Book Reviews

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The Brevity Blog. 8 Feb 2019

"I like melancholy conclusions as much as the next essayist, but somehow these morbid endings struck too hard this time. Each of the essays felt cut short, not on Jaeggy’s part, simply because they end with death, so there was nowhere else for them to go."

Jaeggy's These Possible Lives

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NewPages.com. 5 Jun 2018

"We have the choice to live in fear of those we don’t know, but we could also, like Rekdal has done in researching for this project, listen to their stories."

Rekdal's The Broken Country

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NewPages.com. 8 Jan 2018

"In it, we learn that Márquez has suffered a fall, resulting in a head injury, and that he has compiled this book in the fear that his mind is failing. The collected pages are the memories that persist, which he admits have been hastily completed “cobbled [together with] autobiographical fragments and vignettes that [he] had written over the past ten years.”

Volver: A Persistence of Memory

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Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought. Issue 50.2, 2017

"If the book comes to a conclusion at all, it can be summed up in a line I have already made into a poster to hang on my office door: “That we are seldom at our best doesn’t invalidate our attempts to be whole.”

Abbott's Immortal for Quite Some Time

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NewPages.com. 1 Nov 2017

"If we are our bodies, then this anthology seems to be asking “What are we?” Mostly, it seems, we are in pain."

Beautiful Flesh: A Body of Essays

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NewPages.com. 9 Oct 2017

"It is obviously the goal of books like McKoy’s to invite readers to be better people, and in that, she clearly succeeds."

McKoy's Come & Eat

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NewPages.com. 6 Sept 2017

"In many ways, Proctor’s lack of satisfaction is the best part of the whole book. Though living life without satisfaction can be, well, unsatisfying, in essays, a general disdain for satisfaction is quite satisfying for the readers."

Proctor's Landslide: True Stories

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NewPages.com. 8 Aug 2017

"Despite not being the ideal audience for such a book, I was still invited in—like any great and successful essayist, Ariel Goldberg felt like they were talking with me, not at me."

Goldberg's Estrangement Principle

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Brevity's Nonfiction Blog. 17 Apr 2017

"While I have never experienced a spark bird, and while I’ll admit that even after reading Flock Together, I’m only slightly more interested in the birds themselves, I can say that I’ve experienced a spark squirrel."

Hollars' Flock Together

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NewPages.com. 4 Apr 2017

"Perhaps one of the most difficult things about being a writer is knowing how you’re supposed to go about being a writer."

Levin's The Hero is You

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The Volta Blog. 9 Nov 2015

"There is a certain delight in the randomness, the feralness of the floral prose."

Ackerman's The Book of Feral Flora

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NewPages.com. 1 Oct 2015

"Allison Gruber’s You’re Not Edith is one of the better books I’ve read this year. Her “autobiographical essays” are funny without being comic, personal without being egotistical, crude (because she describes teenage life and dog vomit) without stepping into vulgarity, showing a narrator who is lonely but not melodramatic, tender without becoming sentimental."

Gruber's You're Not Edith

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NewPages.com. 1 Oct 2015

"There is a danger in reading these sort of quiet, contemplative collections of essays: by the end you feel like you are best friends with the authors. … You put down the book thinking you could probably buy them the perfect birthday present. But, of course, you don’t really know them and they don’t know you."

Moeckel's Watershed Days

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NewPages.com. 3 Aug 2015

"I suppose some might call the majority of these pieces “lyric essays,” but many are clearly poems, and the rest are somewhere in-between."

Cohen's I Was Not Born

The Volta Blog. 13 July 2015

"Model City starts with a question: “What was it like?”. After which, we get 72 poems, all of them titled “Model City,” each poem containing four prose poem stanzas, every stanza beginning with “It was like…” And then each stanza takes you to a dreamlike world of empty hotel rooms and architects without buildings to build."

Stonecipher's Model City

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The Volta Blog. 25 Jan 2015

"Each piece—and the collection as a whole—reads like a collection of moments, a grouping of loiterers and business men and police officers and dogs and parks and stray grains of rice all together."

Fitch's Sixty Morning Walks

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The Volta Blog. 16 July 2014

"Because it is a “memoir,” you might assume you can read the shifting narrator as Greenstreet herself, but there are too many bodies, too many women, too many voices for this to be one speaker."

Greenstreet's Young Tambling

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The Volta Blog. 2 July 2014

"The pleasure and mystery of poetry is that very few people ask if the poems are “fiction” or “nonfiction.” Poems are “poetry” which is sometimes fact and sometimes not, and in the best poetry, it is both at the same time."

Surowiecki's Further Adventures of My Nose

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Brevity's Nonfiction Blog. 5 Dec 2011

"The essays admit that we cannot know what animals are thinking, but Johnston is not content to simply say we can never know: He cannot know what his dog smells downwind, but he can explore what it means to smell and how smell keeps us grounded in our creaturely instincts."

Johnston's Creaturely and Other Essays