October 01, 2014

Library Journal’s *starred* review of The Tao of Humiliation

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The praises keep rolling in for The Tao of Humiliation! Lee Upton’s newest fiction collection, and winner of the BOA Short Fiction Prize, received a new Library Journal *starred* review.

“This story collection by poet, novelist, and critic Upton takes its title from one of several winningly off-kilter stories set at a motivational rural retreat aimed toward breaking down the ego as a precursor to building it up.”

But it’s the pieces themselves, and their tellers, that are particularly notable. According to the review, the stories “proceed by indirection, with elements that cohere only after the fact and open up further surprises upon rereading.” And, despite the humorous tone in many of the book’s episodes, “Upton elicits tremendous sympathy on the part of the reader for these and other characters facing existential crises, often with great aplomb.”

Library Journal‘s verdict? “These well-imagined stories bear the mark of the poet in the best sense, and the reader will not soon forget them.”

Check your local library’s online catalog, or purchase The Tao of Humiliation directly from the BOA bookstore.

September 30, 2014

Copia is a ‘PW Pick: Book of the Week’

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Earlier this month, Publishers Weekly named Copia a Book of the Week in its weekly list of PW Picks! This honor places Erika Meitner in such company as novelists Joseph O’Neill and Ian McEwan, former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, and documentarian Ken Burns, among other writers chosen for the list.

Click here to see the entire list of PW Picks: Books of the Week.

Click here to read the Publishers Weekly starred review of Copia.

To order Copia, visit the BOA Bookstore.

September 16, 2014

Poet Lynn Domina reviews No Need of Sympathy

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In a new review of No Need of Sympathy by the poet Lynn Domina, Fleda Brown is praised as a  “skilled poet, [whose] skill is perhaps most evident in the fact that she wears it so lightly.”

Throughout the review, Domina discusses how Brown manages to mesh the technical structure of formal poetry with her own conceits, and to work with a unique plasticity of metaphor while carrying an air of nonchalance.

“All poems, I’m told, are love poems in one way or another,” says Domina. “And the object of all love poems is really the language in which it’s written. No Need of Sympathy is all about language, and imagination, and memory, and perspective. Perhaps these four nouns ultimately refer to the same thing, but the poems in this book are characterized by a playful variety that doesn’t boil down to just one thing. The poems often develop surprisingly, as one idea leads to another and then turns back on itself, so that one sometimes continues reading just to see where these words will go. More than many contemporary poets I read, Brown relies on rhyme and received form, but she does so subtly, as if the form were almost a coincidence.”

The review continues: “No Need of Sympathy is a collection that is clearly contemporary and yet understands its place in tradition; it is serious without being somber, playful without defaulting to the merely clever. The poems are set in specific geographic locations and often mention individual human beings, and their particularity succeeds in that paradox we hope for from literature, in reading of another to understand ourselves, ‘To let it be who you are.’”

Click here to read the full review by Lynn Domina.

No Need of Sympathy is available for purchase at the BOA Bookstore.

September 16, 2014

Entropy: The World Shared is ‘necessary poetry’

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In a new Entropy review, poet Anthony Seidman calls Dariusz Sosnicki’s The World Shared an “excellent translation into English from the Polish,” which is “marked by the tone of the ‘public poet’ … able to speak of social concerns, of communities, [of] epochs.”

“Sosnicki has loads of talent, and this volume offers North American readers entry into his necessary poetry.”

The epoch The World Shared introduces readers to is “lurching in the muck of crass consumerism, Google instead of the library, subpar hip-hop, and a ‘disastrous geopolitical situation.’” While the world Sosnicki captures is called “Audenesque,” these poems are concerned with incidents of contemporary life—taking place on public transit, voyeuristic scenes of a stairway, or the private and ordinary ridiculousness of the Middle Class.

The review likens The World Shared to a “danse macabre,” though this doesn’t preclude the poetry from also lighting on “the practical and necessary … the tangible grasp of what keeps one alive.”

“When the frail meat of humanity is exposed in these wonderful persona poems, the reader tastes the bitterness of a speaker out of Larkin, who works a long day, gets half-drunk, and wakes to the throbbing darkness, unable to sleep; yet the reader also tastes Larkin’s humor, and partakes in his weary but unshakeable commitment to the one life we’re given.”

According to the review, Sosnicki’s poetry–and its “mordant, yet humane tone”–is “successfully carried over into English by Piotr Florczyk and Boris Dralyuk.” Through this, “Sosnicki reaches out to each of us, tries to wipe the anonymity off our faces, and to recover, if not rescue us, as an archeologist recovers a mud-smeared amulet from a deep stratum.”

Click here to read the full Entropy review.

The World Shared is now in stock at the BOA Bookstore.

September 04, 2014

Douglas Watson on why fiction is ‘good at understanding life’

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In an interview by Lookout for its “House Guest” series, fiction author Douglas Watson (The Era of Not Quite, 2013) talks about his brief relationship with philosophy, and explains how fiction may be working for him as its substitute.

“I don’t know that much about philosophy,” says Watson, “but that doesn’t stop me from poking fun at philosophers in my fiction. Really, though, it’s my younger self I’m making fun of.”

Watson, who fell out of love with philosophy in Philosophy 101, says: “Philosophy, it turned out, was difficult and rather dry and quite possibly beside the point.” An urgent political climate during his college years left him feeling that “life…took place in the world, not just inside our skulls, and the world needed our help right now!”

