Book Review: Norco ’80 by Peter Houlahan

By David M. Olsen

We just got our asses kicked, didn’t we?” Deputy Andy Delgado says to Deputy Rolf Parkes while in the hospital after an eye surgery to remove bullet shrapnel. This exchange, found in the new book Norco 80: The True Story of the Most Spectacular Bank Robbery in American History by Peter Houlahan, captures the sentiments universally shared by the police after their forces were eviscerated by five masked and heavily armed men in the wake of a botched bank robbery in Norco, California in 1980. Norco is an expertly rendered accounting of these events that reads like a crime thriller and courtroom drama, with all the brutal gravity of a true story. This is true crime at its best.

Attending a Reading: Jamel Brinkley’s “A Lucky Man”

By AM Larks

It is almost 11:45 a.m. on a rare sunny day in Berkeley and instead of being outside, I am sitting in the basement lecture hall of Berkeley City College that smells vaguely of feet. My cell phone doesn’t get reception, so I cannot distract myself from my impatience and anxiety. I am anxious because I want to like this panel of authors, because I deeply respect the moderator, and because I need something to write about, to tie into, my review of Jamel Brinkley’s collection A Lucky Man.

Book Review: Things You Won’t Tell Your Therapist, by Colleen Kearney Rich

By: Felicity Landa

Things You Won’t Tell Your Therapist might appear at first glance as a simple collection of flash fiction, but the breadth of emotion that Colleen Kearney Rich has achieved in her stories is something to be admired. Writers often shy from flash as one of the more difficult formats to capture depth, but Rich runs full force into the form. Rich’s language is cut to the bones, but her details are visceral and real. She steers the reader through her characters’ anxieties, while reminding us of our own. The stories in Rich’s collection are fierce in their simplicity, stolen moments of seemingly quiet lives

The White Card by Claudia Rankine – A Conversational Review

By: AM Larks & AE Santana

Claudia Rankine is the author of five collections of poetry, two plays, numerous video collaborations, and is the editor of several anthologies. Rankine has won the PEN Open Book Award and the PEN Literary Award, the NAACP Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry, and was a finalist for the National Book Award for her book Citizen. Rankine is the recipient of the Poets & Writers’ Jackson Poetry Prize and fellowships from the Lannan Foundation and the National Endowment of the Arts, in addition to other honors and awards.

The White Card by Claudia Rankine is two-scene play that features one black character, Charlotte Cummings, a Yale MFA graduate and a highly successful contemporary artist; and four white characters: Charles Hamilton Spencer, a “well-respected philanthropist” and “lover of contemporary art,” his wife Virginia Compton Spencer, the Spencers’ son Alex Compton-Spencer, an activist who is “deeply involved in current American politics,” and Eric Schmidt, the Spencers’ trusted art dealer. The Spencers invite Charlotte over to dinner in an attempt to convince her to sell her art to them.

The Coachella Review contributors A.E. Santana and A.M. Larks reviewed this play in an interview style with questions, responses, and replies in order to capture the conversation that theater, and specifically The White Card, is meant to evoke.

Book Review: What My Mother and I Don’t Talk About, by Michele Filgate

By Nathania Seales Oh

 

What My Mother and I Don’t Talk About goes beyond the catchy title and delivers a visceral account of maternal relationships that span from childhood memory to adult reckoning. Michele Filgate curates a touching anthology with authors who are not only authentic but often unforgiving as they examine the role their mothers play or have played in their lives. They dissect the mother-and-child dynamic as it currently exists or as expired, while searching for the truth. Stories range from hysterical to heartbreaking, all the while transcending social, cultural, and economic boundaries. Each essay is both unique and universal in detailing the writers’ desire to be loved and understood, just as they also yearn to understand their mothers. They resolve to see their moms as real people—flawed and beautiful, hated and loved.

Book Review: Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson

By Lindsay Jamieson

New York Times best-selling author Laurie Halse Anderson departs from her beloved YA fiction with Shout, her brilliant new memoir written in verse.

Shout, published in March, 2019, marks the twentieth anniversary of Anderson’s groundbreaking novel, Speak, which told the story of Melinda, a 13-year-old who stops speaking after she’s raped. With Shout, Anderson opens a window into the personal experiences that gave her the insight, empathy, and emotion to conjure Melinda, a protagonist who, as she reveals in Shout, has become a hero (and a moniker) for survivors—men and women—of sexual assault. Anderson, like Melinda, was also raped at 13, and she is an ardent believer that words—spoken, shouted, and written—offer a “bridge to escape” the shame. As the last line of the introduction states: “This is the story of a girl who lost her voice and wrote herself a new one.”

Book Review: The Houseguest, by Amparo Dávila

By AM Larks

The Houseguest by Amparo Dávila, translated by Audrey Harris & Matthew Gleeson, is a collection of stories so haunting and so tinged with the surreal that it reminds the reader of the pleasure of being scared. Dávila, whose stories feel both timeless and timely, accomplishes this distress by blending well-known horror tropes with real-world details.

Book Review: The Condition of Secrecy by Inger Christensen (translated by Susanna Nied)

BY: A.M. Larks

“For as human beings, we can’t avoid being part of the artistic process, where source, creation, and effect are inextricably bound together. Here in our necessity,” Inger Christensen writes in her collection of selected essays, The Condition of Secrecy, which contain, in part, her thoughts on writing and its fundamental role in human existence.

Book Review: T Kira Madden’s “Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls”

By: Pallavi Yetur

The debut memoir of essayist T Kira Madden has already been hailed as a gorgeous and harrowing coming-of-age story. And so it is. But the delivery of her story is nowhere near as generic as the term “coming-of age.” In this memoir Madden achieves the feat of creating universal nostalgia and relatability while crafting a world uniquely her own. Conflicts abound—between her mother and father, between her fantasies and reality, between her inner self and her outer appearance. But by its end, Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls proves itself a moving ode to the family and identity Madden fiercely owns.

Book Review: Chaya Bhunaveswar’s “White Dancing Elephants”

BY: A.M. Larks

Chaya Bhuvaneswar fills her collection White Dancing Elephants with honest, unfiltered observations about tragedy and poetic truths, while crafting a diverse set of characters that spans from the unlikeable to the heart-wrenchingly sympathetic.