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It was love at first sight

Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Ronlyn Domingue

My Horrible New York Times Review

November 3rd, 2009
by Ronlyn Domingue


Here’s the good news. My first novel was reviewed by the New York Times.

Here’s the bad news. It was a horrible review.

I do not hyperbolize. It was really bad. So that you understand how terrible it is, I’ve included it entirely as the next full paragraph. Please feel free to gasp, snicker, or laugh aloud at any time during my cautionary tale, even if you think you shouldn’t. Release the humours. It’s healthier that way.

Fiction Chronicle, Sunday, November 20, 2005. The Mercy of Thin Air (Atria Books)

Domingue’s first novel is like “The Lovely Bones” minus the lovely prose;


Adam Cushman

Film Review: Funny Guy

October 27th, 2009
by Adam Cushman


A light bulb dangles in a Northridge, California motel room. Streetlights glow through cracks in the blinds. Trembling hands dump a bottle of Bacardi 151 on the head of a shirtless Philip Seymour Hoffman. Said hands strike a match. Enter the flames. The screams.

A revolutionary comedian’s head has just caught fire.


Colleen McGrath

The Crack in my Mac

October 27th, 2009
by Colleen McGrath


There’s a crack in my Mac

In the casing to be exact

And I wonder what I am to do


Tyler Stoddard Smith

Tyler’s Adventures in Cultural Literacy

October 12th, 2009
by Tyler Stoddard Smith


What does it mean to be literate? That one’s pretty easy; it means you know how to read. What does it mean to be cultural? That one’s a little tougher; it means you know that in most situations, it’s unacceptable to put your cigarette out on a dachshund. And so what does it mean to be “culturally literate?” Many have posed this question (Harold Bloom, the Yale professor currently encased in acrylic and preserved for posterity does it a lot.), yet no one has truly come to terms with an accurate answer. My uncle Seamus once remarked that “cultural literacy is for homosexuals,” but he was urinating in a koi pond at the time, so who knows? I suggest we journey together to see if we can’t get to the core of this labyrinthine dilemma. Perhaps the most logical first step is learning how to read (I’ll wait for a few minutes)… Sweet. Our next step is to determine what exactly is “cultural.” Below are a few undeniably cultural items in the realm of architecture, literature and music. Let’s familiarize ourselves with these things, and then we can begin to get a handhold on what it means to be culturally literate. (more…)

Paul Clayton

Thoughts on Publishing and PR, Marketing, and Other Dirty Tricks!

September 17th, 2009
by Paul Clayton


I’ve been thinking a lot about book titles lately. My first published book (not the first book I’d written, but the first I’d sold), Calling Crow, had originally been titled by me as Cacique. Envisioned as a historical thriller, ala Clavell’s Shogun, I put a lot of thought into the title.


Paul Clayton

Smiley Face Fiction

September 13th, 2009
by Paul Clayton


I sent one of my stories to a so-called literary magazine and got back the strangest rejection letter I’ve ever received — and I’ve been doing this for over thirty years. I’d never heard of The @$$!@# Reader until the night I picked up (but didn’t buy) a copy at my local Borders where I go with my daughter, D, every Wednesday afternoon. (more…)

David Breithaupt

Make Your Characters Come Alive!

August 24th, 2009
by David Breithaupt


Never expect a good literary critique from a federal agent. I learned this the hard way, through a roundabout lesson via a maze of fear and loathing. These guys aren’t readers, they have other things on their mind. Seek your feedback elsewhere. They don’t hang in bookstores. (more…)

Sung J. Woo

Book Review: J. Robert Lennon’s Pieces for the Left Hand

August 6th, 2009
by Sung J. Woo


Every time I open a new book of fiction, there’s a part of me that hopes for the improbable: to encounter something new, something utterly original.  So as you can imagine, I’m let down a lot.  But sometimes I get lucky.

It’s been two weeks since I finished reading J. Robert Lennon’s Pieces for the Left Hand, but here’s this little gem of a book, still sitting on my desk.  I don’t know when I’ll return this paperback to its designated shelf, but it won’t be anytime soon, for I keep going back to it, reading one of the 100 anecdotes in this collection at random, smiling and chuckling along the way.


