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Book Reviews by Title - L (84)

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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by EJ Koh
  • Date Published October 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-0-807167779
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 78pp
  • Price $17.95
  • Review by DM O'Connor
If I can own anyone
I ask for none

unlike orchids that cannot
grow unless paired.

I don’t know.
I remember you loved

to swim. Everything I am
become water
                            —“Madrona”
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Vincent Chu
  • Date Published February 2018
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9984092-6-9
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 238pp
  • Price $15.99
  • Review by Valerie Wieland

Have you ever taken homemade food to a picnic just to have it ignored? Then you might recognize yourself in Vincent Chu’s story called “Ambrosia,” which appears in his first book of short fictions, Like a Champion. In it, our narrator’s girlfriend brings the sweet dessert to a barbecue with this result: “In the middle of the table sits the uneaten ambrosia, cubes of strange fruit drowning slow deaths in white glob, wincing under the summer sun.” But in this case, a simple sentence will turn the embarrassing situation around with unexpected results.

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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Steven Gillis
  • Date Published October 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-1945572-47-0
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 205pp
  • Price $24.00
  • Review by MacKenzie Hamilton

Are you happy? What is the source of your happiness? Would you say it’s love? Steven Gillis provides us with a few different answers to these questions in his new novel Liars. His characters find themselves either concretely sure of themselves, or questioning everything they know in this thrilling, somber story of a man trying to understand love.

  • Subtitle True Stories
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  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Minna Zallman Proctor
  • Date Published September 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-1-9367-8761-6
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 160pp
  • Price $16.95
  • Review by Scott Russell Morris

Minna Zallman Proctor’s Landslide is a collection of “true stories” (essays, really) that focus on matters of family, familiar dysfunction, and/or love gone awry. The essays cover a wide swatch of time, with stories from Proctor’s childhood, her young adult years, and her present, and though each essay can be read separately, together they ask a question that comes up several times: Is Proctor fated to repeat her mother’s life?

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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Alan Felsenthal
  • Date Published May 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-1-937027-87-2
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 80pp
  • Price $15.00
  • Review by Ryo Yamaguchi

The opening poems of Alan Felsenthal’s Lowly suggest a collection that will fall squarely within a familiar subgenre of contemporary poetry: newly crafted myths, fables, and parables. Taking up classic modes of speech and story-telling, many poems of this subgenre operate according to a fairly defined mechanic, developing tight, logical sequences that utilize inversion, tautology, and other structural maneuvers to arrive at illuminating surprises—often with a bit of jesting. This mechanic perfectly describes the first poem of Lowly, “Two Martyrs."

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  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Karen Tei Yamashita
  • Date Published September 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-1-56689-487-6
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 184pp
  • Price $19.95
  • Review by Valerie Wieland

On April 30, 1942: "my father and his family lost their freedom upon entry to Tanforan Racetrack, a designated Assembly Center in San Bruno, California, for the wartime removal of Japanese. Arriving by bus, [ . . . ] they were housed in a series of empty horse stalls named Barrack 14. This was just the first stop; from Tanforan they would be transported by train into the Utah desert to live in a concentration camp named Topaz."

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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Caits Meissner
  • Date Published October 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-0-986-05058-9
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 150pp
  • Price $18.00
  • Review by DM O'Connor

I have never seen anything like Caits Meissner’s first solo collection: Let it Die Hungry. Brave. Eclectic. Essential. Especially in this day and age when the rats in power are filling the swamp with evil droppings. Let It Die Hungry is a manifesto, a manual, a survivor’s message-in-a-bottle and a battle-cry.

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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Alan Michael Parker
  • Date Published August 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-1-936797-74-5
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 84pp
  • Price $16.95
  • Review by Kimberly Ann Priest

“Teach me to climb / Down from ambition. // Beyond my fingertips / rolls the moon.” –from the title poem, “The Ladder”

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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Jennifer Givhan
  • Date Published January 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9975805-5-6
  • Format Chapbook
  • Pages 35pp
  • Price $8.50
  • Review by Anne Graue

Jennifer Givhan’s Lifeline opens with a strong voice in the first poem, “Reupholstering a Chair,” that urges one to “look up from the base of your life.” This perspective continues to play a central role in all the poems in this chapbook; the voice remains strong throughout each piece, even (or especially) those that deal with difficult subjects of loss, shame, violence, love, and death. With the final poem, “Machine for Second Chances,” there is hope in a “machine that makes / meaning, like stardust,” and strength to navigate “the footholds steep / & the footholds careless,” as “we step into our lives.”

  • Subtitle A Mood Almanack
  • Image Image
  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Mary Cappello
  • Date Published October 2016
  • ISBN-13 9780226356068
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 408pp
  • Price $29.00
  • Review by Cameron Chase

Mood: a vast penumbra of feelings Mary Cappello tries tirelessly at defining through the guiding light of these dynamic essays. Our moods can be both fixed and elastic, light and heavy—intractable vicissitudes that alter the course of our days and lives. They are at once ubiquitous and unexplained, and influenced by any number of things: clouds and weather, music, sweets, the connotation of words, View-Masters, taxidermy and dioramas, picture books, other people’s voices. These are among the influencers that Cappello explores in Life Breaks In: A Mood Almanack.

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