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“14. Am I defined by what I’ve seen, or do I define the world by what I’ve witnessed? O, what beautiful or terrible thing waits around the next corner? Who isn’t in love with this mystery?” This final line in “Sonnet, With Some Things That I Have Seen” states the central questions burning in the heart of Sherman Alexie’s book of poems, What I’ve Stolen, What I’ve Earned. Alexie, in a uniquely experimental way, delivers a punch with his deceptively lighthearted, yet exquisitely pointed, commentary on topics as complex as life on the reservation, family, gay marriage, death and loss, terrorism, racism and much more. With his fresh twists on traditions and invigorating perceptions, perhaps readers of Alexie’s work will resoundingly answer that the poet was born by his ability to define the world he witnesses.

Additional Info

  • Image Image
  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Sherman Alexie
  • Date Published November 12
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 160pp
  • Price $19.00
  • Review by Kelly M. Sylvester
June 02, 2014

Orphan

Orphan is an initially surprising title for Jan Heller Levi’s third collection of poetry, but after some thought, it strikes me as completely apt. While a few of the poems in the book relate specifically to the speaker’s parents, many others cast her as an orphan in other ways. The book opens with the poem “enter the tree” reproduced on the flyleaf inside the front cover. A brief eight-line poem, it describes “the snake” and “the woman”—a clear Garden of Eden reference to the original orphans, the sinners cast out of paradise by a sometime father; Levi’s woman, however, “doesn’t want what he’s offering // she just wants out / to see if there are other women / around.” This version of Eve is not a temptress or a victim, but a curious agent of her own destiny.

Additional Info

  • Image Image
  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Jan Heller Levi
  • Date Published January 2014
  • ISBN-13 978-1938584039
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 80pp
  • Price $15.95
  • Review by Emily May Anderson
June 02, 2014

The Scent of Pine

Lara Vapnyar’s The Scent of Pine is a lyrical short novel (perhaps partly autobiographical) about the awakening of sex and love in a perestroika-era Russian children’s camp, an awakening which has repercussions later in the United States. The main character Lena, like her creator, came to the U.S. as a young married woman, but the more important parallel can be found in Lena’s youthful experience as a camp counselor for the pre-teen children. The writing is lovely, which is amazing since Vapnyar came to this country without knowing the language, yet decided to write all her novels in English. But what hits the reader particularly are the surprises at the book’s end.

Additional Info

  • Image Image
  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Lara Vapnyar
  • Date Published January 2014
  • ISBN-13 978-1-4767-1262-8
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 192pp
  • Price $25.00
  • Review by Olive Mullet
It is very easy to lose yourself in the brave, lonely world of Allison Titus's Sum of Every Lost Ship. Her spare and questioning aesthetic is pleasing, and her subjects bristle just enough to provide a wonderful chemistry. Throughout her poems, she maintains a careful beauty and distance, and she creates a unique world of displacement, longing, and ultimately, survival.

Additional Info

  • Image Image
  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Allison Titus
  • Date Published November 2009
  • ISBN-13 978-1-880834-88-6
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 78pp
  • Price $15.95
  • Review by Sara C. Rauch
April 01, 2010

Shoulder Season

Ange Mlinko’s previous books have earned her much praise and fanfare and it does seem like she deserves it. Her third book, Shoulder Season, is sharp, entertaining and engaging. Her poems are timely and important. There are very few poets who can accomplish this feat. She is grappling with the world as it is. The landscapes are chaotic but the messages are not didactic.

Additional Info

  • Image Image
  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Ange Mlinko
  • Date Published April 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-1-56689-243-8
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 81pp
  • Price $16.00
  • Review by Christine Kanownik
In this debut collection, characters deal with pain in bizarre ways. A suicidal woman seduces a man in a coma. A lawyer drops pennies on passersby from the window of his office building. And in the title story, the teenage male narrator declares:

Additional Info

  • Image Image
  • Book Type Fiction
  • by John Jodzio
  • Date Published March 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-0984418404
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 180pp
  • Price $12.95
  • Review by Keith Meatto
The Bugging Watch & Other Exhibits is under a porch, is between the fridge and the cupboard, is hiding among the coats and sweaters in the tilted closet above the basement stairs. Its shapeshifting and heartbreak is nightmarishly microscopic and horrifically asymptotical.

