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Book Reviews by Title - O (44)

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  • Book Type Stories
  • by Paul Yoon
  • Date Published April 2009
  • ISBN-13 978-1-932511-70-3
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 270pp
  • Price $15.95
  • Review by Cyan James
The wind. The East China Sea. Time gnawing on the shore. In the eight assured short stories in his first collection, Yoon takes us through fifty years on the fictional Korean island of Solla, where his characters map out lives eroded by warfare and polished by a series of tender passing moments.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Andrea Scarpino
  • Date Published March 2014
  • ISBN-13 978-1597099745
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 80pp
  • Price $17.95
  • Review by Katie Rensch
Once, Then by Andrea Scarpino is a collection of elegies that are caught in the tension of two worlds, the scientific and the spiritual. In attempting to understand the aftermath of loss, Scarpino turns to form, and her lyrical, shortly-woven lines sing. The collection often features the profiles of people, those closest to Scarpino, and also mythic figures such as Persephone and Achilles. What results is a poet deeply engaged with the world.
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  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Binyavanga Wainaina
  • Date Published July 2011
  • ISBN-13 978-1555975913
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 253pp
  • Price $24.00
  • Review by Matthew C. Smith
In One Day I Will Write About This Place, Binyavanga Wainaina fulfills the promise of the title by returning to explore the paths he traveled while coming of age in Kenya and South Africa. Along the way, he traces the birth of his own desire to write down what he was experiencing, developing a complex narrative in which the personal and the public, the psychological and the political, are intertwined, sometimes joined harmoniously and at other times pulling in opposite directions.
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Santiago Vaquera-Vasquez
  • Date Published March 2015
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8263-5573-7
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 136pp
  • Price $18.95
  • Review by Girija Sankar
The characters in Santiago Vaquera-Vasquez’s stories navigate many worlds, literally and figuratively traversing continents, global metropolises, national borders, and epistemic boundaries, all in a quest for that universal human need for belonging and connectedness. In a collection of fourteen stories, Vaquera-Vasquez, an assistant professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of New Mexico, draws the blinds into a sub-culture of Eses, hombres, border crossers, and all things Chicano.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Gretchen Steele Pratt
  • Date Published 2011
  • ISBN-13 978-1-934695-16-6
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 80pp
  • Price $17.00
  • Review by Sima Rabinowitz
Tony Hoagland selected One Island for the 2009 Robert Dana Prize for Poetry, and it’s indisputably a winner of a book. Pratt is a masterful poet, although her effectiveness is—in the happiest of ways—difficult to describe. Exploiting poetry’s most powerful and effective strategies (economy of language; unusual syntactical arrangements; unexpected, but comprehensible, combinations of words and phrases; a heightened sense of sound and rhythm, among them), the poet turns the ordinary into the oddly exceptional and, often, the exceptionally odd. The book’s opening line, for starters: “The past is a humidity.”
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Rebecca Wolff
  • Date Published September 2015
  • ISBN-13 9781940696133
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 176pp
  • Price $18.00
  • Review by Benjamin Champagne
Wolff’s One Morning— sat in my possession in a very raw state. The captivating parts of the poems were laid out and exposed. It was easy to see the mechanics and the utility of every phoneme and word. This is a highly refined piece of work from a woman very much in control of her craft. The level of Rebecca Wolff’s control shines through in the entire piece. There is juxtaposition in each sentence and stanza. “Traveller, / Your journey has been long // and sectional.” Those introductory lines in “Arcadia (et in . . . est)” bear the weight of repetition. They are full of heart and compassion, yet still quite cerebral. There are always dualities to be explored and explained. Wolff demonstrates the relation between the two as often as she can locate it: “By night everything seems impossible // By day, by extension, everything: possible.”
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  • Book Type Stories
  • by Stephanie Johnson
  • Date Published July 2009
  • ISBN-13 978-098215121
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 170pp
  • Price $13.95
  • Review by John Madera
“I try to name the thing we never missed until it was lost, all the things that never stood a chance in this beautiful world.” So ends “My Neighbor Doesn’t Remember Everything She Forgets” from Stephanie Johnson’s debut One of These Things Is Not Like the Others, and it may well serve as a capsule of its concerns: to carefully observe life’s vicissitudes, to spotlight minutiae, to bear witness. The book is filled with internal squalls and domestic squabbles. In story after story, scene after scene, there is Johnson’s unwavering focus, and you can almost see her sharpening her senses.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Simone Muench
  • Date Published February 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-1-932511-79-6
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 96pp
  • Price $14.95
  • Review by Kate Angus
I too am a fan of certain horror films, an admission that seems appropriate in the context of this review not only because the same sentiment is expressed in Simone Muench’s Author’s Note, but also because her third collection, Orange Crush, has much of the same pleasures as the best horror films – images and lines that shine sharp and precise as moonlight on knives, a simultaneous yearning for and horror at the body and its desires, a voluptuous darkness, and – almost everywhere – lost girls.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Matthew Henriksen
  • Date Published February 2011
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9844752-2-3
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 108pp
  • Price $14.95
  • Review by Patrick James Dunagan
Matthew Henriksen’s poems are fun to read. They aren’t elaborate constructions, even when concerned with painful circumstances or disturbing displays of psychological torment, neither are they simple in statement or form. Tony Tost’s blurb mentions T.S. Eliot and Gram Parsons. This works as Henriksen is of a generation for whom turning from reading Eliot to listening to Parsons without missing a beat comes easily. (Parsons, after all is very much in Eliot’s lineage—wealthy white and southern, Parsons was a musical star who readily mixed country with rock, his personal setbacks and limitations reflected by his art and life.) Henriksen, however, is not merely deploying a grab bag of insights he picked up from the college dormitory. So, while there’s a bit of looseness deployed under cover of freehanded collage in these poems, Henriksen surprises as being far subtler a poet than to boringly lay everything straight out.
  • Subtitle The Complete First Edition
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Jacob & Wilhelm Grimm
  • Translated From German
  • by Jack Zipes
  • Date Published October 2014
  • ISBN-13 978-0980644708
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 568pp
  • Price $35.00
  • Review by Patricia Contino
Along with Shakespeare, Tolstoy, Twain, and Anonymous, the authors of this anthology are among the most recognized in literature. Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm were also preservationists, transcribing fairy tales verbally passed down from generation to the next. With book in hand—something increasingly common during the course of the nineteenth century—the “Story Teller” no longer had to rely on memory. Since their publication in 1812, these stories found their way into other narrative forms including visual and/or animated art, music, opera, ballet, and film. Artists from Walter Crane to children sitting at the kitchen table have drawn Rumpelstiltskin, Snow White, and Rapunzel.
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