Category: Non fiction reviews

A review of Mario Writes a Poem a Day for a Year, and You Can Too by Mario Milosevic

Why write poetry? Milosevic says it sharpens your mind, encourages concise writing, helps you appreciate the world, and most of all is fun. He encourages aspiring poets to “take advantage of the long tradition of verse” by familiarizing themselves with the work of other poets. I was pleased with this, as aspiring poets who have asked my help too often displayed total ignorance of great works of the past. Milosevic also tells budding poets to trust their instincts, quoting Allen Ginsberg’s principle: “First thought, best thought.”

A review of Henry David Thoreau : A Life by Laura Dassow Walls

I reveled in this book because, unlike others before it, it is not fragmented, incongruent, or just a compilation of interesting facts. But rather, it reads as though Thoreau lived much more recently and the author had interviewed in-person, first-hand witnesses to his life simply because it flows from birth to death without a sense of missing information or lapses in time. On any given page you may learn about the weather that day or how late Thoreau stayed up as if it were all recorded and timestamped on videotape for the author to view and re-view.  

A review of Sylvia Pankhurst: Natural Born Rebel by Rachel Holmes

Throughout the book, Holmes gives readers fascinating tidbits of information that bring Sylvia and her associates to life. We learn, for instance, that when she and the  East London Federation of Socialists established a day care centre during World War I in a renovated former pub, they named this creche “The Mothers’ Arms”. 

A review of Bury My Heart at Chuck E. Cheese’s by Tiffany Midge

The fifty-odd pieces that make up this collection are divided thematically into eleven different sections and take aim at national holidays, movies, language, literature and a host of other themes, from a Native American perspective, and culminate in a merciless assessment of the Donald Trump administration, the coup de grâce a poem entitled ”Ars Poetica by Donald Trump.”

A review of Square Haunting by Francesca Wade

In Square Haunting: Five Writers in London Between the Wars, Wade profiles the imagist poet, Hilda Doolittle (H.D.); the mystery novelist Dorothy L. Sayers; two scholars/academics, Jane Ellen Harrison and Eileen Powers, and the modernist novelist Virginia Woolf.  All five, writes Wade, “pushed the boundaries of scholarship, literary form [and] societal norms in order to have lives of the mind in which their creative work took priority.

A review of Be Sincere Even When You don’t Mean It: The Memoirs of Jimmy Sizemore by Jim Flynn

Flynn’s attention to detail in describing Sizemore’s various meetings and situations is what makes the story so believable and hilarious. Always the gentleman (“I’d learned through osmosis from my father that you always compliment somebody before you turn them down”), he gets what he wants with a smile. It’s a lesson in how to conduct yourself in the most difficult situations with the most persuasive people. There are very few revered institutions and American ideals that are left unscathed by Flynn, and rightfully so.

A review of Rebel Cinderella by Adam Hochschild

While Rose’s story grabs reader  attention, Hochschild’s book is compelling because he tells a bigger story. He shows us the gap between rich and poor during the Gilded Age and the early 20th century and educates  readers in a lucid and accessible sty le about early struggles for a fairer, kinder society.

A review of Split, edited by Lee Kofman

All of the pieces are powerful, richly depicted, allowing the reader access to the very core of transition. Kofman has a well-tuned sense of what works together and the pieces flow together perfectly, each essay informing the work that surrounds it, so that the overall book feels interlinked. It makes for engaging reading that is emotionally powerful throughout. 

A review of Imperfect by Lee Kofman

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t spend time Googling these people, or that I wasn’t fascinated by the whole notion of what constitutes beauty – and the way in which it’s judged. Kofman doesn’t pretend to have an answer—Imperfect is not a didactic book, and nor does it present a thesis that beauty is more than ‘skin deep’ and that judgement in any form is bad–we cannot help gazing at the beautiful or indeed the shocking. What the book does show however, is that these are complex and important questions to raise and that familiarity and reflectiveness are a means to better understanding who we are.