Book Reviews

Reviewed by:
Eric Farwell
With Jonathan Safran Foer’s gritty new novel, Here I Am, it’s hard not to read it in the context of his recent public divorce. The 571-page work deals with a nearly middle-aged Jewish couple who are drifting apart and going through the motions of separation. The book does its best to account for small moments that keep a marriage together or destroy it, articulating both how invisible... more
Reviewed by:
Devon Walker-Figueroa
Max and I were first introduced to each other in 2015 and immediately bonded through a series of ensuing e-mail and text correspondences—usually about poetry, but also about painting, glass blowing, and balloon races, among other things. In addition to this more casual exchange, I read and gave Max editorial feedback on early versions of Four Reincarnations. Indeed, I loved... more
Reviewed by:
Davy Knittle
Ali Cobby Eckermann’s Ruby MoonlightAli Cobby Eckermann’s Ruby Moonlight (Flood Editions, 2015) is a verse narrative focused on Ruby, an Aboriginal teenager, whose family is killed by white settlers in a late-nineteenth-century attack. Most of the poems follow Ruby after the massacre, as she meets and falls in love with Jack, a white fur trapper, and as she negotiates the... more
Reviewed by:
Frances Cannon
John D’Agata is a champion of the essay, a crusader for lost forms, a defender of nonfiction as an art. The recent publication of The Making of the American Essay, the third volume in D’Agata’s essay-anthology trilogy, shifts his position from expert to shaper; through his curation and introductions to these essays, D’Agata proves himself to be not only a scholar and proponent... more
Reviewed by:
Kristina Marie Darling
From the very beginning, readers are conditioned to focus on the words that appear on the page, their semantic meaning and the larger architecture of plot and theme to which they give rise. It is not often that writers ask us to look away from the text proper, to consider what is possible within the margins of a literary work, or even within the small spaces between the words themselves. Yet... more

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Reviewed by:
Vanessa Blakeslee
In this enthralling debut collection, winner of the 2011 Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction, E. J. Levy delves into the well-trod territory of modern love, in all its indecisiveness and heartbreak. Levy’s fiction and essays have received numerous honors such as the Pushcart Prize and Nelson Algren Award, as well as the Lambda Literary Award for her anthology, Tasting Life Twice:... more
Reviewed by:
Erik Martiny
Louis Armand is a visual and literary artist based in the Czech Republic. He is most known for his text-and-sculpture installation The Megaphones of Prague, an ongoing project launched in 1996 that collects and modifies historical megaphones still left in the suburbs of Prague. These instruments of control are sometimes left intact as dictatorial “flowers of evil”; at other times, they... more
Reviewed by:
Siân Griffiths
“It is barely the summer—just the end of June—and already two teenaged boys have been killed.” So begins Amina Gautier’s debut collection At Risk, winner of the Flannery O’Conner Award for Short Fiction. In it, we find a dangerous world predominantly populated by vulnerable teens, preteens, and the adults whose best intentions cannot save them. In story after story in this collection,... more
Reviewed by:
Addie Leak
I am, I confess, a cat person. Cats are independent, intelligent, clean, charmingly capricious, and they don’t love lightly. I’ve always had the impression that when a cat seemed to love me, I’d done something to earn it.I admit, then, that one reason I was initially drawn to Jacques Poulin’s Mister Blue is that there was a cat on the cover. Reading the flap gave me “Puss in Boots” vibes... more
Reviewed by:
Andrew J. Khaled Madigan
The stories of Ry Cooder are a lot like his music: stately, precise, well constructed; they grab you by the throat, quietly, and never let go.Guitarist, singer, songwriter, producer, and composer, Ryland Peter Cooder has been making music since the 1960s, but Los Angeles Stories is his first collection of fiction. Spanning the years 1940 to 1958, these stories are not grandiose,... more

