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Monthly Archives: August 2016

Nasty, Brutish and Short by Todd Millick

(Review by C. A. Taylor)

One of the best parts of my job as a publishing service-provider via Middle Island Press is that my clients sometimes send me copies of other books that they’ve published elsewhere. Such is the case with Todd Millick, author of Short and Sweet published by Middle Island Press, who recently sent me a copy of his first book of prose titled Nasty, Brutish and Short: Lessons and Laughs from an Overseas Officer.

(Continuing with my review at Amazon.com…)

I immediately felt the “funny” and consider this book to be genuinely healing in that sense. I feel so good when I read these stories, two or three at a time with my morning coffee. Though this book has a masculine “feel” and would appeal mostly to men, it appealed to me as well, and if my dad were still alive and residing in a VA hospital, I’d surely send him a copy of this book to help him recover from the inside out.

The title is a bit harsh, imo, to the reality of the stories in this collection. Yes, the well-traveled author is in touch with reality, and his accounts are complete with observations of crude and strange human behaviors in places like Bulgaria and Egypt, but the stories are intelligent lessons in geography; they are travel insights with a witty narrator who happens to have been a governmental “insider” who adds interesting tidbits such as telltale signs of whether or not countries have joined the EU. Recycle bins? Chances are, they’re in.

Most amusing to me are the author’s accounts of taxi drivers and drivers in general in Cairo. He claims that one cannot simply jump in a cab and expect that the driver knows how to get to one’s destination. One must, in most cases, tell the cab drivers where to turn, and if their horn quits working, they just might suffer a major internal crisis with a lack of “voice” on the road.

These and similar stories make for a delightful overall read. I’d recommend this book to pretty much anyone. Pick up a copy of Nasty, Brutish and Short at Amazon.com.

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Posted by on August 12, 2016 in News & Reviews

 

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Disinheritance: Poems by John Sibley Williams

Some weeks back I received a copy of Disinheritance by e-friend, poet and literary agent John Sibley Williams. It’s the kind of book that I like to savor slowly over time, because each poem is rich with what I define as true poetry: not words describing situations and sensations so much as situations and sensations finding the right words through the poet’s mind. In other words, I don’t see poetry as being manufactured in the poet’s mind. I see poetry as entering the poet’s mind and being translated, which Williams demonstrates in this collection.

First things first: the cover design is flawless, truly created with love. It’s nice and silky and the interior is equally well designed. The book is divided into three parts; it is well-crafted and well-ordered, and it returns throughout the book to a “Dead Boy” theme (the poet apparently being the “Dead Boy”). Here, a few lines from “A Dead Boy Learns Metaphor”:

 

The poetries of white blood cells

help us make sense of the body.

 

The comfort of abstraction,

of self-defining

by our creations.

 

Something clots.

 

I rename the white hospital walls swans.

Now they are feathered         and I

can finally be their pure spring lake.

 

The wolves at my bedside say my heart is an ocean

so I construct a simple ark to fit two of each limb.

 

The sheets are a canvas of long-

fallen leaves

so I rake my fingers over cotton and gather their falling.

 

I read these free-verse poems with the intent of penning a review, so I kept paper in the book and took notes firstly in search of my favorite poem. I found that each poem became my new favorite, or I should say I couldn’t choose a favorite, but I took the contents in slowly and thoughtfully because that’s what the poems require of the reader.

It took me years of reading poetry to arrive at appreciating free-verse. This is among the best of free-verse, the kind of poetry that those who aspire to express poetry should study and take note from literary lessons such as this from “In Apology”:

 

Not even earth can describe our harvest, not even the sky

and all its burning can speak for ash.

But there comes a time

abstractions must choose what shape to take.

 

For justice, please look down into my hands

as into a mirror. For truth, here’s

a cord of kindling. For you, a midnight river of stars.

 

I enjoy the quiet contemplations throughout Disinheritance. From “Oppenheimer”:

 

Mother we call the beauty in

what cannot be possessed,

and father, where are you

but in the violence it takes

to create her?

 

So the book flows…one pause, one sigh after another, and I’ll surely read it again and am grateful for my copy which will fit snugly on a shelf in our poetry room. Thanks, John!

Disinheritance (*click*) is now available at Amazon.com.

 

 
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Posted by on August 11, 2016 in News & Reviews

 

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