In his short story “New Animal,” it’s no wonder that, with a range of philosophy from the hyper-rational Hume, to the romantic work of Kierkegaard, protagonist Van Roost can’t find satisfaction, and finds himself “troubled by the vague sense that he is ‘waiting for something’.” This is a feeling Watson himself knows “quite well.”

“But perhaps a restless sense that one is forever waiting for something is a good cast of mind for a fiction writer,” says Watson. “Like philosophy, fiction writing is a form of thinking. John Gardner would tell me it is the form I trust the most. I can’t make myself believe in some grand search for meaning anymore—as though the mind were Napoleon and truth were there to be won on the battlefield. If Plato was right about the unexamined life, well, okay, then let’s actually examine life, the messy stuff of experience. That messy stuff is what fiction is all about.”

It’s that “no one answer is definitively right,” and that “every character has a different take on things, a different set of questions and answers” that Watson finds most satisfying about fiction. “That is how life actually is, and that is why fiction is good at understanding life.”

Click here to read the full interview with Watson, “Why I Make Fun of Philosophers.”

Watson’s recent collection The Era of Not Quite is available at the BOA Bookstore.

September 04, 2014

PW *starred* review calls Bridge ‘linguistic tours de force’

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A new Publishers Weekly *starred* review is calling Robert Thomas’ Bridge a series of “linguistic tours de force,” full of “crisp, concise, emotionally explosive riffs … that together form an unsettling character study.”

“You’d pass her on the street and never notice Alice, who works in the word-processing department of a San Francisco law firm by day, and attends the opera, watches movies, or, home alone, listens to the voices in her head during off-hours. Alice leads her lonely life in what she calls the ‘Goldilocks Zone’: not too crazy, not too sane—a just-right (if tenuous) balance between calm and losing it.”

With monologues that are “alternately suicidal, murderous, funny, and vulnerable,” the review says “Thomas has a gift for using a minimum of words with maximum effect.”

Click here to read the full Publishers Weekly review of Bridge.

Bridge is now available for pre-order from the BOA Bookstore. Newly printed copies are available from BOA and will ship out immediately. Get your hands on it early!

August 28, 2014

Dine & Rhyme tickets on sale now – featuring Jillian Weise

 

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For tickets, contact Melissa Hall at hall@boaeditions.org, or 585.546.3410, ext. 11.

August 25, 2014

PW starred review says Copia ‘bursts with American abundance’

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In a recent Publishers Weekly *starred* review, Erika Meitner’s newest book of poetry Copia is called “a collection that bursts with American abundance while simultaneously describing its decline.”

Featuring poems inspired by the exploration and crumbling cityscapes of Detroit, Copia is an appreciable collection precisely because “[Meitner] turns these scenes inward, transforming them into a reflection of her own body.” They are rendered in “rich language” and with “an eye for the texture of common objects.”

“Meitner has a stake in personal exploration that brings intimacy and despair to these poems, which makes them more significant than the simple observations of an outsider ogling or exoticizing poverty and decay.”

Click here to read the entire Publishers Weekly review of Copia.

Copia is available for pre-order at the BOA Bookstore. Newly printed copies are now available from BOA and will ship immediately. Get your hands on it early!

August 25, 2014

Kirkus review praises fiction collection Bridge

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Robert Thomas’ new fiction collection Bridge gets high praise from Kirkus review for its “tight and vivid prose,” “innovative structure,” and “emotional resonance.”

Balancing “black humor and memorable one-liners” with the solipsism of the book’s narrator, Alice, Thomas “brings readers deep into the eccentric and neurotic mind of its protagonist.” According to the review, even a narrator given to “digression and extreme interiority” such as Alice “narrates the minutiae of her life with insight and wit.”

Forming an overarching narrative from the 56 short vignettes, these pieces chart the decline of narrator Alice—”a lonely, at times suicidal woman.”

“With emotional resonance, an innovative structure and a unique narrator, Thomas crafts a book that’s greater than the sum of its parts.”

Click here to read the entire Kirkus review of Bridge by Robert Thomas.

Bridge is now available for pre-order from the BOA Bookstore. Newly printed copies are available from BOA and will ship out immediately. Get your hands on it early!

August 22, 2014

Recipe for Geffrey Davis’ writing style

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In an interview with Late Night Library‘s Melanie Figueroa, Geffrey Davis describes his new book Revising the Storm as “a search for language to survive and reclaim difficult loves.”

Featured on LNL’s The Rookie Report as a new writer in the spotlight, Davis explains the “recipe” of his writing style:

“1½ oz Image, ¼ oz Questions, ¼ oz Time.

(Add more parts Time and/or Questions and/or Image to taste.)

Shake well inside a form. Add 2-3 gazillion dashes of revision. Strain with title, garnish with good ear, and serve.

(Retreat rethink reread remeasure retry.)”

The result in Revising the Storm, Davis suggests, is a combination of Stanley Plumly’s Now That My Father Lies Down Beside Me and Li-Young Lee’s Rose. This combination lends itself to the exploration of language on which Davis focuses his collection.

Click here to read the full LNL interview with Geffrey Davis.

Revising the Storm is in stock now at the BOA Bookstore.