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Book Reviews by Title - W (81)

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  • Book Type Ed.
  • by Owen King and John McNally
  • Date Published July 2008
  • ISBN-13 978-1416566441
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 432pp
  • Price $16.00
  • Review by Matt Bell
Who Can Save Us Now? is a collection of twenty-two short stories that each provide a new take on superhero lore, twisting and turning genre conventions on their head in the hopes of providing a new experience within the framework of the short story. Editors Owen King and John McNally use the book's introduction to reflect on the difference between our world and the one that provided the more black-and-white conflicts of the Golden Age of comic books, setting the stage for tales of new superheroes "whose amazing abilities reflect and address our strange and confusing new conditions," specifically the more modern terrors of "suicide bombers, dwindling oil reserves, global warming, and an international community in complete disrepair."
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Jack Driscoll
  • Date Published February 2012
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8143-3612-0
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 173pp
  • Price $18.95
  • Review by Olive Mullet
Jack Driscoll’s short story collection The World of a Few Minutes Ago reflects Michigan’s weather, concentrates on mostly blue-collar workers and trailer inhabitants, and offers a mostly masculine voice but also a beautiful lyrical style, describing the beauty of stars as well as perfectly capturing the lives of his characters and their personality clashes. His story structure is meticulous and convoluted as we twist from the characters’ sad hard lives toward a resolution of acceptance and sometimes release.
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  • Book Type Collection
  • by Dan Beachy-Quick
  • Date Published April 2012
  • ISBN-13 978-1571313270
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 352pp
  • Price $20.00
  • Review by Lydia Pyne
A collection is an interesting thing. Traditionally, we can expect to find a collection in some sort of museum setting—a set of archaeological artifacts or art objects that allows the audience to understand another culture. A collection of writing, however, is particularly interesting as it allows a reader to examine an author’s intellectual and aesthetic commitments. In a collection of writing, the reader has more than simply the Objekt to examine or look at; the surrounding context for the author’s intended themes is available to the reader as well. These themes, in turn, become the real collection on display to the reader. In Wonderful Investigations: Essays, Meditations, Tales, author Dan Beachy-Quick amasses quite a cabinet of written curiosities that serve as the basis for his Investigations—a collection that does not seem to argue for a specifically particular point or theme, but, rather, a collection that allows the reader to examine Beachy-Quick’s intellectual and aesthetic commitments to his own treasured authors.
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  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Cheryl Strayed
  • Date Published March 2012
  • ISBN-13 978-0-307-59273-6
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 336pp
  • Price $25.95
  • Review by David Breithaupt
In the mid-1990s, Cheryl Strayed hit a wall. Her mother died of cancer at age 45, only 49 days after diagnosis. Soon after, her marriage unraveled, and she took up with a man of dubious qualities who introduced her to heroin. She liked it, smoking the black tar and occasionally sniffing the powder. It was certainly easier than coping with the out-of-nowhere shock of her mother’s death, coupled with the dissolution of her union with a man she once loved and perhaps still did. She was beating a steady retreat into oblivion.
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  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by J.C. Hallman
  • Date Published March 2013
  • ISBN-13 978-1-60938-151-6
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 156pp
  • Price $21.00
  • Review by Reiser Perkins
Nothing will make you hate email like Wm & H’ry, the handsome little book by J.C. Hallman that distills the 800-plus letters exchanged between William and Henry James. Hallman points out that most readers will probably be more familiar with one of the brothers, but makes a convincing case that there is no fully understanding the one without comprehending the other.
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  • Book Type A documentary novel
  • by William Walsh
  • Date Published March 2008
  • ISBN-13 978-1-934081-01-3
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 228pp
  • Price $15.00
  • Review by Josh Maday
William Walsh’s debut novel, Without Wax, is the story of Wax Williams, legendary male porn star and “the 8th wonder of the world,” whose shy, down-to-earth demeanor endears him to female fans while also making him accessible to male fans. Dissatisfied with (and even afraid for) his life, Wax decides to retire at the pinnacle of his career. In keeping with documentary form and style, Walsh weaves together interview fragments, traditional narrative, depositions, Consumer Profiles, and the script of Wax’s first feature film. The novel is structured in such a way that is entertaining and compulsively readable, getting as close to watching its filmic incarnation as the written word will allow.
