Kicking Prose by Jay Slayton-Joslin (Do I keep the surnames close or spaced?)

Pages: 58
Genre: Poetry 
Format: E-book 
Published by Kuboa 

Here’s some more poetry. One of Kuboa’s newest releases is a poetry book, which I found pretty surprising, because other than the flash fiction book that is somewhat close to poetry, Chris Deal’s Cienfuegos, there really was no poetry on Kuboa. But this one and Hawaiian Shirts in the Electric Chair makes three poetry books. Or maybe two and a half. 

I don’t really have much to say for this collection. Not because I despise it or anything, but for some odd reason I always lose my words for poetry. Because poetry doesn’t have a plot or enough words. But instead they have shards or snippets of who the writer is or what the story wants to show. 

But I will say that this poetry collection felt like something that most people my age probably felt. That infatuated love for someone, the confusion of being a college kid, and just general angst. Then it later grew up into college angst that will soon develop into a hopeless combination of an identity and existential crisis that seems to plague people my age. I don’t know if it’s just me, but I constantly fear of future unhappiness. Some of the poems reminded me of this. Some of the other poems were sweet love poems that were nice to read, of course. Joslin’s poetry is a lot more accessible and is a nice break from the surrealist poetry I usually read. 

Rating: 4/5

Rude Vile Pigs by Leo X. Robertson (ARC)

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Pages: 280
Genre: Post-modern, Black humor
Format: E-book (ADVANCED READER’S COPY)
Self-published
This was given by the author for an honest review 

Leo is back with a book that has a pig on the cover. When I saw this for the first time, I was like “What?” and it would make sense for the title. But I thought of that terrible Animal Farm movie with the live action, digitally made pigs. But don’t be fooled, it’s not about pigs. In the animal sense.

So it starts off with a prologue where you’re introduced to the main characters right away, their conflicts, and what causes the spark of the story. Jim, Kate, and George are the main narrators for most of the novel. Xing Hu will also make a come back.


“Rude Vile Pigs is a satirical black comedy set in the city of Sadwhitepeopledrinking, and follows the antics of Jim Joy, a middle-aged alcoholic who accidentally creates a religion dedicated to selfishness. Recently divorced, depressed and living in a squalid flat, Jim realises that his newfound mobility and complete lack of shame can lead him to new exciting depths, doing whatever he wants and encouraging the same of others. Through his alcohol-fuelled misadventures, Jim is about to discover what happens when a society gives in to its basest impulses.”

The whole story is a cycle itself, where the characters develop and change into assholes or find their true selves, but still feel confused about themselves. I don’t want to go too much in the plot, as usual, but the synopsis basically covers everything. 

So what do I have to say about this? Well, lately it has been a rough semester, even after I dropped a class. So due to this, reading gets kind of hard. it’s gets slowed down and sometimes it feels like a chore. So I refresh myself by playing video games, but I end up reading anyway. So what am I trying to say? Rude Vile Pigs was one of the few novels I have read this year that I really looked forward to reading, that was hard to put down. It was just so darn fun to read, much like how the beautiful prose of Ashley Mayne’s Mankiller was just so absorbent for my mind and moving for the soul. 

It was a joy to read something like this. It’s a satire, it’s funny, yet it’s so darn smart in it’s humor that it manages to move the reader. It’s like one of those comedy movies where toward the end, the main character is like “Wow, now I realize that I have been wrong all along and I should become a new me once again.” You know what I’m talking about right? Something close to what I’m saying would be Yes Man. 

The character development is wonderful, the characters and voices felt somewhat forced, but yet somehow real.They are alive and sometimes well. I don’t know why but I think one of my favorites is Xing Hu, because we’re overly studious and awkward as hell. I would cry if someone threw my thesis away, I would be in such despair. Although, you won’t see me being some freaking computer science, physics genius. Jim was freaking hilarious, the characters were just so fully fleshed compared to the short stories. I’m pretty sure it’s impossible to make a full character in a short story though. Unless the character is the story.

The writing style is similar to the Sinkhole collection but a lot more, how can I say? Developed, clearer, and Leo even threw in some of his Scottish roots into it, reminding me of Irvine Welsh, along with the drugs and nastiness of people in general. I’ve never read Irvine Welsh, but I know his writing style, which is nothing compared to Leo’s when it came to the Scottish. Irvine would take a LONG time to get used to. There was also some graphs and scientific mathematics. I will say that this is 100x different from Findesferas, which is a whole different genre within itself. So this shows that Leo could transition through genres and voices like nothing. 