Additional Info

  • Image Image
  • Book Type Fiction/Poetry
  • by Kim Gek Lin Short
  • Date Published May 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9825216-1-6
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 57pp
  • Price $14.00
  • Review by Jeremy Benson
April 01, 2010

Pulleys & Locomotion

Pulleys & Locomotion, Rachel Galvin’s first full-length collection, finds delicate grace balancing on that titular ampersand. As pulleys are a tool of motion and locomotion is movement itself, so this collection asks us to stop and consider not just the trajectory, but first what enables it to occur.

Additional Info

  • Image Image
  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Rachel Galvin
  • Date Published September 2009
  • ISBN-13 978-1-934703-72-4
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 62pp
  • Price $14.00
  • Review by Kate Angus
Tara Masih’s short fiction has appeared in a number of well known journals for over a decade now, but Where the Dog Star Never Glows is her first collection of fiction. It does not disappoint. With seventeen stories, variety is the best word to describe this slim volume. The settings range from colonial India, to present-day Dominica, to the ‘60s USA, with lots of side roads taken. Though the prose style is consistently traditional – form is played with only slightly, and reality is always, more or less, real – the characters, themes, and content vary pleasantly, creating a dynamic and interesting collection.

Additional Info

  • Image Image
  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Tara L. Masih
  • Date Published February 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9825760-5-2
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 143pp
  • Price $14.00
  • Review by Alex Myers
April 01, 2010

The Singer’s Gun

Anton Waker’s parents are dealers in stolen goods, and his devious cousin Aria recruits Anton’s help in setting up a business forging passports and social security cards. But all Anton wants is to be an ordinary corporate drone, living a simple, lawful life. He quits Aria’s business, gets himself a fake Harvard diploma and snags a job at Water Incorporated, determined to go straight. He gets engaged to a beautiful cellist with the New York Philharmonic and looks forward to a mundane, middle class existence.

Additional Info

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  • Book Type Novel
  • by Emily St. John Mandel
  • Date Published May 2010
  • ISBN-13 1936071649
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 304pp
  • Price $24.95
  • Review by Laura Pryor
“I almost fainted with desire and fear” writes Julie Carr in her 2009 Sawtooth Prize-winning 100 Notes on Violence, and in doing so sums up the experience of reading the 116-page collection. In fragments, lists, quotations, facts and chunks of prose, Carr offers up a reflection on not just violence, but on protecting ourselves and our innocence from it.

Additional Info

  • Image Image
  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Julie Carr
  • Date Published January 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-1-934103-11-1
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 116pp
  • Price $19.00
  • Review by John Findura
April 01, 2010

Dirty August

It's an understatement to say that Edip Cansever isn't very well known in poetry circles (whatever those are), nor any more so in the specialized area of Turkish literature. Reading the introduction to Dirty August will give you some helpful background on the latter, but to appreciate Cansever's poetry one has only to peruse Julia Clare Tillinghast-Akalin and Richard Tillinghast's translations. While I can't vouch for their fealty to the native language – that would be an issue for a different kind of review, couched in quibbling over semantics – I can say that what Tillinghast fille et père have kindly bequeathed English language readers, through these eminently readable translations, is a beguiling peek into the work of a “Second New” wave poet (who died in 1986), one espousing a secular vision more philosophically aligned with European existentialism than with Ottoman empiricism. The Tillinghasts are long-time aficionados as well as scholars of Turkish idiom and culture, and their love for Cansever's writing is readily apparent in this slim, yet potent volume.

Additional Info

  • Image Image
  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Edip Cansever
  • Translated From Turkish
  • by Richard Tillinghast, Julia Clare Tillinghast-Akalin
  • Date Published December 2009
  • ISBN-13 978-1-58498-067-4
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 96pp
  • Price $14.95
  • Review by Larry O. Dean
For me, it’s rare for an author of fiction to accomplish “soul-touch,” but Olga Tokarczuk does just that with her captivating spiritual imagery and layers of characters that touch the heart-depths of readers’ imaginations. Primeval and Other Times is an award winning novel (first published in the 1990s) that takes place in a mystical Polish village guarded by four archangels through the 20th century. One particular passage woven within her mythical tale that stands out is almost a summarized subtext of Tokarczuk’s mastered, descriptive sensory writing style:

Additional Info

  • Image Image
  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Olga Tokarczuk
  • Translated From Polish
  • by Antonia Lloyd-Jones
  • Date Published April 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-80-86264-35-6
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 248pp
  • Price $15.50
  • Review by Lisa Dolensky
April 01, 2010

Father Dirt

Few books can be called “page-turners,” and even fewer books of poetry can claim that sobriquet, yet that is exactly what Mihaela Moscaliuc has managed to do with her debut collection, Father Dirt.

