A review of The Beckoning World by Douglas Bauer

Lou Gehrig, as wrought by Bauer’s pen, appears as he was in life — a pensive, quiet soul, dogged by insecurities and excessively devoted to his mother. Ruth, in the pages of The Beckoning World, is supremely confident, self-absorbed, voluptuary — a boy raised in an orphanage to be deified by a nation. As the Yankee sluggers barnstorm their way through the small-town west, Earl will experience an encounter that provides shape to his own life’s story.

A review of Lessons by Ian McEwan

The story begins in medias res, with Roland Baines, in his home in Clapham, waking from a nightmare about his boyhood piano lessons, and realizing that he is now a grown man taking care of his infant son, Lawrence.  Roland is “the baby’s bed and his god.”  Alissa, Roland’s wife,  has vanished, leaving a note telling him not to find her. “I have been living the wrong life. Please try to forgive me,” she wrote.

A review of Admissions: Voices within Mental Health edited by David Stavanger, Radhiah Chowdhury, Mohammad Award

Like the best anthologies, Admissions is a fluid collection where the different genres, explorations and styles of creativity inform one another, creating a montage that is inherently collective. This ‘radical empathy’ that Stavinger talks about is present throughout the book, as the different forms of pain and struggle sit together in solidarity like a supportive scaffold so that in the reading the separation between the different experiences becomes diminished and there is a sense that every perspective fits and is important.

A review of The Return by Aaron Paul Lazar

The book is fast paced, drawing you in from the first chapter, and progressing with exciting turns in a way that the book is always pleasurable and satisfying, and even the worst antagonists are treated with empathy.  It’s hard not to like Gus, who is  always ready to lend a helping hand or a basket of fresh picked zucchinis and corn.  Lazar is a master craftsman and pays careful attention to language, plot, pacing and character so that all of the elements tie together neatly and seamlessly, description charged with rich nostalgia

States that Matter, a review of The Best of Tupelo Quarterly edited by Kristina Marie Darling

As a poet, my ultimate aim is to connect to my reader, so that I may get close to causing a moment of understanding, a resonance, a tapping-into of the unsayable. As a human, I feel nourished when art is not only allowed to break the mould, but it is celebrated for doing so. The rules of the universe only help us understand a fraction of what is happening to us.

A review of Passages by Jenni Nixon

These are certainly not poems overflowing with sentimentality. Nixon has total control of her words, and is measured and diligent in creating and intelligent and elegant narrative in poetry form, whether she writes about helping a neighbour, the compulsory acquisition of hundreds of homes for the construction of tunnels or other environmental concerns.

A review of Text Messages from the Universe by Richard James Allen

This is philosophy at its best, to exist or not, or as Shakespeare put it “to be or not to be”. Allan makes you think, consider, and reflect, and he does it in a very clever way utilising poetic devices and intelligent lines. The poet’s voice is very convincing, whether he uses sophisticated language or everyday language, his unique style draws the reader into the narration.

Marina Rubin in Conversation with Stephanie Dickinson

Marina Rubin in Conversation with Stephanie Dickinson, discussing Rubin’s new book Knockout Beauty and Other Afflictions – a collection of stories of desire, damage, and human meandering. The authors discuss, among other things, influences, the advantages of being multilingual, linguistic precision, characterisation, utilising humour, the power of the first line reveal, and lots more.