There’s the absurdity, illogical, and the grossness of black humor and some sort of lesson in here where you learn that everyone is an asshole in some way or another. There is no route of being a jerk. It kind of has this everyone is a piece of crap vibe and one charismatic person has the ability to make everyone a jerk themselves. And somehow the formatting got messed up in the upper paragraph. 

Well, I enjoyed this novel, it was definitely something I needed, a refresher from my usual reading type. He’s a self-published writer that really deserves a lot more attention. 

Rating: 4.5/5









Autobiomythography & Gallery: Poems by Joe Pan / Joe Miller

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Pages: 92
Genre: Poetry 
Format: E-book 
Published by Brooklyn Arts Press
Borrowed 

I don’t really remember where I found this. But I borrowed it on Kindle and read it here and there. Despite that it’s a measly 92 pages, it felt  longer, like maybe 150 pages. They say poetry is something that has to be read in a slower fashion compared to fiction. Although I don’t really agree with them, especially when it comes to prose poems. Or maybe I am wrong, maybe I’m the ass who’s reading poetry the wrong way.

When people talk about poetry, they constantly speak of imagery, which should also be utilized in fiction too. But I feel like it should be more than imagery, it should also hit something in you too. But I feel like I talk too much about this, it’s all up to the writer and the poet. 

So this chapbook, with a title that is way too long and stumble worthy, has everything. From the typical poetry style, prose poem stories, odes, and who knows, maybe a sestina. I can’t really say I loved this chapbook, but I will say that this guy, his poetry hand, is quite wonderful. He’s great at constructing these words and images, painting a whole lot of absurdity and clarity that morphs so close together, it kind of makes your brain twitch or something. 

Surrealist poetry is definitely something that occurs a lot in this book, which I don’t mind. There are some that form a coherent story, with magical realism, life snippets, and other random oddities and ordinaries of life. Which is what I liked, it seemed original, it felt new, yet familiar.

But there was something about this book that overwhelmed me. There were some that were too wordy, too chocked full with everything mushed into sentences. I felt like, some of the poems were too, I don’t know, too full. They felt as if they were going to combust with it’s wordiness and its surrealism. It was just too much, I don’t know, I kind of got a headache from a combination of reading this and school stress. But with a name like Autobiomythography, what would you expect? It nice and cool, but oh my the words. My brain, *boom*. 


Rating: 3/5 

The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew (Originally by Chu Hing)

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Pages: 169
Genre: Graphic Novels, Fantasy, Chinese American, YA
Format: Paperback
Published by First Second Books
I won this in a Goodreads Giveaway 

Graphic novels about superheros, to be honest, I haven’t actually read a super hero graphic novel, or maybe I have and I just don’t remember. So I guess I can say, this is my most memorable one. An absolute joy to read, it’s also my first Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew. To be honest, I’ve never heard of Sonny Liew, but will maybe check his stuff if I run into it sometime. 

So this is sort of a back story that Yang and Liew created for the first Chinese American superhero, The Green Turtle, who was created by Chu Hing. The Green Turtle was known for being the mysterious hero, who was created by a Chinese American, who was apparently a Chinese American, but nobody really knew because he covered any sort of distinctive feature with his arm, shadow, clothing, etc. The Green Turtle fought against the Japanese and was an ally to the U.S. and fought off the Japanese in China. 

The historical aspect of this graphic novel is fantastic, something that most people are familiar with, but through a Chinese perspective instead, which is rarely ever spoken of. 

It starts with a fantasy legend about a spirit who looks sort of like a turtle who possessed an alcoholic who ended up living in the U.S., owning a successful business in Chinatown, and a nice family. The mother of the Green Turtle lived a pretty hard life, much like the husband, she wants her husband and son to be brave, she wants them to fight something, but I don’t remember what. I think what she knew was that there was more out there, there was more than the place they were contained in. So after getting rescued by a superhero, she wanted her son to be one too. That’s all I will get into for the plot.

So what’s significant about this? Well, why wouldn’t you want to know about The Green Turtle? He’s super cool. 

The artwork is fantastic, it’s bright and cute, serious when it needs to be. The caricatures were pretty disturbing, much like the original Chu Hing version. 

What more can I say? I recommend it to anyone who loves the pow and kicks of comics.