Additional Info

  • Image Image
  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Mihaela Moscaliuc
  • Date Published January 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-1-882295-78-4
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 84pp
  • Price $15.95
  • Review by John Findura
In the Presence of the Sun brings N. Scott Momaday’s work to a new generation of readers. Momaday, a novelist and poet from the Kiowa tribe, combines the mainstream modernism of American poetry with an oral-language inspired reference to Kiowa and other Southwest Native American traditions, particularly the Navaho.

Additional Info

  • Image Image
  • Book Type Poetry
  • by N. Scott Momaday
  • Date Published October 2009
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8263-4816-6
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 144pp
  • Price $18.95
  • Review by Carol Dorf
April 01, 2010

Unsound

I must start here by proclaiming my love for the publishers of this book: Burning Deck Press. I have nothing but respect for the press and the great poets who run it. There are many presses operating today, but Burning Deck is refreshing for its consistent integrity and taste, and Jennifer Martenson's first full-length collection of poetry, Unsound, is another strong release. The politics of Martenson are well-thought out and exciting, and her poetic forms are fresh and unexpected. Most of the poems in the final section of the book have vivid imagery and a strong voice, though I do wonder if the poet occasionally relies too heavily on visual tricks rather than engaging language.

Additional Info

  • Image Image
  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Jennifer Martenson
  • Date Published April 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-1-936194-01-8
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 62pp
  • Price $14.00
  • Review by Christine Kanownik
April 01, 2010

Droppers

"But we have sensible reasons for not breaking out into the huge freedom of irregular shapes – once done we would no longer have the aid of our machines, tools and simple formulae." Steve Baer, a fellow-traveler of "the droppers," wrote these words in 1968 to describe the unorthodox architecture at Drop City, but the same quote can be applied in hindsight to the social experiments occurring there. Droppers provides a comparative look at Drop City and other communal ventures in America's past. Mark Matthews asserts that Drop City failed because it did not attempt to learn any lessons from past communes. The droppers intentionally charted out a new society without utilizing the "tools of history"; the commune took on an "irregular shape" that ultimately led to its destruction.

Additional Info

  • Image Image
  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Mark Matthews
  • Date Published May 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-0806140582
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 233pp
  • Price $19.95
  • Review by Joel A. Lewis
The Last Warner Woman by Kei Miller begins: "Once upon a time there was a leper colony in Jamaica." This fairytale narrative voice, created by the character of “the writer,” seems to address you, the reader. As the haunting central character, Adamine Bustamante, tells us: "Sometimes you have to tell a story the way you dream a dream, and everyone know that dreams don't walk straight." To enter the dream of this story is to get caught up in a wonderful web.

Additional Info

  • Image Image
  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Kei Miller
  • Date Published April 2012
  • ISBN-13 978-1-56689-295-7
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 270pp
  • Price $16.00
  • Review by Wendy Breuer
April 01, 2012

Pity the Beautiful

Dana Gioia’s Pity the Beautiful resists many of the common conceits and devices of contemporary poetry books, instead frequently embracing rhyme, meter, formal structure, and strict narrative. The collection even boldly employs a vaguely Poe-esque “ghost story” in the form of a long poem. The poems in Pity the Beautiful open strongly and are immediately engaging; Gioia has mastered the art of hooking the reader from the first line. We are then urged along by poems that end by questioning far more than they have explained. Occasionally Gioia dwells a bit too long, however, allowing some of his poems to become slightly over-written.

Additional Info

  • Image Image
  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Dana Gioia
  • Date Published May 2012
  • ISBN-13 978-1-55597-613-2
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 80pp
  • Price $15.00
  • Review by Alissa Fleck
April 01, 2012

Good Offices

Prize-winning Colombian novelist Evelio Rosero has written a dark comedy in Good Offices. From the perspective of the hunchback Tancredo, a night of changes unfolds in a Catholic church in Bogota, Colombia. Tancredo has just finished his exhausting duties serving almost 100 unruly elderly and cleaning up when he is summoned to Father Almida’s office and learns of a crisis. Almida and the old sacristan Machedo have to be absent from the evening mass in order to persuade their sponsor to continue his bounty. Their last-minute replacement, Father Matamoros, enlivens the mass and congregation with his beautiful voice. Secrets come out, and not just the passion between Tancredo and the sacristan’s goddaughter, Sabrina. The real revelations are the corruption and abuses of Father Almida and the sacristan. The loving spirit of Father Matamoros seems an apt replacement; except, he too has his faults, noticeably alcoholism.

