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Book Reviews by Title - E (38)

  • Subtitle Poems and Fragments
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  • Book Type Edited
  • by Tony Trigilio
  • Date Published April 2014
  • ISBN-13 978-1-934103-49-4
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 208pp
  • Price $28.00
  • Review by Patrick James Dunagan
Elise Cowen is a name unlikely to ring a bell for any readers unfamiliar with the now rather legendary American literary phenomenon of the Beat Generation. Yet her writing will likely intrigue and warrant interest to a readership well beyond that demographic. Cowen's brief life (1933-1962) proves rather remarkable for a young, unmarried woman of the era: she freely and openly explored her sexuality with multiple lovers of both sexes, including Allen Ginsberg, with whom she appears to have formed a deeper attachment, likely unreturned in kind; spent time living in both New York City and San Francisco, establishing relationships and friendships with artist communities in both cities; experimented habitually with drugs and alcohol; and dedicated herself to the pursuit of a poetic, intellectual life as much as possible all the while.
  • Subtitle (Soma)tics for the Future Wilderness
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by CAConrad
  • Date Published September 2014
  • ISBN-13 978-1940696010
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 106pp
  • Price $22.00
  • Review by H. V. Cramond
I usually start a book review with some information on the author, including past publications, academic affiliations and other markers of importance that might help the reader slot the work into whatever framework he or she has for deciding what books are worth reading. While CAConrad definitely has the required pedigree, detailing it seems counter to the ethos of the book’s rejection of received knowledge in favor of lived experience.

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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Melody S. Gee
  • Date Published August 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-0979458231
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 78pp
  • Price $16.00
  • Review by Noel Sloboda
Melody S. Gee’s Each Crumbling House won the 2010 Perugia Press Prize. The volume advances the mission of the press, which “publishes one collection of poetry each year, by a woman at the beginning of her publishing career.” Each Crumbling House includes 52 poems, many of them autobiographical, in which Gee dwells on the challenges of negotiating relationships with lovers, family members, and history. Adding atmosphere and nuance to her verse, Gee’s Chinese-American heritage often haunts her speakers, as they navigate multiple continents as well as in-between spaces not found on any maps.
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  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Peter Brown Hoffmeister
  • Date Published June 2011
  • ISBN-13 978-1593764203
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 224pp
  • Price $14.95
  • Review by Ann Beman
It could have gone the other way for Peter Brown Hoffmeister. He could be strung out, in prison, or dead. In his first book, Hoffmeister chronicles his adolescent downward spiral and the events which signaled that he needed to pull up, one way or another, into wild, blue manhood. “When I think about my childhood, I am confused,” he says. “There is a lot about everything I don’t understand.” We readers are game to grapple alongside for understanding, as the author doles out suspenseful moments, employing super-tuned senses, providing rich imagery, grounded reflection, and the tension inherent in a coming-of-age tale in which drugs, violence, and a genetic tendency toward OCD conspire—“I bite my fingernails until they bleed, then I bite them over again to make sure they’re all even. They never bleed evenly enough. There is so much I can’t control.”
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Sommer Browning
  • Date Published January 2011
  • ISBN-13 978-0-982617-75-5
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 96pp
  • Price $16.00
  • Review by Elena Spagnolie
I don’t claim to understand all of Sommer Browning’s poetry, but I can say that I thoroughly enjoyed reading her first full-length collection, Either Way I’m Celebrating. Her work is smart and requires some effort to interpret; the eccentric, stream of consciousness writing subtly shifts from thought to thought and challenges readers to follow. And it’s certainly worth the undertaking. Browning’s poetry is flat out funny. For example, in the poem “Sideshow” she writes:
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Brian McGettrick
  • Date Published February 2011
  • ISBN-13 978-1-934513-29-3
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 52pp
  • Price $13.00
  • Review by Renee Emerson
Everything Else We Must Endure is the first collection of poetry by Irish poet Brian McGettrick. The book, published by sunnyoutside, a small independent press, is beautifully designed—a slim gold-colored volume with artwork by Jonathan Barcan on the cover.
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  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Bruce Berger
  • Date Published January 2014
  • ISBN-13 978-1929355952
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 316pp
  • Price $19.95
  • Review by Girija Sankar 
The End of the Sherry is a beautiful memoir chronicling the life and times of Bruce Berger in Southern Spain as a young, 20-something American.  Berger flew to Spain from California, abandoning graduate school in Berkeley, his story following the footsteps of a friend, his dog and a dodgy car. His friend soon decided to go his separate way and Bruce found himself in a sleepy, small town in Southern Spain, picking up his own little entourage and filling in as the pianist for several rock and roll bands playing at night clubs.  With his home base set up at campgrounds close to town, Berger often spent the day entertaining his friends at home: “Drifts of free time washed them daily to my tent, sometimes bearing bread and cheese.” 
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Kamau Brathwaite
  • Date Published October 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8195-6943-1
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 123pp
  • Price $22.95
  • Review by Sima Rabinowitz
The ten sections of Elegguas are structured around a series of “Letters to Zea Mexican.” I needed to know who she was (the first letter begins with her death, seeing her for the last time) and she wasn’t hard to find. A quick search online turned up summaries and reviews of Brathwaite’s Zea Mexican Diary (1993), an award-winning memoir/diary about the death from cancer in 1986 of his wife, whom he called Zea Mexican, an allusion to her ancestry. The first letter in Elegguas, is, in fact, dated 1986, the year of her death. Brathwaite, who is from Barbados where he still makes his home part-time (he spends the rest of his time in New York where he teaches at NYU), is a prolific and highly regarded writer both in the Caribbean and in the United States. I confess, however, and with no small measure of embarrassment, that I was not familiar with his work until Elegguas, and I found it helpful to learn about his earlier writing to contextualize and understand this book.
  • Book Type Poetry/Prose
  • by Jacques Réda
  • Translated From French
  • by Aaron Prevots
  • Date Published June 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-0-924047-70-1
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 153pp
  • Price $12.00
  • Review by Roy Wang
With his Proust-like ramblings, Europes is Jacques Réda's entertaining reflection upon the various selves that surface in different locales across the continent. In fact, often the named country provides only the most tangential entry point for the inner world into which he dives. Take for example a passage from “Switzerland. IV. The Eagle”:
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Sophie Cabot Black
  • Date Published May 2013
  • ISBN-13 978-1-55597-641-5
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 74pp
  • Price $15.00
  • Review by Julie Swarstad Johnson
“Poetry is my way to understand what is difficult. How one thing can be explained through another—is to get closer, to unhide what feels hidden,” explained poet Sophie Cabot Black in an interview last year with The New Yorker. The Exchange, Black’s third collection of poetry, delves into deeply difficult subjects, primarily the loss of a beloved friend to leukemia—poet Jason Shinder, author of Stupid Hope (Graywolf Press, 2009). Like Black’s previous two collections, the poems in The Exchange render their speakers’ worlds in tight descriptions rich with the play of a quick mind. In The Exchange, the realm of finance and the Biblical story of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac additionally play central roles, expanding the book’s lexicon of loss, gain, and worth. Using these three strands, Black crafts a cohesive collection of tightly woven, ruthlessly examining poems.
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