Category: Reviews

Review: You Should Pity Us Instead

You Should Pity Us Instead by Amy Gustine Review by Karen Tucker “Most serious and productive artists,” writes Joyce Carol Oates, “are ‘haunted’ by their material—this is the galvanizing force of their creativity, their motivation. It is not and cannot be a fully conscious or volitional ‘haunting’—it is something that seems to happen to us, as if from without, no matter what craft…

Review: Mrs. Engels

Mrs. Engels by Gavin McCrea Review by Sean Towey Close your eyes and imagine Karl Marx. Can you see him? That giant head covered in curly hair, that jolly girth? Good. Now bring to mind his partner in ideology Friedrich Engels. A little bit harder to do, right? Is it Freud with more hair? Or maybe Nietzsche but less Mark…

Review: White Blight

White Blight by Athena Farrokhzad Translated by Jennifer Hayashida Review by Charlotte Muzzi Athena Farrokhzad’s White Blight, translated by Jennifer Hayashida, is a book-length lyric poem about the pressures of living in a culture that recognizes your own culture as other. Farrokhzad was born in Tehran and raised in Sweden. It is difficult not to read the book as directly…

Review: The Meursault Investigation

The Meursault Investigation by Kamel Daoud Review by Feroz Rather Albert Camus is a modern prophet of humanism. He was born in 1913 in Mondovi, Algeria, into the French settler community. For eight months he lived with his father who, when the World War First broke out, was called up. Lucien was wounded in the Battle of Marne and died…

Review: A Little Life

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara Review by Megan Tilley At the center of A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara is love. The kind of love that binds four men together over the decades, as their lives expand past their shared college experiences. The kind of love that spurs a professor to adopt his former student to give him the parents that he…

Review: The Spectral Wilderness

The Spectral Wilderness by Oliver Bendorf Review by Rachel Sahaidachny Oliver Bendorf writes in the poem “Ghost Dog,” “I miss things sometimes that I cannot locate in the heart.” Art is a form of preservation. Poems in The Spectral Wilderness observe, interrogate, and record the subtle shifts in mind, body, and relationships through the process of transitioning from female to male, presented…

Review: Thief in the Interior

Thief in the Interior by Phillip B. Williams Review by Jayme Ringleb All of the poems in Thief in the Interior, Phillip B. Williams’s debut collection, are poems in direct conversation with poetic forms and traditions, with poets and poetic movements, or with ongoing acts of violence against both Black and queer lives. The poems also work to narrate the difficult progress of…

Review: The Narrow Door

The Narrow Door by Paul Lisicky Review by Bailey Kimbell Vulnerability spills from Paul Lisicky’s memior The Narrow Door. An atmosphere of exposure hovers over work, relationships, and homes and leaves us with the distinct impression that our emotions and motives are being scrutinized, even as the writer exposes his own. And it’s not entirely comfortable. Lisicky summarizes this startling vulnerability…

Review: The Genome Rhapsodies

The Genome Rhapsodies by Anna George Meek Review by Kelsey Satalino Relatives coo over an infant, his future formed by both his drug-addicted parents’ DNA and the words of family members who have already decided who he will be. Father Gregor Mendel, meditating on the death of his father, shucks peas and gleans theories of genetic inheritance. A bride wearing her grandmother’s…

Review: The Dead Lands

The Dead Lands by Benjamin Percy Review by Eric Schlich Benjamin Percy knows how to write a compelling monster novel. In Red Moon (2013), he uses lycanthropy (werewolves) to explore terrorism, racial profiling, and contagion politics. In his latest, The Dead Lands, Percy re-imagines the Lewis and Clark expedition in a post-apocalyptic America that has been destroyed by super-flu and nuclear…