Books

Love At Last Sight: Stories by Thea Bowering — review by Mark McCawley

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Love At Last Sight:

Stories by Thea Bowering

 

review by Mark McCawley

 
loveatlastsighttheaboweringLove At Last Sight
by Thea Bowering
NeWest Press, 280 pp
ISBN 978-1-927063-34-7
$9.59 CAN Kindle | $14.36 CAN Paperback
September, 2013

 
In sinuous folds of cities old and grim,
Where all things, even horror, turn to grace,
I follow, in obedience to my whim,
Strange, feeble, charming creatures round the place.

— Charles Baudelaire, “The Little Old Women”
 
To the flâneur, his city — though he was born in it, like Baudelaire — is no home. It constitutes for him a stage.

— Walter Benjamin, The Arcades Project
 
 
Thea Bowering — “How to Read Your Lover’s Favourite Russian Novel” (excerpt) (Empress Ale House, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, 12 September 2013)

 
For those open to contemporary literary experiment will most truly relish Thea Bowering’s debut collection of urban, post-realist short fiction, Love At Last Sight, published by Edmonton’s NeWest Press. In the eight short stories, and one novella, which comprise the collection, Bowering interrogates the fictive nature of reality through literary allusions and through the ongoing allegory of the flâneur —— a concept originally attached to 19th-century Paris, the flâneur is a person of leisure who walks the streets of his or her city, studying the buildings and fellow citizens in the hopes of better understanding them, popularized by Charles Baudelaire and Walter Benjamin.
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Dancing, with Mirrors by George Amabile — review by Mark McCawley

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Dancing, with Mirrors

 

by George Amabile

 

review by Mark McCawley

 

Dancing, with Mirrors amabileDancing, with Mirrors
George Amabile
Porcupine’s Quill
$19.95 pb, 192 pages
ISBN 978-0-88984-343-1

More than twenty years in the making, George Amabile’s ‘lyrical retrospective’, Dancing, With Mirrors is Amabile’s thoughtful fragmentation and re-arrangement of his personal history. Essentially one long poem which examines the major events and themes of the poet’s life, organized thematically into a roughly chronological narrative, this long poem is broken down into eleven distinct ‘cantos’, each with a different focus — pain, affection, desire, disappointment, loss, those small graces of the everyday found among the mundane aspects of living. These are intense snapshots of life-defining moments distilled over a lifetime of experience and poetry in which there is general sense of continuity with each of the cantos rather than an imposed unity.

When I began this project, my hope was that, looked at closely, fragments of an individual life — moments of intensity or understanding, crossroads, discoveries, the dynamics of family and friendship, the shifting gestalts of public and private events, glimpses of the interplay between mind, spirit, and world — might become a vehicle for speaking to some of the concerns that have emerged, with some urgency, from the cultural matrix of the last half century. The cantos, as I call them, are organized by juxtapositions which reveal thematic linkages, or narrative connections, and sometimes both.

~George Amabile, Author comments, Porcupine’s Quill webpage

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Geographies of a Lover by Sarah de Leeuw — review by Mark McCawley

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Geographies of a Lover

 

by Sarah de Leeuw

 

review by Mark McCawley

 

Geographies of a Lover Sarah de LeeuwGeographies of a Lover
by Sarah de Leeuw
Edmonton : NeWest Press, 1 April 2012.
ISBN 978-1-897126-78-3
80 pp, 6 x 9, $14.95 CAN

 

There is no angle the world can assume which the love in my eye cannot make into a symbol of love. Even the precise geometry of his hand, when I gaze at it, dissolves me into water…

—Elizabeth Smart, By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept, 1945.

 

Geographies of a Lover — a bold, erotic prose poem (in long poem form) composed in eight sections: distance, place, topography, scale, mapping, contour lines, borderlands and north; and within each section, further composed into specific coordinates of latitudes and longitudes denoting specific place — is Prince George, British Columbia writer Sarah de Leeuw’s second book and first poetry collection.
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Earthbound by Kenneth Radu — review by Mark McCawley

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Earthbound by Kenneth Radu

 

review by Mark McCawley

 

kennethraduearthboundEarthbound by Kenneth Radu
DC Books, Short Stories, November 2012
ISBN: 978-1-897190-87-6
162 pp., 5.5 x 8.5, $18.95 CAN

Novelist, short story writer, memoirist, poet — Kenneth Radu is a Quebec writer who writes obsessively in English. Author of more than sixteen titles, Radu’s body of work is quickly approaching the exactness and preciseness of a writer reaching his zenith — his short story collection, The Cost of Living was short-listed for a Governor General’s award, and he has twice won the QSPELL Prize for his story collection, A Private Performance and for his novel, Distant Relations.

In Earthbound — his most recent collection of short fiction from DC Books, following his short fiction collection, Sex In Russia: New & Selected Stories, also from DC Books — Radu continues his ongoing exploration of dirty realist narratives, finding the most extraordinary within the seemingly ordinary and banal of settings, which proves there is really no story not worth the telling (especially in the hand of a talented storyteller or fictioneer).
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The Unbearables Big Book Of Sex — review by Lehman Weichselbaum

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The Unbearables Big Book Of Sex

 

Review by Lehman Weichselbaum

 
unbearables big book of sex coverTHE UNBEARABLES BIG BOOK OF SEX , edited by Ron Kolm, Carol Wierzbicki, Jim Feast, Steve Dalachinsky, Yuko Utomo and Shalom Neuman.
Autonomedia/Unbearables Books.
2011. 640 pps. $18.95

First, to dispense with the obvious: The Unbearables Big Book Of Sex is not a stroke book. To be sure, you (or the grubby inner adolescent of you) will find, inevitably, a sprinkling of verifiable “dirty parts” (as a time-saving service, we refer you to pgs. 156, 165, 431 and 485). But savvy readers, looking past the book’s formal category as “erotica,” will surmise that the words “Unbearables” and “sex” appearing in the same title will more than likely yield, for the most part, a bumptious pageant of squalid missed connections, subliminal-to-outright multi-gendered abuse, delusional gambits of seduction and, overall, a Cook’s tour of carnal dysfunction in its myriad sordid forms. And, of course, they will be right.

The volume under review is the latest in a series of “big book” anthologies squired by the band of convivial literary incendiaries who call themselves “The Unbearables” — presumably after the classic novel by Milan Kundera. Like the other collections, this one includes several score contributors, many recurring from previous compendia, that include a few marquee names (Delaney, Malanga, Kostelanetz, Litsky), as well as familiar figures from New York’s alternative lit scene and sundry more from God knows where. Entries span most conceivable genres: fiction, memoir, poetry and criticism, as well as a lush center insert of visual art, which seems to favor the porno-collagiste.
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