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  • Book Type Poetry/Prose
  • by Dan Beachy-Quick and Matthew Goulish
  • Date Published September 2012
  • ISBN-13 978-1-934103-30-2
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 96pp
  • Price $19.00
  • Review by Patrick James Dunagan
I’ve never read the work of Marcel Proust. Although I’ve always understood Proust to be an author everybody should read, I simply haven’t gotten around to doing so myself. This gap in my reading is admittedly a mild embarrassment, especially as I often find myself the antagonistic provocateur busily berating friends and associates over authors and key texts which they absolutely must read. Much more generous than I, Dan Beachy-Quick’s and Matthew Goulish’s Work from Memory doesn’t berate the reader for any lack of familiarity with its source text. Even without firsthand awareness of Proust’s work, there’s plenty to chew on here concerning reading, memory, ideas of “the book,” and how conscious or not we as readers remain in relation to ongoing and past experience. My understanding is that Proust sought to set down in writing the details of everyday life in as exact, excruciating detail as possible—not the bustling activities with which our lives are ever busily preoccupied, but rather the minutiae of time’s passing, or as Goulish phrases it, “the book project of a life.” Or as Beachy-Quick describes Proust’s protagonist: “The writer dreams of the book as a life.” Work from Memory turns round and round these themes.
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Javier Marías
  • Translated From Spanish
  • by Margaret Jull Costa
  • Date Published November 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8112-1663-0
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 144pp
  • Price $21.95
  • Review by Elena Spagnolie
While the Women Are Sleeping by Javier Marías is a collection of ten beautifully written short stories that raise questions about love, death, the afterlife, and the capability of people to be truly original. The collection opens with the title story “While the Women Are Sleeping” and highlights the interaction between two men—strangers and fellow beach goers—outside a hotel pool in the middle of the night: “Viana buried his face in his hands, as I’d seen him do from above, from the balcony, but not from down here, by the pool. And I saw then that this gesture had nothing to do with suppressed laughter, but with a kind of panic that nevertheless failed to negate a certain serenity.” However, tension mounts as their friendly conversation morphs into one man’s obsession with his girlfriend, and Marías creates intensity and suspense with amazing skill.
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  • Book Type Young Adult Fiction
  • by Kathy Stinson
  • Date Published September 2012
  • ISBN-13 978-1926920818
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 146pp
  • Price $11.95
  • Review by Karen Seehaus Papson
David Burke may seem like an awkward, average teenager, and in most ways he is. However, unlike most teens, David spends a good deal of time looking after his severely disabled younger sister, Ivy. She gets all the attention, whereas David believes he’s practically invisible to his parents. It’s not surprising that sometimes David feels resentful of Ivy, and it is in one of these moments of frustration that Kathy Stinson begins this compelling family drama, What Happened to Ivy. Given that Stinson has penned more than thirty titles across many genres, it’s not surprising that her prose effortlessly captures the range of emotions encompassed in this story.
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  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Andy Singer
  • Date Published August 2013
  • ISBN-13 978-1-62106-486-2
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 160pp
  • Price $13.95
  • Review by Elizabeth O'Brien
Microcosm Publishing’s Why We Drive: The Past, Present, and Future of Automobiles in America is an image-rich examination of the dominance of car culture in the United States. “I am an advocate for car-free cities, car-free city sections, and car-free living,” author/illustrator Andy Singer states within the first few introductory pages. The text proceeds from there, detailing the disadvantages of arranging urban and suburban life around cars rather than people. This is followed by a succinct history of highway politics in the United States, and Singer concludes with a call to action, offering suggestions for individuals who wish to live car-free and strategies for funneling more money into public transportation at the state level.
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