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Book Reviews by Title - W (78)

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  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Elizabeth Swados
  • Date Published June 2011
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 200pp
  • Price $19.00
  • Review by Patricia Contino
It wasn’t that long ago when Broadway producers put originality before the box office and tourists. In 1979, the New York Shakespeare Festival moved Runaways, another in a series of sold-out shows (the most successful 1975’s A Chorus Line; the most recent 2010’s Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson), uptown from Astor Place. The musical, featuring real runaway teenagers, was composed, written, and directed by Elizabeth Swados. Runaways received multiple Tony nominations and established Liz Swados’s reputation. As she makes clear in Waiting: Selected Nonfiction, she has been “trashed, resurrected, trashed, and mentored dozens of young artists. I’ve survived well.” Despite its brief length, Waiting is a thoroughly friendly introduction to Swados’s life and work, a wistful remembrance of a vibrant era in New York theatre, and a perceptive look at how theatre is created.
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  • Book Type Edited
  • by Vicky Lettmann, Carol Roan
  • Date Published January 2011
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9823545-2-0
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 388pp
  • Price $17.95
  • Review by Sima Rabinowitz
“By the time you’re fifty if you’re in your right mind / you want a divorce from yourself.” Poet Ed Meek pretty well sums up my feelings about it. And similar insights, emotional accuracy, and appealing, understated voices like Meek’s pretty well sums up most of this anthology’s opening lines. Here is Susan Pepper Robbins (“Middle Solutions,” fiction): “‘I told him, I’m not dead yet. You can have them all then, but not now. Not before then.’ Mary turns her head to me, who is not dead yet either, although almost. This year I have lost twenty pounds and gained back thirty, so I’m ten ahead.” And here is Ann Olson (“Coteau, 1969,” nonfiction): “I’m cold. It’s dark. I don’t know where the hell we’re going.” And here is Christina Lovin (“Credo at Fifty-Five”):
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by William Corbett
  • Date Published February 2011
  • ISBN-13 978-1-934909-13-3
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 61pp
  • Price $16.00
  • Review by Stephanie Burns
William Corbett's The Whalen Poem is an enticing experiment and one I'm sure many poets would love to try. He describes the long poem as a response to reading Philip Whalen's Collected Poems. Whalen's style and influence permeate the book, but while Corbett revels in Whalen's signature stream-of-consciousness approach, it is clear that the consciousness propelling the poem is distinctly different. Corbett's poem is full of names and anecdotes, baseball statistics, and literary references. He seems to savor the sound and rhythms of these people and places he mentions, and it is fascinating to watch him sample culture and current events in this way. Still, the book is at its most compelling when Corbett delves into something closer at hand:
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  • Book Type Collection
  • by Michele Landsberg
  • Date Published September 2011
  • ISBN-13 978-1897187999
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 304pp
  • Price $24.95
  • Review by Lydia Pyne
The idea of completely understanding the processes of any revolutionary change is daunting—to say nothing of making sense of its cultural and historical contexts. In the historic waves of North American feminist theory and practices, the respective paradigms of feminism shift, evolve, and ultimately normalize along lines of particular intellectual circles and politically historic movements. Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the first convention for women’s rights and suffrage in 1848, for example, show a completely different, and seemingly unparalleled, cultural milieu than a feminist theorist like twenty-first century philosopher Judith Butler. Both women, however, illustrate a “revolutionary context” for understanding a broader feminist identity, however constructed—both show the powerful effects of change within particular societal circumstances. In Writing the Revolution: The Feminist History Project’s Collected Columns of Michele Landsberg, Canadian writer, social activist, and ardent feminist Michele Landsberg reminds us that beyond any of the historical feminist revolutions are the people of the revolutions—women and their narratives. From Landsberg’s columns, we get the sense that she finds feminism on the ground, in everyday life, to be the centering force that keeps the falcon of feminist theory from circling out in a wider and wider gyre of culture.
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Brian Evenson
  • Date Published June 2012
  • ISBN-13 978-1-56689-298-8
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 176pp
  • Price $16.00
  • Review by Paul Pedroza
Brian Evenson’s latest collection toes the line between genre and so-called literary fiction and between a recognizable world and new dimensions. Those familiar with his previous work won’t be surprised, as Evenson frequently does this; however, this certainly isn’t a run-of-the-mill collection.
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  • Book Type Illustrated
  • by Anne Jewett
  • Date Published September 2009
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9792035-8-9
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 32pp
  • Price $16.95
  • Review by Jessica Powers
This children’s picture book follows Sophie’s search for the warmest place in her house after spending time outside playing in the snow. Ultimately, the warmest place is snuggled up next to her parents in their bed during the middle of the night. The story is light and sweet while the illustrations are delightful and fun. Altogether, a great book for bedtime.
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Thomas Cobb
  • Date Published September 2012
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8165-2110-4
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 224pp
  • Price $24.95
  • Review by Lydia Pyne
In the John Ford’s 1962 classic Western, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, there’s a line or two that ring particularly true to writing about the West. After learning the truth about the shootout and the story behind outlaw Liberty Valance’s death, the newspaperman tells James Stewart’s character, “This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”
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  • Book Type Anthology edited
  • by Grace L. Dillon
  • Date Published March 2012
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8165-2982-7
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 272pp
  • Price $24.95
  • Review by Lydia Pyne
Science fiction is nothing if not an enigmatic and eclectic genre. It’s a category of literature that would seem to take a number of subgenres—from imagined alternate histories, fantasy, magical realism, cyber punk, and everything in between—and deliver it as a multiplicity of reading experiences for its fans. As Ray Bradbury argued, “Science fiction is the most important literature in the history of the world, because it’s the history of ideas, the history of our civilization birthing itself. . . . Science fiction is central to everything we’ve ever done.”
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Manuel de Lope
  • Translated From Spanish
  • by John Cullen
  • Date Published September 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-1-59051-309-5
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 304pp
  • Price $14.95
  • Review by Olive Mullet
Manuel de Lope’s novel The Wrong Blood is about family secrets, set just before and after Spain’s Civil War, in the Basque region. As the author says in the introduction, “The circumstances include the death of a loved one, a rape, and a birth with disastrous results.” This is a story of women dealing with the effects of war, one rich, one poor, who nevertheless come together to help each other reach their dreams. A doctor living nearby is witness and also complicit to the strange agreement the two women make. Long after the death of one of the women, a young man’s arrival at the women’s house is enough to unravel the secrets of the past.
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Andrew Zornoza
  • Date Published June 2009
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9779019-1-3
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 108pp
  • Price $14.00
  • Review by Cynthia Reeser
Andrew Zornoza’s expansive, fragmentary Where I Stay is a piecemeal construction of text and image. An epigraph, penned in 1938 by Walker Evans, simultaneously urges the reader and the eye behind the camera to focus on “[t]hese anonymous people who come and go in the cities and who move on the land,” on “what is in their faces and in the windows and the streets beside and around them.” Fittingly, it is just those elements, particular to an individual’s specific moment, time and place, that capture the anonymous sense of the national spirit.
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