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Book Reviews by Title - P (80)

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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Sergio Chejfec
  • Translated From Spanish
  • by Heather Cleary
  • Date Published June 2012
  • ISBN-13 978-1-934824-39-9
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 227pp
  • Price $13.95
  • Review by Olive Mullet
The Planets, by Argentinian-born writer Sergio Chejfec, is a go-with-the-flow novel that blends the characters walking the streets of Buenos Aires with a contemplation of several subjects like dreams, friendship, memory, and the mysteries in life. What little plot there is involves a friendship between M and the narrator. M is an innocent during the turbulent time of Argentinian political abductions and executions. Living next to the train tracks, M is abducted, disappears, and then is presumably killed by an explosion, which the narrator hears.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Diana Arterian
  • Date Published October 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9990049-0-6
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 180pp
  • Price $17.00
  • Review by Katy Haas

Diana Arterian presents a force of nature in her debut, full-length poetry collection Playing Monster :: Seiche. Formed after its namesake, seiche, the book plows ahead, a standing wave, a constant, nonbreaking push forward. Throughout the pages, Arterian writes with insight and honesty while weaving together the story of her family’s abuse at the hands of her father, and a period of her mother’s life in which strange men suddenly appeared with the sole goal of threatening her.

  • Subtitle A Memoir
  • Image Image
  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Sharon Harrigan
  • Date Published October 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-1-61248-210-1
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 240pp
  • Price $16.95
  • Review by Valerie Wieland

Parents can be strange and dichotomous creatures, and delving into their lives doesn’t always give us answers we expect. Sharon Harrigan, who teaches memoir writing at WriterHouse in Charlottesville, Virginia, discovered this when she set out to learn more about her father, Jerry. She compiled the results in her first book Playing with Dynamite: A Memoir.

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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Jericho Brown
  • Date Published October 2008
  • ISBN-13 978-1-930974-79-1
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 69pp
  • Price $14.00
  • Review by Wayne Johns
The epigraph from Prince Rogers Nelson (“The beautiful ones always smash the picture”) provides a succinct introduction to the territory Brown mines throughout Please; namely, the intersection of violence and desire. For those who may not recognize his full given name, Prince Rogers Nelson is better known simply as Prince (a.k.a. The Artist Formerly Known As…). It should come as no surprise, given the choice of epigraph, that music is one of the book’s central motifs.
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  • Book Type Art/Popular Culture
  • by Nick Zinner, Zachary Lipez, Stacy Wakefield
  • Date Published August 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-1-936070-62-6
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 150pp
  • Price $15.95
  • Review by Gina Myers
Please Take Me Off the Guest List is a collaboration between three people: Nick Zinner, of the band Yeah Yeah Yeahs, provides the photographs; Zachary Lipez, of the band Freshkills, provides the essays; and Stacy Wakefield, former design director of Artforum, pulls it all together into a wonderfully designed object. It has already been noted elsewhere how rare it is for the book’s designer to have her name on the cover, but here it is earned. Zinner’s photographs and Wakefield’s design are the true highlights of this collection, which should appeal to anyone interested in book arts. Unfortunately, Lipez’s essays do not measure up to the quality of the photographs and the quality of the design elements.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Joe Weil
  • Date Published August 2009
  • ISBN-13 978-1-935520-10-8
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 99pp
  • Price $14.95
  • Review by Thomas Hubbard
Here is a collection of poems for hard times. The first section, "There Goes the Neighborhood," re-examines life's past warts and pimples. Weil's poem, "In My Neighborhood, Everyone Almost Wins the Lottery" looks at where he grew up and says,
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  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Patrice Melnick
  • Date Published June 2012
  • ISBN-13 978-0980208146
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 150pp
  • Price $16.00
  • Review by Courtney McDermott
Patrice Melnick’s memoir is a dance with language. Po-boy Contraband is a series of mini essays that outlines Melnick’s diagnosis with HIV and her journey to reclaim her life through music, writing, and relationships. The literary dance she creates is quick and jarring in the opening section “Finding Out,” sweeping us through the wilderness of Africa, where Melnick served as a Peace Corps volunteer in the late ’80s and where she contracted the virus. Characters pop up and out of the essays like soap bubbles, never reoccurring in later scenes—a nod to the flimsiness of relationships but also, at times, unsatisfying to the reader. Her relationship to music has the strongest hold in this book, so I more easily remember the album she listens to in DC when she discovers she’s HIV-positive than the friends she has in Africa.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by François Villon
  • Translated From French
  • by David Georgi
  • Date Published December 2012
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8101-2878-1
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 304pp
  • Price $21.95
  • Review by Patrick James Dunagan
I’ve found more often than not among poetry fans the myth of Villon the “criminal poet” usually exists far in advance of any experience reading the actual work. Much of this is a result of the general lackadaisical attention given in our day and age to searching out older texts on our own to enlarge our reading. We tend to hear from others more than discover for ourselves, taking what we hear as valid evidence rather than looking for ourselves. Books such as this one are needed opportunities to rectify this behavior.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Robert Lax
  • Date Published November 2013
  • ISBN-13 978-1-933517-76-6
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 353pp
  • Price $25.00
  • Review by Elizabeth O'Brien
Poems (1962-1997), a new collection from Wave Books, presents 35 years’ worth of work from avant-garde poet Robert Lax. An enigma even in the weird world of poetry, Lax (1915-2000) was educated at Columbia University, where he met lifelong friend Thomas Merton and studied with poet Mark Van Doren. He served over the years as a critic, editor, and writer for TIME, Parade, and The New Yorker, among other publications, although he identified himself as a poet first and foremost. As a young man, he spent a season traveling through Canada with the Cristiani family circus, which eventually led to his first book of poetry, The Circus of the Sun.
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  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by George Steiner
  • Date Published November 2011
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8112-1945-7
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 192pp
  • Price $24.95
  • Review by Patrick James Dunagan
Polymath George Steiner offers up an essay that will, in all likelihood, either send readers into the library stacks with a long list of sources for further reading or drive them away from finishing his text. There are instances here where on a single page, no less than ten names from a diverse range of languages and eras throughout Western thought are bandied about as if Steiner were relaying a conversation with a young child or a walk he takes to the park every day. It’s most likely to be found either hopelessly intimidating or a joke, depending on the temperament of the reader.
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