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Book Reviews by Title - V (18)

  • Subtitle A Persistence of Memory
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  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Antonio C. Márquez
  • Date Published May 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-08263-5811-0
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 216pp
  • Price $21.95
  • Review by Scott Russell Morris

Antonio C. Márquez’s Volver is a “memoir” in the truest sense of the word, as its subtitle “A Persistence of Memory” suggests. Beginning in the Pre-World War II borderlands near El Paso, Texas, and moving to Los Angeles, the Midwest, and then all over the world, Volver recounts Márquez’s life and travels, from a poor boy to an established expert in his field who is called on by the government to be a cultural representative in other countries.

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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Shelley Ettinger
  • Date Published November 2014
  • ISBN-13 978-0983666875
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 430pp
  • Price $16.95
  • Review by Rhonda Browning White
In a family saga that spans two countries, a half-century, and three generations, Shelley Ettinger’s Vera’s Will is both historical document and social commentary, deftly couched in beautifully written fiction. The story opens with Randy, a young lesbian, reflecting on her past while attending her Grandmother Vera’s funeral. It is at this emotionally tumultuous service where Randy meets and reacquaints with her grandmother’s friends that she has a startling realization: both her deceased grandmother and her favorite aunt are also gay.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Chelsea Woodard
  • Date Published November 2014
  • ISBN-13 978-1-927409-35-0
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 106pp
  • Price $18.95
  • Review by Carol Smallwood
Chelsea Woodard’s poetry collection Vellum was a finalist for the 2013 Able Muse Book Award, judged anonymously by the Able Muse Contest Committee. The forty-six poems are well-balanced with nine to ten poems in each of the five parts, though not grouped by specific theme or setting.
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  • Book Type Edited
  • by Paul Doru Mugur, Adam J. Sorkin, and Claudia Serea
  • Date Published December 2011
  • ISBN-13 978-1584980889
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 370pp
  • Price $26.95
  • Review by Lydia Pyne
Any collection of national poetry shows its audience the formed, collective identity of its poets and their artistic milieu. The Vanishing Point That Whistles: An Anthology of Contemporary Romanian Poetry is no exception. In truth, the anthology, brilliantly compiled by editors Paul Doru Mugur, Adam J. Sorkin, and Claudia Serea, sketches a post-Iron Curtain world where Romanian national identity is as fractured as its economy and societal mores are as complex as the centuries of religious strata that seem to overlay every life – or, in the case of the poems, every text. To quote Doru Mugur in his introduction, these texts are what linguist Umberto Eco calls “the authentic fake” and, in the context of The Vanishing Point That Whistles, the texts, the lives, and the poems are the truths, lies, and everything grey in between. The theme of “authentic fake” through a fractured national identity is most clearly seen through the poems and prose that acknowledge the deep and permeating role of religion in Romania’s national identity, rawly juxtaposed against everyday being and everyday living in Romania.
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  • Book Type Edited
  • by Chay Yew
  • Date Published August 2011
  • ISBN-13 978-1-55936-363-1
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 644pp
  • Price $22.95
  • Review by Olive Mullet
As explained in Version 3.0, the plays in this new anthology of Asian American drama are rarely produced outside of New York City and California. Yet they ought to be, as they encompass many cultures’ assimilation and conflicts with white culture. The anthology spans the generations from the Japanese internment years up to the multi-racial 2000s. The first wave of plays has common themes of “Asian American history and immigration, generational and familial conflict, cultural identity and nationalism.” The second wave further includes Chinese and Filipino playwrights, and the third those of Indian, Korean and Vietnamese descent. This last group, with l4% identifying themselves as “multiracial” in the 2000 census, says, “No single writer can represent an entire culture; only a community of writers can do that.”
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Lisa Lewis
  • Date Published October 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-1-930974-92-0
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 95pp
  • Price $15.00
  • Review by Sima Rabinowitz
Vivisection—such an evocative word—is experimental surgery performed on animals typically for research purposes, considered unethical by many, and harsh and aggressive as the word itself sounds. I am somewhat surprised at this title, wondering at the poet’s choice of a word with such negative connotations for her book, but the title poem (the final in the collection) demonstrates how poetry can take any term and make it one of great power, salvaged by artistic achievement, prowess, and mastery, rendering it positive on some level. Despite difficult and painful images (or, perhaps, because of them), the title poem reminds us that poetry’s unique power resides in its ability to make every human experience unique (yet universal) and exquisite.
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Can Xue
  • Translated From Chinese
  • by Karen Gernant and Chen Zeping
  • Date Published September 2011
  • ISBN-13 978-1-934824-37-5
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 230pp
  • Price $13.95
  • Review by Olive Mullet
Chinese writer Can Xue’s short story collection Vertical Motion captures dream/nightscapes like Steven Milhauser and the surreal like Japanese writer Haruki Murakami. The short stories do reflect real life in activities and mostly relationships, but as she says in one of her stories, “Fantasy is still the way we do things best,” which seems to mean through fantastical experiences people improve. Thus each story explores a “new realm of imagination.”
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  • Book Type Essays
  • by James Longenbach
  • Date Published March 2013
  • ISBN-13 978-1-55597-637-8
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 192pp
  • Price $14.00
  • Review by Julie Swarstad Johnson
Critic and poet James Longenbach has a mission: to call writers back to the study of great poems. Although this mission has motivated Longenbach’s critical writing previously, it comes through most clearly in his newest book, The Virtues of Poetry, a series of twelve essays that each consider the qualities a successful poem might possess. Weaving together research, close reading, and unmitigated passion for the poems and poets he admires, Longenbach’s arguments prove convincing and insightful in this lively essay collection.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Carol Dine
  • Date Published July 2009
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9786335-2-3
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 103pp
  • Price $21.00
  • Review by Cynthia Reeser
In the introduction to her most recent book of poetry, Van Gogh in Poems, Carol Dine writes of the research she undertook to pen her artist-inspired poems. Her book, she writes, led her to Amsterdam three times, where she visited the Van Gogh Museum to study the artist's original work – up close. Dine describes how she was allowed to sit in a room while an attendant brought her requested works on paper. She studied them for inspiration, and deemed them holy. Her viewing of the artist's sketchbook brought her to tears. Van Gogh in Poems contains 18 plates of the artist's works on paper.
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  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Ander Monson
  • Date Published March 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-1555975548
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 208pp
  • Price $16.00
  • Review by Nate Logan
Vanishing Point is not a memoir. It says so in the bottom right corner on the cover. On the back of the book, it says “Literature/Essays.” In this book, Ander Monson serves on a jury, spends time at Panera Bread, details his self-Googling results, and devotes a section to the flavors of Doritos. But Vanishing Point is about all of us. How the I of my life, of your life, of every life, blends together and vanishes, at least a little.
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