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Book Reviews by Title - M (105)

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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Joanne Diaz
  • Date Published March 2014
  • ISBN-13 978-0-299-29784-8
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 80pp
  • Price $16.95
  • Review by Katie Rensch
Smart, funny, tender, and always sharp with language, Joanne Diaz’s new book of poems My Favorite Tyrants is both elegy and celebration of those tyrants—cultural, historical, mythical, and personal—that shape our understanding of our current selves and the world we’ve produced. Divided into three sections, “The Perimeter of Pleasure,” “Elegy,” and “Metastasis,” the occasion for these poems is centered around the sudden and tragic loss of the speaker’s mother, a mother while dearly loved and respected, was perhaps, in her own way, a bit of a (shall I say it?) tyrant.
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Douglas Watson
  • Date Published April 2014
  • ISBN-13 978-1-937502-62-4
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 182pp
  • Price $16.00
  • Review by Audrey Quinn
There are a few things that make A Moody Fellow Finds Love and Then Dies feel like a modern fairytale: its decidedly lyrical verse, the pithy unseen narrators, and the fanciful notions of people dropping dead upon seeing one of the most beautiful women to ever live. The structure of the novel, however, is what lends the book most to this form. As is common with fairytales, perhaps because they seem to follow a particular formula, the reader knows, more or less, what is going to happen before it even begins. A moody fellow, who is moody and whose name is actually Moody Fellow, does indeed find love and then die. Moody begins as someone with a rather naïve impression of love: “One thing Moody was sure of, though, from books: love always brought out the best in people. Poor Moody. He really wasn’t cut out for the world as we know it.”
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Richard Matturro
  • Date Published May 2014
  • ISBN-13 978-1-60489-137-9
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 190pp
  • Price $18.95
  • Review by Patricia Contino
After discovering she is pregnant, the most famous mother in Greek mythology prophetically admits being “scared.” In Richard Matturro’s inevitable and absorbing Medea, she has every reason to be. Her troubles began long before the births—and deaths—of her twin sons. The Princess of Colchis (located in the Caucasus Mountains on the eastern edge of the Black Sea) is a practicing witch who lost everything helping her future husband Jason steal the Golden Fleece from her father King Aeëtes.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Gary Jackson
  • Date Published November 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-1-55597-572-2
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 80pp
  • Price $15.00
  • Review by Kimberly Steele
In Missing You, Metropolis, the 2009 winner of the Cave Canem Poetry Prize, first-time poet Gary Jackson uses the motif of comic book lore, with its hopeful yet unforgiving treatment of the superhero, to speak about childhood feelings of isolation and sexual maturation against the backdrop of a racist culture. Sometimes the speaker uses the comic book theme as a protective blanket, relying on the fantasy world it offers to escape the harsher elements of life that children often fail to understand. At other times, seeing the world through the anvil-heavy metaphors of the graphic novel helps the speaker come to terms with his actual environment. Good and evil are drastically polarized in this genre, which offers straightforward solutions to worldwide problems and therefore appeals to a child’s sense of simple justice.
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Brendan Connell
  • Date Published May 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-0974323572
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 100pp
  • Price $12.00
  • Review by Alex Myers
A geographical whirlwind, Connell’s debut collection presents 36 cities in alphabetical order (some letters get more than one hit … why eschew Moscow for Madrid? Xi’an, on the other hand, has no X peer). Each destination offers a story, a scene, or a vignette – as I read I came to think of them as little windows – into the city. A moment, a place, a person. Each encounter is an intense mixture of location and love.
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  • Book Type Memoir
  • by Tom Grimes
  • Date Published 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9825048-8-8
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 256pp
  • Price $16.95
  • Review by Jeremy Benson
Mentor: A Memoir by Tom Grimes details the relationship of the author and his friend, teacher, and surrogate father, Frank Conroy. It opens with their initial meeting: Tom, a budding writer considering MFA options, is snubbed by Frank after a reading. "I spotted Stop-Time [Conroy's own critically-acclaimed memoir] on a high shelf and reached for it ... I struggled to tear it in half. When I failed, I ripped out pages by the handful until I'd gutted the thing, splitting in two the author's name and the book's title ... I turned and said, 'Fuck Frank Conroy.'"
