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Book Reviews by Title - M (111)

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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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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Gina Myers
  • Date Published August 2009
  • ISBN-13 978-0-578-02739-5
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 74pp
  • Price $15.00
  • Review by Cynthia Reeser
Aside from the eye catching distressed-look cover design of Gina Myers's new poetry collection, A Model Year, one of the endorsement blurbs on the back cover snared my attention. The blurb wherein critically acclaimed poet Joseph Lease assigns to Myers work a "New York school sprezzetura" informed my reading of Myers's collection, which is one good reason I usually forego the reading of such matter until after my initial opinion has been formed. Not so this time.
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Joan Aiken
  • Date Published April 2011
  • ISBN-13 978-1-931520-74-4
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 203pp
  • Price $24.00
  • Review by Laura Pryor
British author Joan Aiken died in 2004, leaving behind a huge volume of work, including over a hundred books. She began with short stories, and this collection of nineteen tales is a fun introduction to Aiken’s quirky, imaginative style. The word “tale” is particularly apt for these stories; many of them read like old folk tales handed down through generations.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Kate Hanson Foster
  • Date Published May 2011
  • ISBN-13 978-0931507274
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 64pp
  • Price $15.00
  • Review by Renee Emerson
Mid Drift is Kate Hanson Foster’s first book of poems. Written in free verse, the poems are lyrical, dark as they plunge into snapshot memories of her past, and powerful. The poems take place in the city, at night, circling images of water, particularly of rivers, and the narrative, though only seen in glimpses, reveals a betrayal, an affair. Lowell is a recognized influence, in the last poem “Dear Lowell,” where the speaker claims, unconvincingly, to plan to leave the place she has written about so meticulously in poem after poem. The line in “Mill City,” “My mind is filthy with old, dear secrets” encapsulates the book—the speaker simultaneously holds the past “dear” yet recognizes it as “filthy.”
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Timothy McBride
  • Date Published December 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8101-2675-6
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 96pp
  • Price $15.95
  • Review by Renee Emerson
The Manageable Cold, Timothy McBride’s first poetry collection, is perfect to read in the midst of a hard winter. I was surprised to see that this was only his first book, since McBride writes with a confidence and skill that one would not expect from a new poet. McBride is not afraid to experiment with form, and the book includes forms ranging from free verse to villanelle to sonnet. He explores the theme of “manageable cold” through the physical coldness of winter, country life, relationships, and the bleak hardships of his father’s favorite sport, boxing.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Caroline Bergvall
  • Date Published January 2011
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9822645-8-4
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 164pp
  • Price $14.95
  • Review by Sima Rabinowitz
Bergvall’s bio is worth reading before engaging with Meddle English, and I say engaging (rather than reading) because this isn’t a book one reads in a traditional sense, but more like a book to be considered. Here’s the first paragraph of the poet’s page-long bio:
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Vincent Standley
  • Date Published August 2011
  • ISBN-13 978-0983163343
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 189pp
  • Price $18.00
  • Review by J. A. Tyler
A Mortal Affect, Vincent Standley’s debut novel and the latest release from Calamari Press, is all about creating a world, inventing a vocabulary, and then approaching a proposed conundrum of what it would be like to have a portion of the world immortal, and a portion not. Full of Dante-esque circles of assigned living, painted blue welfare blocs of housing, Rooters (the mortal creatures that populate the novel), and Malkings (the immortals who vie for appropriate living throughout A Mortal Affect), this is a book that attempts to grow a universe, roots and all, in a mere two hundred pages:
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Helen Oyeyemi
  • Date Published September 2011
  • ISBN-13 978-1-59448-807-8
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 324pp
  • Price $25.95
  • Review by Olive Mullet
For those familiar with the French folktale “Bluebeard,” especially in its various versions such as the British “Mr. Fox” and “Fitcher’s Bird,” Helen Oyeyemi’s novel Mr. Fox will delight. Even if you are not familiar with these other versions, you get them in this novel. You only need to love fairy tale convolutions, especially when blended with real-life situations.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Nicole Cooley
  • Date Published November 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-1-88295-83-8
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 78pp
  • Price $15.95
  • Review by Sima Rabinowitz
Milk Dress has many strengths, exhibiting great poetic control and elegance, but no aspect of the book is more interesting to me than Cooley’s successful linking of “world events” and “bodily/personal events,” her experience of pregnancy, birth, motherhood, illness, loss and birth (rebirth?) again “against” (“Write against narrative” she begins in “Homeland Security,” the opening poem) the events of 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, the daily news, the threat of global disaster. “Write against blankness,” she instructs herself, and, by implication, simultaneously instructs us: read against blankness (“white, white, white”), the empty post-terrorist sky; the empty post-pregnancy crib; the unturned (pre-and-post reading) page.
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