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Book Reviews by Title - Y (21)

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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Gabriel Houck
  • Date Published July 2018
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9964397-8-7
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 174pp
  • Price $18.00
  • Review by DM O'Connor
Winner of the 2017 Orison Fiction Prize, the debut story collection You or a Loved One by Gabriel Houck is sharp, witty, insightful, and truculent. Exposing the underbelly of a post-Katrina Louisiana full of deadbeats, bayou, and folks just trying to survive, the stories swivel between interlinked-stacked flash fiction, script-like treatments for short films, and interior examinations of beautifully flawed characters. The linking thread is that nothing is spoon-fed. Most conclude with blunt endings that leave room for speculation. With vast un-signaled leaps in narrative time and reader-please-speculate-where-to-connect-the-dots, Houck has created a collection where saying less means more, where the randomness of life can be examined, where layers build to great pay-off.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Amy Munson
  • Date Published October 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-1-936797-88-2
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 70pp
  • Price $16.95
  • Review by Daniel Klawitter

You are most likely going to want a dictionary on hand to fully appreciate this deeply layered book of poems. I know: this may already be a nonstarter for some readers. But persevere and the rewards are plentiful. The best kind of gift is the one that keeps on giving, and that’s what this book does. You won’t need a dictionary for the whole experience, but Amy Munson is a poet with a wise and wide vocabulary.

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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Paula Whyman
  • Date Published May 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8101-3353-2
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 216pp
  • Price $17.95
  • Review by Kelly Sauvage Angel

Whether we view our lifetimes as a series of clearly delineated chapters, isolated incidents, developmental stages or something akin to a tangled ball of fraying yarn, the journey from our youth to the ripe weariness of middle age somehow seems to leave us mystified when we come to consider how we got from a place of such innocence and naivete to, well, here, in this room where we lie, wracked with disappointment, betrayal, disillusionment and an all-too-hefty dose of loneliness. We tend to remember the important scenes in which we were featured within the great cosmic film of life, but the connections elude us, as though the imprints from our experiences are processed only after the screen fades to black.

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  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Ben Doller & Sandra Doller
  • Date Published January 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-1-940090-04-7
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 193pp
  • Price $18.00
  • Review by MacKenzie Hamilton

Ben and Sandra Doller dive straight into a foreboding and brutally honest real-life account of their cohabitation with their newest roommate, cancer. The Yesterday Project was co-written by the Dollers in the wake of a life-threatening diagnosis: melanoma cancer, stage 3. The project lasts a total of 32 days with each writer taking a moment each day to go back and recollect the previous day’s experiences.

  • Subtitle A Novella and Stories
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Maceo Montoya
  • Date Published September 2015
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8263-4199-0
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 200pp
  • Price $19.95
  • Review by David Morgan O'Connor

Maceo Montoya’s You Must Fight Them, a debut collection which begins with the namesake—a ninety-nine-page novella, in which Chicano stereotypes are deciphered, defined, mocked, challenged and rendered in heart-shattering detail—is poignant and entertaining. Montoya’s narrators are mostly bookish and well-educated. They are searching for identity and often do not find what they are expecting. The doctorate student is supposed to be tough and fight the brothers of a girl he worshipped in high school. Why tough? Why fight? Because that is how it is and always will be. Lupita, the girl, wants out of this macho-viciousness, but can’t figure out how. Nothing is cut and dry. Montoya deals with smudged borders and crooked lines.

  • Subtitle Autobiographical Essays
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  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Allison Gruber
  • Date Published February 2015
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8076-0005-4
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 160pp
  • Price $15.95
  • Review by Scott Russell Morris
Allison Gruber’s You’re Not Edith is one of the better books I’ve read this year. Her “autobiographical essays” are funny without being comic, personal without being egotistical, crude (because she describes teenage life and dog vomit) without stepping into vulgarity, showing a narrator who is lonely but not melodramatic, tender without becoming sentimental. I read the whole book in one short, luxurious morning, and found that the end came too soon. That the last essay tells the story of a fan who flirts with her after a reading is totally understandable: to read Allison Gruber is to want to read more and to get to know her better.
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Becky Adnot-Haynes
  • Date Published November 2014
  • ISBN-13 9781574415650
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 192pp
  • Price $14.95
  • Review by Girija Sankar
In The Year of Perfect Happiness, nobody is perfect. Under a veneer of normalcy and seeming perfection lie malice, cunning, chicanery, and evil. In people like you and me that populate the landscape of Middle America—the ones with dreams and aspirations to have good jobs, a family, career and friends—have a little malice in us. Characters in Becky Adnot-Haynes’s The Year of Perfect Happiness, a collection of ten short stories, are etched with the slightest of kinks, of imperfections, that allow the evil to seep through, making the ordinary seem that much less so. Female protagonists are drawn with an eye towards the slightly weird, the eccentric, with tinges of idiotic. The characters stay with you long after you’ve flipped the page.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Ian Williams
  • Date Published April 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-1-894987-41-7
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 79pp
  • Price $17.00
  • Review by Sima Rabinowitz
If you’re asking who are Wolsak & Wynn, I can tell you that, located in Hamilton, Ontario, they’re the publishers of “clear, passionate Canadian voices,” a literary press with more than 122 titles published since 1986, including many winners of Canada’s most prestigious literary prizes. I can tell you that they produce beautiful books with smart designs on exquisite paper. And I can tell you that their website is worth checking out if you’re interested in Canadian poetry.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Leslie Adrienne Miller
  • Date Published September 2012
  • ISBN-13 978-1-55597-622-4
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 120pp
  • Price $15.00
  • Review by H. V. Cramond
I’ve been thinking a lot about masculinity lately, more specifically the particularly violent attitudes that have been swirled into recent discussions about mental illness, gun laws, sexual violence, and football. In this miasma, masculinity is presented as problem, as a relation of actions based on constructed ideals. But of course, a person is not a problem, or not only a problem, and especially not to his mother.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Brian Russell
  • Date Published July 2013
  • ISBN-13 978-1-55597-648-4
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 88pp
  • Price $15.00
  • Review by Kelly M. Sylvester
The poems in The Year of What Now by Brian Russell can catch an unsuspecting poetry reader off-guard, much like a sudden illness or the meeting of your future significant other. Within the opening two lines of the book’s first poem, we discover we will not be eased into this experience: “your hands were stained the urgent shade / of blood when I found you.” As readers continue, they will uncover sections of humor, as well as soft assuring language and soothing music within the poems. Every poem is written without any punctuation marks, except apostrophes. This tactic, although noticeable, doesn’t interrupt the flow or create uncertainty and confusion; instead, it makes the message clearer, helps readers directly connect with the narrator’s thoughts and share the narrator’s sensation of uncertainty. Readers are opened to accept the music of the moment with comforting sounds like “clack of keys,” repetition and rhythms like, “born from smoldering / Rome came crawling,” and unexpected rhymes like:
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