This blog is long dead. Please go to

14 April 2010

Reviews of our new titles at Publishers Weekly, NewPages, Fanzine, and Sonora Review

Publishers Weekly reviews Traci O Connor's Recipes for Endangered Species

. . . These stories constitute some tender, aching love stories. Connor's characters are curious specimens who don't quite fit in, but have rich inner lives, such as Zha Zha, the chronically unfaithful exotic dancer in “The Flying Codona” (“tits are made of cantaloupe and she eats them with a spoon”), whose lovelorn boyfriend consoles himself by dreaming of being a trapeze artist. “Starla and June” is a creepy, Hitchcockian tale about an unraveling love affair involving a prosthetic hand that offers words of courage and strength: “Oh, Pet, she'll be back,” says the hand. “Van Gogh Dreams” juxtaposes vivid descriptions of flowers with excerpts from the painter's late asylum notebooks to evoke the chilling stream-of-consciousness of a troubled narrator. “Monkey Teeth” is a kind of nut job's notebook, full of Lolita-like obsession (including photographs). Cocktail recipes conclude each of the stories in this varied and occasionally unnerving debut collection. [Click here for the full review.]

Jeremy Benson at NewPages reviews Kim Gek Lin Short's The Bugging Watch & Other Exhibits

The Bugging Watch & Other Exhibits is under a porch, is between the fridge and the cupboard, is hiding among the coats and sweaters in the tilted closet above the basement stairs. Its shapeshifting and heartbreak is nightmarishly microscopic and horrifically asymptotical. . . . Short’s prose poems have the exactitude of obsessive compulsion, yet the imagery and dimness of an opiate trip sponsored by Lewis Caroll – “And the tiny book became the word for rainbow and spilled into Harlan’s many gloved hands.” She frequently stretches the parameters of grammar, rearranging conventional syntax to just off kilter; her written style as surreal as her yarn-and-insect imagery. The result is a terrifying, ungraspable split-level love story: futile, sad and beautiful. [Click here for the full review.]

Sonora Review's Editor, Jake Levine, reviews Shelly Taylor's Black-Eyed Heifer

Shelly Taylor’s first collection Black-Eyed Heifer (Tarpaulin Sky) inhabits the possibilities of language, indigenous in its diction, but radically unfamiliar in its jagged syntax and extended lines. This is neither an experimental or pastoral poetry, but a fusion of speech and intellect that reflect a poet who is deeply rooted in the earth, its dirt and concrete, its horses and cats, but speaks in a rhythm that explodes into space, taps into the pacing of a 21st century phantasmagoric, recollected, American landscape and self. If you made Robert Creeley write lines the length of Frank Stanford’s The Battlefield Where The Moon says I love you, gave them both the sensibility and precise diction of a contemporary Emily Dickinson riding on a horse fast enough to get from Athens to Brooklyn in 10 minutes, then you’d get something like Taylor’s poems. The pacing is high octane, pyrotechnic, but the discursive function of the content is old school, familiar, and impressively defiant. [Click here for the full review.]

Trinie Dalton, at Fanzine, reviews Joanna Ruocco's Man's Companions

Part of what compelled me to read Man’s Companions was my curiosity about a fellow author who had also pondered “Unicorns.” This story, I happily report, is one of the highlights of the book. In it, an embittered writer ruminates on writer’s block, while processing jealousy of her prolific boyfriend by reducing his success to ‘phallogocentrism.’ “When I am not writing, I feel bad. But when I am writing, I am usually not writing. I feel bad. I sit in front of the computer doing small, surreptitious things to my body. When Dave is writing, his…posture is excellent and his fingers never stop moving across the keyboard…” She arrives at the phallus via noting Dave’s confidence, his efficient practice, and his boarding school education. “Whimsy,” she writes, “is how the phallogocentric artists try to hide the phallus. They hide the phallus right there in the open, with unicorns.” Even in this passage, one notices Ruocco’s peculiar writing style, in which short sentences show logical ideas leading to the next in almost robotic bursts. Then they leap somewhere else completely, recalling Lydia Davis’s grammatical, poetic math. [Click here for the full review--which begins with a review of TSky-friend Kevin Sampsell's A Common Pornography.]

And in case you missed it a couple weeks ago: Publishers Weekly reviews Joanna Ruocco's Man's Companions

Thirty-one brief, clever tales from the author of The Mothering Coven employ traits from the animal kingdom to underscore absurdities in the human species. 'Lemmings,' for example, features a desultory dialogue between two lovers who debate the better 'iconic' location to jump from—the Space Needle or the Empire State Building. . . . Satisfyingly developed, such as the nuttily obtuse 'Flying Monkeys,' featuring a rarely intersecting conversation between two women onboard an airplane that reveals how the women—former best friends who happen to sit next to each other—can't stand each other. . . . Ruocco's understated humor and irony have a playful, experimental appeal. [Click here for the fill review.]