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Book Reviews by Title - C (93)

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  • Book Type Novel
  • by Jan Kjærstad
  • Translated From Norwegian
  • by Barbara J. Haveland
  • Date Published February 2009
  • ISBN-13 978-1-934824-03-0
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 481pp
  • Price $17.95
  • Review by Rav Grewal-Kök
I read the opening scene of The Conqueror, the second novel in a trilogy by the Norwegian writer Jan Kjærstad, with relief. The trilogy depicts the life of Jonas Wergeland, an ordinary boy from an undistinguished Oslo neighborhood, who rises to national and even international fame as a television personality. In the 600 pages of the first novel in the series, The Seducer, we read of Jonas’s travels, triumphs, and yes, seductions (there are many, from a beautiful and accomplished cast of women to, eventually, an entire nation transfixed by his documentaries). Jonas is equipped with a magic penis, a set of memorized quotations from books he hasn’t read, a silver thread in his spine, a crystal prism in his pocket, and an unerring eye for great art. He can’t go wrong. The Seducer is a vast and undeniably ambitious novel, but also, in its unremitting catalog of the successes of its hero, a little wearying.
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Anthony Marra
  • Date Published May 2013
  • ISBN-13 978-0-7704-3640-7
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 400pp
  • Price $26.00
  • Review by Olive Mullet
Against the background of bad press about Chechnya—from violent rebel attacks like that on a Moscow theater and, more recently, the Chechen connection with the Boston Marathon bombers—Anthony Marra’s novel A Constellation of Vital Phenomena manages to right the balance on Chechen/Russian violence. For those of us who know little about the Chechens’ struggle for independence, from the first page on, we see the brutality of the “Feds” (the Russians) and their continuing efforts to obliterate any chance of the country’s unification. The two main female characters, sisters Natasha and Sonja, are Russians; their family was encouraged to move to Chechnya to help keep the country Russian.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Rebecca Farivar
  • Date Published July 2011
  • ISBN-13 978-0980193862
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 84pp
  • Price $12.00
  • Review by J. A. Tyler
Rebecca Farivar’s Correct Animal, released in July from Octopus Books, is not unexpected or aggressive or raw or surprising. It is not a collection of poetry that blew me away. But this isn’t to say that I disliked Correct Animal—in fact, I liked it quite a bit, and I liked it for not being unexpected or aggressive or raw or surprising. I liked Farivar’s methods of quiet, of understatement, the lithe quality of her poems:
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Kate Greenstreet
  • Date Published 2011
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 24pp
  • Review by Jeremy Benson
The Battleship Potemkin, either the film or the ship itself—the allusion, in any case—makes its appearance early on in Kate Greenstreet’s single-poem chapbook, Called: “First we hear it. Trucks, helicopters. The / Battleship Potemkin. He’s building the shape.” Throughout the poem, Greenstreet works in concise stanzas such as this, each image and line constructed with a controlled hand. As such, the Potemkin is no toss-away detail. Its facts and mythology, of restless soldiers and fledging revolutions, and of propaganda, get bundled and pulled into the poem, while calling to mind the montage theories made standard by director Sergei Eisenstein, the great-grandfather of all modern film editing techniques.
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  • Book Type Cross-Genre
  • by Donald Wellman
  • Date Published December 2012
  • ISBN-13 978-1-933675-87-9
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 106pp
  • Price $17.00
  • Review by Patrick James Dunagan
The Maximus Poems of Charles Olson continue to inspire, by way of example, many off-shoot projects by poets who came after. Olson’s intimately grand gesture was scooping the local, immediate concerns of Gloucester, Massachusetts onto the historical and mythic world stage, while devoutly insisting the context remain personal. This gave both the permission and encouragement for numerous similar endeavors by poets seeking to weave broad, historical scope into autobiographical material. The most successful of these projects are ones similar to Donald Wellman’s Cranberry Island Series, where the poet steers clear of overly emulating Olson’s work (in terms of the “projective” form it takes across the page) and person. Wellman creates a work shaped according to its own needs assuming a form wholly its own.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Ethan Paquin
  • Date Published March 2013
  • ISBN-13 978-1-934103-38-8
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 117pp
  • Price $20.00
  • Review by Trena Machado
Language let loose: in Cloud vs. Cloud, Ethan Paquin gives us the poet as a fleeting point. His universe is one of words—not a social universe, not the natural world. We are in the quickness of thought, of seeing at the level of language. The author is talking to himself, bending language to a penetrating look at the surface, a surface that bounces him back. All is surface, including his own experience: “What is known, nothing . . . nothing can be articulated.”
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Dodie Bellamy
  • Date Published November 2013
  • ISBN-13 978-1-934254-49-3
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 75pp
  • Price $15.00
  • Review by Patrick James Dunagan
The first piece of writing I ever read by Dodie Bellamy was an essay in an issue of City Lights Review concerning her on-again, off-again fucked-up hotel room romance with the poet John Wieners. Sex, drugs, and his rather poetically peripatetic mental state were the main highlights. After some reflection, after hearing Bellamy read and speak in public and becoming more familiar with her work, I came to the realization that this essay was in fact more or less a fictional story, a literary homage.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Warren Woessner
  • Date Published March 2008
  • ISBN-13 978-0979393440
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 96pp
  • Price $16.00
  • Review by Roy Wang
The Midwestern voice has been with us long enough now that sometimes we forget that, like all innovations, it once required inventing. The Chinese capacity for understatement is something that I have also taken for granted, not remembering that such stances would be considered a departure from our American ancestors of Whitman and Dickenson. Warren Woessner recently reminded me of this unexpected connection between the Minnesota miller and Tang aristocrat in a brief interview below his Minneapolis law office, eloquently providing his own juxtaposition.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Donna Stonecipher
  • Date Published September 2008
  • ISBN-13 978-1566892216
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 88pp
  • Price $16.00
  • Review by Rachel Harkai
Thimbles, nosegays, daguerreotypes, Baudelaire – only the most precious and precocious of objects are presumed to hold value in the culturally saturated world of Donna Stonecipher’s The Cosmopolitan. Borne of an interest in the found-object shadow boxes of artist Joseph Cornell, and built around isolated quotations of renowned poets, writers, and scholars, this 2007 National Poetry Series Winner ponders the reduction of existence to a collection of novelties showcased behind glass.
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  • Book Type Memoir
  • by Corbin Lewars
  • Date Published February 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9802081-5-3
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 171pp
  • Price $16.00
  • Review by Laura Pryor
In her memoir Creating a Life, Corbin Lewars chronicles her difficult journey to motherhood. Along the road there is a miscarriage, unearthed memories of being raped as a teenager, a struggle to find meaningful work, and tough decisions about the birth itself: hospital or home? Drugs or “natural” childbirth?
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