Parlance (Suzanne Zelazo)

Parlance is an accomplished first book. Suzanne Zelazo crafts succinct prose poems which wear the influence of the L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E school, but owe more to Gertrude Stein. At its best, Zelazo’s prose is biting, possessed of a sharp, confident grace, but from time to time the poems are so cold and carefully wrought that they appear […]

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N0S4A2 (Joe Hill)

“What would you do for a lifetime pass to a place where every morning is Christmas and unhappiness is against the law?” Joe Hill’s N0S4A2 is, to some extent, a litany of horrible answers to this question. Christmasland is indeed a magical place, an otherworldly realm where Charlie Manx takes kidnapped children, leaving their parents […]

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Ilustrado (Miguel Syjuco)

‘No lyric has ever stopped a tank,’ so said Seamus Heaney. Auden said that ‘poetry makes nothing happen.’ Bullshit! I reject all that wholeheartedly! What do they know about the mechanics of tanks? How can anyone estimate the ballistic qualities of words? Invisible things happen in intangible moments. What should keep us writing is precisely […]

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Lazy Bastardism (Carmine Starnino)

The actual subjects of the individual essays in Lazy Bastardism, Carmine Starnino’s latest collection of critical prose, remain secondary to the book’s primary subject: critical prose itself. Fearing inept readers, Starnino begins with a prologue excerpting an interview with Patrick Warner, in which Starnino states that “To despise criticism . . . is to despise […]

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Touch to Affliction (Nathalie Stephens)

Nathalie Stephens’s Touch to Affliction is similar to There by Roy Miki (see review here); however Stephens is more successful at marrying the poetic and political together. Although the book suffers from a similarly joyless approach, Stephens pays much more attention to craft, sentence by sentence. There’s a surrealism and imagism in the background of Stephens’ […]

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There (Roy Miki)

There is Roy Miki’s first book of poetry since 2001’s Surrender (which won the Governor General’s Award for Poetry). In between, Miki authored a non-fiction book, and seems to have remained very much in the academic mode while writing There. Miki’s interest in theory is even more evident here than in his previous work, both […]

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Don’t Tell Me What to Do (Dina Del Bucchia)

Dina Del Bucchia’s debut collection of fiction follows three outstanding, hilarious, intelligent poetry books and displays a good deal of the same insightful wit. Del Bucchia’s stories are similarly bold, brash, and self-assured. The highlight of Don’t Tell Me What to Do is the short story “Nest,” in which Sara, an architect designing luxury doghouses, […]

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The Making of Zombie Wars (Aleksandar Hemon)

Joshua Levin wants to see himself as the hero of his story. As an American hero, a Hollywood star battling time and tide, or at least a ceaseless flow of zombies — like Major Klopstock in Levin’s perpetually unfinished screenplay Zombie Wars. But Levin isn’t a hero. He’s one of the zombies. Throughout Aleksandar Hemon’s […]

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Pockets (Stuart Ross)

“It is marvellous how everything is connected,” says the narrator of Pockets, and that statement operates as a mini-review of the novel itself. The story unfolds in short, poetic paragraphs that offer surreal snapshots. In this way, Ross develops a fragmentary, dreamlike novel that is startling, sometimes silly, and marbled with melancholy. “I stood in […]

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