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Book Reviews by Title - M (109)

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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Mark Spencer
  • Date Published October 2012
  • ISBN-13 978-1-59948-374-0
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 156pp
  • Price $12.95
  • Review by Patricia Contino
Future Hall of Fame pitchers Tom Glavine and Greg Maddox once lamented in a classic Nike TV spot that “chicks dig the long ball.” According to Mark Spencer, the charms of an overweight, balding pro wrestler with “big bags under his eyes . . . like miniature pot bellies” are considerable—not to mention complicated. The Masked Demon chronicles in entertaining mock-epic fashion the tribulations of Daryl Lee, aka Samson, Bible Bob, and Masked Demon. He is literally at the crossroads of his career and triple-secret life.
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  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Mary Ruefle
  • Date Published August 2012
  • ISBN-13 978-1-933517-57-5
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 332pp
  • Price $25.00
  • Review by Cheryl Wright-Watkins
In 1994, Vermont College of Fine Arts hired Mary Ruefle to teach poetry to graduate students in their low-residency writing program. A reluctant public speaker, she was terrified to learn that the job would require her to give biannual standing lectures, and she responded by writing out her lectures, which she then read aloud to students. It turns out that Ruefle’s discomfort with public speaking is a gift to readers, for this book is the collection of those written lectures. However, to relegate the book to that narrow definition would be a mistake. Ruefle’s lectures are thoughtful, thought-provoking essays about art, literature, the moon, life, love, language, and philosophy viewed from the perspective of a wise poet who prefers asking questions to making proclamations.
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Amber Sparks
  • Date Published October 2012
  • ISBN-13 978-0983422877
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 156pp
  • Price $12.00
  • Review by Jodi Paloni
Amber Sparks has sloughed off all constraints on imagination to blend story with science, fabulism with deep truths, narrative prose with language play—lists, boxing-match transcripts, poetics—but who can think about form when reading these shorts? Instead, think: Andrea Barrett meets Karen Russell meets Kurt Vonnegut to sustain bullying in the chemistry lab, preach scantily-dressed on the streets, trip up to heaven, or sink inside the rotting tissue of a body. In Sparks’s fictional world, Death is just a regular guy who “looked kind of like a J. Crew model,” a disenchanted dictator longs for the life of an American cowboy and practices on his people, a bathtub splurges up a new configuration of family, and wives turn into animals leaving “the husbands to worry, most of all, that their wives will finally fly or crawl or swim away, untethered from the promises that only humans make or keep.” This is the kind of thing you’re in for with Sparks in charge of the page.
  • Subtitle Notebooks
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Charles Simic
  • Date Published September 2008
  • ISBN-13 978-1931337403
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 128pp
  • Price $14.00
  • Review by Rav Grewal-Kök
The Monster Loves His Labyrinth will be one of the final titles published by Ausable Press, whose ten-year run as an independent poetry house ends in 2009, in a merger with Copper Canyon. It is an attractive volume, from the Varujan Boghosian collage on its front cover, to the reproduction of Saul Steinberg’s sketch of Charles Simic on the back. Inside is a selection of undated memories, aphorisms, observations, fragments and dreams from Simic’s notebooks. The entries afford us a glimpse of Simic’s preoccupations and passions, in a more elemental form than in his finished poems. There are moments of rare beauty and insight throughout.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Genine Lentine
  • Date Published January 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-1934832226
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 70pp
  • Price $10
  • Review by John Findura
Reading Genine Lentine’s collection is like drinking deeply after a hike through the desert: refreshing and shocking in the way you didn’t realize how much you needed it until you had it. From concrete poetry to lines shaped likes the ripples of swords cutting through the air, Lentine manages to create an immediate and personal world within the pages.
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  • Book Type Novel
  • by Silvio Sirias
  • Date Published September 2009
  • ISBN-13 978-1558855922
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 240pp
  • Price $15.95
  • Review by Elizabeth Townsend
This was a book where the narrator expressly stated that he wanted to tell the story of the last moments of Adela Rugama’s life. For some reason I had it in my head that this was going to be a murder mystery and was a bit surprised when I found out it wasn’t. So within the first couple of chapters the reader knows Adela Rugama is dead, knows who did it, and also has a vague idea of the reason behind her murder. Even though there was no mystery to figure out, the book kept my attention. I was impressed with the way a seemingly simple story about a woman who was murdered kept me reading longer than I intended.
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Tara Laskowski
  • Date Published January 2012
  • ISBN-13 978-0983792840
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 87pp
  • Price $10.00
  • Review by Karen Seehaus Papson
When confronted with an awkward situation that falls outside the bounds of social etiquette, modern women and men may find themselves in a quandary over what should be done. Never fear, etiquette devotees, for a new volume has explored this uncharted territory and created a guide for those hapless sailors who find themselves adrift in such unfriendly waters. From adultery and infertility to illiteracy and obesity, Tara Laskowski has carefully documented the dos and don’ts for these sticky circumstances in Modern Manners for Your Inner Demons. How fortunate for the current generation to have such wisdom readily available! Emily Post never addressed the faux pas to avoid when choosing to elope. Miss Manners never opined on how to scout a location when engaging in recreational arson. And neither one discussed the missteps likely to occur when conversing with soon-to-be victims of homicide. In short, this is a necessary volume for the considerate psychotics and kindly sociopaths among us—and for those of us who are in search of an amusing read.
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Jerome Gold
  • Date Published February 2013
  • ISBN-13 978-1936364022
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 270pp
  • Price $16.95
  • Review by Lydia Pyne
The Moral Life of Soldiers is a collection of five stories (one novella-length) and a novel that fans of author Jerome Gold might recognize from previously published collections, such as Of Great Spaces and Prisoners. This collection is told from the perspective of an older soldier, Paul Donaldson, taking stock of his life and his experiences in the Vietnam War. The organization of the stories speaks to Jerome Gold’s commitment to the practical means of arranging the pieces—favoring a series of myopic encounters of ambiguous moral distinction rather than a longue durée quasi-biographical story of his main character.
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  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Samantha Irby
  • Date Published September 2013
  • ISBN-13 9780988480421
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 224pp
  • Price $15.95
  • Review by Kirsten McIlvenna
When I received my copy of Meaty at an event for the ALA conference, I knew I was in for a different kind of reading experience. She signed my copy with fair warning that she likes writing dirty messages: “your vagina smells amazing. love, Samantha.” This is just a small sampling of the type of writing that you’ll see in her essays. Creator of the blog “Bitches Gotta Eat,” Samantha Irby tells it like it is, whether through the gritty details of her Crohn’s disease or through her unfiltered rantings of men and sex. It is written very informally, following the aesthetic of her blog, and inviting readers in as if Irby is personally conveying her stories and thoughts to them.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Elizabeth Howort, Dawn Gorman, Leslie LaChance, Janlori Goldman
  • Date Published October 2013
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9766405-8-5
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 69pp
  • Price $16.00
  • Review by Andrea Dulberger
The voices of four women poets are gathered in one place in the beautifully designed collection Mend & Hone. The title’s pungent phrase, suggesting the acts of both repairing and sharpening, intrigued me, as did a question asked on the back cover by the poet D. Nurkse: “How do we make ourselves at home on a stone falling through space?” All four writers in this book seem engaged in the work of finding and making a place for their lives, both within experiences of the physical/natural world and the world of human interactions.
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