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Book Reviews by Title - I (66)

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  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Jennifer S. Cheng
  • Date Published January 2011
  • ISBN-13 978-934832-27-1
  • Format Chapbook
  • Pages 56pp
  • Price $9.00
  • Review by Sima Rabinowitz
One great idea. One beautiful little book. Ander Monson of New Michigan Press creates fantastic chapbooks with a preference, and special contest for, innovative hybrid manuscripts. The full-length chapbook essay form is especially appealing, and Cheng’s work is perfect for this structure. Her chapbook is a personal memoir-photo-cultural exploration-essay in one compact, smartly designed package (publisher/editor Monson is also the designer).
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Chris Vitiello
  • Date Published February 2008
  • ISBN-13 978-1934103005
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 101pp
  • Price $17.50
  • Review by Karyna McGlynn
Here is an austere and well-made collection which brings to mind a spitfire of phrases, like “German ingenuity” and “high modernism” and the “plasir” of the “illisable texte.” The book shifts its glasses and a-hems a bit before engaging me in a conversation which is charmingly incomprehensible. And despite its attempts to be cordial and funny and warm (okay, maybe not quite warm), I can't quite shake that feeling I used to have when I met my physicist boyfriend for beers after work and he'd start talking about trapping ions with lasers: it was sexy as hell but my eyes glazed over almost immediately – not because it was boring, but because I wasn't smart enough. I admit it: this book raises the presumed-dead spectre of my math fear. It feels clean and masculine and well-groomed and logical and intimidating in a way that made me put off writing this review for months. This isn't easy-going for me, but then, I don't think it's supposed to be.
  • Subtitle A Memoir
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  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Micah McCrary
  • Date Published September 2018
  • ISBN-13 978-1-4962-0786-9
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 168pp
  • Price $17.95
  • Review by Vivian Wagner

Island in the City: A Memoir is composed of a series of interrelated essays about identity by Micah McCrary. These essays interrogate what it means to be black, queer, and middle-class, even as they question the stability and meaning of those categories themselves.

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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by John Sakkis
  • Date Published January 2015
  • ISBN-13 978-1937658267
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 88pp
  • Price $15.95
  • Review by Patrick James Dunagan
Throughout John Sakkis's The Islands, a polyvocal weave of declarative refrains sound out in dizzying display. Across the book's five sections appear poems, often in set series, presenting a hybrid mix of memoir, lyric, historical investigation, and daily documents full of dispatch concerning discursive news the poet’s ear has picked up on. We see in section three "Tangrams The New Collective," the speaker’s concern throughout remains with "The salt of human projects," in the face of which, Sakkis declares: "I go in. I am in bits." What's left for the poems are scattered fragments of events, both imagined and other, from out of which both structure and content prove to be derived.
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  • Book Type Novel
  • by John Addiego
  • Date Published October 2008
  • ISBN-13 978-1932961546
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 241pp
  • Price $24.95
  • Review by Laura Di Giovine
Like most families, the Verbicaros are anything but ordinary. Following five generations of a close knit Southern Italian family over the span of a century, The Islands of Divine Music by John Addiego follows the Verbicaros’ journey from Italy’s boot to San Francisco to the Yucatán Peninsula. Along the way, they encounter traces of the sacred and the profane, discovering themselves in the process.
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  • Book Type Novel
  • by Alan Reed
  • Date Published April 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-1-55245-227-1
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 156pp
  • Price $16.95
  • Review by Keith Meatto
Isobel & Emile is the story of two young lovers who separate and then try to survive on their own. The novel opens on the morning after their final consummation. Emile boards a train bound for his home in the city. Isobel stays in the town where they conducted their brief affair. For each one, the pain of separation becomes an existential crisis.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Dobby Gibson
  • Date Published January 2013
  • ISBN-13 9781555976323
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 96pp
  • Price $15.00
  • Review by Theresé Samson Wenham
Dobby Gibson’s newest collection, It Becomes You, is his third book of poetry. His poems remind me of Billy Collins or Mark Strand: conversational and witty with themes of nostalgia and doubt. At their best, they reflect the sharp humor of Auden, who makes tight lines appear effortlessly conversational. From W. H. Auden’s “The Unknown Citizen”: “Was he free? Was he happy? The question is absurd: / Had anything been wrong, we should certainly have heard.” Gibson’s best poems aspire to this same kind of detached philosophical clarity. He generally succeeds, but without the formal aesthetic pleasure.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Susan Scarlata
  • Date Published February 2011
  • ISBN-13 978-0-982989-61-6
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 90pp
  • Price $15.00
  • Review by L.S. Bassen
A quotation attributed to William Butler Yeats can be found in cyberspace, "What can be explained is not poetry." At least 63 people have “liked” this quotation, but not me. I appreciate explanation. Susan’s Scarlata’s new collection is bookended by both an introductory “Proem” and end “Notes.” The “Proem” explains that her 64 poems are: “A recoup of the Sapphic Stanza form… They are strung… linked without attempt to present any sum total.” The first poem, “What Is Your Business Here?” begins, “I dreamed I carried a snake / to a burnt cracked tree /…Our needs and wants” include “a plectrum” and we are advised to “throw these bits / in two directions at once.” “Plectrum” is explained in the notes: “A plectrum is a spear point used for striking the lyre.”
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  • Book Type Anthology edited
  • by Caroline Bergvall, Laynie Browne, Teresa Carmody, Vanessa Place
  • Date Published May 2012
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 455pp
  • Price $40.00
  • Review by H. V. Cramond
As an art school grad, I’ve spent my fair share of time staring at objects in galleries wondering about the artist’s intent. While I of course had my own experience with each piece of art, it was worthwhile to know that the pile of bones at the MCA was not a general memento mori but a statement about U. S. policies regarding “extraordinary rendition.” Frequently, I’ve thought that the idea behind the art was interesting, but the execution was unsuccessful, or even unnecessary. Rosemarie Waldrop, in the statement following her contribution to Les Figues Press’s I’ll Drown My Book: Conceptual Writing by Women, makes the claim that this frame is an inaccurate description of the work of conceptual writers. Unlike visual or time artists who leave their sensuous medium for the intellectual exercise of writing, Waldrop’s conceptual writing focuses more on the sensual than writing from other movements. She focuses on the “shape” and sound of words, the experience of the word itself rather than its use as signifier. Further, unlike artists in other meanings, there is no “optional execution”; one either erases words from a canonical text, or one does not.
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  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Chloe Caldwell
  • Date Published October 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-56689-453-1
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 184pp
  • Price $16.95
  • Review by Kelly Sauvage Angel

If truth be told, I simply wasn’t prepared for my reality to shift. My perspective, my worldview, suited me just fine. Yet, upon encountering I’ll Tell You in Person, a collection of essays by Chloe Caldwell, which appears deceptively unassuming at first glance, I rediscovered a lushness within the human experience that had somehow slipped from my grasp over the course of four decades plus three intentionally subdued years with hopes of merely staying afloat.

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