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Blog posts tagged with "book review"

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Big Ideas in Bite-Sized Essays

Big Ideas in Bite-Sized Essays By Rebekah Hoffer   |  July 2, 2021
Jason Schwartzman’s first book, No One You Know, contains sixty-two essays—many of them just a few paragraphs long—in a concise 155 pages. Each tiny essay in this fragmented collection illustrates a brief, memorable interaction with a stranger, creating the effect of a photo collage.
Keywords: book review

We Might As Well Die Laughing

We Might As Well Die Laughing By David MacWilliams   |  June 4, 2021
John Rember’s essay collection is both delightful and depressing. The ten essays, each divided into ten segments (thus, the “hundred little pieces”), flesh out his perspective as our civilization and its natural environment crumbles.
Keywords: book review

Essays All: However We Decide to Collect Them

Essays All: However We Decide to Collect Them By Beth Alvarado   |  May 4, 2021
When I was sending out an early version of my manuscript, Anxious Attachments (2019), several agents, who were all interested in the book, asked me to revise it so it would be a “memoir in essays” and not an essay collection, as I thought of the book.
Keywords: book review

Exorcising, Freeing, and Healing Trauma

Exorcising, Freeing, and Healing Trauma By Krystal Sierra   |  April 2, 2021
Extreme. That’s one way to describe David Tromblay’s As You Were. Another way is horrific. A memoir that speaks to American Indian art, culture, history, and tradition, is not this one. Instead, Tromblay’s is a discovery of self only after he has lived to tell the tale, centering his trauma and survival as explicit indicators of his character.
Keywords: book review

Next Stop, Middle-Aged Fatherhood

Next Stop, Middle-Aged Fatherhood By Cyndie Zikmund   |  March 2, 2021
Franklin, the author of another University of Nebraska collection, My Wife Wants You to Know I’m Happily Married, is the father of three boys and is about to turn forty. He has challenges teaching his children how to become good men while he struggles with more global concerns such as social injustice, the meaning of life, and the American mythologies we impart to our children.
Keywords: book review

The People We Once Were

The People We Once Were By Mark Neely   |  February 5, 2021
At the heart of Alysia Li Ying Sawchyn’s impressive debut is the moment when, after being found by her mother in a state of distress, she winds up, at eighteen, in a locked hospital ward and is diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
Keywords: book review

Meditative Naturalist, Intimate Essayist, Visionary Author

Meditative Naturalist, Intimate Essayist, Visionary Author By Robert Root   |  January 8, 2021
I began reading the essays of Scott Russell Sanders when I encountered “The Inheritance of Tools” in The Best American Essays 1987. I’ve collected his books of essays ever since and, as a life-long resident of Great Lakes states, have felt a strong sense of identification with works like Secrets of the Universe, Staying Put: Making a Home in a Restless World, Writing From the Center, and Hunting for Hope: A Father’s Journeys.
Keywords: book review

Reckoning with Not-Knowing

Reckoning with Not-Knowing By Joanna Eleftheriou   |  December 2, 2020
Two wonderfully readable recent books probe the authors’ past losses in order to reimagine their and our futures. Dispatches from the End of Ice by Beth Peterson and The Memory Eaters by Elizabeth Kadetsky look towards Norway, France, and the influence Northern Europe has long had on American thought.
Keywords: book review

What It Means to Bless

What It Means to Bless By Debbie Hagan   |  November 2, 2020
In 1959, twelve-year-old Orr rises early with his three brothers, heads to the field with their father. They shoot their rifles and kill a deer. Just as they celebrate, Orr’s gun goes off again, this time killing his eight-year-old brother, Peter.
Keywords: book review

The Cadence of an Individual Heartbeat

The Cadence of an Individual Heartbeat By Tarn Wilson   |  October 2, 2020
“I’ve always been a hungry reader,” Rebecca McClanahan writes in her newest collection In the Key of New York. Me too. And I often read as I eat: I gobble. But, as with certain transcendent meals, there are books that, from the first page, ask that I slow down and savor: hold the book carefully, turn the pages mindfully. McClanahan’s memoir-in-essays is just such a book. As I read, I found myself asking what qualities define writing that both enlivens and stills the reader.
Keywords: book review

Bathing (Again) at 9600 Feet

Bathing (Again) at 9600 Feet By Jill Christman   |  September 2, 2020
Slow Arrow: Unearthing the Frail Children has a sub-subtitle that appears only on the title page: Essays from 9600 feet, an ascension to yet another layer, so Winograd. I will begin at that altitude, in the Colorado cabin Winograd built with her husband Leonard—who features frequently in these pages as voice of reason, asker of crucial questions (“Where are the bees?”), cracker of jokes, watcher of sky, and bearer of arachnid mercy in the form of an oft-used spider jar.
Keywords: book review

