As an avid reader, it has been a long time since I was so heavily engaged in a novel that my physical grip tightened by suspense and bent the pages. This was my experience reading True Ash, full of such vivid imagery that the reader is taken into a different world. Colen and Guess's writing not only plays mental mind games with readers, but questions the terms of genre as well. This novel is a combination of short stories, flash fiction, and prose poetry that all coincide with each other creating a luring uncanniness that hooks readers.
Chasing Permanent, Chasing Change
Review: Permanent for Now
Jeffrey S. Markovitz
Unsolicited Press, pp. 129
Cost: $20.99 (paperback)
The first chapter of Jeffery S. Markovitz’s new novel contains just two words: He died.
This short statement is startling, but not altogether surprising for a story that centers around the events of World War II-era Germany, when death came for millions. In two short words, Markovitz not only sets the tone for the rest of the novel, but also lays the groundwork for a well-crafted twist at the end. The words reverberate as we are introduced to each new character, wondering, Is it him? Is he the one who died?
In Lee L. Krecklow’s debut novel The Expanse Between, he delivers a page-turner that will leave most readers unsure of what they would do by the end. It does an interesting job of introducing a commentary on the growing Internet, screen-obsessed culture. It takes place sometime in the mid-2000’s before this craze had really taken off, and in doing so shows that perhaps the human condition always had the impulses that the technology of today is making easier to appease.
The Making of an American Dream
Review: Welcome Home
Alternative Book Press: 158 pp.
Jude Ezeilo’s heartwarming introduction to America provides a new ethical and moral viewpoint to the country that Americans are accustomed to today. Welcome Home: A Memoir is an exchange between Ezeilo’s past and present selves, both working toward obtaining United States citizenship. Arriving at such a young age from his home country of Nigeria, two-year-old Ezeilo soon discovers the work and dedication it takes to achieve the American dream.
The path to happiness can be crooked and twisted with daunting barriers along the way. In Vanessa MacLellan’s debut novel, Three Great Lies, the key characters seek their own forms of happiness – only attainable when they recognize the truth about themselves.
MacLellan sets her tale in Egypt. Her bored and self-absorbed protagonist, Jeannette, decides to trust a local teenaged boy, to show her a newly opened tomb with no tourists. She survives a harrowing ride in a motorcycle sidecar to arrive at the site. Like Alice before her, she soon finds herself tumbling down the rabbit hole. Jeannette awakens from the fall and learns she is still in Egypt, but Egypt from 3,000 years ago.
In terms of gritty, disturbing realism, Grand Theft Auto has nothing on The Book of Aron. Told in the straightforward voice of a child who understands harshness and guilt from the earliest age, The Book of Aron gives an unflinching view of life in the Warsaw Ghetto as well as what it was like to be a child of deep poverty in the years before childhood was deemed a special and protected space. It is a tale of modernization and industrialization as well as a Holocaust tale.
Novelist Jim Shephard tells the true story of Janusz Korczak, a Jewish-Polish doctor and educator who is heroic both for his revolutionary ideas of treating children with respect and dignity as well as for the work he did running an orphanage in the Warsaw Ghetto, but he filters it through the eyes of one of the children he helped. When Shephard found Aron’s voice, a voice which has the cadence of a Yiddish curse, he found a way to tell a hero’s story while insisting the hero was quite fallible and quite human.
Jaded Ibis Press, pp. 196
Cost: $9.99 for the App
$15.00 for paperback
The psychiatrists were left scratching their heads. They could not understand how such a polite person who seemed together could commit such a heinous crime. They walked away empty-handed. From the time a reader encounters the first sentence in Alexandra Chasin’s Brief, “I have requested an oral argument because I’d like to try, if I may, why my representation and I have chosen this defense, uncommon though it is, and why I would take issue with the psychiatrists’ findings,” he knows there is something wrong. Our narrator seems a little off and eventually we understand why. But at the heart of Brief is a narrator who is trying to change our outlook on how we perceive other people.
Reading Brief is an experience unlike any other. It is the first book that can be downloaded as an interactive app that changes with every read and reread of each page. The pages inside are littered with torn magazine images that feel as though they came from the '60’s. If you flip forward a page, but then need to go back again to re-read, the page you have just left is not the same. The images have changed and so has the layout. Each new read will be a different experience for the reader. This idea of book construction is so unique that it is sure to be soon copied.
At the start of Brief, Chasin’s narrator gives clues to where she is taking us. She starts with an oral argument to begin explaining her psychiatrist’s findings. According to her they came up with, “bupkus.” Our narrator gives us reasoning as to why she thinks she vandalized a work of art. While many others would blame it on the parents, or her childhood friends, she blames it on the changing times of her youth.
book reviews by glassworks editorial staff