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Book Reviews by Title - M (111)

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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Seth Berg
  • Date Published July 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-0615357171
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 92pp
  • Price $12.00
  • Review by H.V. Cramond
The mind is a smelly heap of compost comprising our greatest hopes, delusions and sexual fantasies about robots. We explain its function with analogies to computers or other machines, trying to impose a structure on a ghost. So when our bodies and minds start to fail, we panic. We grope about in the dark for a user's manual, a crossword puzzle or anti-depressant that will put our brains in the order that we suppose it should have. Seth Berg explores this dark space in his first book of poems, Muted Lines from Someone Else's Memory.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Erika Meitner
  • Date Published February 2011
  • ISBN-13 978-1-934695-23-4
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 98pp
  • Price $17.00
  • Review by Stephanie Burns
Erika Meitner's Makeshift Instructions for Vigilant Girls begins with sexual awakening and its inherent perils and ends just short of marriage, its poems trading in both nostalgia and uncertainty. Meitner deftly tackles lust, harassment, dating, death, alien abduction and the ever-important life skill that is filling out a form, all while rendering her images in clear and unique ways.
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  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Andrei Guruianu
  • Date Published November 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-0932412966
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 124pp
  • Review by Ann Beman
Soccer balls, crusty heels of bread, Grandmother’s hands, fishing poles. Andrei Guruianu’s Metal and Plum: A Memoir is strewn with such images, such scraps—scraps of metal, scraps of food, red brick, fence posts, gypsy tunes, and scraps of words, language, and memory.
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  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Carl Klaus
  • Date Published September 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-1587299131
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 147pp
  • Price $19.95
  • Review by Ellen Sprague
If personal essays are supposed to be nonfiction, then how can essayist and teacher Carl Klaus begin a scholarly book of essays with the following premise?
  • Subtitle and Other Tales
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  • Book Type Stories
  • by Alex Rose
  • Date Published October 2007
  • ISBN-13 978-0978910310Paperb
  • Review by Matt Bell
Alex Rose’s The Musical Illusionist is a work of ambitious fantasy, written not as a novel or a collection of stories but as a guide to the myth-like Library of Tangents, “an archive not of history but of possibility.” These fictions (which are not properly stories, with the possible exception of the excellent title piece) take the form of articles describing the Library’s many exhibitions, including fantastical cultures, books, paintings, numerous foreign lands, even psychological disorders and microorganisms. Each entry is written so credibly that disorientation and disbelief go hand in hand, as the convincing prose and accompanying diagrams, photos, and maps seek to stun the reader into believing in even the most outlandish of exhibits.
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Mariah K. Young
  • Date Published November 2012
  • ISBN-13 978-1-59714-203-8
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 216pp
  • Price $15.00
  • Review by Trena Machado
Masha’allah and Other Stories by Mariah K. Young, recipient of the James D. Houston Award, is a book of nine short stories that take place in the Bay Area of California. Young, enlivened by the energy and spirit of the streets, uses an empathic voice to imagine the lives of those around her living in financial insecurity as they cobble together a living with various gigs, pot drop-offs, random parties to bartend, limo drivers with pick-ups, men meeting in clusters to be day laborers. She writes about those trapped and pushing against economic restraints: people induced to come to America under false promises by their own countrymen, minorities finding ways to use their talents to catch the rung up out of what they were born into, immigrants constructing a forged identity to become citizens, a teenage girl who escapes the life of her parents’ illegal operation to breed dogs for dog fighting. Young’s empathic voice lets us feel the humanity of the characters beyond class and ethnicity . . . “they are us.” Even though it may not be their voice and the way they would express their experiences, or even their ethos, we are given a path to cross over to them.
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Carissa Halston
  • Date Published June 2012
  • ISBN-13 978-0984739950
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 122pp
  • Price $14.00
  • Review by Karen Seehaus Papson
Carissa Halston was born in the wrong time. Her careful, precise use of language and acute awareness of the nuances in each painstakingly chosen word seem like attributes more suited to a woman from Emily Dickinson’s era. Yet, Halston’s novella The Mere Weight of Words, first and foremost a tale of language, is rooted in today’s world through her examination of how casually words can be used. Indeed, words are tossed, sometimes thrown, by those closest to Meredith, the book’s protagonist. In response, Meredith is something of a solitary person. In fact, she works to maintain this self-imposed isolation as she regularly uses her own deep knowledge of language to expand the chasm between herself and the people in her life. Readers will spend much of their time alone with Meredith as she grapples with her numerous demons.
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  • Book Type Novel
  • by Michael Pritchett
  • Date Published November 2007
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 416pp
  • Price $24.95
  • Review by Cyan James
Meriwether Lewis can’t achieve death, much less the Northwest Passage. And his modern counterpart, Bill Lewis, can’t connect with himself, let alone the students he’s trying to instruct. Bill is simply stymied by his own life, and the suicidal end of Meriwether’s.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Matthea Harvey
  • Date Published October 2007
  • ISBN-13 978-1555974800
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 80pp
  • Price $14.00
  • Review by Roy Wang
Like the mysterious dominoes that grace the cover suggest, Matthea Harvey’s poetry collection Modern Life deals surprise and gambles sentiment, tossing out disjointed associations with such daring that only the most careful reading will unravel the whole chain of implication. Harvey puts her strongest, most readable poems in the center, creating a core of potential energy to propel the reader through the peculiar, disorienting landscapes still to come. The strategy pays off, giving the book both symmetry and a needed respite from her more difficult works.
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  • Book Type Novel
  • by John Darnielle
  • Date Published April 2008
  • ISBN-13 978-0826428998
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 144pp
  • Price $10.95
  • Review by Matt Bell
As the singer and songwriter of the indie rock band The Mountain Goats, John Darnielle has often been called a “literary” rocker, thanks to the great lyrics contained in the approximately four hundred songs produced by that band. Whether listening to lo-fi productions of his earlier career or the more musically complex John Vanderslice-produced records he’s done with 4AD, the focus of Darnielle’s fans has always been on his lyrics and the stories contained within. Now he’s stepped off the stage and sat down at the typewriter to deliver Master of Reality, his first novel and a stunning piece of rock criticism and appreciation.
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