BOOKREVIEWS

October 21, 2019

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Peter Davis, Band Names & Other Poems, Bloof Books, 2018, $16

The latest poetry collection by Peter Davis is everything that the title implies: a long-form list of band names. The two vertical columns that span more than 200 pages get interrupted periodically by more traditional free-verse lyrics, which take their titles from the names in the list. This stack of buzzwords, quips, puns, and slang may contain no apparent narrativ...

October 21, 2019

Lydia Kiesling, The Golden State, MCD, 2018, $26.

In 2016, Lydia Kiesling published an essay in the New Yorker in which she wrote, “Bureaucratic experiences are like dreams: profoundly affecting, but very boring to hear about.” Two years later, Kiesling published The Golden State, a novel in which she emphatically proves herself wrong.

The Golden State’s story is set in motion when Daphne Nilson—an American woman whose Turkish h...

October 21, 2019

Marream Krollos, Big City, Fiction Collective Two, 2018, $18.95

When you start Marream Krollos’s Big City, you might feel as though you are reading a hopeless horoscope, perturbing yet everyday. Krollos sets up a tension between “I” and “we,” the individual and collective at odds or symbiotic in the urban landscape. In this, she captures the unique sort of loneliness one might face in a crowd—that energy telling us that we are...

August 12, 2019

Beth Bachmann, CEASE, University of Pittsburgh Press, 2018. $17.

Any reader familiar with Beth Bachmann’s work will remember her first book, Temper: a stunning, lyric obsession with a sister’s murder. Do Not Rise followed and dealt with the fallout from that murder and the post-traumatic stress and pervasive emotional turmoil that survivors of trauma might be at war with for the rest of their lives. Her new collection, CEASE, c...

May 20, 2019

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Katya Apekina, The Deeper the Water the Uglier the Fish,  Two Dollar Radio, 2018. $16.99

Long before receiving my copy of Katya Apekina’s novel The Deeper the Water the Uglier the Fish, I was aware of the buzz surrounding it. Several respected outlets had published rave reviews. Social media was in love. I was excited to finally have my copy, and I can honestly say that the novel lives up to the praise. What’s more impressive i...

April 22, 2019

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The Collected Letters of Flann O’Brien, Maebh Long, ed. Dalkey Archive Press, 2018. $26.00

“To be interesting a letter has to be offensive and it takes long practice and skill to put it in such a way that it will appear.” –Flann O’Brien

Flann O’Brien was one of the pseudonyms used by Irish author Brian O’Nolan for numerous correspondences, novels, and other scribblings from the 1930s until his death in 1966. Of this, editor Maeb...

April 1, 2019

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Max Ritvo. The Final Voicemails. Milkweed Editions, 2018. $22.00.

I’ve known so many people with voicemails they won’t delete from their inboxes—messages from loved ones who have passed, tinny when replayed over their phone’s speaker. There’s something about a final voicemail that is both intensely intimate and oppressively distant. It’s something more than silence; it’s a voice that has said all that it ever will. In this way,...

December 17, 2018

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This Review was written by Billy Hallal and was featured in The Southeast Review Vol. 31.2.

Jess Walter. We Live in Water: Stories. HarperCollins Publishers, 2013. $14.99.

While searching for his small-time crook father in a newly gentrified North Idaho town, Michael Dessens has a realization about the destruction he has wrought on his own life: “A hole opened up and he had to know what was inside it. So he picked and picked unt...

November 12, 2018

This Review was written by Lisa McMurtray and was featured in The Southeast Review Vol. 33.1.

Wendy Xu. You Are Not Dead. Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 2013. $15.95.

“Maybe don’t for another minute be afraid / of anything,” Wendy Xu writes in her first full-length collection, You Are Not Dead. And it is easy to be unafraid while reading these poems because these poems ask the reader to give themselves fully to the mo...

October 29, 2018

Meg Wolitzer. The Female Persuasion. Riverhead Books, 2018. $28.00.

In her 2018 novel The Female Persuasion, best-selling writer Meg Wolitzer offers a story mixing coming-of-age, loss of a family member, and women’s struggle to find what the novel calls an “outside voice”—a voice to make themselves heard in a patriarchal society. The novel shares its title with the character Faith Frank’s early feminist work, which propels the...

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