RECENT BOOK REVIEWS
Scroll down to find reviews for each title. Visit the catalog to order.
BLOODSHOT STORIES — JEFF P. JONES
You want it darker? Jeff P. Jones carries on in the trajectory that runs from Kafka through Philip K. Dick to Cormac McCarthy (with a sprinkling of John Barth thrown in). Whether inviting the reader to comb through the dank stacks of a Stalin archive, or sweat inside the soldered-closed cab of a post-apocalyptic dump truck, or become an atom splitting from the inside, or a single brain dispersing into the universe—these brilliantly researched and deeply imagined stories are never the expected. A stunning collection.
— Janet Burroway, author of Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft (ninth edition)
Jeff P. Jones discovers the compelling themes of his Bloodshot Stories in wildly various locations, but always on the dark side. We read about a zombie on the high plains, the wide-ranging effects of an atomic explosion, a researcher examining Stalin’s early life to find his origins as a serial killer, a dying atheist’s grim final letter to his daughter, an old woman recalling her life while holding her pulsing heart in her hand. The subjects are mysterious and morbid but the prose is beautiful, and there are no missteps in this powerful and impressive collection.
— Ron Hansen, author of The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and Hitler’s Niece
Lyrically written and poignantly detailed, Bloodshot Stories immerses us in the world of fable, fairy tale, and the grotesque. The characters in this wildly imaginative collection are driven by an urgency toward fates they can neither escape nor resist. In the tradition of the masters, from Poe to Conan Doyle to Neil Gaiman, Jones’s ability to marry the strange to the familiar, horror to the mundane, results in fantastic narratives that defy chronology and plant us firmly in a state of wonder.
— Kim Barnes, author of In the Kingdom of Men
The boundaries between the living and the dead are dissolved, and resolved. Jeff Jones writes with passion and wonderful intelligence about the many characters who move through his wintery landscapes, wrestling with the human condition. Bloodshot is a brilliant collection.
— Margot Livesey, author of Mercury and The Flight of Gemma Hardy
HUMAN RIGHTS AND WRONGS — ADRIANNE ARON
Human Rights and Wrongs demonstrates how the strictures of “professionalism” can limit the effectiveness of psychological expression. Aron and her colleagues are liberating her profession by telling the story, under oath, in Federal Immigration Court.
In the fashion of Eduardo Galeano, the story can absolve the victim and leave the perpetrator self-condemned. This style can be troublesome for domesticated professionals since it identifies the state terror of their government. No American exceptionalism here. The self-condemned are not “a few bad apples,” nor do they represent a “tragic mistake.” The foreign policy is consistent and international. This study by Adrianne Aron ends with a true story and a metaphor. She remembers being lost in the Yosemite Valley. That memory represents the many people lost in our criminal justice system and ICE. What she does not say is the unspoken truth that she also represents a holy helicopter rescuing the dispossessed lost in the forest.
— Blase Bonpane, Ph.D., Director, Office of the Americas
Combining the qualities of a psychologist, a political activist, and a skilled writer, the author draws the reader close to individuals’ experiences while informing the reader about recent histories of governmental violence. In other words, Human Rights and Wrongs teaches the reader both compassion and justice.
— Tom F. Driver, The Paul J. Tillich Professor of Theology and Culture Emeritus, Union Theological Seminary
A clever joker once said, “I dream of a world where chickens can cross the road without having their motives questioned.” I, as a mental health professional, dream of one where psychologists will understand why Ernesto Cruz drinks himself into a stupor, why Eva refuses to speak about what happened to her in Honduras, why Mrs. Malek is afraid to return to Afghanistan. In a collection of serious yet entertaining human interest stories, Adrianne Aron’s Human Rights and Wrongs engages the general reader while inspiring psychologists to think outside the box.
— Shawn Corne, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist, Albany, California
Throughout the book the author provides gems and nuggets of hope highlighting the power of story. The ideas are powerful and challenge the reader to examine the resilience of the human spirit and our relationship to others as human beings.
— Hugo Kamya, Ph.D., Professor, Fulbright Scholar, Simmons College School of Social Work
Every page I read took me to thousands of stories I’ve heard and at times felt I’d lived myself. Each page gave me pause, because there was so much tied together there, and so much rope that it could choke you, take your breath away, make you want to scream, and send you looking for matches to burn down the courts that were designed to defend slavery, colonialism, and the capitalist system.
Human Rights and Wrongs should be required reading for law students and psychologists.
En cada pagina que leía me transportaba a un millar de historias que he oido y que aveces las he sentido como si yo las había vivido. Cada pagina se me hizo largas semana pues había tanto que atar cabos y que tambien de tanto atar puedes quedar ahorcado, perder la respiración y con una sensación de pegar un grito y buscar fósforos y quemar la corte que solo fue diseñada para defender la esclavitud, colonialismo y el sistema capitalista.
— Felix Kury, Program Director, Clínica Martín-Baró, San Francisco State University, U.C. San Francisco
AN INCOMPLETE LIST OF MY WISHES — JENDI REITER
Jendi Reiter's expert stories scald with their fervor, vaporize with their stone cold candor and ultimately distill the truth. Here are characters who reach out in need, then slap our hands back; who wound, cuss, love and resurrect the way we wish we could. Here is pitch-perfect prose that's both literary and forthright—that condenses unwieldy, unfathomable issues to workable, human proportions. Here is a writer in whom we can invest our time, our trust, our hope.
—Soma Mei Sheng Frazier, author of the story collections Salve (Nomadic Press) and Collateral Damage: A Triptych (Ropewalk Press), founding editor of COG: A Multimedia Publication
Jendi Reiter is a masterful short story writer. Truth and humor are woven intricately, ripe with emotion and stripped down to the bone. You will read these again and again.
—Jacqueline Sheehan, New York Times bestselling author of Lost and Found (William Morrow) and The Tiger in the House (Kensington)
SHOT IN THE HEAD — LEE VARON
“When you returned / from your father’s funeral / smell of the mill / like pinking shears, / cut through your lungs." So insists the speaker of Lee Varon’s Shot in the Head, addressing her grandmother as she relives her grandparents’ tragic connection, marred by infidelity and revenge. These poems, sharpened on the whetstone of Varon's grandmother’s genteel deprivations, bigotry, and disappointment, cut with the same keen edge. It’s a stunning collection, from start to finish.
— Tom Daley, author of House You Cannot Reach
From beatific bluebirds to the blunt finality of a spent gun, Lee Varon expertly couples the beauty and allure of nature with the sting of tragedy. A truly unique collection with lush imagery, artfully tarnished with heartbreak.
— Doug Holder, Editor Ibbetson Street Press, author of Last Night At The Wursthaus
Lee Varon’s poems take us to the shooting of her grandfather in 1936. The images like “a blush that turned to blood,” are breathtaking. At first it is a family story, but as you examine it further, the views of prejudice in the community are jaw-dropping, yet amazingly relevant to today’s issues. Her grandmother, Virginia Marie, navigates life with pride and loyalty, yet fear and bigotry, highlighting the complexity of human nature.
— Jean Flanagan, author of Black Lightning