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Book Reviews by Title - S (144)

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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Elaine Equi
  • Date Published October 2015
  • ISBN-13 978-1-56689-421-0
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 112pp
  • Price $16.95
  • Review by Benjamin Champagne
Elaine Equi’s latest book, Sentences and Rain, feels like a confident drift. There is so much control and purpose in the playful word ideas. She must be listed among many of the greats. The insights into humanity that are contained in each and every poem remind the reader of the wonder tucked in every corner of life. The words and format are gentle and full of utility. This is the way of those who hold the passage. Equi has pushed her pen for many years. The development is original and organic. One need not read Equi’s previous writing to get the impression that this is a writer and an observer of life in the peak of their critique.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Dirk Stratton
  • Date Published September 2008
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9788407-7-8
  • Format Chapbook
  • Pages 40pp
  • Price $10.00
  • Review by Joseph P. Wood
Dirk Stratton’s new chapbook of poems, A Series/A Sequence, is a throwback of sorts. In an age where E-Books and particularly E-Chaps are abundant due to the explosion of the blogosphere and readily available publishing software, Stratton’s chap is handmade and released in a very limited run. The book is constructed “old-school”: side stapled, stock cover, paper one could find at a neighborhood Kinkos. Rather than seeming fly-by-night and hurried, however, A Series/A Sequence is lovingly made, with beautiful embossed imprints on each cover – notice I do not say the “front” and “back” of the book. A Series/A Sequence is actually two separate suites of poems that are thematically and aesthetically linked. Hold the book one way, one can read through “Capitulation Suite,” which constitutes the Series part of the chap. Flip the book over and one discovers another suite of lyrical, borderline-concrete poems entitled “Laiku,” which makes up the Sequence. In constructing the chap in this manner, NeO Pepper has joined a growing movement of grassroots to make poetry books that are pieces of art as opposed to mass-produced commodity. The pleasures of A Series/A Sequence rest in its construction as much its poetry, though one feels inextricable from the other.
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  • Book Type Ed. Barbara Hamby, David Kirby
  • Date Published April 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8203-3569-8
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 427pp
  • Price $24.95
  • Review by Larry O. Dean
I was drawn to this collection for two – make that three reasons: I enjoy versifying power-couple Barbara Hamby and David Kirby's individual work, and I believe good, 'funny' poetry is, if not quite as uncommon as some might argue it to be, at least worthy of omnibus analysis and appraisal. I suspected that these two editors, no strangers to humorous writing, would take a broad enough approach to compiling what they deem “seriously funny” poems, and the book's introduction – a fine read in its own right – bears that out.
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Bernardo Atxaga
  • Translated From Spanish
  • by Margaret Jull Costa
  • Date Published September 2012
  • ISBN-13 978-1-55597-623-1
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 250pp
  • Price $15.00
  • Review by David Breithaupt
Bernardo Atxaga has written the perfect book for deep winter reading. His latest novel, Seven Houses in France, takes you to the steamy Congo in the year 1903. Here you will join a cast of characters belonging to the Force Publique (a sort of military gendarmes) and ruled by King Leopold II of Belgium. The King apparently thought this spot in the Congo was his for the taking and dispatched his men to develop the area as well as take advantage of its rubber, mahogany, and ivory. Atxaga’s novel chronicles a collection of 17 white officers, 20 black non-commissioned, and a crew of 150 “askaris” (volunteer black soldiers). This conglomeration of characters is as diverse and as exotic as in any Shakespeare play. Their interactions are the meat of this novel.