Savannah Schroll Guz

Review: Monkey Bicycle 6 Delivers

June 5th, 2009
by Savannah Schroll Guz


Unlike Monkey Bicycle’s previous issues (No. 4 presented thematically-connected short stories by 40 contributors and No. 5 was devoted exclusively to humor, both dark and light), No. 6 is an arresting crazy quilt of subjects and voices, many of them masterful.

In Jing Li’s “Forever,” calligraphy is the means by which the poet penetrates memory and creates metaphor. And while the images in “Forever” are powerful without any consideration of possible retrospective influences, they still seem to echo the poignancy of works like “The River-Merchant’s Wife,” which was Ezra Pound’s translation of a poem by Li Po (*cough* Pardon me, the English professor part of my persona is leaking out my right side…Okay, there. See, duct tape helps everything). Jing Li’s last lines, which depict the sublimation of shadows into transient flock of starlings is itself a calligraphic arabesque that points to the poem’s theme: the relentless and elliptical movement of infinity.


Paul A. Toth

Those Ignorant Theists

April 30th, 2009
by Paul A. Toth


In a new book reviewed by Salon here, Terry Eagleton readies the religious backlash as if the tiny minority of American atheists somehow threatens his lukewarm beliefs. His favorite tactic is to lump Christopher Hitchens together with Richard Dawkins and refer to them as “Ditchkins.” The first is a neoconservative whose book only tried to raise profits, while the second is one of the most elegant proponents of evolution who happens to feel we arrived here without the help of God just fine…though we may exit unless we rid ourselves of ill-informed beliefs.  But that, according to Eagleton, is absurd, for Eagleton himself doesn’t believe in such fundamentalist hokum as creation “science.” Why, he’s not even sure God created man.  With religions like that, who needs atheism? (more…)

Suzanne Burns

Keep Your Left Hand Up, Amigo!!!

April 20th, 2009
by Suzanne Burns


Boxers don’t walk. Boxers don’t strut. Boxers glide, eyes forward, their profiles reminiscent of Dick Tracy, strong and dashing, with a hint of vulnerability that belies the ballet of brutality to come.

Noted author Joyce Carol Oates refers to boxing as, “the lost religion of masculinity,” and the horde that gathered on Friday night in the Middle Sister Building of the Deschutes County Fairgrounds in our neighboring town of Redmond for the preliminary bouts of the Oregon State Golden Gloves championship came to re-christen this loss. (more…)

Laura van den Berg

Joy Williams is the Bomb

March 2nd, 2009
by Laura van den Berg


Okay, so this isn’t the first time I’ve publicly shared my love for Joy Williams, but did anyone else catch her piece on Flannery O’Connor in the NYT Sunday Book Review? Did anyone else love how Williams completely circumvented writing the traditional “review” of Brad Gooch’s new biography and instead invoked an incredibly poignant and idiosyncratic portrait of O’Connor? By far one of the most interesting things I’ve read in the NYT Book Review in some time.

Kimberly M. Wetherell

For Your Consideration: Six Words Short.

February 7th, 2009
by Kimberly M. Wetherell


I’m a big fan of SMITH Magazine’s 6-Word Memoirs. So much so, I often find myself encapsulating everyday events both large and small into six-word sound bytes without even being aware of it.

For those of you in the dark about 6WMs, Ernest Hemingway once wrote a story in six words (For Sale. Baby Shoes. Never Worn.) and is said to have called it his best work. SMITH has taken this idea and marathoned with it.

With the Oscars just two weeks away (Feb 22nd), some of you may be finding it difficult, in these trying economic times, to fork out the $12.50 on a single movie ticket.  So I present, for your consideration, a condensed review of each of the major* nominees. 

All in just six simple words.


Reno J. Romero

Digital Bitch: A Remote Control Odyssey

November 23rd, 2008
by Reno J. Romero



“Sing that shit, girl.”

- Rasputia, Norbit


After the cable man (I think his name was Sergio or David) was done hooking up my TV he went through the million buttons on the remote control.

“Check it out, bro,” he said, displaying the remote control in front of me. “It’s real simple.”



Man. (more…)

Wendy Lee

There is Nothing Like the Shame (While Watching “South Pacific”)

November 15th, 2008
by Wendy Lee


This past Veterans Day I went to see “South Pacific,” the 1949 musical that was revived this year to stellar reviews, numerous awards, and virtually all sold-out shows. I hadn’t seen the movie, but remembered many of the songs from my album that my mother played when I was a kid. And, despite wading through several James Michener novels at around the same age, I never read the book it was based on.

