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Book Reviews by Title - B (121)

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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Ryan Stone
  • Date Published September 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-1-935708-08-7
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 190pp
  • Price $14.95
  • Review by Elena Spagnolie
Ryan Stone’s writing absolutely shines in his collection of twelve short stories entitled Best Road Yet. In particular, Stone is able to create realistic, multilayered characters who have distinct personalities—the way they speak, talk, eat, and even snore is engrossing, largely because Stone takes the time to develop the details and complexities of each individual. He writes: “He was only a sliver, a slip of the tongue they sometimes let out, and that’s how they mentioned him. Eddie’s coming, too, they’d say.” It is clear that Stone writes with intention, aware of how each element of writing contributes to the development of the story, and he has great control in his work.
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  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Sarah Royal
  • Date Published October 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-1934620847
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 96pp
  • Price $5.00
  • Review by Tanya Angell Allen
Although it includes a glossary of bookbinding terms and a three-page photo-essay on “How To Bind A Book,” The Book Bindery is less about book binding than the function of creativity and negativity in a work environment. Sarah Royal, who worked briefly at a bindery in Chicago right after graduating from college, writes that “even if you’re in utter bliss over your job, you still need to feed off of negativity in some form or another. Bitching about what you’re doing or joining in on bitching about someone else’s predicament is what makes everything roll by day to day.” She and her colleagues spent hours gossiping about their transvestite boss, coworkers, and the naked neighbor who lived next door to the factory. They played Bingo with the most common quips made by the bindery’s secretary over the Intercom. During coffee hour they built a shrine out of “action figures, Hot Wheels, badminton rackets….whatever interesting and weird shit we could find.”
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Joseph Millar
  • Date Published January 2012
  • ISBN-13 978-0887485497
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 88pp
  • Price $15.95
  • Review by James Crews
As one might gather from the titles of Joseph Millar’s three volumes of poetry—Overtime (2001), Fortune (2007) and Blue Rust (2012)—he is a direct heir to the working-class likes of James Wright, B.H. Fairchild, and current U.S. Poet Laureate Philip Levine. But it would be reductive and unfair to call Millar simply “a working-class poet,” as though the only readers to which he could possibly appeal are those who have spent time laboring in the “real world.” Simply put, Millar is a poet who traffics in the real things of an everyday world, crafting well-spoken poems that take up the most universal themes of friends, family, hard luck, and love. And his newest book, Blue Rust, in spite of its grit, its grease, and its often mournful tone, astounds with countless moments of shimmering clarity, offering brief reprieves from a tough life eked out in the shadow of a troubled past. “Dutch Roll” finds Millar and his father ice-skating, sharing a rare, transcendent day:
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  • Book Type Fiction/Poetry
  • by Kim Gek Lin Short
  • Date Published May 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9825216-1-6
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 57pp
  • Price $14.00
  • Review by Jeremy Benson
The Bugging Watch & Other Exhibits is under a porch, is between the fridge and the cupboard, is hiding among the coats and sweaters in the tilted closet above the basement stairs. Its shapeshifting and heartbreak is nightmarishly microscopic and horrifically asymptotical.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Martha Rhodes
  • Date Published January 2012
  • ISBN-13 9781932870534
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 54pp
  • Price $14.95
  • Review by Aimee Nicole
In 2012, Martha Rhodes will come out with her fourth collection of poetry, titled The Beds.
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Stuart Nadler
  • Date Published September 2011
  • ISBN-13 978-0316126472
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 236pp
  • Price $13.99
  • Review by Jodi Paloni
The seven stories that make up Stuart Nadler’s spirited debut collection, The Book of Life, are about men: husbands and boyfriends, fathers and brothers, sons and grandsons. They’re about relationships, the mistakes and the misunderstandings. As a whole, the collection strikes a balance between characters who reclaim a portion of what is lost and those who are humbled by their circumstances and left to persevere. Infidelity is the crux of six out of the seven stories, but Nadler’s characters find surprises inside surprises inside surprises, spiraling the life out of any potential clichés.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Eric Gudas
  • Date Published March 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-1-878851-57-4
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 75pp
  • Price $14.95
  • Review by Sima Rabinowitz
Best Western, like previous Gerald Cable Award Book Series winners, is composed almost entirely of narrative poems in accessible and familiar language intended to draw us easily and naturally into their scenes and stories. Gudas is especially adept at creating a credible and almost palpable atmosphere through small, seemingly ordinary detail, and in so doing, heightening his stories’ emotional impact. Each scene becomes, in essence, a minor drama of human experience, often one with which the reader can identify, if not empathize.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Shira Dentz
  • Date Published November 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-1-84861-128-3
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 94pp
  • Price $15.00
  • Review by Sima Rabinowitz
Dentz’s black seeds and white dishes may refer ostensibly to botany or biology (the phrase appears in “Poem for my mother who wishes she were a lilypad in a Monet painting”), but I can’t help thinking of their Old Testament reverberations, and some of Dentz’s preoccupations certainly support this as a credible reference, most especially “The Night is My Purse, and Here’s Why I Empty Out”: a poem based on the Hebrew alphabet and related numerical system; and “Instead of words, my father blew cinders,” the final line of the opening poem in the collection. How not to imagine the ovens evaded, escaped in those cinders? The fires (black and white) of writing (Old Testament), but also of a history of genocide.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Noelle Kocot
  • Date Published March 2011
  • ISBN-13 978-1-933517-52-0
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 78pp
  • Price $16
  • Review by Gina Myers
In The Bigger World, the reader is presented with the “character poems of Noelle Kocot,” as noted on the title page. And each poem does present a new character or two and a glimpse of their lives. The poems, written always as a single stanza, read like fables or fairy tales with their fantastic elements—whether it is Horatia giving birth to a fully grown man, a phoenix talking to a monk, the head of a woman becoming a house plant, or a wing-faced dentist who used to love war—and with their seemingly moralizing messages. At the end of “Rainbow Lanes,” Kocot writes:
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  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Craig Nova
  • Date Published May 2011
  • ISBN-13 978-0982077146
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 176pp
  • Price $15.95
  • Review by Alyse Bensel
Craig Nova’s quirky memoir mixes his life as writer, father, and husband in a series of short essays that all revolve around his life as a fly fisher searching for the native brook trout. This reprint and expansion of the original 1999 publication incorporates simple prose with wit and humor. Although predominantly known as a fiction writer, Nova, in a series of twelve non-chronological essays, informs the reader about how he developed his obsession with fly-fishing alongside other stories about his shared passion with friends and family. These essays, with a charming voice, invite the reader to share with Nova in his memories and pieces of advice that enrich the memoir.
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