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Book Reviews by Title - P (74)

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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Brynn Saito
  • Date Published March 2013
  • ISBN-13 9781597097161
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 85pp
  • Price $16.95
  • Review by Theresé Samson Wenham
In her debut collection, The Palace of Contemplating Departure, Brynn Saito carries uncertainties and measures them out against the known and the unknown. Saito finds an enthralling voice for complex emotions about race, war, identity, scars, ghosts, family, and suffering. Her undeniable cultural identity is woven through the poems. Her parents are Japanese American and Korean American; their stories, of life during a time when being Asian was a liability in America, are retold here, while Saito’s own stories predominate throughout. She lets us get to know her in an equivocal way and then leaves us with a light hold of attachment and a fierce curiosity about meaning and significance.
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  • Book Type Stories
  • by Margot Singer
  • Date Published 2007
  • ISBN-13 0820330000
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 213pp
  • Price $24.95
  • Review by James Menter
The nine linked stories in this collection follow Susan Stern, a New York City photo journalist who often finds herself operating between two lives. The life she leads in the U.S. has its problems, relationships mostly, but she does all right. Her personal and familial ties to Israel and the Middle East, however, provide a much richer source for conflict. Bombs in Haifa, buzzing helicopters, border patrol violence, a massacre in Palestine–these events are merely background noise compared to the nuanced consideration of the personal lives and family history deeply imbedded within this chaos.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Edythe Haendel Schwartz
  • Date Published December 2012
  • ISBN-13 978-1-936419-14-2
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 72pp
  • Price $14.95
  • Review by Alyse Bensel
Edythe Haendel Schwartz skillfully employs ekphrastic poetry in her second collection, A Palette of Leaves. Through describing and responding to artists and their art—conception, process, and result—Haendel Schwartz focuses on the interplay of art forms in the face of tragedy, emphasizing a need for the written and the visual to interact. Divided into three substantial sections, the collection reads as events always in the middle of an action, adhering to process and memory rather than finality. While the mostly narrative forms vary from neatly organized, consistent lines to ones swaying across the page, these poems remain closely tied to the tangible things held onto through life.
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  • Book Type Novel
  • by W.B. Garvey
  • Date Published August 2009
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9822294-1-5
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 320pp
  • Price $26.95
  • Review by Christina Hall
This microscopic look at France’s attempt to join two different parts of the world through outside labor is done in an honest and unbiased way through the two very different characters of Thomas and Byron. W.B. Garvey, the author of this climatic and colorful novel, writes with a straightforward and no-games-played style that evokes as broad a spectrum of emotion as the music Garvey is famous for playing on his violin. In his novel, Panama Fever, Garvey details the beginning stages of what we now know as the Panama Canal, enriching the pages with truthful character and landscape settings.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Nate Slawson
  • Date Published November 2011
  • ISBN-13 978-1-936919-07-9
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 128pp
  • Price $16.00
  • Review by Gina Myers
In Panic Attack, USA, the debut collection of poetry by Nate Slawson, the poems rush full speed with wounded but open hearts into the wild and unpredictable future. “I call my heart Megaphone,” a speaker claims in the poem “July 4,” “because I sometimes feel / epic when I feel / with my complete circulatory / system.” Each poem in the collection seems to have speakers with these megaphone hearts, speakers who feel epic when feeling, who have the volume cranked to eleven 24/7.
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  • Book Type Anthology compiled and edited
  • by Travis Kurowski
  • Date Published August 2013
  • ISBN-13 978-0984040575
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 431pp
  • Price $29.95
  • Review by Kirsten McIlvenna
In an opening piece (originally written in 2008) in Paper Dreams, Jill Allyn Rosser gives us “Reasons for Creating a New Literary Magazine,” beginning with, “There probably hasn’t been a new one created in the past six-and-a-half days.” Through this sarcastic piece, Rosser actually lists many reasons why you shouldn’t begin a new magazine. Among my favorites is, “There are serious, good, seriously good writers whose work is being completely ignored, and you are so nattily optimistic as to believe that literate people are going to read them in your new Yet Another Literary Magazine when they already have piles and unread piles of them . . .” Clearly, literary magazines are cropping up everywhere. And while there is an abundance of them, they are important in the literary culture.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Chad Sweeney
  • Date Published October 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-1-882295-82-1
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 72pp
  • Price $15.95
  • Review by Alissa Fleck
Chad Sweeney’s Parable of Hide and Seek reads like the experience of stepping into someone else’s bizarre but magnificently imaginative dreamworld. In Sweeney’s world, deserts have doors and rats swim to the sun, calling to mind a surrealist painting. There exists also a prevailing wariness about the deceptive nature of cities, and the oddness of various geographical landscapes, which can be paralleled only in the absurdity of language.
