Recent Reviews

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Sabrina Cover Image
Posted on Thursday, July 26, 2018

Nick Drnaso’s Sabrina is the first graphic novel ever longlisted for the Booker Prize, and it’s easy to see why. This book has just as much sweep and power as any prose novel. Teddy hasn’t seen Calvin since high school. Out of the blue, and in serious emotional distress, Teddy needs to move in to Calvin’s house. As Calvin cares for Teddy, tragedy unfolds and the book becomes a pitch-perfect meditation on grief in the right-now. Timely, devastating, and stylish, this book is a stunner. Recommended by Danny

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JELL-O Girls: A Family History Cover Image
Posted on Thursday, July 26, 2018

Great-granddaughter of the founders of the Jell-O franchise, Allie Rowbottom, has written a tour-de-force memoir, Jell-O Girls, which marries the themes of the rise of Jell-O and similar convenience foods with the diminishment of women's power and the silencing of their voices. Like a forensic detective, she traces her own illness and those of the women in her family back to the "curse" of the product and the larger societal ills it has brought about. Recommended by Kelly.
 

The Red Caddy: Into the Unknown with Edward Abbey Cover Image
Posted on Thursday, June 14, 2018

Originally written in 1994, Charles Bowden’s, The Red Caddy, is the first biography of Edward Abbey to appear for some time. Like the stark beauty of the desert Abbey defended, Bowden’s lucid prose tells the truth about the man, whose racist, misogynistic image so many biographers and followers alike have tried to expunge. Instead of trying to make Abbey palatable, Bowden trusts that the power of his friend’s life, warts intact, merits an honest depiction. Caddy is freshly relevant given the recent #metoo movement. Bowden demands that readers address the question: Can we separate the art from the artist? Recommended by Kelly

Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore Cover Image
Posted on Thursday, June 14, 2018

Though many books have been written about climate change, in Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore, Elizabeth Rush offers not a scientist’s view but that of an artist translating statistics into elegy for the estuaries, the salt marshes, the shoreline wetlands of the world, and more particularly, of her childhood home. By speaking the names of the beings, both human and otherwise, that are vanishing before our eyes as shorelines become inundated, she faces her own grief and helps her readers to do so as well. Recommended by Kelly

Natural Causes: An Epidemic of Wellness, the Certainty of Dying, and Killing Ourselves to Live Longer Cover Image
Posted on Thursday, June 14, 2018

Barbara Ehrenrich’s latest offering, Natural Causes: An Epidemic of Wellness, the Certainty of Dying, and Our Illusion of Control, adds to her benignly cranky repertoire of cultural critique. This contribution to the recent bestsellers about Americans’ unnatural relationship with natural aging—namely Gawande’s Being Mortal—distinguishes itself because she writes from a place that “could not be euphemized as ‘middle-aged.’” Ehrenreich bravely translates the latest science that debunks the comforting idea of the body as a whole rooting for eternal life, arriving instead at a transcendent view of death that enfolds the illusory self into the longevity of the universe. Recommended by Kelly.

Against Memoir: Complaints, Confessions & Criticisms Cover Image
Posted on Thursday, June 14, 2018

STAFF REVIEW: Michelle Tea's new book of essays, Against Memoir: Complaints, Confessions & Crticisms, blew me away. Some essays scrape like sandpaper. Others comfort like an arm draped over a shoulder. Tea is alternatively a modern-day prophet and a street-wise friend everyone needs to help them stay up with every new societal quirk and meme and to remind them to check their ego and privilege in a time of profound change. Recommended by Kelly

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Islandborn Cover Image
Posted on Tuesday, March 6, 2018

"Just because you don't remember a place, doesn't mean its not in you." A fantastically illustrated journey of remembrance--the whole country, which sounds like the inside of a drum-- beach poems, and 'bats like blankets' fly off each page, as Lola explores her own history. ​Lovely story. Recommended by Jenna

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Cat Poems Cover Image
Posted on Tuesday, March 6, 2018

“For I will consider my cat Jeoffry”; “Minnaloushe creeps through the grass/Alone, important and wise”; “The cat/ licks its paw and lies down in/the bookshelf nook”/ “The Owl and the Pussycat went to sea.”  This is the book I’ve been waiting for!  All of my favorite cat poems and some I didn’t know.  So, I admit it:  I’m a complete sucker for cat poems, and this cute little collection houses some of the best.  Pocket-sized for tucking away and enjoying whenever you need a reminder that you walk the earth with superior creatures. Recommended by Sarah

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Radioapocrypha (OSU JOURNAL AWARD POETRY) Cover Image
Posted on Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Just listen to the conceit of BK Fischer’s amazing poetry collection Radioapocrypha: it’s a novella in verse explaining what would’ve happened if Jesus had appeared as a smart-alleck chemistry teacher in Maryland in 1989, the year Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus” came out. Of course, it’s good for laughs: the last supper is KFC takeout, water gets turned into boxed wine, and wisdom gets dispensed like “If a girl is wearing cut-off shorts with peace signs on her butt cheeks, make friends with her.” But Fischer’s most impressive feat is pulling a John Hughes and mining real pathos from the comic premise. Her gospel of the suburbs is ultimately an affecting and original meditation on sexuality, grief, rage, and the universal desire to get out: after all, “No one needs to stick around to find out if they open a Subway.” Recommended by Danny

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Two Girls Down: A Novel Cover Image
Posted on Tuesday, January 23, 2018

You know that totally-absorbed-can’t-put-it-down reading experience?  Louisa Luna’s Two Girls Down provides just that. It’s riveting, suspenseful, surprising and so addictive that I had to slow down in my eagerness to get to the next twist in order to appreciate the admirable prose. Luna’s style is straightforward but creative, and I love finding those unique turns of phrase that mark a clever and observant writer’s prose. She has created a fascinating new crime-solving duo with bounty hunter Alice Vega, who teams up with private investigator Max Caplan to find two kidnapped young girls. Vega is cool, confident, canny and can drop a suspect with a length of chain and a well-thrown cup of hot tea.  Caplan is a quirky combination of keenly intelligent detective, emotionally tortured ex-cop, and mushy, proud dad to a precocious sixteen-year-old.  The dialogue is snappy and realistic, and the characters are multi-dimensional.  It is a supremely satisfying read and I can’t wait for more Cap and Vega exploits. Recommended by Sarah