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:
Nick Ripatrazone
Instructions for Killing the Jackal might not actually be a manual for killing Canis aureus, but it could be a guidebook for poets hoping to write with originality and confidence. The author of a previous chapbook, Silt (Dancing Girl Press 2009), and the poetry editor for Guernica, Erica Wright’s first full-length collection is clever and sleek, a swift read with sufficient gravity. The book is a paradox, and... more
Reviewed by:
Christopher Prewitt
When one reads Eklund’s poetry, one draws comparisons to Péret with his figurative, associative language, especially as it pertains to Eklund’s metaphors, which at times can also bring to mind García Lorca. From the poem “Burning Milk”:We’d yet to see a whole city burnOnly waiting for what would leakFrom the big eggs of our ideas,From the palm of a broken handNailed to the sky.What sets Eklund’s latest full-length Each Breath I Cannot Hold... more
Reviewed by:
Ruth Williams
Though Jeongrye Choi is the author of four books of poetry in her native South Korea, her work has been largely unavailable to American audiences; however, with Instances, a translation of Choi’s selected poems by Brenda Hillman, Wayne De Fremery, and Jeongrye Choi herself, English readers now have the opportunity to encounter one of South Korea’s most intriguing women poets.In a prefatory note to the collection, Brenda Hillman quotes... more
Reviewed by:
Michael Martin Shea
Water Puppets, Quan Barry’s third full-length collection and winner of the 2010 Donald Hall Prize in Poetry, is anything but puppetry, striking a forceful blow against the idea of poetry as naïve navel-gazing. It takes as its motivating question, “What does poetry have to do with the real world?” and throws an emphatic response, as Barry builds a narrative at once personal and political, reflecting on her own past as an immigrant from... more
Reviewed by:
Chris Martin
You may come to this book looking for a stance on Beauty. You may come to it looking for more Snoop Dogg references. You may come looking for a catalog of Mark Leidner’s Twitter feed. In each of these cases you will arrive misguided, but by the time you realize it you will be halfway through this immanently readable book and a couple of express stops past your intended subway exit. In adopting the serial aphorism for his debut collection of... more

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