Additional Info

  • Image Image
  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Evelio Rosero
  • Translated From Spanish
  • by Anne McLean and Anna Milsom
  • Date Published September 2011
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8112-1930-3
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 144pp
  • Price $13.95
  • Review by Olive Mullet
Spanish poet Juan Ramón Jiménez is generally not well known to most contemporary English readers. If there’s any familiarity with his name—let alone his work—it most likely comes in some foggy concept of his relation to his compatriot Federico García Lorca. It’s unfortunate that this Nobel Prize-winning writer has been so outshined by his disciple’s notoriety. With The Complete Perfectionist, editor and translator Christopher Maurer raids Jiménez’s books, papers, and biographical record to assemble various fragments (poems and aphorisms; sometimes Maurer includes titles, sometimes not), under headings such as “Dream,” “Instinct,” “Rhythm,” and “Perfection,” with his own ambivalently short and jumpy introductions to each. As Maurer says, “the title, theme, selection, translation, and arrangement” are all his own. While Jiménez’s work receives fresh exposure to new readers, it does so only insofar as its end goals may have been re-aligned under Maurer’s conceptive framework.

Additional Info

  • Image Image
  • Book Type Collection
  • by Juan Ramón Jiménez
  • Translated From Spanish
  • by Christopher Maurer
  • Date Published February 2012
  • ISBN-13 978-0-983-32200-9
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 161pp
  • Price $18.00
  • Review by Patrick James Dunagan
April 01, 2012

Blue Rust

As one might gather from the titles of Joseph Millar’s three volumes of poetry—Overtime (2001), Fortune (2007) and Blue Rust (2012)—he is a direct heir to the working-class likes of James Wright, B.H. Fairchild, and current U.S. Poet Laureate Philip Levine. But it would be reductive and unfair to call Millar simply “a working-class poet,” as though the only readers to which he could possibly appeal are those who have spent time laboring in the “real world.” Simply put, Millar is a poet who traffics in the real things of an everyday world, crafting well-spoken poems that take up the most universal themes of friends, family, hard luck, and love. And his newest book, Blue Rust, in spite of its grit, its grease, and its often mournful tone, astounds with countless moments of shimmering clarity, offering brief reprieves from a tough life eked out in the shadow of a troubled past. “Dutch Roll” finds Millar and his father ice-skating, sharing a rare, transcendent day:

Additional Info

  • Image Image
  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Joseph Millar
  • Date Published January 2012
  • ISBN-13 978-0887485497
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 88pp
  • Price $15.95
  • Review by James Crews
April 01, 2012

cul de sac

Research cul de sacs and again and again you will be told that their purpose is to reduce traffic. Sure, I’ll buy that as a contributing factor. Dig a little deeper and you come across a buzzword, “perceived risk.” But we all know the real reason: privacy. Anyone who’s ever looked into buying a house has discovered that you pay extra to live on a No Outlet street. We pine for a space of our own away from the bustle of the modern world, but as Scott Wrobel reveals in cul de sac, here lies danger.

Additional Info

  • Image Image
  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Scott Wrobel
  • Date Published April 2012
  • ISBN-13 978-0983879015
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 232pp
  • Price $14.95
  • Review by Mark Danowsky
April 01, 2012

Saint Monica

When we first meet Saint Monica, she is covered in gauze and iodine. The epigraph that introduces Mary Biddinger's Saint Monica informs us that the historical St. Monica was student to St. Ambrose, mother to St. Augustine, and wife of an abusive, alcoholic pagan. That Monica, patron saint of adultery victims, alcoholism, and of course, disappointing children, spent much of her time working for the redemption of her husband and once wayward offspring.

Additional Info

  • Image Image
  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Mary Biddinger
  • Date Published June 2011
  • ISBN-13 978-0982876619
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 48pp
  • Price $9.00
  • Review by H. V. Cramond
April 01, 2012

Schizophrene

In first glancing through Schizophrene by Bhanu Kapil, I hardly felt at ease in reviewing a book that depicts the sentiments of the 1947 Partition of India, the aftermath of violence, the displacement, and mental illness, all in the form of prose poetry. I know little about the topic and the genre. The sheer emotional impact of reading disturbing sections out of context left a pit in my stomach. I was afraid to read the account in its entirety, but also, I was ashamed not to. The tome—not weighty in size, but in content—sat on my desk for weeks, haunting me, finding its way again and again to the top of my teetering stack. I’d glimpse the bright, inviting image on the cover, yet worry. What frightened me? Why was the book still there?

