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Book Reviews by Title - M (106)

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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Jenny Molberg
  • Date Published February 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-1-936797-92-9
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 78pp
  • Price $16.95
  • Review by DM O'Connor

"Another endangered syntax descends." —from “Echolocations”

If ex-poet-laureate Billy Collins is correct in saying that poetry is “everyday moments caught in time,” then Jenny Molberg’s debut collection The Marvels of the Invisible, winner of 2014 Berkshire Prize, is exemplar. As if flipping through a family album, Molberg covers a personal history from birth to death, hospital and bible, family and landscape, hope and redemption.

  • Subtitle Notes From a Wounded Place
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  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Rilla Askew
  • Date Published June 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8061-5717-7
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 184pp
  • Price $19.95
  • Review by Kimberly Ann Priest
“One thing we ought not forget in this America is how our impulse to forget is so strong.” Rilla Askew, Most American

From where I sit right in Shawnee, Oklahoma, I am 41 miles from Rilla Askew, a professor at the University of Oklahoma and author of Most American: Notes From a Wounded Place, a collection of essays on race, violence, history, and Oklahoma. Six months ago, I would not have expected this proximity and would have read this novel from a distance out of curiosity, but disconnected from the Oklahoma Askew memorializes in these pages and connects to the larger American drama.

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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Jacqueline Doyle
  • Date Published September 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-1-62557-983-6
  • Format Chapbook
  • Pages 32pp
  • Price $8.95
  • Review by Katy Haas

You soon may be the missing girl, you have taken the missing girl, you fantasize about the missing girl, you are the missing girl. In Jacqueline Doyle's aptly-named The Missing Girl, we briefly take on all the roles before shucking the skin we're in and donning a new one. Winner of the Black River Chapbook Competition through Black Lawrence Press, The Missing Girl draws us into the seedy darkness of everyday life in small bursts of haunting prose as Doyle forces us to consider being both the hunter and the hunted. Regardless of which position she leads us to, none is a comfortable role to be in.

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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Adam McOmber
  • Date Published September 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-1-942683-41-4
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 153pp
  • Price $16.00
  • Review by MacKenzie Hamilton

Adam McOmber drags each and every reader into a thick, mysterious fog in his latest collection, My House Gathers Desires. McOmber’s stories quite literally have a life of their own, and the subject matter is relevant and important. This collection takes sexual identity and gender and gives them life in the stories and fables of old, while ultimately showing that there is still a light at the end of the tunnel.

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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Dave Housley
  • Date Published February 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-1944853143
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 122pp
  • Price $14.00
  • Review by DM O'Connor

In recent headline news: 14,000 inhabitants of British Colombia were evacuated as wild fires approached; 8,000 Southern Californians dashed for safety; 62 victims died in a forest fire in Northern Portugal; London’s Grenfell Tower fire took the lives of “around 80 people.” The threat of infernal combustion is the leitmotif that ties Dave Housley’s latest collection of short stories Massive Cleansing Fire together. Although it is unknown whether the fires that bridge the stories are started by folly or malice or divine lightning rod, what remains clear is the horror, destruction and often mundane reactions to our inevitable demise. As the flames approach, an insurance salesman commits double suicide, a clown and a monkey die together, a writer hiding in the Museum of Modern Art attempts to save some Rothkos, a bible thumper prays away, and a lab worker at a New Mexican cryonics lab follows final instructions. Suspenseful, dense, and unpredictable, Housley keeps the pages turning.

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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Spree MacDonald
  • Date Published February 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-1-940646-03-9
  • Format Chapbook
  • Pages 28pp
  • Review by Anne Graue

Spree MacDonald writes without punctuation in Milksop Codicil, conscious of the placement of the words, lines, and stanzas on each page and how they interact with space to produce meaning. The effect is attention to images and how they interact independent of grammatical constraint.

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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Jason Allen
  • Date Published September 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9962596-5-1
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 72pp
  • Price $14.00
  • Review by Daniel Klawitter

Poet Jason Allen is a poetical pyromaniac who guides his readers through a tour of hell involving scenes of addiction, suicide, homelessness, and family dysfunction. And even if we are tempted to withdraw from such smoldering carnage, ruin and rubble, Allen reminds us that “while we sleep, our worst nightmares / continue happening to someone else.” The thing is though, the poems in this debut collection are a controlled burn. The fire never gets out of hand, which is the mark of a skilled verbal arsonist. Paraphrasing William Wordsworth: a more amateur poet would have left too much spontaneous overflow of emotion in these pages without the necessary distance needed to craft the poems as they are “recollected in tranquility.”

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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Jacob M. Appel
  • Date Published March 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-1-57962-495-8
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 256pp
  • Price $28.00
  • Review by Valerie Wieland

Jacob M. Appel explains the title of his mystery novel, The Mask of Sanity, by crediting psychiatrist and psychopathy pioneer Hervey Cleckley, who used the phrase as the title of his 1941 book. It referred to people who “at their cores proved incapable of feeling empathy or compassion for their fellow human beings,” writes Appel.

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  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Phillip Lopate
  • Date Published January 2017
  • ISBN-13 987-0-8142-1331-5
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 196pp
  • Price $24.95
  • Review by DM O'Connor

In 1984, Phillip Lopate, then 41, recorded his mother, then 66, tell her life story for 20 hours over three months. He then put the cassette tapes in a shoe box for three decades before he transcribed them. A Mother’s Tale, is the result of this project. Lopate writes in his prologue, “I entered a triangular dialogue involving my mother, my younger self, and the person I am today.” In the final chapter, he summarizes his mother’s life and how his project fits into the larger scheme of America.

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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by A.W. DeAnnuntis
  • Date Published October 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9962276-3-6
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 169pp
  • Price $14.95
  • Review by MacKenzie Hamilton

The Mysterious Islands and Other Stories is a collection of stories that feels like dream within a dream within a nightmare. A.W. DeAnnuntis uses eloquent language and out of this realm imagery to give life to a world that that skirts back and forth between reality and imagination. The stories in this collection will leave you wondering if you can trust the sanctity of your own mind.

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