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  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Julia Kristeva
  • Translated From French
  • by Jody Gladding
  • Date Published December 2011
  • ISBN-13 978-0-231-15720-9
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 176pp
  • Price $34.50
  • Review by Patricia Contino
I never forgot that photo. It was in a history of the Metropolitan Opera, and soprano Olive Fremstad was Salome holding the platter with John the Baptist’s head. Even by 1907 standards, her beaded costume and big hair were beyond camp, but to my teenaged self the waxy, dead head looked real enough. I was sufficiently creeped out to avoid Richard Strauss’ opera until adulthood, when I discovered Salome’s true horrors: placing unrealistic demands on its lead to perform a striptease to music that’s impossible to dance—let alone time the tearing off of seven veils—to, before singing a punishingly long monologue to the Baptist’s head prior to kissing it (gross . . . even if it should resemble Bryn Terfel, a recent Met Baptist). With the exception of Electra, Richard Strauss was never again so creatively daring.
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Ben Tanzer
  • Date Published January 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-1-934513-50-7
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 72pp
  • Price $13.00
  • Review by Heath Bowen
The blank page, always a canvas with vocabulary a pallet and creativity the brush, is a daunting image; it is there though, hanging in the balance like a friendship on a tightrope. It is what can be done with such a task that matters the most. And Ben Tanzer emphatically delivers with an unapologetic stroke in his latest collection Sex and Death.
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Leila Marouane
  • Translated From French
  • by Alison Anderson
  • Date Published June 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-1-933372-85-3
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 224pp
  • Price $15.00
  • Review by Sara C. Rauch
Brace yourself for The Sexual Life of an Islamist in Paris by Leila Marouane. Not only is it hilarious and disturbing, it is also disorienting, cunning, and bizarre.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Reginald Dwayne Betts
  • Date Published June 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-1-882295-81-4
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 66pp
  • Price $15.95
  • Review by James Mc Laughlin
Deconstruction of identity is a recurring motif in African-American literature. The exploration of the physical, emotional and spiritual devastation wrought by slavery continues to haunt its characters be it in literature, poetry or music. The most dangerous of slavery’s effects is its negative impact on the individual’s sense of self. Alienation underpins much of Black American writing. Slaves were told they were subhuman and were traded as commodities, whose worth could be expressed only in dollars. Consequently the much criticized “one theme” of African-American writing (slavery) cannot be escaped. In Toni Morrison’s Beloved, for example, Paul D – a typical exponent – describes his heart as a “tin tobacco box.” After his traumatizing experiences at Sweet Home and, especially, at the prison camp in Alfred, Georgia, he locks away his feelings and memories in this “box,” which has, by the time Paul D arrives at 124, “rusted” over completely. By alienating himself from his emotions, Paul D hopes to preserve himself from further psychological damage. In order to secure this protection, however, Paul D sacrifices much of his humanity by foregoing feeling and gives up much of his selfhood by repressing his memories. Although Paul D is convinced that nothing can pry the lid of his box open, his strange, dreamlike sexual encounter with Beloved – perhaps a symbol of an encounter with his past – causes the box to burst and his heart once again to glow red.
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  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Sarah Beth Childers
  • Date Published November 2013
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8214-2062-1
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 224pp
  • Price $24.95
  • Review by Julie Swarstad Johnson
The word “Appalachia” can call to mind a host of stereotypes: poverty, fundamentalism, environmental exploitation, backwardness. Each word conjures up a vague image of a broad region that many have never visited. By contrast, specificity and personal experience come to the forefront in Sarah Beth Childers’s debut essay collection, Shake Terribly the Earth: Stories from an Appalachian Family. Here, in linked essays that consider family ties, faith, and history, Childers reveals her unique understanding of West Virginia as seen through her eyes and the eyes of her family. Through careful attention to the personal, these essays gently argue for the validity of each person’s understanding of their own world.
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  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Phyllis Rose
  • Date Published May 2014
  • ISBN-13 978-1934824689
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 288pp
  • Price $26.00
  • Review by Lydia Pyne
The premise to Phyllis Rose’s most recent book is both compelling and fantastic. “Believing that literary critics wrongly favor the famous and canonical—that is, writers chosen for us by other—I wanted to sample, more democratically, the actual ground of literature.” One part literary criticism, one part memoir, and one part exploratory narrative, The Shelf: From LEQ to LES, Adventures in Extreme Reading is a vivid experiment in how to read and a challenge to read well.
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