Jamaal May’s The Big Book of Exit Strategies

Review By: Bess Cooley, Managing Editor Birds searching for bread. A fist fight. Fences. Lampposts. All these in the first two poems, immediately setting up Jamaal May’s second poetry collection, The Big Book of Exit Strategies. This is an urban book, a book of city landscapes—particularly Detroit, the author’s hometown. The second poem in this … Continue reading Jamaal May’s The Big Book of Exit Strategies

After the Fire: Bill Morris’ Motor City Burning

Bill Morris’ new novel, Motor City Burning (Pegasus Books), begins on Opening Day at Tiger Stadium.  It’s 1968, nearly a year since the race riots ravaged Detroit, and five days since the death of Martin Luther King Jr. This immediate submersion into baseball-and-hot-dog Americana and fraught historical context establish the duality of Morris’s novel: Motor … Continue reading After the Fire: Bill Morris’ Motor City Burning

Michael Mlekoday: The Dead Eat Everything, Including this Review

First course: some “bathtub gin,” Baba’s dice left on the kitchen table, all the malt liquor poured out for loved ones. Second course: the roughage of “every page of the bible” to cleanse the pallet. The main course, the whole enchilada: “a city so ruined, it is perfect” with julienned pit bull—a mornay of “gunmetal … Continue reading Michael Mlekoday: The Dead Eat Everything, Including this Review

If Noelle Kocot Were Looking For A Noelle Kocot, She Would First Have To Fly To Noelle Kocot.

If New Jersey were the universe, Noelle Kocot would be its soul. No, wait. If Noelle Kocot were the universe, her soul would be in New Jersey and her toes in the sea, settling down a hurricane. Better yet, if Noelle Kocot controlled the galaxy, Soul in Space (Wave Books), her latest poetry collection, would … Continue reading If Noelle Kocot Were Looking For A Noelle Kocot, She Would First Have To Fly To Noelle Kocot.

Snow & Guavas: NoViolet Bulawayo’s We Need New Names

What first struck me about NoViolet Bulawayo’s novel of coming of age in Mugabe’s Zimbabwe, We Need New Names, were the brilliant insults. Ten year old Darling, and her gang of friends – Bastard, Stino, Sbho, and Godknows (not Chipo, though—she hasn’t said a word since she got pregnant)—run through the shanties and guava orchards … Continue reading Snow & Guavas: NoViolet Bulawayo’s We Need New Names