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Book Reviews by Title - L (89)

  • Subtitle A Mood Almanack
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  • 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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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Professor Arturo
  • Date Published July 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-1-63045-032-8
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 80pp
  • Price $14.95
  • Review by Valerie Wieland

Arthur Pfister was one of the original Broadside poets of the 1960s: talented artists whose works were displayed on one-sided posters that expressed strong feelings during that chaotic decade of political and cultural unrest. In the intervening years, he has been a spoken word artist, an educator, speechwriter, and winner of the 2009 Asante Award for his book My Name is New Orleans. Eventually, Pfister began writing under the name Professor Arturo.

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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Gabriel Gudding
  • Date Published 2015
  • ISBN-13 ISBN 978-1-934103-63-0
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 144pp
  • Price $22.00
  • Review by Trena Machado

In hybrid poem essays, Literature for Nonhumans, Gabriel Gudding has taken on the system in which we live at the level of mind and body, beliefs, laws, and values by way of our effects on the nonhumans sharing this planet with us. In “the nonhumans,” besides animals, he includes rivers, mountains, wetlands, trees, landscapes, bio niches. The nonhumans are looking back at us in their own right, subjectivity given to animals and landscapes, both seen as a “who.” By the end of the book we have a coherent viewpoint of the effect of humans on life for the reader’s consideration. The book is a disorienting set of ideas that produces a cry of the heart as we look through the lens of human ensconcement blithely operating the socio-economic system with its steamroller collateral damage.

  • Subtitle A Ring of Stories
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Julie Hensley
  • Date Published April 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8142-5269-7
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 232pp
  • Price $19.95
  • Review by Allyson Hoffman

Until picking up Julie Hensley’s Landfall: A Ring of Stories, I had never heard linked short story collections described as a “ring.” But Hensley’s book is exactly that, and it makes me hungry for more collections of stories so craftily connected. Taut with tension and carefully ordered, the stories follow characters as they move in and out of Conrad’s Fork, Kentucky. Landfall: A Ring of Stories makes good on its titular promise by leading the reader in a complete circle, back to the family farm where the collection begins.

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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Amina Gautier
  • Date Published February 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-1-932418-56-9
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 216pp
  • Price $17.00
  • Review by DM O'Connor

Amina Gautier’s third collection of short stories The Loss of All Lost Things is an accomplished reflection of our terrible reality. Abducted children, rent-boys, old maids, drop-outs, mourning parents, aging-regret filled parents, widowers eating uncooked Thanksgiving turkey with canned stuffing, the ugliest faces of divorce riddle each page with regret and melancholia.

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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Nicola Gardini
  • Translated From the Italian
  • by Michael F. Moore
  • Date Published January 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8112-2476-5
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 232pp
  • Price $14.95
  • Review by Olive Mullet

Those who have read Muriel Barbery’s The Elegance of the Hedgehog might see echoes in Nicola Gardini’s Lost Words in that this later novel has main characters of a concierge, here called a “door woman” and an adolescent, here a thirteen-year-old. Chino/Luca is the doorwoman’s son and like in Barbery’s book, he finds inspiration for his intellect in someone living in the apartment building, here on the outskirts of Milan instead of Barbery’s Paris. Lost Words, however, is a darker view of the apartment dwellers and the labors of the narrator’s mother, which makes the unusual inspirers who enter the scene that much more exciting. In addition, the contrast between the intellectual newcomers and the backbiting and hypocritical tenants makes for drama and humor.

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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Paolo Giordano
  • Translated From Italian
  • by Anne Milano Appel
  • Date Published December 2015
  • ISBN-13 978-0-525-42876-3
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 146pp
  • Price $22.00
  • Review by Olive Mullet
Italian novelist Paolo Giordano’s novella Like Family, in spite of its short length, encapsulates as much of life as his well-known novel The Solitude of Prime Numbers. His previous career as a physicist shows up in both works, while in this one, he is married with a small child employing a housekeeper. As the husband, father, and employer, he is the unnamed narrator in the story. The housekeeper, a central character, is also the child’s caretaker and confidante to the couple. The housekeeper is a middle-aged widow whom the narrator refers to Mrs. A while at the same time being named Babette by the couple (after the Karen Blixen story and film about a woman who prepares a fabulous feast to strict, frugal northerners). We do not know the housekeeper’s real name until the very end, which is important: she is family to the couple but they barely know her.
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Brian Ascalon Roley
  • Date Published April 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8101-3322-8
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 160pp
  • Price $17.95
  • Review by Sheelonee Banerjee
Sometimes our roots are someplace else and we craft our whole lives in places away from our original source like outsiders wishing earnestly to ‘belong.’ We absorb a lot of what is new and retain or let go of our past. Generations pass, the memory of the roots begin to get weaker, yet it filters through families, countries, history. History absorbs the effects of immigration and narrates his stories, her stories, their stories. We meet people, engage in relationships, progress through situations, and separate moments from our different lives converge at common points of emotional realizations.
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  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Anne-Marie Oomen
  • Date Published April 2015
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8143-4078-3
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 232pp
  • Price $18.99
  • Review by Kimberly Ann
I hate sewing. My mother loves it. To save money during my elementary and middle school years, I wore several of her handmade outfits enduring the shaming glances of classmates who, by the mid-80s, were sporting Guess jeans and Ralph Lauren t-shirts. Unlike Oomen’s adolescent experience, 4-H was less cool during mine, nevertheless, my mother enrolled me in a local club at age eleven so I could learn to make my own skirts and, to this day, I can sew a wicked tunnel stitch (though I seldom find good reason to exercise this skill).
  • Subtitle Selected Columns on Poetry
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  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by David Biespiel
  • Date Published April 2015
  • ISBN-13 978-1938308109
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 245pp
  • Price $14.95
  • Review by Patricia Contino
According to the author, poetry anthologies are “like a museum exhibition.” They certainly suit every imaginable reading need: fulfilling the core curriculum; completing the home, school, or public library; satisfying the rare book collector; providing access to a favorite writer in one place. Now there is an exceptional anthology about poetry that is both quotable and useful. Readers of The Oregonian are already familiar with poet David Biespiel’s monthly column that ran between 2003 and 2013. Now selections from the series (ended by the author, not the newspaper) are available in A Long High Whistle; Selected Columns on Poetry.
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