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King Space Void
King Space Void
Price: $4.95

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "When all is said and done, we feed the machine.", October 25, 2015
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This review is from: King Space Void (Kindle Edition)
The cover art made me read the sample, which was good enough to make me pull the trigger, even though I think the price is too high for a single. The author smoothly delivers on the brilliant premise. I was looking for a smart, off-the-wall tidbit to read this morning, and I wasn't disappointed. This story is like a twisted little fever dream Phantom Tollbooth journey through the body of a giant machine/ ecosystem/ world annihilator. The imagery is wildly imaginative high horror; the strong voice takes it beyond standard gross out tropes. Apparently, the copy editor was home sick the day this was published, which mars the good writing, but overall, I enjoyed it.


Go Set a Watchman: A Novel
Go Set a Watchman: A Novel
by Harper Lee
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $12.31
729 used & new from $0.98

1,330 of 1,455 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars but I loved this novel for exactly what it is, July 14, 2015
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I came in skeptical, but I loved this novel for exactly what it is: a brilliantly written, beautiful southern novel about a young woman who discovers her father is not a god. And I'm angry that some pompous, patriarchal publisher squashed it and convinced her to write a brilliantly written, beautiful southern novel about a young woman who discovers her father is a god. WATCHMAN is about growing up, "killing the Buddha" and laying claim to one's own world view.

I can certainly believe that this is Harper Lee's first novel. I totally understand why the editor buried it and encouraged her to bend her considerable talent to the concept of MOCKINGBIRD, latching onto a fairly insignificant anecdote and reframing it as the main plot thrust -- which also neatly swapped hero and heroine, making the star of the book a man instead of a young woman.

Setting aside the suspicious circumstances of the magical appearance of WATCHMAN (and the buckets of money involved for the publisher and agent), I also totally get why Harper Lee might want us to have this novel now, at this point in her life. She is now where old Atticus is in WATCHMAN: an elderly person who is sick and tired of carrying the burden of our hero worship. So there. Take that. Eat your disillusionment and throw up behind the ice cream parlor that was once your childhood home. It hurts, and it infuriates, and it strips away your security blanket. Get over it.

As an editor, I want to go back in time, embrace this young author, force her to firmly look in my eyes, and tell her: "This is a wonderful book. And you must write another one and another and another, and every one of them should say exactly what you want to say." Yes, I love MOCKINGBIRD as much as the next book nerd, but it breaks my heart that -- no matter what we know/don't know about the publishing process -- the publisher took hold of a young woman who had astonishing lyrical skills, massive raw talent, insight that transcended her years, and literary chops that set her on a trajectory to eclipse Faulkner, and they turned her into a one-hit wonder recluse who was unwilling or unable to ever publish another book.

I love both Harper Lee's beautiful novels. I'm mourning for the dozen or so she could have and should have written.
Comment Comments (227) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 24, 2016 3:07 PM PDT


My Rival, The Sky
My Rival, The Sky
Offered by Penguin Group (USA) LLC
Price: $4.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A graceful, spirited WWII homefront memoir, April 30, 2014
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This review is from: My Rival, The Sky (Kindle Edition)
I'm so thrilled to see this book come out of the vault almost 70 years after its original publication! The writing is lyrical and intelligent, the main characters are lively and fun, and the story is at once romantic, heart-wrenching, and filled with a spirit of adventure. I'll keep my dilapidated hardcover version, but I just bought it for Kindle so I can reread.

Margo, now 98, lives with her daughter, actress Swoosie Kurtz, who incorporated passages from "My Rival the Sky" in her own memoir, Part Swan, Part Goose: An Uncommon Memoir of Womanhood, Work, and Family If you read Swoosie's book first, Margo's book carries an additional emotional wallop. Highly, highly recommended.


