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Book Reviews by Title - D (78)

  • Subtitle Ed. Andoni Alonso, Pedro J. Oiarzabal
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  • Date Published April 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-0-87417-815-9
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 288pp
  • Price $44.95
  • Review by Chey Davis
Once upon a time, I could really get into this kind of writing. The title intrigued me. The topic was captivating. The whole idea of merging the concepts of new media and diaspora was fascinating. And then, I read the book. While the compilation spans a great breadth of “diaspora,” and as such is an inclusive and interesting mix of authors and definitions, the mix also falls flat as the connections between the various communities and medias the contributors talk about are hard to hold on to. For example, looking at the Digital Diaspora of India as seen in the growing emergence of Bollywood caricatures and Indian-ness in Second Life (“3D Indian (Digital) Diasporas” by Radhika Gajjala), juxtaposed with the use of social networking and Orkut in the outlanders of Brazil (“Tidelike Diasporas in Brazil: From Slavery to Orkut” by Javier Bustamante). The overarching understanding tacit in most of the contributors’ writing was that societal bonds, while already tenuous in splintered or diasporic communities, may be further impacted by the use and creation of “virtual” communities that reify or overblow particular essences of the original community (especially in “Maintaining Transnational Identity: A Content Analysis of Web Pages Constructed by Second-Generation Caribbeans” by Dwaine Plaza).
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Corey Mesler
  • Date Published September 2013
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9887328-5-8
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 212pp
  • Price $16.00
  • Review by Cheryl Wright-Watkins
On the copyright page of Diddy Wah Diddy, Corey Mesler writes: “Everything in this book, including its truths, is a falsehood,” establishing a humorous tone that continues throughout the book. The disclaimer is also a reminder that this is a work of fiction, even though historical characters—one-time Memphis mayor “Boss” Crump, W. C. Handy, Robert Johnson, Arty Shaw, Elvis, John Dee, Butterfly McQueen, Bessie Smith—appear in the scenes. While most of the chapters or vignettes could stand alone, together they present a complex, multi-layered imaginative account of post-World War II Beale Street, gateway to the Delta and birthplace of the blues.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Crystal Williams
  • Date Published February 2014
  • ISBN-13 987-0-9911465-0-5
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 63pp
  • Price $18.00
  • Review by Andrea Dulberger

William Carlos Williams famously wrote, “It is difficult to get the news from poems.” However, Crystal Williams’s third book of poetry, Detroit as Barn, is lacking neither in news nor in difficult truths between the lines (between the minds) of those she writes about. Her poetry engages with the question of how to live with what changes and also with what stays uncomfortably the same, stuck in a rut. The collection is centered on real moments where history seems to sit on a struggling city and its people, yet there is also a central wonder throughout the book about the “life beneath this life,” a reminder that history is shimmering, that it is not one thing.

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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Erri de Luca
  • Translated From Italian
  • by Michael F. Moore
  • Date Published November 2011
  • ISBN-13 978-1-59051-481-8
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 175pp
  • Price $16.95
  • Review by Olive Mullet
Erri de Luca’s The Day Before Happiness, a bildungsroman set in Naples after WWII, shows both memories of the war and the city at that time, focusing on characters in an apartment complex. It also offers poetic insights along with humor. The lyrical style ultimately doesn’t distinguish the two main characters, even though one is a boy and one his caretaker/mentor, but the humor does distinguish another character in his nouveau riche ignorance.
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  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Alan Kaufman
  • Date Published November 2011
  • ISBN-13 978-1936740024
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 360pp
  • Price $25.00
  • Review by Audrey Quinn
It’s clear within the first few paragraphs that Alan Kaufman has no intention of holding anything back in Drunken Angel. The book brings the reader into his life as a young writer, a soldier in Israel, a husband, an addict, and finally a father, with many more twists and turns throughout. There were moments, while reading, that I disliked things he did and had I met him then, I probably wouldn’t have liked him very much. However, Kaufman’s willingness to open up so completely to his reader, to put himself in such a vulnerable position, won my respect.
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  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Dana Teen Lomax
  • Date Published December 2011
  • ISBN-13 978-0982573174
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 81pp
  • Price $15.00
  • Review by Aimee Nicole
Disclosure is by far one of the most interesting books I have ever read. It should perhaps be called “Full Disclosure,” as Lomax presents us with so many fragments from various areas of her life. Some pieces disclosed to us are FAFSA forms, an acceptance letter into the Peace Corps, pay stubs from several different jobs (including Taco Bell), student reviews of her teaching skills, bank statements, and medical forms. Lomax has no qualms about baring all of the personal, private information in these documents.
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  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Adam Gnade
  • Date Published September 2013
  • ISBN-13 978-1-9899-21-7
  • Format Chapbook
  • Pages 59pp
  • Price $7.00
  • Review by Katy Haas
Normally, I’m not one to gravitate to self-help or how-to books, but something about Adam Gnade’s 2013 chapbook drew me in. Maybe it was the cold winter months looming over my shoulder or, probably more likely, it was the blunt, unignorable title spread across the cover that led me to Gnade’s Do-it-Yourself Guide to Fighting the Big Motherfuckin’ Sad.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Wendy Videlock.
  • Date Published January 2013
  • ISBN-13 978-1927409091
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 96pp
  • Price $19.95
  • Review by Theresé Samson Wenham
Even from the title, you know you’re getting into something unusual. Wendy Videlock’s The Dark Gnu and Other Poems is a farcical combination of rules and shenanigans, truths and nonsense, stories and impossibilities. These contrasts bounce against each other in the language and poems, and we are given an unexpected experience in contemporary poetry. Videlock acknowledges influences from Mother Goose, Strega Nona, and Mnemosyne, so perhaps we should expect something for children, but these poems, although delightful in that way, are not for children alone. We find blue truths for our adult selves, too.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Shira Dentz
  • Date Published April 2013
  • ISBN-13 978-1-933880-36-5
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 96pp
  • Price $16.00
  • Review by Erica Walburg
Door of Thin Skins by Shira Dentz is more an artistic display of raw emotion than a collection of poems. Part visual art, part narrative story, the book traces the consequential turmoil of a young woman’s life after she was sexually preyed upon and mentally harangued by her therapist. But it is more than simple prose. The poetry is scattered, ripped apart and shoved back together in seemingly fast, nonsensical quips, much in the way a person can’t be fully aware of the firing of neurons in their own brain. It begins with conventional stanzas and solid lines of prose, and opens much in the way a dramatic movie might, centered on a small detail, in this case, the figurine of a woman:
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Colin Fleming
  • Date Published June 2013
  • ISBN-13 9781937402563
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 162pp
  • Price $16.00
  • Review by Lydia Pyne
Flesh-eating hagfish, blue bejeweled garages, animated art, and a moveable geography. Dark March: Stories for When the Rest of the World is Asleep is filled with stories where sandspits are sentient, seagulls are cutthroat, and character conscientiousness is invariably fleeting. These hyperbole-infused short stories infuse ordinary settings with magic and imagination—they give just enough detail to be anchored in a possible universe but contain enough impossibility to buoy the characters above the predictable. Colin Fleming’s collection is pithy and witty, and manages to walk an interesting line between absurd existentialism, surrealist fantasy, and magical realism.
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