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Michael du Plessis
  • Date Published December 2012
  • ISBN-13 978-193425436-3
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 102pp
  • Price $15.00
  • Review by Trena Machado
This book of thirteen short essay-stories, The Memoirs of JonBenet by Kathy Acker by Michael du Plessis, is dense with conflated cultural images that construct an alternate unreal-real reality of consumer America. The story’s location is Boulder, Colorado, in a a snowglobe, the kind bought at a “cheap airport gift store and stuck at the foot of the Rocky Mountains.” Boulder is also the place where JonBenet, a six-year-old beauty pageant queen and possibly one of the narrators, was murdered on Christmas Eve in 1996. The other possible narrator of this “fiction inside a fiction” is the dead writer Kathy Acker. Then, there is another narrator, as JonBenet and Kathy Acker discuss: “Somewhere a narrator still worries, almost like a grown-up.” These narrators “out” each other and often call attention to the narrative as a narrative.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Kristina Marie Darling
  • Date Published August 2012
  • ISBN-13 978-1-60964-104-7
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 62pp
  • Price $12.00
  • Review by Patrick James Dunagan
American artist Joseph Cornell (1903-1972) has long been a favorite among poets and writers. His work first appeared in art shows and galleries advertised as surrealist, frequently accompanied by and/or incorporating text. In his own lifetime, he directly courted the friendship and patronage of poets such as Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop. In addition, poets ranging in diversity from John Ashbery to Charles Simic have also written about the attraction his work holds for them and/or composed poems in his honor. Cornell also completed a number of various homages to poet Emily Dickinson. In short, there’s poems-a-plenty in existence that interact one way or another with Cornell and his work. By joining in such company, Kristina Marie Darling is taking the risk that her work be held to a similarly high standard. Or rather, in composing a book so directly addressing Cornell’s work, the assumption is that Darling herself is aware she’s aiming high and must be willing to hold her own work to these standards.
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  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by S. Lochlann Jain
  • Date Published October 2013
  • ISBN-13 978-0520276574
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 304pp
  • Price $24.95
  • Review by Lydia Pyne
It’s impossible to do justice to the breadth of literature that surrounds cancer. We can view cancer in a historical context through works like Siddhartha Mukherjee’s The Emperor of All Maladies. We can read reflections from the medical community in Atul Gawande’s Complications. We can see literature through the decades—like Death Be Not Proud—take on the question of how to balance art and science in practicing medicine and what might determine what we would call “good medicine.” Countless examples shape how we, as a culture, think about and make sense of cancer. And at the forefront of all cancer genres is the personal anecdote: the story of experiencing cancer either firsthand or through a family member or friend. Malignant: How Cancer Becomes Us, by S. Lochlann Jain, takes the jumbled milieu of medicine, anthropology, culture, and history and tells us how we (broadly defined) think about cancer through the lens of her experience with it.
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Justin Sirois
  • Date Published September 2009
  • ISBN-13 978-0982081334
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 60pp
  • Price $8.00
  • Review by John Madera
Excerpted from the novel Falcons on the Floor, Justin Sirois’s MLKNG SCKLS is ostensibly the story of a road trip across a war-torn landscape. Actually, these aren’t excerpts but excised texts, deleted Word documents from narrator Salim Abid’s laptop intended for the novel Abid wrote while escaping from Fallujah to Ramadi with his friend Khalil. Salim’s epistolary accounts are composed on his laptop and are sectioned off by how much remaining battery power his laptop has. It’s a striking metafictional device that evocatively suggests that time may also be literally running out for Salim and Khalil. As Salim’s laptop’s battery power percentage decreases, the characters’ uncertainty increases. At any moment, you think that Salim will get the pop-up balloon saying: “Low Battery: You should change your battery or switch to outlet power immediately to keep from losing your work.”
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