Book Reviews

Reviewed by:
Elizabeth Boyle
Running is a “spectacular balancing act,” ESPN journalist Kate Fagan writes in What Made Maddy Run. “A runner is always attempting to control everything—time, energy, form, workouts, food intake, hydration.” At the college level, distance athletes often have a team of experts helping them perform this balancing act. As a Big Ten distance runner, for example, I worked often with athletic... more
Reviewed by:
Maggie Anderson
A walking stick, a club, dirty laundry, boxes, a skillet, a sword, a spoon—can such everyday objects tell us secrets or foretell our future? Can they feel pain or act immorally? How much of us can our things hold, and how much of them can we absorb? “We are attached to the possession of a thing because we think that if we cease to possess it, it will cease to exist,” wrote the French philosopher... more
Reviewed by:
Kerry Hillis Goff
Years ago, when I read William Carlos Williams’s collection of poems Spring and All (1923), it was the first time I experienced a poet who tried to teach people how to read his poetry in his poetry. “So much depends” is the center argument of his book-length tutorial:so much depends upon a red wheelbarrow glazed with rainwater beside the whitechickens  Pretty much, if any one of... more
Reviewed by:
Ian Faith
If you’ve been paying attention to video games at all over the last decade, you know that writing has become an integral part of the medium. Nearly every game from independent to big budget “triple A” studios, features some type of narrative, if only to justify its own mechanics. Although subject to skepticism by gamer culture, games within the so-called walking simulators genre like Gone... more
Reviewed by:
Jack Smith
Author of two novels and story collections, Christine Sneed is a master of short as well as long fiction. It’s the inner spaces where Sneed truly excels, with a riveting prose style that captures the depths of her characters’ thoughts, feelings, and conflicted selves. The stories that make up her most recent collection The Virginity of Famous Men reveal an extraordinary range of types.... more

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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:
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
Reviewed by:
Philip Kobylarz
Diane Frank’s new novel is not a probable thing. Yoga of the Impossible expands narrative form into other selves of memoir, autobiography, vignette, day journal, and philosophical discourse centering on life, its meanings, and the crafting of one’s being. As readers may revisit Basho’s Narrow Road to the Deep North longing for the illusive concept of home, this something-beyond-... more
Reviewed by:
Aviya Kushner
For the sixty-six years of its existence, Israel has been a hotbed of political strife and economic struggle, and the subject of passionate discussion about what the country should and should not be. The difference between the grand dream of Israel and the often problematic contemporary reality is a main subject of Who Will Die Last, a collection of short stories by David Ehrlich, who... more
Reviewed by:
Rachel Arndt
The narcissism began to seep: through Teju Cole’s narrator, into my paperback-clutching hands, on an airplane from Chicago to New York. It was my first time back in New York since I’d left, six months ago, after living there for a little more than three years. The city demands approximation: about a half a year ago; more than three years; an airplane, suspended over someplace in between two other... more

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Reviewed by:
Davy Knittle
If Jennifer Moxley is the speaker of the poems in her new collection The Open Secret (Flood Editions, 2014), she is a number of people. If she is “the poet” and also the “I” of the poems, and I, as the reader, am the “you,” because the “I” is also sometimes the “you,” we might be each other. Personhood is fluid, as she writes in “Evacuations”:                                              …The poet startscounting in order to show the “... more
Reviewed by:
Phoebe Reeves
Best Bones, Sarah Rose Nordgren’s first book of poems, won the 2013 Agnes Lynch Starrett Prize and was released from the University of Pittsburgh Press Pitt Poetry Series last year. Nordgren’s debut collection displays a Greek chorus of voices, ranging from the quiet tones of small children and ghosts to the sly or bitter tales of adults: wives, mistresses, slaves, and shepherds. “Stillbirth,” the poem that opens the first section of... more
Reviewed by:
Lisa Butts
Richard Siken's second collection, coming a decade after his Yale Younger Poets prize-winning debut Crush, finds the poet a subdued man with more mature preoccupations. The erotic energy and dazzling infatuation that drove Crush are replaced in War of the Foxes with frustrations about the impossibility of creating pure and true artistic representations. Siken sets this conversation in motion from the book's opening... more
Reviewed by:
Alana Folsom
Dorothea Lasky's Rome begins with lines not from Ovid or Horace, but with Yeats: “Consume my heart away; sick with desire / and fastened to a dying animal…”; and Lasky’s poems adhere, on a subject level, to this epigraph. But Rome is a book about language and voice more than its subject matter: the carnality of humanity when we’re reduced to raw emotion—especially love and loss, which burn hot at the core of the book. Rome... more
Reviewed by:
Ben Jackson
In David Roderick’s second book, The Americans, a complicated national citizenry emerges, stirred by dreams and privileges, violence and regret, utterly insistent on borders, however blurred they may be, and intent on home as a pastoral heartland. The book is split in near-even halves: Section 1—18 poems, 31 pages; Section 2—19 poems, 34 pages. Both sections contain three “Dear Suburb” poems, each of the poems an intimate letter to... more

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Reviewed by:
Janis Butler Holm
An entire book composed solely of lists on Facebook? Please—spare me. Or so one might think before reading Matias Viegener's 2500 Random Things about Me Too, a memoir-like experiment in nonfiction constraint writing. In this tour de force, Viegener—artist, writer, critic, and teacher at the California Institute of the Arts—has taken postmodern fragmentation to its successful extreme,... more
Reviewed by:
Rachel Z. Arndt
“Did we feel then, or do we feel now?” is the first question in No Regrets—n+1's new book of discussions with twelve female writers, editors, academics, and artists—that comes from a participant, not the moderator. There are two important words in that question, both of them said twice. “We” establishes a unity among the participants, and “feel” establishes that that unity comes from... more
Reviewed by:
Caitlin Keefe Moran
In “Shifting Shadows,” one of the many standout essays in Julian Hoffman’s slim The Small Heart of Things: Being at Home in a Beckoning World, Hoffman explains the subtitle of his collection succinctly: “To be at home means finding a way of sustaining a keen and watchful engagement as both the place and I change, altering and shifting with the seasons, the light, and passing time.”... more
Reviewed by:
Addie Leak
My first thought as I read Stefan Tobler’s translation of Água Viva for the first time was that I wanted to memorize it. All of it. A few moments later, I came to a passage in which Lispector acknowledges the mosaic quality of the work: “I know that after you read me it's hard to reproduce my song by ear, it's not possible to sing it without having learned it by heart. And how can you... more
Reviewed by:
Jacqueline Kolosov
Possibility: Essays Against Despair, Patricia Vigderman's second book, shares affinities with her first, The Memory Palace of Isabella Stewart Gardner. Associative in nature, the essays assembled here cross genres, encompassing biography, memoir, art history, natural history, and film studies, to name just a few of the subjects that Vigderman brings into dialogue. In the... more

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