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Book Reviews by Title - U (23)

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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Li-Young Lee
  • Date Published February 2018
  • ISBN-13 978-0-393-06543-5
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 96pp
  • Price $25.95
  • Review by Renee Emerson

The Undressing examines the physical, bodily relationship with the spiritual relationship between two lovers. There are elements of the political—the strongest portions of the book—and of the foreign. Li-Young Lee’s collection is philosophical, not exactly accessible for a first-time poetry reader, but one that with re-readings gathers depth and meaning each time.

  • Subtitle Surviving the Titanic
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Anna M. Evans
  • Date Published May 2018
  • ISBN-13 978-1-77349-012-0
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 82pp
  • Price $17.95
  • Review by Katy Haas

I still remember being in awe as I first learned about the RMS Titanic in grade school. I pored over books with clear pages I could peel away to reveal the layers of the giant ship, I unsuccessfully tried to imagine the wonder the public felt at the size of the ship with its pool and gym and cargo and grand staircase, and I repeatedly played through the 1996 PC game, Titanic: Adventure Out of Time, that takes place onboard. Despite all of this, there was still always an incomprehensible aspect to it—the ship, accident, and amount of lives lost. With years between its existence and my own and with games and movies made about the tragic event, there was something “unreal” about the Titanic. That’s where Anna M. Evans comes in.

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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Jennifer Caloyeras
  • Date Published October 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-1-943665-78-5
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 180pp
  • Price $17.99
  • Review by MacKenzie Hamilton

Unruly Creatures is aptly named, and it is as unusual and wild as the title forebears. Jennifer Caloyeras colors outside the lines in in this collection. The stories are at once beautiful and tragic, comedic and full of sorrow, as well as strange and telling. Each story is wildly original, and seamlessly comments on current events. Caloyeras’s talent shines through the pages of this collection, latching on to the reader and refusing to be put down.

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  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Sarah Cheshire
  • Date Published May 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9988976-3-9
  • Format Chapbook
  • Pages 61
  • Price $10.00
  • Review by Denise Hill

Sarah Cheshire’s Unravelings is exactly the kind of book you never want to read again. As fiction based on facts, there’s a fine line between being able to accept the story as not true, and being wholly disturbed by what parts of it may very well be true. Sadly, the premise is one that has been around since I was in college, and since generations before mine: female student is enamored by male professor, engages in flirtations, perhaps falls in love, all while others—including professional colleagues of said professor—see what is happening and do nothing. Could they have? Should they have? I can’t help but wonder where responsibility lies in these situations, and Cheshire offers no answer either.

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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Sun Yung Shin
  • Date Published October 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-1-56689-451-7
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 136pp
  • Price $16.00
  • Review by DM O'Connor

Sun Yung Shin’s Unbearable Splendor is full of big questions: Where do we come from? What is our origin? What is family? What is change? What are our fetal dreams? What is an orphan? Why is adoptee not recognized in the plural? Were we born to love? Can the whole world see me all at once? What is a foreigner? Was Antigone the first cyborg?

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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Alden Jones
  • Date Published June 2014
  • ISBN-13 978-0984943999
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 168pp
  • Price $14.95
  • Review by Elizabeth O'Brien
Unaccompanied Minors, winner of the New American Fiction Prize in 2013, is a slim volume of seven short stories about young adults facing teenage pregnancy, homelessness, prostitution, the death of a child on his babysitter’s watch, and so on. “Shelter,” the first story in the book, is an odd choice for an opening, in that the story largely relies on the limited shock value of having homeless teenagers for its protagonists. Reminiscent of Dorothy Allison’s project to represent the lives of young poor women from the South, Jones’s story is less angry, but similarly features young characters who hide their vulnerability behind tough facades and speech that is likewise patina’d with derogatory slang.
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  • Book Type Cross-Genre
  • by M
  • Date Published November 2014
  • ISBN-13 978-0692334799
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 130pp
  • Price $8.00
  • Review by Trena Machado
Un-Sight/ Un-Sound (delirium X.) is published by gnOme press, which specializes in anonymous, pseudepigraphical and apocryphal works; a press that also eliminates the name of the author because “The self in no way matters . . . (the reader) is any one and I (the author) am also anyone. . . .” The author, represented by the initial M, has written a text in three parts, each part its own distinct structure of fragments, each of the structures with its own specific effect. Across all three parts, the fragments of syntax elements yield each part’s content. This is not a theoretical exercise, but a language born of the body, the senses, the gut. . . born of the anguish and power of flesh in the world.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Diana Hamilton
  • Date Published December 2014
  • Format Chapbook
  • Pages 36pp
  • Price $12.00
  • Review by Ryo Yamaguchi
Diana Hamilton’s Universe is one of the tightest projects I’ve ever read: a chapbook length poem on ethics, broken into two sections (one roughly on property/possession, the other on race) and comprised largely of analytical propositions angularly cut into strikingly short lines. “You and I exist in a civil condition” the speaker asserts. Doesn’t sound very exciting, does it?
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Pamela Erens
  • Date Published April 2014
  • ISBN-13 978-1-935639-85-5
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 200pp
  • Price $15.95
  • Review by Matt Weinkam
“Let me explain. I hunt for twins,” says Jack Gorse, narrator of Pamela Erens’s The Understory. “Not your run-of-the-mill fraternals, your IVF side effects, but identicals only, life’s natural aberrations. Nothing so far but Nature can make those mirror images, her rare gift of likeness in the world of infinite variety.” Originally published in 2007 by Ironweed Press and reissued this past April by Tin House Books, The Understory is a book about doubles, a search for second selves and other halves. It is about what it feels like to be alone and the lengths we will go to in order to find completion.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Jennifer Martenson
  • Date Published April 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-1-936194-01-8
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 62pp
  • Price $14.00
  • Review by Christine Kanownik
I must start here by proclaiming my love for the publishers of this book: Burning Deck Press. I have nothing but respect for the press and the great poets who run it. There are many presses operating today, but Burning Deck is refreshing for its consistent integrity and taste, and Jennifer Martenson's first full-length collection of poetry, Unsound, is another strong release. The politics of Martenson are well-thought out and exciting, and her poetic forms are fresh and unexpected. Most of the poems in the final section of the book have vivid imagery and a strong voice, though I do wonder if the poet occasionally relies too heavily on visual tricks rather than engaging language.
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