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Book Reviews by Title - W (78)

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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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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Tamiko Beyer
  • Date Published May 2013
  • ISBN-13 978-1938584008
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 104pp
  • Price $15.95
  • Review by Emily May Anderson
We Come Elemental is Tamiko Beyer’s first full-length book; her chapbook bough breaks was published by Meritage Press in 2011. While bough breaks focused primarily on “domestic” concepts (gender, sexuality, motherhood, adoption), We Come Elemental draws from the entire planet for its topics. Water comprises the framework by which these disparate subjects are connected, just as water serves to connect all life on Earth.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Jane Augustine
  • Date Published March 2008
  • ISBN-13 978-0979241659
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 118pp
  • Price $15.00
  • Review by Deborah Diemont
The poems in Jane Augustine’s A Woman’s Guide to Mountain Climbing confront, rather than bypass pain, and their “golden and piercing” music is made from a rugged but precise lineation and a relentless eye for detail.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Steve Fellner
  • Date Published October 2011
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9846353-0-6
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 64pp
  • Price $15.00
  • Review by Kevin Brown
Steve Fellner’s collection of poems, The Weary World Rejoices, has much more weariness in it than rejoicing, but that is only because, as he writes in the first of three odes to Matthew Shepard, “Explanation never // satisfies. It / always wants // something / like redemption.” Fellner is not trying to explain what it is like to be a gay man in 21st-century America; instead, he is trying to redeem it by showing the varieties of that life as it actually is.
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