Additional Info

  • Image Image
  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Bhanu Kapil
  • Date Published October 2011
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9844598-65
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 96pp
  • Price $15.95
  • Review by Jodi Paloni
April 01, 2012

Schoolgirl

A teenager goes about her day. Her activities—taking public transportation, going to school, cattily noticing what other women are wearing, doing chores—are ordinary ones. Equally normal are her feelings regarding the death of her father, the grief she and her mother share but can never comfort each other with, and longing for the close relationship she once shared with her married sister.

Additional Info

  • Image Image
  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Osamu Dazai
  • Translated From Japanese
  • by Allison Markin Powell
  • Date Published October 2011
  • ISBN-13 978-1-93554808-9
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 100pp
  • Price $11.95
  • Review by Patricia Contino
April 01, 2012

Fort Gorgeous

Fort Gorgeous, Angela Vogel’s first full-length collection, populates an original fairytale landscape—one grounded thematically in 19th and 20th century American literature and painting—with a village of anachronistic, pop-cultural misfits who define the contours of the contemporary American identity. Vogel’s poems, so playful and satisfying when read aloud, imply that these American archetypes, figures once representing a type of individualism, have now been commodified, reduced to emblems in our mass-produced, mashed-up and hyper-mediated versions of reality. The reader imagines, while reading the thirty-seven ultra-imaginative poems in this collection, that the characters in Fort Gorgeous have themselves mindlessly purchased the dream of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, neatly packaged and wrapped.

Additional Info

  • Image Image
  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Angela Vogel
  • Date Published November 2011
  • ISBN-13 978-1-935716-10-5
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 80pp
  • Price $17.95
  • Review by Marcus Myers
April 01, 2012

Sonics in Warholia

The prose pieces in Megan Volpert’s new collection of poetry, Sonics in Warholia, read more like essays, but defining or discussing the boundaries of different genres serves no purpose and would completely miss the mark of this stunning collection. Comprised of eight pieces, the book offers extended meditations, both far-reaching and deeply personal, surrounding the biography of (and addressed to the ghost of) Andy Warhol. Throughout the book, Volpert masterfully weaves together seemingly disparate images, events, and ideas to brilliantly create complete and coherent essays that can appeal to both those who are familiar and those who are unfamiliar with Warhol’s life and work. Volpert’s vision is clever, touching, and singular.

Additional Info

  • Image Image
  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Megan Volpert
  • Date Published December 2011
  • ISBN-13 978-1-937420-04-8
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 62pp
  • Price $14.95
  • Review by Gina Myers
April 01, 2012

Version 3.0

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.”

Additional Info

  • Image Image
  • 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
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.

Additional Info

  • Image Image
  • 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
April 01, 2012

Traffic with Macbeth

Like Shakespeare’s play, Traffic with Macbeth is a fearless journey into the depths of myth, the human psyche, and often violence. There is a density to many of the poems, which at times renders them a bit opaque. Yet, so well-crafted are the lyrics that the hard shells of her images beg to be cracked. Images that are impenetrable are simultaneously beautiful and terrible and remind the reader of the artistry of mystery. However, no matter the difficulty of meaning, Szporluk’s tone always rings clear. At every step, the tongues of Macbeth’s witches and Macbeth’s own tortured soul slouch at the margins of these poems, whispering to them, feeding them the macabre spirit that produced such haunting lyrics as those in “Baba Yaga”:

Additional Info

  • Image Image
  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Larissa Szporluk
  • Date Published September 2011
  • ISBN-13 9781936797028
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 64pp
  • Price $16.95
  • Review by Erik Fuhrer
July 01, 2010

Impotent

If you’ve ever been on a mind-melting prescription drug binge, Matthew Roberson’s new novel Impotent might be nostalgic for you. But for the rest of us in docile society, this new work from Fiction Collective 2 lives up to the bizarre, psychedelic, experimental, and well-crafted reputation of the press’s many outer-rim publications. For example, Impotent opens with the recurring characters L and I, in which L stands for “Last Name, First Name, Middle Initial” and I stands for “Insured.” No character throughout the entire work has a clear name, mirroring the dehumanization that comes with the prescription drug industry.

Additional Info

  • Image Image
  • Book Type Novel
  • by Matthew Roberson
  • Date Published March 2009
  • ISBN-13 978-1573661485
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 166pp
  • Price $13.95
  • Review by Caleb Tankersley
July 01, 2010

LA Liminal

According to Merriam-Webster, liminal describes a threshold, an in-between state; it is defined as “of, relating to, or being an intermediate state, phase, or condition,” and it is the perfect adjective to describe the state of Becca Klaver’s poems in LA Liminal, her first full-length collection. Prose pieces woven throughout the book present a common narrative: a young lady from a Midwestern town moves to Los Angeles in hope to discover whatever it is that LA promises, grows disenchanted, and leaves. However, this tale is anything but common thanks to Klaver’s spin on the whole experience.

