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Book Reviews by Title - S (143)

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  • Book Type Hardcover
  • by Jane Gardam
  • Date Published June 2014
  • ISBN-13 978-1-60945-199-8
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 476pp
  • Price $26.95
  • Review by Olive Mullet
The Stories of Jane Gardam will delight Gardam’s fans, who may find something new here. Unlike Gardam’s most famous novel Old Filth, but not unlike the ending of the third book in her trilogy Last Friends, these stories explore what may not be real. They also hold the element of mystery, fantasy, and surprise endings. Spanning from 1977 to 2007, these stories give a broader overview of Gardam’s talents, her favorite themes very visible.
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Elena Ferrante
  • Date Published September 2013
  • ISBN-13 978-1-60945-134-9
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 480pp
  • Price $18.00
  • Review by Wendy Breuer
The Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrante is the second volume of a trilogy. It is a novel of a complex friendship between two women, Lenú and Lila, that goes forward with intellectual intimacy, competition, loyalty, anger, and excruciating love. In the first book of this series, My Brilliant Friend, Lenú, in her sixties, learns that Lila has disappeared. She recreates their girlhood sharing fairytale dreams to escape a post-war Neapolitan neighborhood bleeding from fatalism and old betrayals. Lila, risk-taker and quick study, and Lenú the striver carry on friendly competition in school. Lenú is allowed to continue her education while Lila is compelled to work with her shoemaker father. Lenú begins rigorous secondary studies. Lila pulls herself into middle-class comfort at sixteen by marrying an ambitious grocer. The second book picks up at this point.
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  • Book Type Graphic Novel
  • by Hisashi Ota
  • Translated From Japanese
  • by Juliet Winters Carpenter
  • Date Published December 2011
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9790471-6-9
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 235pp
  • Price $16.95
  • Review by Jeremy Benson
The Story of Buddha: A Graphic Biography plots the Buddha’s journey from crown prince of the ??kya kingdom to Enlightenment as a reformed ascetic, as told and illustrated by Hisashi Ota. It’s a story not often heard outside the studies of practicing Buddhists or lectures on World Religion, but it is key for even a basic understanding of Buddhism, the religion based on Buddha Sakyamuni’s teachings.
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Elena Ferrante
  • Date Published September 2015
  • ISBN-13 978-1-60945-286-5
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 464pp
  • Price $18.00
  • Review by Olive Mullet
This reviewer knows she might be addressing two possible readers of Elena Ferrante’s four-part series of novels: the ones who are already committed and want to read through the last book, The Story of the Lost Child, and the other, curious newcomer to the series. For the first reader, I will say that this last book does have a very good, real ending and of course is well-worth the effort. The Story of the Lost Child has a new emphasis on politics with characters we’ve grown to know, a glimpse of the effects of feminism on children, the motivations in maintaining success in writing, and as the epilogue called “Restitution” suggests, a final view of the female friendship and disturbing revelations of Elena Greco, our narrator.
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  • by Charles Jensen
  • Date Published November 2007
  • ISBN-13 978-1934832004
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 26pp
  • Price $8.00
  • Review by Matt Bell
Charles Jensen’s The Strange Case of Maribel Dixon is an ambitious book, highly entertaining yet formally daring. It incorporates a variety of prose and poetic forms to tell a love story that spans most of the twentieth-century and at least two dimensions, all within the space of a mere twenty-one pages. Comprised of diary entries, academic papers, and shredded documents full of supposed “automatic writing,” this slim volume weaves a mysterious love story with far greater gravity than its size on paper would suggest possible.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by John Amen
  • Date Published February 2015
  • ISBN-13 978-1-63045-008-3
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 108pp
  • Price $14.95
  • Review by Trena Machado
Strange Theater brings us a reality where words can deposit you, drop you off, let you move struck by what you know, yet cannot quite believe (this is where we are at?). John Amen is in conversation with us. There is a we, and we have come to a turning point, we of this culture, we of this species, not knowing what we thought we were:
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Christina Hutchins
  • Date Published April 2011
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9819816-2-8
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 88pp
  • Price $16.00
  • Review by Marcus Myers
In Christina Hutchins’ first full-length book, the speaker contemplates the development of the self within the body’s dissolution over a lifetime. Less abstractly, the poet-speaker interweaves meditations of aging within familiar surroundings which are themselves growing older, of slowly losing her father to Alzheimer’s while simultaneously finding renewal in her ripening love for her girlfriend. In the face of her life’s constant material change, she often sees a moment’s “beauty…in the distortion,” and she hears in the “small silences between waves” “the black hole in me.” And faced with the certainty of her loss, the speaker desires the clarifying sort of beauty found only within the quiet:
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Jason Schneiderman
  • Date Published September 2010
  • ISBN-13 9780912592701
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 61pp
  • Review by Renee Emerson
Striking Surface by Jason Schneiderman focuses on death, religion, and the violence and exile of war. Though writing on such serious topics, Schneiderman still manages to weave in pop culture references, referencing several leading ladies such as Grace Kelly in his poem “Billboard Reading,” Sandra Dee and Lana Turner in “Susan Kohner (Douglas Sirk’s Imitation of Life),” and Audrey Hepburn in “Elegy VII (Last Moment).”
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Christopher Janke
  • Date Published March 2007
  • ISBN-13 978-1934200001
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 84pp
  • Price $15.00
  • Review by Cyan James
Christopher Janke has published a pretty book of poems. That’s obvious from the cover of Structure of the Embryonic Rat Brain alone: a mauve and purple tangle of presumable neuronal matter brushed with green. Fence Books, always pleasing with its designs, has cut Janke’s book wider than it is long and interspersed his poems with eye-catching doodles. If you flip the pages fast while staring at the lower right-hand corner you’ll see a rat put through its paces. This book makes it clear from the beginning that it intends on giving tactile pleasure while stimulating your mind. Like those famous lab rats pressing levers for cocaine, this book wants to keep you turning its pages.
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  • Book Type Short Stories
  • by Jackie Corley
  • Date Published October 2008
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9778151-5-3
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 100pp
  • Price $10.00
  • Review by Josh Maday
Jackie Corley’s debut story collection, The Suburban Swindle, features a blurb that says, “Stories like poetry made from the gritty stuff of hard scrabble life.” It’s not often that a book blurb is all that honest or accurate. Hyperbolized and syrupy? Yes, almost always. But capturing the essence of the book in a line or two is indeed rare, and refreshing. This blurb definitely captures the essence. Corley’s characters do live hard, gritty lives. They live in a perpetual moment where things are always about to ignite, or burn out, or both – relationships are going to end, friends and lovers are going to leave – giving each story the sense that it takes place on the edge of a cliff.

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