I knew it had something to do with World War II, and there was a love story or two, and maybe there were natives involved. But when I saw it, I realized it wasn’t really about men who think there’s nothing like a dame, and dames who want to wash those men right out of their hair. Above all, “South Pacific” is about racism.


Wade Rouse

The Customer Is Always Wrong: My Life in Retail

September 19th, 2008
by Wade Rouse


A while back, I was asked to contribute to an essay collection with a wonderful concept: Authors writing about their experiences working in retail.

The book, entitled The Customer Is Always Wrong: The Retail Chronicles, will publish October 1 from Counterpoint/Soft Skull Press, a smaller, independent press. I contributed to the book not only because it featured a wonderful concept and great group of contributing writers (T Cooper, Colson Whitehead, Po Bronson), but it was also my understanding that a portion of the proceeds would go toward helping independent bookstores, an incredible cause, to say the least (contributors, btw, received no advance and will receive no royalties). 

I was asked to contribute by editor Jeff Martin, who is (steady yourself here for the biggest irony of all), a bookstore clerk in Oklahoma. Jeff contacted me because he had read my first memoir, AMERICA’S BOY, and was taken with my experience working in retail at Sears. As a child, I was a Winnie-the-Pooh clothing model, before ballooning into a Husky’s kid and college student, whose first real job came, more irony here, working at Sears. In AMERICA’S BOY, I wrote about how I told my supervisor at Sears — after witnessing an endless army of effeminate chubby boys march through the Husky’s corridor crying — that I truly felt a therapist should be stationed in the section along with a clerk. My suggestion was not heeded.


Kimberly M. Wetherell

My Personal Nightlight Jesus – A Study in Cool

August 20th, 2008
by Kimberly M. Wetherell


I am not cool.

I am, in fact, the antithesis of cool, which some would counter makes me cool on the flip side, but I’m not even anti-cool enough to make it there.

Externally, I might be perceived as cool.  I live in a cool neighborhood and I have a cool job and some of my clothes are cool some of the time, but by and large, I’m a product of an extremely white, sheltered, middle-class upbringing so my default cool setting tends to remain at 78-degrees Fahrenheit: comfortable and efficient, but hardly refreshing.

So when I got the invite to hear TNB’s own Rich Ferguson and his spoken-word performance at the NYC Fringe Festival, I thought, “How cool!” and I leapt at the chance to up my cool-status.


Greg Boose

In the Beginning There Was an Unpaid Editing Job in Cleveland, a Potential Lawsuit, and a Bunch of Unprovoked Angry Geese

July 28th, 2008
by Greg Boose


I’m standing and painting gravestones as weird red squares, twenty yards from where the coffins of President James A. Garfield and his wife (name?) lie in the gray basement of the Garfield Monument, and I’m thinking about how much I hate my banking job.

I’m thinking about how I kinda love ATMs because they keep customers out of my bank, but at the same time how I hate loading them with cash in the mornings.


R Kent

R Kent’s French Movie Reviews IX: Klapisch Proves Paris is One Great Ensemble Cast

March 11th, 2008
by R Kent


Three-quarters of the way through Cédric Klapisch’s Paris, a young African man who has already traveled a great distance from his home looks over the choppy sea from the Moroccan side of the Strait of Gibraltar and asks the ferryman who will sneak him into Europe if it’s all worth the trouble.

The ferryman, perhaps just eager for payment, replies that it is definitely worth it.

The young man, who is seen only in snippets during his long journey, carries with him a post card sent by a relative.

The black and white image is that of Notre Dame Cathedral, in Paris.

Klapisch, and his mighty ensemble cast, bring that piece of photo paper to vibrant life in a wonderful movie that lives up to the gamble that is its name.

If you’re going to write and direct a film and call it Paris, it had better be worth the trouble. (more…)

PD Smith

From Einstein to Homer Simpson: Books of the Year

December 16th, 2007
by PD Smith


It’s that time of year again: there’s a chill in the air, the sun barely shows its face, and the leaves are just golden memories long since carried away by the wind. A great time, in fact, to recall some of the outstanding non-fiction books that have landed on my desk this year. (more…)