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Book Reviews by Title - O (44)

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  • Book Type Anthology Edited
  • by Jane Ormerod, Thomas Fucaloro, David Lawton, George Wallace, Aimee Herman, Mary McLaughlin Slechta
  • Date Published August 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9981440-2-3
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 167pp
  • Price $19.00
  • Review by Valerie Wieland

I figure most people who read book reviews are also writers. So let’s dig right into David Lawton’s interview with Pulitzer Prize winner Paul Harding, featured in a new anthology called The Other Side of Violet. Harding endured rejections with his first novel, Tinkers, but five years later it was published by a literary press. He was teaching at the time and happened to look online to see who won the Pulitzer. “Honestly, I sort of half fainted—‘swooned’ would not be inaccurate—onto the floor of the crummy grad student apartment I was staying in. Totally surreal,” he says.

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  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Sven Birkerts
  • Date Published September 2011
  • ISBN-13 978-1555975937
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 192pp
  • Price $15.00
  • Review by Ann Beman
We’re walking. We’re walking. Like “those colored paddles and banners (the new tourist universal)” that tour guides wield to direct their charges’ attention, Sven Birkerts holds up a metaphorical banner to keep us following along. When he wanders, it is not without direction. Invoking Robert Frost’s diverging road: “This morning, going against all convention, I turned right instead of left and took my circuit…in reverse.” The author, one of the country’s foremost literary critics and editor of the literary journal AGNI, links walking with thought: “There is the rhythm, the physics, of walking, the drumbeat of repetition, stride, stride, stride, and then there is the fugue of the walking mind, laid over it, always different, always tied in some way to the panning of the gaze and the eye’s quirky meandering.”
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Matthew Rohrer
  • Date Published May 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-1-940696-40-9
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 248pp
  • Price $18.00
  • Review by Kimberly Ann Priest

If you happened to glance at the number of pages in this manuscript (listed above) you’ll have noticed that it is much longer than your typical book of poems. In fact, The Others is not really a book of poems; it is a thick 4 x 7 paperback that looks very much like a typical novel. Amazon calls it a “gripping, eerie, and hilarious novel-in-verse,” and that description seems about right.

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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by David Rivard
  • Date Published December 2011
  • ISBN-13 978-1-55597-573-9
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 88pp
  • Price $15.00
  • Review by Sima Rabinowitz
What is poetry if not, on some level, the embodiment of otherwise and elsewhere? The life beyond the very line that brings it into existence. The place the words evoke, but where they are a placeholder, so to speak. Poetry’s ability, its obligation, perhaps, to evoke what is not there or what is beyond even the concept of “there.” Rivard is preoccupied with otherwise-ness, with elsewhere-ness: “all those lives & destinations that might have been mine, but weren’t— / because there are two kinds of distance between us—towards, & away.”
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Ander Monson
  • Date Published January 2008
  • ISBN-13 978-1-934832-03-5
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 33pp
  • Price $8.00
  • Review by Matt Bell
In some ways, Ander Monson’s new chapbook Our Aperture finds the writer up to his familiar tricks. Like his fiction and his essays, Monson’s poems are elegiac in mood, mourning the losses of old lovers and dead friends even as they pine for obscure shampoo ingredients and virtual realities. He concentrates his energies on lists of objects and failing technologies, on relics of recent memories, on complaints against the loved ones who once owned and inhabited the things and places that make up a life.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Crystal Curry
  • Date Published October 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-0-97776-985-8
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 94pp
  • Price $14.95
  • Review by Caleb Tankersley
In her first full-length poetry collection, Our Chrome Arms of Gymnasium, Crystal Curry takes a daring and fresh stylistic approach. Chrome Arms displays less of a focus on the cryptic imagery that is popular today, filling that vacuum with a long-lost poetic art: fun. This book was a sheer pleasure to read. While images still exist in the poems, Curry places more emphasis on wordplay and syllables; bouncy and melodic, some of her lines just sound damn cool when read aloud, such as this excerpt from “Cherries”:
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Matthew Salesses
  • Date Published 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9824697-3-6
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 40pp
  • Price $10.00
  • Review by Gina Myers
In Our Island of Epidemics, Matthew Salesses presents a series of fourteen pieces of flash fiction which work together to tell the history of an island of, well, epidemics. On this island, one epidemic follows another and the community suffers collectively. While epidemics of oversensitive hearing, hunger, and farts may not be so appealing, the epidemic of memory loss brought immigrants to the island who “came, after a bout of suffering, to catch the disease and stay.” Other epidemics the island must suffer through include unstoppably growing hearts, bad jokes, insomnia, obsession, unrequited love, magic, lost voices, and talking to animals, to name a few. The narrator writes:
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Leonard Borman
  • Date Published November 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9824584-2-6 (e
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 280pp
  • Price $14.95
  • Review by Alex Myers
Margarita and Alex Haralson are just average Jewish parents. Sixty-somethings, recently retired, they want nothing more than to get some grandchildren, and quick. But their two grown children refuse to cooperate (marijuana usage, potential lesbianism, and other obstacles get in the way of progeny production). So, Margarita and Alex do what, perhaps, any folks would do: they turn to robots. Or, to be more precise, the robots turn to them. Hey, whatever it takes to get some grandchildren!
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Robert Perisic
  • Date Published April 2013
  • ISBN-13 978-1936787050
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 208pp
  • Price $14.00
  • Review by David Breithaupt
What can a novel show us that a textbook might not? Perhaps it can demonstrate how people truly live and breathe in any historical point in time. When I was young, novels like Robert Olen Butler’s Alleys of Eden presented an experience of what the American debacle in Vietnam was like. Richard Wright’s Black Boy revealed a world so alien to me, a Midwestern white boy, that I could hardly believe it was real. The Orphan Master’s Son took me to North Korea. Of course I studied history books in school and on my own, but it was the novels that left an imprint as if they were true memories. They took me to real places.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Robert Fanning
  • Date Published February 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-1-910669-67-9
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 82pp
  • Price $12.00
  • Review by Natalie Tomlin

The word “museum” is usually associated with velvet ropes, alarms, roving guards. As Fanning introduces the word sudden into these carefully executed spaces filled with unfamiliar objects, he invites motion into a static world, redrawing the boundaries of artifact and observation. Though Our Sudden Museum is dedicated to the memory of his father, sister, and brother, and is filled with funny and painfully wrought elegies, unforeseen death reverberates his attention into new, unexpected places. Ultimately, with a broad range of forms and tones, Fanning ushers us into an elevated, enlightened space only reached through profound grief. Fanning's delivery is charged with urgency and grace, since at any moment, the mundane or cherished could be taken away, suspended under glass.

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