Lifeform Three
Lifeform Three
Price: $6.99

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Do Robots Dream" meets "Bless the Beasts and Children" Highly Recommended, December 17, 2013
This review is from: Lifeform Three (Kindle Edition)
This is an extraordinary novel in the tradition of the great old-school literary sci-fi a la Atwood and Bradbury. The writing is lovely, the plot is compelling, and the subtle themes -- vocation, nobility, cruelty, pecking order, individuation -- are skillfully woven in full service of the story. It seems odd to say the characters are relatable -- they're not human! -- but in a very "Brave Tin Soldier" kind of way, they come to life as diverse, funny, authentic and mostly likable folk. The protagonist, Paftoo gives us a poignant vision of a theme park world we have no trouble relating to because it's a world once inhabited by humans.

We meet Paftoo at the moment he's struck by lightning, and the way we're continually reminded of that *reboot* keeps the tension building. (Do we have all Paftoo's memories or is some vital part of the story lost in his haunted circuits?) His infirmity and yearning and his quest to befriend and rescue Lifeform Three ring true, and we're continually stung by the high stakes because of the unforgiving pragmatism that rules his destiny: Paftoo and his kind are well-maintained as long as they are of service, and when they're not, they're efficiently disposed of.

Applause to Roz Morris. I loved her first novel, MEMORIES OF A FUTURE LIFE, and was eagerly awaiting her next book. I'm so glad she didn't let the market chatter rush her. This book is thoughtful, carefully crafted, and strangely emotional. I truly thoroughly enjoyed it and have been recommending it all over the place.


The Price of Salt
The Price of Salt
Price: $4.95

5.0 out of 5 stars beautifully written love story, November 5, 2013
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This review is from: The Price of Salt (Kindle Edition)
A romance novel in the best essence of that term. I really love this book because the relationship is so organic, the characters authentic and the plot uncontrived. I'd love to see this book read in high school classes because it's a great example of the pain caused by prejudice. These two strong women rise above it to be themselves in a time when that meant losing everything.


Wretched Writing: A Compendium of Crimes Against the English Language
Wretched Writing: A Compendium of Crimes Against the English Language
by Kathryn Petras
Edition: Paperback
Price: $14.08
103 used & new from $0.01

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good clean writerly fun, August 30, 2013
I thought this book was hilarious. I'm an author/ghostwriter/editor who's been in the publishing industry for many years, and I loved the gimlet eye here. It's not like a mean little troll posting jabby amazon reviews; it's good-natured ribbing in the spirit of Bulwer-Lytton. Reading it all at once might be a bit much, but it's a perfect snack book to have hanging around the car, kitchen or smallest room in the house.


Inspiration Meditation: Igniting Insights & Ideas (Go Creative! Series Book 3)
Inspiration Meditation: Igniting Insights & Ideas (Go Creative! Series Book 3)

5.0 out of 5 stars Mind-expanding, soul-feeding, July 19, 2013
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I've been meditating in one form or another all my life, and as soon as I understood that, I became fascinated with the varying structures of meditation we find (or create) for ourselves, how we cast them within our believe systems and tailor them to our timeframes. As a child, I sat in church every Sunday, hands folded and eyes screwed shut as we recited the Nicene Creed and Lord's Prayer. As a teenage flowerchild, I assumed the lotus position and listened to Ravi Shankar. As a young mother undergoing chemotherapy for blood cancer, I discovered I was allergic to most narcotic pain and nausea relief; a serious study and practice of meditation and visualization became a necessity. As a writer facing the challenges of the long-haul artistic life, I've participated in a wide range of disciplines and practices from profoundly quiet Quaker meetings to spin class, which I find deliriously meditative when I have the energy for it.

How we structure--and restructure--meditation throughout our lives makes a profound difference, so the structure of Orna Ross's Inspiration Meditation immediately intrigued me. It worked in elements from several of the practices that have brought me the most benefit. The weaving of the words requires physical and mental focus; the space for breath requires a lung-deep nonattachment, but beyond the basic elements of recitation and breathing was a different kind of focus on intent. It was a challenge for me to release the meaning of the words as buttresses for intention. I'm a writer; I can't erase this deeply ingrained typesetting always on the inside of my eyelids when I hear or speak English. But after a few weeks, the shapes of sounds and the physical act of saying them began to trump the vowels and consonants and that was a delicious victory. (Trying to explain this to a friend, the best I could come up with was: "It's like being the hand and the glove at the same time.")