Relighting the Candle

Relighting the Candle By RenĂ©e E. D’Aoust   |  August 3, 2020
In Sonja Livingston’s The Virgin of Prince Street: Expeditions into Devotion, the author is drawn to explore her youth in the Catholic Church. She longs to return to the intertwined experience of childhood and faith when the two were inseparable.
Keywords: book review

How to Save Yourself in Nine Steps

How to Save Yourself in Nine Steps By Deborah L. Hall   |  July 9, 2020
I was so immersed in Judith Sara Gelt’s memoir Reckless Steps Toward Sanity about her life growing up in a Denver neighborhood in the 1960s and 1970s that I kept entering a time warp. It’s not fair to Gelt’s story that my own memories of living during the same era kept flashing through. Gelt sent my senses hurdling back in time with the mention of TV shows or magazines, filling my head with jingles and laugh tracks and the sound of Stevie Wonder’s voice.
Keywords: book review

Haunted by Sandy Hook

Haunted by Sandy Hook By Joy Gaines-Friedler   |  June 3, 2020
Carol Ann Davis’s collection of nine essays is a memoir, a treatise on aesthetic expression, and a philosophical journey through the aftermath of what was, in 2012, the deadliest school shooting in American history. Her son Willem, seven at the time, was at Hawley Elementary, one mile away from Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
Keywords: book review

Scholar’s Sensibility, Poet’s Eye

Scholar’s Sensibility, Poet’s Eye By Robert Root   |  May 1, 2020
Since 1926 the John Burroughs Association has awarded its medal to nature writers, many of whom I’ve heard of (Carson, Eiseley, Zwinger, Leopold, Lopez, and McPhee for starters) and many others I haven’t but might want to look up. Having read both Sightlines and Surfacing, her 2019 collection of essays, I readily include Jamie among those we most need to be reading.
Keywords: book review

A Tragic History. Its Legacy Still Troubled.

A Tragic History. Its Legacy Still Troubled. By Richard Goodman   |  April 1, 2020
Imagine my delight in finding that Siberian Exile, by Julija Šukys, about the search for her grandparents’ past, weighs in at a mere 166 pages. What I didn’t know was that even in such a brief book about her grandparents’ fates in war-torn Lithuania and Siberia, there is a Gordian knot of drama, pain, loss, and speculation. I don’t think 166 pages can be more complex than they are in Siberian Exile. This is both exciting, enlightening, harrowing, and frustrating for the reader.

Their Home Is Not Here

Their Home Is Not Here By Lindsay Hickman   |  March 2, 2020
The Ungrateful Refugee is a perfect title; readers may feel Nayeri’s inner demons waging a war of gratefulness for the endless opportunities her citizenship in the United States has brought her as well as for the memories, roots, and customs her new status has taken away, particularly a close relationship with her father in Iran.
Keywords: book review

Make Present the Experience of the Other: Three Memoirs of Political Witness

Make Present the Experience of the Other: Three Memoirs of Political Witness By Glen Retief   |  February 9, 2020
Memoir has, of course, never carried the cachet of poetry. Yet like the poetry or fiction of witness, the outward-looking, politically engaged memoir and essay have a rich and respected literary pedigree, including slave narratives (the predominant form of African-American literature until the twentieth century); Mark Twain’s pamphlet about the genocide in the Congo Free State; James Baldwin’s and George Orwell’s searing dissections of racism and colonialism; Ivan Turgenev’s descriptions of Jean-Baptiste Tropmann’s execution; and Mary McCarthy’s brilliant denunciations of American Stalinism, to name just a few.

Michael Steinberg: A Remembrance and a Review

Michael Steinberg: A Remembrance and a Review By Thomas Larson   |  January 3, 2020
In December 2019, in a country torn apart by Donald Trump’s bullying and Fox News’ Pravda-like misinformation, in congressional hearings that traded in the ridiculous and the profound, in a democracy under such partisan assault it seemed to buckle before our eyes, and in the month of Trump’s impeachment, we were hit with grave news of another sort: creative nonfiction’s (and my) beloved colleague, mentor, and friend, Mike Steinberg, 79, died from pancreatic cancer, undiscovered until a week before he passed.
Keywords: book review

Feral Youth, Fast Cars, and Fraught Love

Feral Youth, Fast Cars, and Fraught Love By Brandel France de Bravo   |  December 2, 2019
While billed as a memoir, Knock Wood, winner of the 2018 Dzanc Nonfiction Prize, is more akin to a theme-and-variations composition: Think love-child of early Bruce Springsteen and Bach’s Goldberg Variations. An acclaimed poet, Militello tells her story in twenty-nine discrete essays that mostly eschew chronology.
Keywords: book review

