Category: Book Review (Page 1 of 5)

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.

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Book Review: What My Mother and I Don’t Talk About

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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Lee Martin’s The Mutual UFO Network

by: A.m. Larks

To assume that Lee Martin is writing about little green men and flying saucers would be a faux pas, but Martin is writing about things that are no less alien to us: our fellow human beings. The Mutual UFO Network explores the complexity of human relationships, which is as terrifying, strange, and incomprehensible as any extraterrestrial lifeform.

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Susan Orlean’s The Library Book

BY: Annette Davis

Susan Orlean, in her latest work, The Library Book, takes an in-depth look at the Los Angeles Central Library’s fascinating history. Orlean creates an almost romantic image. She entices her readers to see all libraries as something more than book repositories but as living, vital members of communities, catering to the needs of all who seek knowledge and a place of refuge.

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Book Review: LaTasha “Tacha B.” Braxton’s “Dark Chains”

BY: A.M. Larks

 

Dark Chains by LaTasha “Tacha B.” Braxton is a self-published spiritual autobiography of a girl’s journey through abuse to religious conversion. At its high point, Braxton’s story connects the reader to the experience of growing up in an abusive environment. 

We children were suffering the most, having to constantly hear that yelling and bad language influenced by drugs and alcohol through our locked bedroom door. We dealt with the trauma our mother felt from having a gun put to her face by my father. We dealt with the fear after my father threw a big concrete block through their bedroom window, shattering glass everywhere, with the brick barely missing my tiny head as I innocently slept in my mother’s arms. We were succumbing to this dysfunctional curse that would negatively impact too many generations to come.

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