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Reviewed by:
Zach Savich
One might miss, in the exquisitely shapely poems of Brian Blanchfield’s second collection, A Several World, how frequently the poems’ brash dazzle gives way to wit. In the book’s second poem, “The City State,” for instance, one might still be reeling from the invocation of an expansive shopping list (“bone buttons, stronger cord or—what / more did you need?—hard rolls, then fish and flowers in / descending sectors”) when we get this... more
Reviewed by:
Micah Bateman
Shane McCrae’s second full-length collection of poems, Blood (Noemi Press, 2013), adapts the sliding and stuttering syntax of his first collection, Mule, to narrate and lyricize gruesome slave narratives from America’s past. Actually McCrae gives voices to the wounds themselves from such narratives, assembling an otherworldly chorus of haunting grotesqueries. Whereas nineteenth-century abolitionist novels waged their battles... more
Reviewed by:
Kristina Marie Darling
In her finely crafted debut collection, Dear Darwish, Morani Kornberg-Weiss offers readers a graceful synthesis of domestic imagery and political life. By challenging the boundaries between public and private spaces, and between public and private types of address, the poems in this deftly rendered first book show us that a morning cup of coffee, a dish, and a darkened room can serve as a point of entry to questions that are global in... more
Reviewed by:
Carlo Matos
Kathleen Rooney’s wonderful novel-in-poems, Robinson Alone, tells the story of Robinson, Weldon Kees’s quasi-persona, as he—like his progenitor—makes his way to New York City from the Midwest, travels cross country to San Francisco with a wife who is slowly falling into alcoholism, and finally disappears at the age of forty-one. Like Kees, it is unknown if Robinson makes his way to Mexico or if he plunges off the Golden Gate Bridge.... more
Reviewed by:
Julie Marie Wade
Miami is the best place to be during National Poetry Month, no question. I’ve only lived here two years, and I have already willingly consumed prodigious quantities of the local literary Kool-Aid. Thanks to P. Scott Cunningham, founder of the annual O, Miami Poetry Festival, and a diverse and committed group of south Florida poets, every day of the month of April is dedicated to multiple poetry-centered events throughout the city, from Miami-... more

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Reviewed by:
Philip Kobylarz
A cornucopia of urbanity. An armoire of intellectualism. A cabinet of curiosities. A museum of the quotidian. An herbarium of the fruition of a mind. A college of what isn’t taught in the grove. A compendium of compendia.All of the above describe Howard Junker’s autobiographical-novel-slash-finished-work-in progress, An Old Junker: A Senior Represents—a collection that... more
Reviewed by:
Jericho Parms
In her 1990 A Natural History of the Senses, a grand tour through the luscious world of sight, sound, taste, and touch, Diane Ackerman wrote of the many writers “gloriously attuned” to that oddly powerful sense of smell. Among them, Proust held an affinity for lime-flower tea and madeleines, Woolf ruminated her “parade of city-smells,” Coleridge pondered the aroma of notebooks,... more
Reviewed by:
Joseph Holt
Some writers’ blurbs beg for expansion into full-length memoirs. Take, for instance, that of Deni Y. Béchard, a writer “born in British Columbia to a loving and health-conscious American mother and a French-Canadian father with a penchant for crime and storytelling.” Here is a writer born into not only a conflict of cultures, but also conflicts of care and violence, self-preservation and self-... more
Reviewed by:
Ben Mauk
Geoff Dyer draws no distinction between a work of art—a book, a film, a photograph—and his own encounter with it. He may be congenitally unable to distance the object of his critical attention from its relationship to his personal history, or else just unwilling. But to read Dyer is to have a conversation about art with a fiercely intelligent yet deeply self-involved friend.Obversely, Dyer seems... more
Reviewed by:
A. Naomi Jackson
Binyavanga Wainana’s fantastic new book, One Day I Will Write About This Place explodes the boundaries of memoir and our notions of what it means to be a contemporary African. The book is part travelogue, part coming-of-age story, part African geopolitical history, but really in the end a tale about how its author became a writer. The story is told through dispatches from a particular... more

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