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Book Reviews by Title - M (105)

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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Sheryl Monks
  • Date Published November 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-1-943665-39-6
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 192pp
  • Price $16.99
  • Review by Allyson Hoffman

A mix of darkly funny and shockingly somber stories, Sheryl Monks’s Monsters in Appalachia is an outstanding short story collection. She masterfully draws readers into many lives in Appalachia through setting, characters, and, most importantly, dialogue. Some stories are fantastical, others are more traditional, and all are worth reading, either one right after another or, slowly, one at a time.

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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Susan Briante
  • Date Published February 2016
  • ISBN-13 978­1­934103­64-7
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 128pp
  • Price $18.00
  • Review by Benjamin Champagne

The Dow that can be named is not the eternal Tao. This is the message of Susan Briante’s great and fun new work The Market Wonders. The economic market is a man made concoction, yet it behaves in an almost random manner that seems to follow rules of nature. In the beginning of the book she quotes, “Blake reminds us, ‘For everything that lives is Holy!’” and sure enough the market seems to be alive. This book associates a volatile reverence to money. The subject is about as transgressive as can be. Most people do not read poetry, half of us that read barely understand it, and certainly, nobody is making a living from it. That is to say, unless you’re Tao Lin or Ben Lerner who undoubtedly have other means of income. The rare Ted Kooser who can make a rock star’s living at poetry is once in a lifetime. But Briante builds a relationship between the flow of the market and the flow of words and poetry. The ticker at the bottom of the book is definitely the philosophical icing on the cake.

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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Jay Neugeboren
  • Date Published February 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-1-942134-17-6
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 206pp
  • Price $19.95
  • Review by Jason Hess
In June of 1933, American boxer Max Baer and German heavyweight Max Schmeling, a former world champion, fought a highly publicized bout in front of sixty thousand fans in New York’s Yankee Stadium. Schmeling was Hitler’s favorite fighter and was favored to win. In the days leading up to the fight, Schmeling told American reporters that stories of Germany’s persecution of Jews were untrue. Max Baer, in a move that was part publicity stunt and part sincere act of defiance, sewed a large Star of David to his trunks. Baer’s subsequent victory over Schmeling became an international symbol of Jewish resistance to fascism. One year later, Baer, still with Star of David on the left leg of his trunks, became heavyweight champion of the world.
  • Subtitle Collected Stories
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Melissa Reddish
  • Date Published July 2015
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9904546-4-9
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 202pp
  • Price $14.00
  • Review by Allyson Parsons
What initially drew me to Melissa Reddish’s recent book was the title: My Father is an Angry Storm Cloud. It resonated with me, and I was happy to learn that this title is also the title of one of the short stories in the book. I will admit that I initially rushed past the first couple pieces to get to it. I was not disappointed. “My Father is an Angry Storm Cloud” is poignant, and thankfully not in the “oh woe is me” way. This story was clearly delicately crafted to avoid hitting the reader over the head with “daddy issues.” In this snapshot of her life, I got a well-rounded sense that this character existed before the scene she appears in. It is clear that this character has scars from her past, that they re-open all the time, and that she struggles to stitch them up even as an adult. To get that grand a sense of a life already lived within six pages is pretty remarkable.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Kathleen Halme
  • Date Published March 2015
  • ISBN-13 978-1-936970-31-5
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 83pp
  • Price $15.00
  • Review by Ryo Yamaguchi
Kathleen Halme’s My Multiverse opens with a marvelous set-piece, a multi-part cycle (that comprises the entirety of the first section of the six-sectioned book) titled “City of Roses” that begins with that tender invitational, “Dear,” and from there pans its camera over the big and small, visiting with different characters and embracing the ambience of different scenes all within the same city, Halme’s own Portland, Oregon. It’s a gesture in line with the great urban works, like Ulysses, which endeavor to sketch the cultural, emotional, and physical anatomy of a city: “Blocks and blocks of ornate iron-front buildings. / Shanghai traps and tunnels. / Iron horse rings to which someone / has hitched tiny plastic palominos.”
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Jacob M. Appel
  • Date Published March 2015
  • ISBN-13 978-1-62557-933-1
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 155pp
  • Price $15.95
  • Review by Jason Hess
The eight stories in Jacob M. Appel’s Miracles and Conundrums of the Secondary Planets are engaging, surprising, and often deeply affecting. They sometimes feature bizarre, fantastic details—a man grapples with the real possibility of his mistresses’ impending resurrection, a global cold snap rattles our understanding of global warming—but these features never distract from the human stories at the center of every tale.
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Kristin FitzPatrick
  • Date Published September 2015
  • ISBN-13 978-1-940425-72-6
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 224pp
  • Price $16.99
  • Review by Rhonda Browning White
FitzPatrick’s debut collection, published by the Vandalia Press imprint of West Virginia University Press, consists of nine powerful stories about the fragility of hope, the devastation of grief, and the precarious balance of family harmony that lies between the two. Four of the nine stories feature the same characters, allowing us to see growth, and sometimes the lack thereof, in the lives of these individuals.
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Julie Iromuanya
  • Date Published May 2015
  • ISBN-13 978-1-56689-397-8
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 288pp
  • Price $16.95
  • Review by Allyson Parsons
The back cover of this book will give readers the most bare-bone details of Mr. and Mrs. Doctor; that Job and Ifi are a Nigerian couple in an arranged marriage, that Job, “Mr. Doctor,” isn’t actually a doctor, and that this lie puts a strain on their marriage and their life at large. But Julie Iromuanya’s novel is about more than a struggle to keep up appearances. It delves into the nitty gritty details of a culture, a marriage, two people unto themselves, displaced in a strange land that is famed to provide opportunity and riches. From the very first pages, it is painfully clear that this life is not what either Job or Ifi had pictured for themselves.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Seth Abramson
  • Date Published 2015
  • ISBN-13 978-1-60964-194-8
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 120pp
  • Price $16.00
  • Review by Benjamin Champagne
A good poem places pressure on language in an interesting way. This mantra can be peeled from the pages of Seth Abramson’s Metamericana. However, his secret seems to be that a good poem places pressure on ideas in an interesting way—that a good idea places pressure on old ideas in an interesting way. Philosophy places pressure on technology and technology places pressure on philosophy. All of this interacts in a swirling and kaleidoscopic manner.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Nick Flynn
  • Date Published June 2015
  • ISBN-13 978-1-55597-710-8
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 96pp
  • Price $16.00
  • Review by Brian McKenna
My Feelings, the aptly primal title of poet and memoirist Nick Flynn’s fourth poetry collection, appropriately marks the book as the end product of long winnowing—an unequivocally subjective appraisal of life’s equivocations. In My Feelings, Flynn brings a memoirist’s robust conception of personal history to the page, crafting finely textured poems about what it means to live in the ever-growing aftermath called the present. To underscore the subjective nature of his collection, Flynn even includes a disclaimer telling readers that “[t]he word ‘my’ in the title is meant to signify the author.”
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