuses most of his energy on the triolet, an eight-line French form that includes rhyming as well as repeated lines.

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