The Biology of Flesh and Bone

The Biology of Flesh and Bone By Detrick Hughes   |  November 1, 2019
In To Float in the Space Between, Terrance Hayes writes, “One’s poetics should be liquid.” Before grabbing hold of that line, I had already dipped into this book’s structure, a dialogue between Hayes, Etheridge Knight’s life and his poetry, and interviews and stories by writers acquainted with Knight’s work.
Keywords: book review

Many Lives, Many Bodies

Many Lives, Many Bodies By Katy Major   |  October 7, 2019
Noble’s slim collection is teeming with ghosts of all shapes and sizes. However absent the hauntings therein may feel to her, to this reader they are vivid and immediate and bold, nestled in dreamlike prose.
Keywords: book review

One Word Says It All

One Word Says It All By Jenna McGuiggan   |  September 7, 2019
Where—or what—is your hearth of hearths? Where is the place you feel most alive or connected? What is the thing that reminds you who you are and to what (or whom) you belong? In all the world, what do you call home? These are some of the questions that Annick Smith and Susan O’Connor pondered as they edited Hearth: A Global Conversation on Identity, Community, and Place.
Keywords: book review

Shapes Shifted, Senses Altered, Values Freely Wheeled

Shapes Shifted, Senses Altered, Values Freely Wheeled By Thomas Larson   |  August 2, 2019
There may be no more startling way to bait readers into an essay than this: “Is there a word for the unsettling sensation of sitting down on an unexpectedly warm toilet seat, because someone used it just before you and sat there for a good long while? Maybe something in German?” The author titles it: “FREUDENSCHANDE: PRIV(AC)Y,” that is “joyful-shame.” Using wilder “made-up” German compounds as section titles, she compares the “bowel mover” in the “public privy” to the commodious confessions of personal nonfiction, the emotional “shitshow” so many memoirists and essayists insist readers must sit with.
Keywords: book review

Grounded and Discomfited: Women in the West

Grounded and Discomfited: Women in the West  By Ana Maria Spagna   |  July 2, 2019
Visit Whitman Mission National Historic Site outside of Walla Walla, Washington, on a fall day, and you see golden rolling hills against rich blue sky. Bright clouds float toward flat-topped ridges lined with windmills. The scenery stretches spacious and bucolic and belies the bloody past. Here, on November 29, 1847, Marcus and Narcissa Whitman, a doctor and his missionary wife, and eleven others were famously massacred. Five Cayuse Indian men were accused of the crime and hanged. News of the violence caused legislators in Washington D.C. to give the territory an official name, Oregon, and to assign a provisional governor who immediately declared war on the Cayuse Nation. In I Am a Stranger Here Myself, winner of the 2017 River Teeth book prize, Debra Gwartney revisits this history.
Keywords: book review

Keeping Connected to the Natural World

Keeping Connected to the Natural World By Robert Root   |  June 3, 2019
Most days my wife and I read a book aloud at dinnertime and we each read a book silently at bedtime. Sometimes one book reverberates with the other, cumulatively expanding our consciousness. That happened when we read Hope Jahren’s Lab Girl together and I read Elizabeth Rush’s Rising over the same period.
Keywords: book review

Every Time I Read Him, I Feel Smarter

Every Time I Read Him, I Feel Smarter By Judith Sara Gelt   |  May 4, 2019
"Rather than clone what has already been documented—tweets and news reports, from right-leaning and left-leaning sources—Shields racks up an alternative collection of sources to support his thesis. This wide range of quotable material is, in part, what has me turning the pages..."
Keywords: book review

Resisting the Bright Shining Epiphany

Resisting the Bright Shining Epiphany By Tarn Wilson   |  April 1, 2019
Karen Babine's All the Wild Hungers captures the disorientation we feel when faced with this most ordinary, yet extraordinary, of shocks: the mortality of those dearest to us. These short, meditative essays span the eight months of her mother’s recovery from embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare cancer.
Keywords: book review

The Limits of Ownership, The Vagaries of Possession

The Limits of Ownership, The Vagaries of Possession By Jessie van Eerden   |  March 1, 2019
Sarah Viren's debut collection explores the concept of ownership. It begins with an essay on the ownership of material goods--the narrator's landlord lends her the furniture that belongs to a man on trial for murder. The essays that follow ask what it means to own one's body, one's family members, one's language, even one's story that is inextricably intertwined with the stories of others.
Keywords: book review

Blamed No More

Blamed No More By Ann Piper   |  February 7, 2019
Heartland, by journalist Sarah Smarsh, already a nonfiction finalist for the 2018 National Book Award and the Kirkus Prize, is a multigenerational account of a hardworking family caught in the systemic forces that perpetuate the unknown and disdained Americans who are sometimes called "white trash."

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