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Book Reviews by Title - I (66)

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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Dante Alighieri
  • Translated From Italian
  • by Mary Jo Bang
  • Date Published August 2012
  • ISBN-13 978-1-55597-619-4
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 352pp
  • Price $35.00
  • Review by Patrick James Dunagan
As far as serious, professional literary translation goes, Mary Jo Bang’s Inferno tests the boundaries of acceptability. Just how far afield from the original text the translator may venture yet still be found to be arguably holding true to the original is relentlessly challenged. Bang contends that since “Dante paid homage to poets and figures who meant something to him and to his readers; he appropriated stories once told by Virgil, Ovid, Lucan, and sometimes adapted them to suit his purposes,” her translation likewise will “include, through allusion, some of the poets and storytellers who have lived and left a mark in the time since Dante wrote.”
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by William Black
  • Date Published April 2015
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8023-1359-1
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 224pp
  • Price $15.00
  • Review by Rhonda Browning White
William Black’s stunning and stirring debut collection consists of twelve short stories set in Appalachia’s Northeastern Pennsylvania, where rugged hills and peaceful valleys landscape both the terrain and the soul. The evocative language in which Inheritances is written mirrors the highs and lows of his characters’ emotions as Black leads us into and immerses us in their lives. Each story’s intriguing beginning and thought-provoking ending make this collection a keeper—one you’ll find yourself reaching for every time you need a dose of the valor and courage his characters demonstrate.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Jen Currin
  • Date Published April 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-1-55245-230-1
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 96pp
  • Price $14.95
  • Review by Catherine Daly
In this, her third book of poems, Jen Currin is at her most elliptical. Yes, it’s a somewhat useless term, one replaced by something even more vague by the critic who coined it, but it is a term which has come to indicate a certain sort of poem to me, which Jen Currin’s poems are: not really fairy or folk-tale-like, but having commonalities with fantastic narratives with an object lesson; not really domestic surrealism, but certainly in love with the idea of slippage, the morphology of phrases when juxtaposed, etc.; not really symbolism in a heavy handed way, but light, contemporaneous, elliptical indications of meanings just beyond the text.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by John Skoyles
  • Date Published October 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-0-88748-614-2
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 72pp
  • Price $15.95
  • Review by Daniel Klawitter

“The proper study / of monkey-kind is man, / and the true study / of man is shenanigans.” So writes the playful, keen-eyed and accomplished poet John Skoyles in the poem “Evolutionary Shenanigans” from his fourth book of poetry, Inside Job. Inside Job is divided into three untitled sections, and the poems run the gamut from the autobiographical to sketches of literary figures like Jorge Luis Borges and Grace Paley.

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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Joshua Beckman
  • Date Published September 2013
  • ISBN-13 978-1-933517-75-9
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 91pp
  • Price $18.00
  • Review by Elizabeth O'Brien
Joshua Beckman is an editor at Wave Books, and The Inside of an Apple is his seventh poetry collection. At its best, his poetry is composed of whimsical snapshots, reminiscent of haikus, as in this moment halfway through “Being in ways”:
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Richard Hoffman
  • Date Published October 2009
  • ISBN-13 978-0-89823-247-9
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 260pp
  • Price $14.95
  • Review by Alex Myers
As Richard Hoffman is equally well known for his verse as his prose, it should come as no surprise that the thirteen stories (plus six interstitial very short-shorts) in this volume are at times lyrical, often beautiful, and move with a sense of rhythm and deep perception.
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  • Book Type Edited
  • by Delia Sherman, Christopher Barzak
  • Date Published November 2009
  • ISBN-13 978-1931520614
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 302pp
  • Price $16.00
  • Review by John Madera
Interstitial fiction is imaginative writing that slips through the cracks between literary genres. It’s an umbrella term under which numerous stylistic approaches like new weird, slipstream, fantastica, liminal fantasy, transrealism, and many more may fall. Though these terms lack precision, they do bear some resemblance to more established genres, using familiar science fiction tropes like spaceships and aliens, time travel and alternate histories; fantasy tropes like ghosts, fairies, as well as mystery and romance conventions. Interstitial fiction is distinguished by how it blurs the boundaries between genres and, if ever placed in one of these slots, rests uncomfortably. It blends the realistic and the fantastic in such a way that everything is defamiliarized, or where everything is (borrowing a term coined by Russian Formalist Viktor Shklovsky) “enstranged.” Paradoxically, it is its “in-betweeness” that defines it.
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  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Paisley Rekdal
  • Date Published April 2011
  • ISBN-13 978-1932195965
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 300pp
  • Price $19.95
  • Review by Courtney McDermott
Paisley Rekdal’s artistic book Intimate may be, at first glance, part of an indefinable genre. Flipping through its pages, one finds snippets of poetry, family stories, photos, and biographies. As the subtitle indicates, this is a textual and visual photo album of American family history. In her book, Rekdal challenges the definition of “American” family by examining race, lineage, and gender through the fictional biographies of Edward Curtis (a photographer of American Indians) and his translator, Alexander Upshaw, as well as scenes from Rekdal’s own life and the lives of her white father and Chinese mother. These biographies are interspersed with Curtis’s photographs and Rekdal’s poetry. She urges us to take accountability—not only for our dysfunctional family histories, but for the bloodied and prejudiced histories that belong to the American identity. Rekdal’s language is both delicate, and sharp—like a thin slice of glass cutting through our histories, our masquerades, our deceits.
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Sybil Baker
  • Date Published May 2012
  • ISBN-13 978-1938126-01-7
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 208pp
  • Price $14.95
  • Review by Jodi Paloni
Into This World is a novel that spans time, point of view, and geography to tell the story of a family’s search for identity and relationship. Mina is a child brought home from the Korean War by Wayne to join his American family that consists of his wife Bonnie, who longs for a second child, and his daughter Allison, who is not so pleased by the family’s new addition. The story opens when Allison and Mina are adults. Mina has moved to Korea in search of her birth mother and to reclaim her heritage. Allison discovers she has unfinished business with Mina and travels to Seoul in hopes of unraveling their complex past.
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Gregory Spatz
  • Date Published June 2012
  • ISBN-13 978-1-934137-42-0
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 192pp
  • Price $14.95
  • Review by Olive Mullet
Gregory Spatz’s well-written novel Inukshuk involves two alternating and to some extent paralleling stories: a father-son story and an historical recreation of the last days of 19th century explorer Sir John Franklin and his crew members on the ice-bound ships Terror and Erebus, trying in vain to discover the Northwest Passage. The parallels come first from the same names: the father is named John Franklin and his son, who is convinced he is related to the explorer, is Thomas, a name he shares with a crewmember. The father has moved the two of them to Alberta, Canada to be closer to his wife, who is on her own Arctic observation exploration. And both the explorer’s wife and the father’s wife are named Jane. What really links the two stories, however, is the thirteen-year-old’s escape into the world of the explorer’s expedition in its last days. Meanwhile, the modern John Franklin escapes into his poetry and fascination with the selkie myth (a shape-shifting myth of seal to man and back again, like the father’s own alternating myth with real life). This is a story of the danger of obsessions, the father’s and son’s coming after mother/wife Jane’s abandonment of them for her own obsession. Father and son each suffer alone, especially Thomas, the outsider in his school.
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