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Book Reviews by Title - P (82)

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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Evelyn Posamentier
  • Date Published 2011
  • ISBN-13 978-1907812699
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 48pp
  • Price $8.00
  • Review by Joanna Kurowska
Evelyn Posamentier’s Poland at the Door is a remarkable book. It is a collection of very short poems, the longest being ten lines while most of poems oscillate between four to six lines. The collection’s poetic “I” remains in a room, behind a closed door. She half-expects, half-dreads some visitors. Her short statements help to visualize her surroundings—walls, door, monitors in the hall outside, a broken phone, the weather in- and outdoors, and the luring but never really appearing guests. Longer poems are intertwined with single lines that laconically state “the days of awe” and “the days between” (or either of the two). This gives the impression of the passage of time in an unfamiliar place, reflecting perhaps Posamentier’s time spent in Poland. Occasionally, the “days of awe/days between” are replaced by the exclamation “holy, holy, holy,” which refers either to Poland’s Catholic culture or to the subject’s sense of the world’s sacredness.
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  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Barbara Rylko-Bauer
  • Date Published March 2014
  • ISBN-13 9780806144313
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 416pp
  • Price $26.95
  • Review by Girija Sankar
Every so often one comes across a book so engrossing that, as the truism goes, one can’t put it down. Typically, such books tend to be works of fiction—popular crime thrillers, espionage novels, or summertime beach reads. It’s nice, then, to find a work of nonfiction that takes on a subject matter as grim as the Nazi concentration camps and turns it into an utterly relatable story—like that of a Catholic Polish woman who survived World War II and lived to 100 years of age. A Polish Doctor in the Nazi Camps: My Mother’s Memories of Imprisonment, Immigration, and a Life Remade is anthropologist Barbara Rylko-Bauer’s rendering of Jadwiga Lenartowicz Rylko’s memories of life, both before and after World War II.
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Dario Fo
  • Date Published August 2015
  • ISBN-13 978-1-60945-274-2
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 240pp
  • Price $17.00
  • Review by Olive Mullet
Dario Fo, the 1997 Italian Nobel Laureate for Literature—known for being an actor, playwright, comedian, director, songwriter and political campaigner—has now written his first novel, The Pope’s Daughter, about one of the most infamous ladies in history, Lucrezia Borgia. This novel, which claims to be the real truth, gives another side of Borgia. She will appeal to contemporary women as a real survivor in her turbulent times, but everyone should be able to enjoy the sardonic Greek chorus comments on the machinations of the early popes and dukes ruling Italy during the Renaissance, behavior which has parallels in today’s national and international politics.
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Laurette Folk
  • Date Published June 2014
  • ISBN-13 978-0983066613
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 270pp
  • Price $16.00
  • Review by Patricia Contino
The particulars of a Catholic girlhood have endured through centuries. Friends, enemies, and colleagues never tire of offering unsolicited psychoanalyses of that guilt-laden live, learn, and worship by rote existence. What outsiders will never understand is that abiding by those rules leads—if one is willing—to a freedom they can never appreciate.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Brandon Shimoda
  • Date Published February 2013
  • ISBN-13 978-1-935639-51-0
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 100pp
  • Price $14.95
  • Review by Patrick James Dunagan
Witty to no end, Brandon Shimoda writes smart-ass hipster poems. The title of his latest collection, Portuguese, stems from a first day of first grade childhood teasing incident on the school bus when he was mocked by a “a fourth grader, skinny, with grassy blond hair and the face of a horse” who drawled out “in a squealing voice, Portugueeese, Portugueeese!” Shimoda is not in the least Portuguese. However, the incident not only gives him the title of this collection but clearly shapes the irony and humor that run throughout, along with for better or worse contributing to his larger views regarding humanity. One way or another, the event led as well to his researching “words of Portuguese origin introduced into the Japanese language, mostly by Portuguese Jesuit priests.” The list is a curious wonder in itself, at once as much practical as fanciful: 
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by James Friel
  • Date Published May 2012
  • ISBN-13 978-1936797011
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 252pp
  • Price $16.95
  • Review by Olive Mullet
The “Little Man” and the “Fat Princess,” as children in the spring of 1880, trail a red balloon—a “swollen heart”—across Washington Square. And thus begins James Friel’s The Posthumous Affair, a beautifully written and unique, daring love story. Even the end is a risky stand on the part of the author.
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Will Boast
  • Date Published September 2011
  • ISBN-13 978-1609380427
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 184pp
  • Price $16.00
  • Review by Ryan Wilson
Will Boast’s Power Ballads, winner of the Iowa Award for Short Fiction, can at times feel as layered and as over-produced as its moniker. For one, the book, thematically linking the lives of various musicians, unfolds as a short-story cycle, which by the nature of the form allows a freedom and an unevenness to the storytelling on par with, say, Van Halen post-David Lee Roth.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Matt Mauch
  • Date Published December 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-0982955307
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 100pp
  • Price $13.00
  • Review by Renee Emerson
In Prayer Book, Matt Mauch’s poems are prayers for the simple, everyday things. They are “Prayers to be prayed over French fries, green beans, sausages, the rest,” and “Prayers for those flying solo on jet plans ascending and descending through turbulence reminded of the ghost on a bicycle ghost-riding stairs.”
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Alan Cheuse
  • Date Published March 2015
  • ISBN-13 978-1-941493-00-7
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 392pp
  • Price $15.95
  • Review by Nate Zachar
Prayers for the Living is a sprawling novel, a family epic. Written by the late Alan Cheuse, who was a commentator for NPR, his vast conversational experience is apparent throughout the book, which is told through conversation, narrated by a woman named Minnie Bloch, who chronicles the life of her grandson, Manny, and his joys, his struggles, and his demons.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Maureen A. Sherbondy
  • Date Published March 2008
  • ISBN-13 978-1599481081
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 40pp
  • Price $10.00
  • Review by Roy Wang
One indication that a book is worth reading is the number of notes made in the margins, and I ended up with quite a few scribblings all over the clean, short poems of Maureen A. Sherbondy. Praying at Coffee Shops, with the striking cover image of a Jew praying at the Wailing Wall, suggests it will be about the modern Jew finding her place in the world. While essentially true, the stark image of close-eyed prayer belies the nuance, humor, and worldliness that come through in these poems. Nowhere is this more clearly exemplified than the title poem, whose full name is “Praying at Coffee Shops in the South”:
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