Book Reviews Archive

Dhaka Dust

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Dhaka Dust Dilruba Ahmed Graywolf Press, June 2011 88 pages $15.00 “Can’t occupy the same space at the same time,” begins the title poem of Dhaka Dust, Dilruba Ahmed’s impressive debut collection. And yet Ahmed’s work, situated across the Midwestern United States, Bangladesh, and Europe, often occupies more than

The Chronology of Water

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The Chronology of Water Lidia Yuknavitch Hawthorne Books, April 2011 268 pages $15.95 “Little tragedies are difficult to keep straight,” writes Lidia Yuknavitch in The Chronology of Water. “They swell and dive in and out in great sinkholes in the brain.” The loss of her daughter, stillborn, is precisely

The Gambler’s Nephew

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The Gambler’s Nephew Jack Matthews Etruscan Press, May 2011 240 pages $15.95 Jack Matthews’ first novel, Hanger Stout, Awake!, was published in 1967, and his latest, The Gambler’s Nephew, is already the 23rd in his half-century career. Thankfully it’s never too late to discover a writer this pleasant to

The Ice Trilogy

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The Ice Trilogy Vladimir Sorokin (Translated by Jamey Gambrell) New York Review of Books, March 2011 704 pages $19.95 The Ice Trilogy, a newly translated work of fiction by Vladimir Sorokin, tells the tale of the 20th century’s tragedies and triumphs through the eccentric and abrasive narratives of—to be

The Stroke of A Pen

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The Stroke of a Pen: Essays on Poetry and Other Provocations Samuel Hazo University of Notre Dame Press, May 2011 136 pages $20.00 In the semi-rural pocket of Pennsylvania where I grew up, poets are a rarity. Last year, as I prepared to uproot my life and move to

What we’re reading this summer in the Ploughshares office

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Ploughshares Staff Picks: Childhood, Summer, Fishing What follows is a potpourri of written works that the current Ploughshares staff compiled under the umbrella of summer reading. Whether adult or youth fiction, poetry or essay, each of these works embody pieces of the staff’s personality and interest. Get to know

There is No Year

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Blake Butler Harper Perennial, April 2011 416 pages $15.99 Literary experimentation has been successfully blended with genre fiction before; Robert Coover’s Ghost Town used the western, and Paul Auster’s New York Triology, noir. And though Blake Butler may not be the first to try the trick with horror, no

Pieces for Small Orchestra

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Norman Lock (illustrations by Sasha Meret) Spuyten Duyvil Press, April 2011 166 pages $16.00 On the surface, Norman Lock’s recent book, Pieces for Small Orchestra, is a collection of two novellas and two stories. Really, it’s a book of many books, all doling out the life (and dream-life) of

A Riot of Goldfish

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A Riot of Goldfish Kanoko Okamoto (Translated by J. Keith Vincent) Hesperus Worldwide, January 2011 114 pages $15.95 David Mitchell, in his fine introduction to this slim volume of two novellas, writes that author Kanoko Okamoto’s great theme is the “frustrated striving for aesthetic perfection.” Certainly her novellas have

The Pun Also Rises

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The Pun Also Rises John Pollack Gotham Books, April 2011 240 pages $22.50 I’ve long loved wordplay, and long been puzzled, too, that many in the literary community don’t—especially, it seems, in my peculiar branch of it in Boston. Aren’t writers meant to be passionate about words and all