The most remarkable aspect of this technique (again, this is for me, because whenever I try to talk about meditation, I end up concluding I'm not doing it right): I noticed after a few weeks that the word all began to linger with me throughout the day. It hadn't occurred to me before I read this book that "All shares the vowel sound at the heart of almost all the names given to God." Several times I noticed myself breathing this word and realized it was a prayer--breathing out gratitude under a dramatic sunset, breathing in patience during a contentious phone call, inhaling sorrow and exhaling compassion when confronted with news of a horrific school shooting.
All is what has stayed with me as I moved on to another practice, and all is what will undoubtedly bring me back to Inspiration Meditation again. I'm grateful to have learned it.


In the Year of Long Division
In the Year of Long Division
Price: $8.69

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Striking, strangely moving and lovely, June 12, 2013
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Dawn Raffel's In the Year of Long Division is a collection of vivid, imagistic vignettes that flow like poetry and stun like an Edward Albee micro-act. Originally published by Knopf in the mid '90s, it's been rereleased as an ebook by the visionaries at Dzanc. Back then the San Francisco Chronicle called it "dreamlike"; Minneapolis City pages said it was "tremendously innovative". I still agree with both (and all the other kudos Raffel got back then), but as I read these stories again today - in an entirely different skin, different millenium, different world - it struck me how perfectly it plays in the new medium. This book wears its fresh incarnation particularly well. (That's not always the case with resurrected books I've read, even if I loved them the first time around.)

I used to have this book on the "shelf of yesness" in my office; that's where I kept books that challenged me as a reader and inspired me as a writer. I'm a huge fan of Raffel's fearless style; you can count on her to leap the turnstile when it comes to literary or genre convention, but somehow in the strangeness she manages to drive these needles of *yes* into your heart like a ninja poet acupuncturist.

Anyway, several years ago, in a fit of heatstroke-driven altruism in the wake of Hurricane Ike, I turned my yellow VW bug into a guerrilla book mobile and gave all my books away. I've been trying to rebuild that library on Kindle and Nook ever since. So a huge thank you to Dzanc for loving this book as much as I did.

Highly recommended.


There Once Lived a Girl Who Seduced Her Sister's Husband, and He Hanged Himself: Love Stories
There Once Lived a Girl Who Seduced Her Sister's Husband, and He Hanged Himself: Love Stories
by Li︠u︡dmila Petrushevskai︠a︡
Edition: Paperback
Price: $9.86
106 used & new from $0.01

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Am I the only one who thinks this book is hilarious?, March 15, 2013
I loved loved loved this brilliant short story collection. So Russian. So spare and terse and pragmatic. And so funny! C'mon! Looking at the blurbs from the lit critics, it's all so lofty-sounding, and I found this collection to be so much more accessible than that. I think it's the juxtaposition of humor and pathos that make these stories so compellingly human. If Chekov had been a woman in need of estrogen patches, he would have written this book.


Manless in Montclair
Manless in Montclair
Price: $2.99

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny, poignant, delicious writing. Second read and still loved it., December 12, 2012
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I first read this book when it came out in hardcover a few years ago. I loved Edelman's previous book LITTLE BLACK DRESS, so I had high expectations and wasn't disappointed. She's a terrifically funny and intelligent writer. Her sense of humor is urbane, sarcastic and classy without going over the edge to snotty or acidic. Her storytelling skills are so sharp; the first half of the book deftly weaves between the death of her husband and the story of their love from the very first date. So very, very well done and such a smart choice to unspool the joy and sorrow in tandem.

The second half of the book takes a sort of "Sex and the City" turn, which worried me for a moment, but it works surprisingly well, even though it's not as beautifully written as the first half. The book still holds together as a whole, and circles back exactly the way it needs to, creating a satisfying, full wingspan read. That took mad skills, and the author worked it beautifully.

Anyway, I was delighted to see an ad for the Kindle version of the book this morning. Grabbed it, read the whole thing this afternoon/evening and loved it just as much the second time around. Highly recommending if you're in the mood for something smarter and far more emotionally satisfying than chick lit but every bit as fresh and accessible.

(Hope to see LITTLE BLACK DRESS out on Kindle soon. I'd love to read it again.)


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