Additional Info

  • Image Image
  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Becca Klaver
  • Date Published March 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-1-888553-37-6
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 88pp
  • Price $14.95
  • Review by Gina Myers
July 01, 2010

Wings Without Birds

Wings Without Birds, the most recent collection from poet and translator, Brian Henry, is a book that quietly and confidently upends various conventions and expectations. The title itself is a good map for what follows: the mind at flight, tethered but not subservient to the earthly body. Although the speaker in “Where We Stand Now,” the book’s long center poem, claims:

Additional Info

  • Image Image
  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Brian Henry
  • Date Published March 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-1844717484
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 66pp
  • Price $14.95
  • Review by Kate Angus
July 01, 2010

Isobel & Emile

Isobel & Emile is the story of two young lovers who separate and then try to survive on their own. The novel opens on the morning after their final consummation. Emile boards a train bound for his home in the city. Isobel stays in the town where they conducted their brief affair. For each one, the pain of separation becomes an existential crisis.

Additional Info

  • Image Image
  • Book Type Novel
  • by Alan Reed
  • Date Published April 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-1-55245-227-1
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 156pp
  • Price $16.95
  • Review by Keith Meatto
This selected edition of Srečko Kosovel's poems, translated from the Slovene by Ana Jelnikar and Barbara Siegel Carlson, is a welcome addition to the developing canon of Slovenian poetry, but more so, it's an obvious labor of love by both translators as well as publisher. The book is perfect-bound in a simple but eye-catching jacket from Ugly Duckling, with interior text provided in the poet's native language as well as English on facing pages. Additionally, there are poems reprinted in Kosovel's own handwriting, in part to offer a graphological glimpse into the author's character, but also to promote documenting him as a pioneering yet playful manipulator of language.

Additional Info

  • Image Image
  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Srečko Kosovel
  • Translated From Slovene
  • by Ana Jelnikar and Barbara Siegel Carlson
  • Date Published April 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-1-933254-54-8
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 256pp
  • Price $17.00
  • Review by Larry O. Dean
July 01, 2010

Talk Thai

It seems inherent that immigration stories must revolve around flight from a home country – due to war, political injustice, threat of death, wretched conditions that force a person to seek a better life, or the desire to achieve the American Dream. There is none of this in Talk Thai. Sukrungruang’s parents left Thailand enticed by jobs. He writes, “Most Thai immigrants viewed America only as a workplace. America provided jobs. America provided monetary success. America provided opportunities Thailand couldn’t.” No harrowing tales of escape or of the horrors left behind. Not even a real desire to be here: “My mother often joked that she started packing for home as soon as she arrived in Chicago in 1968.” This kind of immigrant story, then, must settle around some sense of “the other” – the outsider – and the day-to-day struggles of not fully belonging. And in America, this is easy.

Additional Info

  • Image Image
  • Book Type Memoir
  • by Ira Sukrungruang
  • Date Published March 2010
  • ISBN-13 9780826218896
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 168pp
  • Price $24.95
  • Review by Denise Hill
July 01, 2010

Immigrant

The cover of Immigrant reveals the high heels and provocative bare legs of a woman peeling and eating oranges, and indeed the book depicts sexual relationships, but there are also fruits, domestic and exotic, countries of partisans, barbed wire fencing in Texas, layered speech, a clear-eyed love of the world, and dreams, too, of what’s missing. These poems, with exact, evocative lines and phrases, summon, re-awaken, evoke, as in the Latin vocare, to call, call forth. Then they shape, skillfully, the call, the voice, the song, the busses that “splash the same / sloppy syllable across each sidewalk” or “the hieroglyphs that suckle”; they move “like a tongue / through the mouths of the speechless.”

Additional Info

  • Image Image
  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Marcela Sulak
  • Date Published April 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-0982622827
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 55pp
  • Price $14.00
  • Review by Skip Renker
July 01, 2010

Flowers

I’m a sucker for well-played formalism. Mongrel poetry; pedigreed from sestinas and villanelles, but – some earlier generation having snuck out the back with a scraggly beat poet – nearly unrecognizable, with crooked teeth and fantastic, durable hips.

