Book Reviews

Reviewed by:
Michael S. Lewis-Beck
Midwest humorists can be pretty funny—sometimes very funny, like June Melby. Melby, an Iowa native who for years worked the stand-up comedy circuit in L.A., returns to her childhood serving up sno-cones and wisecracks in her debut memoir about growing up on a mini-golf course, My Family and Other Hazards (Henry Holt and Company, 2014).Year after year, June and her sisters crushed ice and... 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-... more
Reviewed by:
Jeremy Griffin
I confess that when I sat down to read Christopher Linforth’s debut story collection When You Find Us We Will Be Gone (Lamar UP, 2014), my expectations were low. This was no fault of the author’s; rather, I had recently been through a spate of bad story collections that had left me jaded. This isn’t uncommon, as any reviewer will tell you, though he will also tell you that it’s... more
Reviewed by:
Andrew Blackman
How does a literary text come into being? Is it born from mad inspiration, or from the labor of a logical mind?Pablo M. Ruiz explores these questions in Four Cold Chapters on the Possibility of Literature (Leading Mostly to Borges and Oulipo) (Dalkey Archive, 2014), but he also ends up doing much more. He takes us on a journey through literature from Aristotle to Queneau and, being a... more
Reviewed by:
Russell Scott Valentino
Under the influence of having just completed this book—and let me note at the outset that the influence is hard to resist—I feel like I could start just about anywhere in reviewing it, so why not a footnote. There is just one in the book, but what a footnote, extending over two pages, explicative, digressive, apt, entertaining, and, best of all, delivered in the voice of the translator, Alyson... more

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Reviewed by:
Erika Jo Brown
Let us, for a moment, judge a book by its cover. The title of Jennifer Karmin’s debut poetry collection, aaaaaaaaaaalice, stretches across the span of the book in hollow, clean, orange typeface. Several blue keywords wrap around laterally. The front cover, mostly white space, is modestly embellished with three inky bunnies in the bottommost corner. The astute typography and layout design reflect the accomplishments of the book, which... more
Reviewed by:
Tim Wood
Not invent—just answer—all That verse attempts. That we can somehow add each to each other? —George Oppen, “Blood from the Stone”May 28, 2011 is the anniversary of Leslie Scalapino’s passing. Last summer, I read Lyn Hejinian’s eulogy “Leslie Scalapino Remembered” and, with many, mourned the loss of an original and radical poet. In her eulogy, Hejinian talks about Scalapino’s deep connection to Buddhism and their collaborative work; together,... more
Reviewed by:
Tod Marshall
“A book of poems is a damn serious affair,” says Wallace Stevens. If so, a book of one hundred seventy-seven pages is mighty serious. That’s the length of Richard Kenney’s newest book, a sprawling yet coherent collection in which he harmonizes serious chords with playful notes to make a metrically brilliant, tonally various, emotionally resonant, sometimes scathing, sometimes silly book that impresses as much with its technical virtuosity as... more
Reviewed by:
Matt Miller
“What need for purists when the demotic is built to last, To outlast us, and no dialect hears us?"—John Ashbery, “Purists Will Object”Perhaps it would have been too obvious, too neat of a summary or gloss, but a part of me wishes Mark Tursi had introduced his book, The Impossible Picnic, with John Ashbery’s epigrammatic closing couplet from his 1984 poem “Purists Will Object.” It would have been instructive, perhaps too pointedly so for... more

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