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Book Reviews by Title - S (143)

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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Allison Titus
  • Date Published November 2009
  • ISBN-13 978-1-880834-88-6
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 78pp
  • Price $15.95
  • Review by Sara C. Rauch
It is very easy to lose yourself in the brave, lonely world of Allison Titus's Sum of Every Lost Ship. Her spare and questioning aesthetic is pleasing, and her subjects bristle just enough to provide a wonderful chemistry. Throughout her poems, she maintains a careful beauty and distance, and she creates a unique world of displacement, longing, and ultimately, survival.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Kristina Marie Darling
  • Date Published September 2014
  • ISBN-13 978-1-60964-191-7
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 66pp
  • Price $16.00
  • Review by Kimberly Ann
I just finished reading Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle, a novel in which the narrator desires that she and her sister resist the socio-economic structure of 1950s New England and reside, instead, on the moon. They finally do achieve this goal by converting their large house into a smaller living space, boarded-up and isolated from the outside world. In novels like Castle, women often reinterpret the boundaries of living spaces in their writing partly because traditional domestic contracts and spaces constrain emotion, creativity, and grief. In her book of poems titled The Sun & the Moon, Kristina Marie Darling contributes to this collective literary voice that unfetters domestic space as her speaker grieves and examines a past marital relationship. The Sun and the Moon, representing respectively a husband and wife, are always at opposite poles in this space that reels with cinematic flashes of memory and the ghosts that inhabit memory over time.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Mary Biddinger
  • Date Published May 2014
  • ISBN-13 978-1-62557-908-9
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 75pp
  • Price $13.95
  • Review by Elizabeth O'Brien
Mary Biddinger’s fourth poetry collection, A Sunny Place with Adequate Water, grapples with social mores, loneliness, and isolation through serial non-sequitors and questions that seem sincerely non-rhetorical, yet go unanswered. Tonally, A Sunny Place with Adequate Water is reminiscent of the poetry of Mary Ruefle, or of Steven Millhauser’s prose poem novella, Enchanted Night.
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  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Carolyn Weber
  • Date Published August 2011
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8499-4611-0
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 480pp
  • Price $16.99
  • Review by Cheryl Wright-Watkins
Carolyn Weber's relationship with Oxford University began with a surprise when she received a letter in the mail announcing that she had won a full scholarship to pursue her post-graduate studies there. Without her knowledge, a professor had submitted her name for consideration for the scholarship. The book chronicles many more surprises that accompany Weber's Oxford experience, most significantly her spiritual journey from cynical agnostic to evangelical Christian. Without a note of self-pity, Weber describes growing up in poverty with her mother and siblings after her father abandoned the family. A high-achieving student, she realized that through hard work she could improve her future prospects and become self-sufficient. Weber's admission that she lied about her age on the application in order to qualify for her first job is particularly poignant following recollections of her family's lavish lifestyle during her early childhood, before her father's questionable business deals and resulting arrest doomed the family to financial devastation.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Joel Lewis
  • Date Published June 2012
  • ISBN-13 978-1-934909-26-3
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 124pp
  • Price $18.00
  • Review by Pia Aliperti
“You’re reading the poems of a man,” Joel Lewis offers in Surrender When Leaving Coach, “who feels all the time / . . . like he’s rooting about / in the ruins of a cheap Pompeii.” Pompeii, for Lewis, is the familiar bus line along Staten Island’s Port Richmond Avenue that he will return to throughout the book, among the other well-worn routes he will cull for the daily strange, the repetitive, the hilarious, and the ephemeral. “Once again my obsession with / the motion of buses, trains and canal boats,” Lewis notes in the title poem of the collection, named for the instructions printed on the old bus tickets of his New Jersey youth. These poems look to the past even as the trains in them lumber to their stations on schedule. “In an absolute theater of time,” Lewis says, “everything happens at once.”
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Matthew Rohrer
  • Date Published April 2015
  • ISBN-13 978-1940696-03-4
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 112pp
  • Price $18.00
  • Review by Brian McKenna
Every evening in the city
is a deep pool of wine

Everyone who lives in the city
is drunk with it

And cannot leave

            They are surrounded by friends
  • Subtitle A Biography
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  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Daniel Schreiber
  • Date Published August 2014
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8101-2583-4
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 280pp
  • Price $35.00
  • Review by Trena Machado
The first biography since her death in 2004, Susan Sontag: A Biography by Daniel Schreiber, gives a straightforward account of a very complex life. Sontag graduated high school at fifteen, married at seventeen, earned a BA from the University of Chicago at eighteen, had a son at nineteen, and was divorced at twenty-five. Sontag left the academic world, not completing a doctorate, as she explained, in order to explore the world intellectually on her own terms. She was a novelist, cultural critic, filmmaker, stage director, playwright, and political activist. She became an international pop icon and intellectual celebrity. She wrote about photography, illness, human rights, AIDS, media, minority rights, and liberal politics. When doctors told her twice she had cancers that were rarely survivable, she survived by her own efforts to find new treatments.
  • Subtitle Three Novellas
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Patrick Modiano
  • Translated From the French
  • by Martin Polizzotti
  • Date Published November 2014
  • ISBN-13 978-0-300-19805-8
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 232pp
  • Price $16.00
  • Review by Olive Mullet
Literary Nobel Laureates are not known for readability and popularity, yet the novels of 2014 winner Patrick Modiano (also winner of Prix Concourt and Prix MondialCino Del Duca for lifetime achievement) are easy to read and popular. His novels are short with short prose pages. Plus he recreates atmospheric noir settings, such as eerie dark abandoned castles or noble estates, and the characters he introduces are ever mysterious. His narrator, mostly unnamed and a persona for him, is constantly reminded of the past and wants to go back to understand it.
  • Subtitle A Love Story
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  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Nicole Walker
  • Date Published August 2018
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8142-5485-1
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 288pp
  • Price $23.95
  • Review by Cody Lee

Toward the middle of Sustainability: A Love Story, I decided to read slower in order to sustain it, if only for a minute longer. I didn’t want the journey to end, just as the author, Nicole Walker, doesn’t want the world to end; there are too many great things to live for, this book being one of them. It is composed of thirty-eight essays, all of which read like prose poems, stuffed with scientific research on topics such as recycling, McDonald’s, and suicide. Most of all, it’s a love story written to Portland, Oregon; Walker’s family; and the little blue dot.

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  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Lee Upton
  • Date Published July 2012
  • ISBN-13 978-1936797141
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 220pp
  • Price $24.95
  • Review by Courtney McDermott
“This is a book about ambition,” Lee Upton writes in the first section (aptly titled “Ambition”) of Swallowing the Sea. It would seem that Upton’s own ambition with this book is to discuss writing as a writer, and yet the book does so much more. For anyone in love with writing, Swallowing the Sea is an homage to the delicate, painful, and (for some) necessary impulse to write. Upton explores the process of writing, the hurdles and frustrations along the way, and the fervor of being an avid reader, while employing personal anecdotes, literary criticisms, and poetical metaphors to make sense of writing’s place in our culture.
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