Category: Book Review (Page 1 of 3)

Book Review: Kim Brooks’s “Small Animals: Parenthood in the Age of Fear”

By: Felicity Landa

Kim Brooks’s book, Small Animals: Parenthood in the Age of Fear, begins with a flurry of emotions that I suspect will be as familiar to other parents as it was to me. In a rush of stress and worry mixed with the impulse to placate her child in a tense situation, Brooks made a split-second decision to leave her four-year-old son in the car while she ran into the store. She was gone for five minutes. She could see the car from the front store windows. And while her son was perfectly fine when she returned, this seemingly trivial decision led to one of the most monumental consequences of Brooks’s parenting years. Someone had filmed her, and sent the video to the police.

Small Animals weaves between memoir and research, as Brooks uncovers the social construct that catalyzed those fateful five minutes and their consequences. Parenthood has been caged and put on display, forever under the scrutiny of spectators who are not involved. Her dissection presents us with a book that expertly defines the one emotion devouring twenty-first-century parenting: Fear. And a society that perpetuates this fear is captivated by violence and failure, prone to judgment, and acts under the guise of protecting the innocent small animals its culture creates.

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Book Review: “Writers Resist: The Anthology 2018”

BY: J. Markowitz

Writers Resist: The Anthology 2018 (Running Wild Press) edited by Kit-Bacon Gressitt and Sara Marchant is a compilation of fiction, poetry, and essays originally published on WritersResist.org, an online literary journal established in the aftermath of Trump’s election. The Resistance is a decentralized activist movement against the powers that led to Trump’s election; the Anthology is a response to the question of the role of the writer in that movement. The book is activism in writing; its pages, a space for debate, confronting oppressive paradigms, and expressing solidarity.

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Book Review: Leah Dieterich’s “Vanishing Twins”

BY: A.M. Larks

I have begun this review eight times now. I know the topics I want to cover, the words I want to say, but the disjointed and interrelated concepts resist a cohesive narrative. The cause, I suspect, is not my lack of writing skills but the high quality of Leah Dieterich’s in her memoir, Vanishing Twins.

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Book Review: Sandra Gail Lambert’s “A Certain Loneliness”

 by Annette Davis

In her touching memoir of life as a disabled lesbian, Sandra Gail Lambert probes the issue of what quality of life really means. Throughout the series of short essays, Lambert takes the reader on a journey from the author’s childhood, where we learn Lambert is stricken with polio, to an adult struggling to maintain her independence in the face of the disease that wracks her body with pain and limitations. In equal parts, the memoir is a story of self-love and the search for Lambert’s one true love—a life partner.

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Book Review: Dallas Woodburn’s “Woman, Running Late, in a Dress”

BY A.M. Larks

Dallas Woodburn’s debut collection of stories, Woman, Running Late, in a Dress, is characterized as interwoven stories, interlinked stories, and, in her own words, “a short story cycle.”

A short story cycle is a curious beast. It is the narwhal of the literary world, a being so odd the Internet could have made it up. But narwhals and short story cycles do exist, and both are rare.

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Book Review: Kristi Coulter’s “Nothing Good Can Come From This”

By Charli Engelhorn

If there was a warning label on the cover of Kristi Coulter’s debut book of essays, Nothing Good Can Come from This, it might read, “This book will cause you to interrogate your life, habits, and doctrines and challenge any previous assessments made about your relationship with alcohol.” That is not to say Coulter’s essays presume to convince the reader of a closeted drinking problem; rather, her heart-rendering prose ladled with sardonic wit create a rumination on the mundane persistence of time, the dichotomy of who we are and who we pretend to be, and the nature of society and compromises required therein, which, if one is not careful, can accumulate into addiction. With a quick and often dark cadence, Coulter weaves her essays to create a remarkable story about the unremarkableness of her journey to sobriety, not in the feat itself, but in the banal scenarios that led to her drinking and decision to stop. There is no melodrama infused in the stories of her alcoholism or sobriety, no sensationalism about addiction, no wringing hands or desperate pleas to the gods. As Coulter explains, after years of massages, yoga, therapists, and other attempts to trick her into wanting to quit, she woke up one day and realized, “what I wanted was no longer important. I would just have to wait and hope that eventually I would want something else.”

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Book Review: Tao Lin’s “Trip”

BY EMILY DUREN

If you want to find out what it feels like, both mentally and physically, to take nearly every psychedelic drug without having to suffer the side effects, look no further than novelist and poet Tao Lin’s Trip: Psychedelics, Alienation, and Change.

            Trip, Lin’s first memoir, centers on the time he was working on his novel Taipei, during which he discovered the work of the late Terrence McKenna, one of the biggest proponents of psychedelics. Deeply alienated while writing Taipei, Lin discovers McKenna’s research and becomes infatuated with the questions he poses about language, beliefs, and existence. However, interest eventually turns to adoption, and the reader is taken through a drug-fueled journey of DMT, MDMA, and many other psychedelics.

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Book Review: Maria Hummel’s “Still Lives”

BY D.M. Olsen

It’s the opening night of Still Lives at the Roque Museum and it’s the buzz of the art scene in Los Angeles. It’s also the wildly anticipated return of Kim Lord, who has conjured up a twelve-piece exhibit portraying the murdered bodies of famous victims including Elizabeth Short, Gwen Araujo, Chandra Levy, and Nicole Brown Simpson. The only issue is, Kim Lord never shows up.

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Book Review: Stuart Kells’s “The Library”

BY A.M. LArks

It’s hard to say that The Library by Stuart Kells is about a single library, or even the idea of a library as we have come to know it—a collection of books that the public can borrow. Stuart Kells’s library is both a historical compilation of well-researched facts that informs the public about the origins of our notion of the “library” and the examination of those assumptions.

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Book Review: Chuck Palahniuk’s “Adjustment Day”

By: D.M. Olsen

As a big Fight Club fan, I came to this book with high hopes for the type of enthralling narrative interspersed with social satire—often bordering on the absurd—that Chuck Palahniuk is known for. Adjustment Day seeks to deliver the same impact—as Fight Club did in the 90s—in a sort of Version 2.0 escalation of the cult concept. Palahniuk uses the novel to introduce what the title suggests, an “Adjustment Day.” A day where a group of men, who have been reading a blue black book by Talbott Reynolds, gather to take down the men in power. They know who to target based on a secret list that has been circulating on the internet and gaining votes. The ear of a person on the list will garner the person who harvested it power in the new world order that is to form after Adjustment Day.

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