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  • Book Type Stories
  • by Jesse Ball
  • Date Published 2008
  • Format Pamphlet
  • Pages 72pp
  • Price $5.00
  • Review by Brian Foley
Kafkaesque is a term that is passed off superfluously in today’s impalpable literary landscape. However, if there is one author that would be a suitable to such an intricate title, poet and author Jesse Ball would be a likely candidate. This is by no means meant as a reduction. The author of a prize winning collection of poetry (March Book) and a stirring novel (Samedi the Deafness), Ball’s prolific output, as well as his command over his singular voice, often lead him astray from Kafka’s parochial table. Yet one has little doubt his newest collection, Parables and Lies, is indebted, if not a conscious tribute, to the short works of the Czechian master.
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Sylvia Montgomery Shaw
  • Date Published April 2012
  • ISBN-13 978-0877853411
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 304pp
  • Price $15.95
  • Review by Mantra Roy
In Paradise Misplaced: Mexican Eden Trilogy, Book I, Sylvia Montgomery Shaw invites readers to a world of Mexican upper class etiquette, power, intrigue, romance, passion, murder, and yearning for forgiveness. In the book’s opening pages, the reclusive patriarch of the Nyman family, General Lucio Nyman Berquist, is found murdered. From then on, readers will find it impossible to set the book aside, through the trial of the general’s youngest priest-son, Samuel, to the entrance of the dashing Captain Benjamin Nyman Vizcarra—Samuel’s twin—and his incarceration in the premeditated murder of their father. The pace at which the events accelerate and the way the attractive characters present themselves—the three sons of the deceased, the estranged widow, the only daughter, all impressive in their nobility and grandeur—grab readers’ attention and curiosity. When Benjamin attacks his beautiful American wife, Isabel, in his cell for cheating on him and his family, readers will be eager to learn about the relationship of the “Gringo” with the Nyman family, the wealthiest in Mexico, in the first decade of the twentieth century.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Suzanne Burns
  • Date Published October 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-1-66964-046-0
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 78pp
  • Price $16
  • Review by Sima Rabinowitz
BlazeVOX’s tagline is “publisher of weird little books,” and The Paris Poems qualifies, beginning with the dedication: “This book is equally dedicated to my husband and traveling partner, my parents, Victor Hugo, and the French macaron.” But, who isn’t captivated by the allure of Paris? (“Always arrive in Paris / on a Sunday afternoon / the skeleton of this fastened city / will become your bones”). Who can forget that Paris has given us some of the most memorable of artistic characters, stories we can never relive or truly adequately duplicate? (“Paris can never be our poem / it belongs to / Gertrude Stein and Alice B. / Henry and Anaïs / the filaments of a million lights / totemic in the tourists’ eyes”). Who doesn’t know that Paris is fashion central? (“Admit / it was a little sadistic / that 249 mile jaunt from / farm country / into history / the soles of your shoes / diffusing the gold medallions of dawn,” from the poem about Louis Vuitton). Who doesn’t long for the patisseries of Paris? (“Pledging my loyalty / like an immigrant seeking citizenship / I drank a cup of chocolate chaud / in a dessert house / steps from where Marie Antoinette / lost her head.”)Who doesn’t believe that Paris is about romance? (“Paris makes you want a man / who understands how to wear a scarf”). Who doesn’t realize that Paris is overrated? (“Most people fly to Paris to see the Louvre / between you and me / Mona Lisa isn’t that pretty / really”). Who doesn’t wish for (nationless) salvation?
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