Additional Info

  • Image Image
  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Paul Killebrew
  • Date Published April 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9822376-2-5
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 75pp
  • Price $14.00
  • Review by Jeremy Benson
In the introduction to The Ancient Book of Hip, D.W. Lichtenberg states his purpose: “This book is a documentation, a case study, an oral history, or whatever you want to call it.” It attempts to document “the phenomenon of hip,” the twenty-something trust-funders who moved to urban areas, specifically Williamsburg, Brooklyn, at the turn of the twenty-first century. What follows are poems that capture the New York School sprezzetura of Frank O’Hara.

Additional Info

  • Image Image
  • Book Type Poetry
  • by D.W. Lichtenberg
  • Date Published November 2009
  • ISBN-13 9-781889-292212
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 89pp
  • Price $12.00
  • Review by Gina Myers
July 01, 2010

Selenography

In his fifth book, Joshua Marie Wilkinson (in collaboration with photographer Tim Rutili) presents to us Polaroid photographs and poetry in gorgeous interplay. The text, broken into five poems/sections with words on the verso and images on the recto, is a fairly quick, very enjoyable read on the surface, but beyond the surface it achieves a brilliant complexity that haunts readers long after they put down the book.

Additional Info

  • Image Image
  • Book Type with Polaroids
  • by Tim Rutili
  • Date Published April 2010
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 103pp
  • Price $20.00
  • Review by Kristin Abraham
July 01, 2010

Ghost Machine

In Ben Mirov’s debut poetry collection Ghost Machine, the overriding tension is the kinetic, non-reflective “I” (or sometimes “Eye”) stabbing through a list of seemingly random present-tense actions with an ADD-like attention span, overlaid with the sense of a haunting presence (or presences), creating the space of a temporal past. The randomness with which actions and thoughts take place suggests a lack of agency, but as the momentum builds it seems more that that barely-there presence is stirring – if not driving – the action.

Additional Info

  • Image Image
  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Ben Mirov
  • Date Published May 2010
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 105pp
  • Price $8.00
  • Review by Dan Magers
July 01, 2010

The Dream Detective

If you wake up in the morning and fragments of phrases, words, and images coalesce into a beautiful potluck of fascinating, hilarious, and magical linguistic gymnastics that have serious questions and answers about life at their core, then you must be reading The Dream Detective by David Mills. In his first collection, language is a platform for profundity and profundity is a platform for language and its reshaping or remolding that both regales us with its fantastic puns, double-entendres and sexual humor as much as it tackles serious subject matter such as the Sean Bell incident epitomized by the poem “Forever’s Bread.” If you are greedy for adventure through language, its mending, its bending and its manipulation for the greater good, then you’ve come to the right place.

Additional Info

  • Image Image
  • Book Type Poetry
  • by David Mills
  • Date Published 2009
  • ISBN-13 0-9773786-5-9
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 84pp
  • Price $15.00
  • Review by Micah Zevin
July 01, 2010

The Running Waves

The Running Waves is a book about two brothers learning to come to terms with hard times in each of their lives. The younger of the two brothers, Colin, is a 19-year-old shoe store employee trying, unsuccessfully at first, to get past the accident that killed his two best friends the previous year. Dermot is the 23-year-old elder brother, home from college for the summer. He comes home to hide for awhile from the fact that his girlfriend, someone he thought might be “the one,” broke up with him. The pair lives in Silver Shores Cape Cod, a popular destination for tourists on their way to Martha’s Vineyard. Dermot can see that Colin is not doing well and wants to help his brother but must first figure himself out.

Additional Info

  • Image Image
  • Book Type Novel
  • by T.M. Murphy, Seton Murphy
  • Date Published May 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-1-935557-55-5
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 272pp
  • Price $15.95
  • Review by Elizabeth Townsend
The History of Violets is a book to read at dusk, when the light changes, the room darkens and the boundaries between day and night, real and fantastic, seem permeable. First published in Spanish in 1965, Uruguayan poet Marosa di Giorgio's collection of short prose poems, as translated into English by Jeannine Marie Pitas, is a voyage into a garden world populated not only by exquisite flowers and hearty vegetables, but also angels, underground creatures and rabbits, figures both tragic and destructive. Throughout the book, we follow a family living by the garden, whose house is often invaded by its denizens, whether it is the insistent angels or the crazy gladioli. Di Giorgio's own particular brand of magical realism and gift for compelling description ease us into this world where the erotic pulse of creation in the garden is counterbalanced by an undercurrent of death and destruction.

