Posts Categorized: Microreviews

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Microreview: Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib’s The Crown Ain’t Worth Much

The Crown Ain’t Worth Much by Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib (Button Poetry, 2016)

I don’t want to imagine how many strangled nights Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib spent thrashing inside the belly of death to give us The Crown Ain’t Worth Much, but I am immensely grateful he survived them with a soul as expansive and rich as found in this debut collection of poetry. This collection carries a fierce duende, a juggernaut unafraid to tie your body “to a truck in east texas” and drag it “through that jagged metal holy land so you can meet god clean”. The Crown Ain’t Worth Much is not so much a book you read, but one you survive—with Willis-Abdurraqib’s compassionate, elegiac lyric gently pushing you forward through heartbreak and violence.

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Microreview: Cori A. Winrock’s This Coalition of Bones

This Coalition of Bones by Cori A. Winrock (Kore Press, 2014)

When I read this collection, I was fascinated by the spine and its injuries. How perpetual pressure can force the spinal discs to wear away, how a rupture can seep into its surroundings—pinching nerves and birthing a relentless pain. Spinal discs are made to burden the daily compression and decompression caused by movement, but one instance of physical trauma or consistent strain can arrive at the same endpoint. This Coalition of Bones by Cori A. Winrock spoke to these themes, presented poems both compressing and decompressing in a motion filled with insistent musicality and unrelenting gentleness.

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Microreview: Sara Majka’s Cities I’ve Never Lived In

Cities I’ve Never Lived In by Sara Majka (A Public Space/Graywolf Press, 2016)

 

Early in Sara Majka’s short story collection, Cities I’ve Never Lived In, the protagonist, Anne, gets the sudden urge to tell a former lover about a high school friend of hers: “I wanted to tell him how I had cared for his person, Eli, who had shown me a painting but had disappeared. About how lonely I had been in Jonesport. Saying it simply so he would understand.” “Saying it simply so we understand” is the best phrase I can find to describe the consciousness of these fourteen linked stories, where “simply” doesn’t mean “easily,” or “lacking in complexity,” but, rather, a letting go of posturing and pretense. There’s no caginess, no strain toward profundity. No sarcasm or show-offy wit. Read more…

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Microreview: Viet Thanh Nguyen’s The Sympathizer

The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen (Grove Press, 2015)

 

Set in the aftermath of the Vietnam War, this debut novel poses as a confession by the unnamed “sympathizer” of the title, an American-educated Viet Cong spy whose misadventures as a mole in the service of a Republican Army general he records for an unidentified “Commandant.” Ordered to maintain his cover at war’s end, the sympathizer follows the general and his cohort as they flee besieged Saigon for the seedy streets of Los Angeles, where he monitors the general’s efforts to rebuild, from among his fellow refugees, an army to retake the South.

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Micro-Review: Fred Moten’s The Little Edges

The Little Edges by Fred Moten (Wesleyan University Press, 2014)

Reviewed by Emily Corwin

Fred Moten once sat in my car. The roads were bad, first snowfall of the year in small town Ohio. I was nervous, feeling all this responsibility: young poet driving famed poet to campus for a workshop. Yet despite the snow, and my neurotic driving, Moten was at ease, hands folded in his lap across his winter coat. There was a warmth in his voice, an openness that made you glad to be in his presence. Read more…