Additional Info

  • Image Image
  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Marosa di Giorgio
  • Translated From Spanish
  • by Jeannine Marie Pitas
  • Date Published October 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-1-933254-70-8
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 87pp
  • Review by Stephanie Burns
I was fortunate to hear Kate Daniels read many of the poems from A Walk in Victoria's Secret when it was still a work-in-progress. I'm a firm believer in getting a poet's verbal take on their own work, and while I've been disappointed on some occasions (Wallace Stevens, anybody?), the experience is often revelatory. Daniels was not particularly intense or melismatic in her delivery, but she was involved in the poems well beyond the performance itself—connected might be a better word. The effect of that connection was that she-as-reader was a potent conductor not just of the words on the page, but the emotive power beneath them—she conveyed that sentiment without telegraphing it ahead, or lapsing into sentimentality; a distinct advantage when you are a narrative poet, which resulted in an audience that hung engrossedly on her every word.

Additional Info

  • Image Image
  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Kate Daniels
  • Date Published November 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-0807137062
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 78pp
  • Price $19.95
  • Review by Larry O. Dean
March 14, 2011

Sonja Sekula

Sonja Sekula (1918-1963) was a Swiss “poète-peintre” (poet-painter) who lived for a time in New York, was a colleague and friend of better known artists of her time (Jackson Pollock, Frida Kahlo, John Cage, Leonora Carrington, Max Ernst), experimented with “blended poetic word combinations” in her visual work, and spent much time “in and out of clinics” because, Schaeppi explains in her book’s epilogue, “her many secret art books and diaries tell of her passion for women in a time when same-sex love was considered a pathology to be cured with extreme treatments.”

Additional Info

  • Image Image
  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Kathrin Schaeppi
  • Date Published January 2011
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9825731-5-0
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 155pp
  • Price $15.00
  • Review by Sima Rabinowitz
March 14, 2011

Lit from Within

This anthology brings together presentations given over the last several years at Ohio University’s Spring Literary Festival, which is described by the editors in the book’s introduction as “a remarkable yearly gathering of some of the nation’s most talented and celebrated writers…in the most rural corner of Ohio.” Fifteen of these celebrated fiction writers and poets appear in the publication, to be released in March 2011: Ron Carlson, Robin Hemley, Francine Prose, Billy Collins, Peter Ho Davies, Charles Baxter, David Kirby, Claire Bateman, Stephen Dunn, Lee K. Abbott, Tony Hoagland, Maggie Nelson, Carl Dennis, Rick Bass, and Mary Ruefle. Each writer focuses on a clearly identified, often narrowly defined topic of interest to readers and writers, typically with the twin goals of helping readers understand the writer’s personal approach to composing his or her work and to an idea of some “universal” importance for reading/writing in general.

Additional Info

  • Image Image
  • Book Type Edited
  • by Kevin Haworth, Dinty W. Moore
  • Date Published March 2011
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8214-1948-9
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 206pp
  • Price $19.95
  • Review by Sima Rabinowitz
March 14, 2011

The Book Bindery

Although it includes a glossary of bookbinding terms and a three-page photo-essay on “How To Bind A Book,” The Book Bindery is less about book binding than the function of creativity and negativity in a work environment. Sarah Royal, who worked briefly at a bindery in Chicago right after graduating from college, writes that “even if you’re in utter bliss over your job, you still need to feed off of negativity in some form or another. Bitching about what you’re doing or joining in on bitching about someone else’s predicament is what makes everything roll by day to day.” She and her colleagues spent hours gossiping about their transvestite boss, coworkers, and the naked neighbor who lived next door to the factory. They played Bingo with the most common quips made by the bindery’s secretary over the Intercom. During coffee hour they built a shrine out of “action figures, Hot Wheels, badminton rackets….whatever interesting and weird shit we could find.”

Additional Info

  • Image Image
  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Sarah Royal
  • Date Published October 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-1934620847
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 96pp
  • Price $5.00
  • Review by Tanya Angell Allen
March 14, 2011

Best Road Yet

Ryan Stone’s writing absolutely shines in his collection of twelve short stories entitled Best Road Yet. In particular, Stone is able to create realistic, multilayered characters who have distinct personalities—the way they speak, talk, eat, and even snore is engrossing, largely because Stone takes the time to develop the details and complexities of each individual. He writes: “He was only a sliver, a slip of the tongue they sometimes let out, and that’s how they mentioned him. Eddie’s coming, too, they’d say.” It is clear that Stone writes with intention, aware of how each element of writing contributes to the development of the story, and he has great control in his work.

Additional Info

  • Image Image
  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Ryan Stone
  • Date Published September 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-1-935708-08-7
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 190pp
  • Price $14.95
  • Review by Elena Spagnolie
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