Rating: 5/5

Sometimes My Heart Pushes My Ribs by Ellen Kennedy

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Pages: 64 (10 Tracks / 54 Minutes) 
Genre: Poetry, Alt. Lit
Format: MP3 
Published by Muumuu House
Downloaded from Bandcamp

So occasionally I go on a poetry kick and I read some here and there in between novels. I’m not really sure why, I didn’t like poetry, mostly the classical stuff, except for Emily Dickinson. Then I read Tao Lin and Patrick Rosal, and I finally started to like poetry. Although, I will admit that I didn’t really take Tao Lin seriously at first, he made me depressed and at the same time I would laugh at the silliness of it all, the repetitive sentences, the utterly ridiculous angst that I could connect with as a teenager. It was so self-deprecating that I felt bad for laughing at it, which was probably the point. 

So here is Ellen Kennedy, from Tao Lin’s publishing house, or maybe she was also part of the founding, I don’t know. She basically writes in that same internet, text message, somewhat monotone style that Tao Lin is well known for. I feel bad comparing all of these alt. lit poets to him, because they are individuals, but they do write in that same vein. However, Ellen Kennedy’s poetry, of course, has the grit and sensitivity of a woman’s perspective. 

Let’s keep in mind that I downloaded this from bandcamp and this is not narrated by Ellen, instead it was some guy named Matthew Donahoo. It felt pretty intimate, hearing some dude speak into a microphone or some sort of recording device in your ear, and I don’t even like audiobooks much. You could even hear the guy stumble on some parts, cough, maybe tremble from his nervousness, shut off the microphone, a cup of water being set down. I thought it was pretty nice and a bit odd too, because you would expect someone to cut that stuff out. It was sort of like going to a poetry reading, instead you’re sitting in some guy’s bedroom, that’s probably stifling hot due to closed doors and an open laptop is the only source of light. 

Sometimes My Heart Pushes My Ribs is a little book containing the thoughts of a
woman going through the many thoughts that we all think on a daily basis. A sort of yearning for human connection and romance, but at the same time wanting to run away from it because well, humans suck, but yet we go along anyway. I kind of have a hard time expressing my feelings for this, because just like Tao Lin, it’s all written in this sort of prose that has been described as Asperger’s prose, I guess that’s the way to say it. I read an article on his novel, Taipei. I think that’s where that term came from, but I remember it vaguely. 

But this sort of prose is isolating and distant, monotone with no warmth at all. Life is always described in this cycle of eating and getting sad and just being miserable and sweaty and icky. There is some icky stuff in this book, but it’s mostly about being miserable. We are sad internet peoples. 

Rating: 3/5



Anatomic Air Press: How to Sleep, Crosshatchers, and Syncing Yawns & Spacetime Dreams

I had discovered zines sometime over the summer, they are quite fascinating. If you don’t know what a zine is, basically, they are hand made publications that are published by the hands of the author. They are usually short, consist of artwork, photography, and short writing. 

I consider zines probably some of the most creative areas when it comes to writing. I love how the little comics, the haiku, short prose poems, and the short stories are accompanied with artwork. It’s truly a beautiful thing, the whole ethics and creation of it. Probably some of the most individualistic type of art forms. You make it, you print it, you spread it. 

Anatomic Air Press is one of my favorites as of yet. Not only is she a kind and generous person, she’s really freaking talented  too. She’s very passionate with what she does. Actually she just released two more zines that are more text filled, short stories, I think. But she doesn’t just write everything in regular old Times New Roman, she makes it pretty. I featured her in my speech on Zines for my Public Speaking Class, I got the highest grade out all of my other speeches I had done, I was freaking floating in the clouds with happiness.

How to Sleep is a guide to sleeping well, waking up on your own time, and dreams. It’s quite informative and dreams, well, dreams are things I’m always trying to interpret. I swear my dreams predict the future sometimes. 

Syncing Yawns & Spacetime Dreams is a small zine of haiku and graphic design. I call it the “accordion” zine because of how it was made. It took me a while to figure out how to read it. I can’t explain it with words, but anyone can figure it out eventually. But I really liked this one, the designs were pleasing to the eyes, with the little boat going on the journey with you. It was a sort of ambient and “spacey” which was intended. 

Crosshatchers is another little zine, consisting of a bit of writing and artwork drawn by hand. The silhouette people reminded me of Hard-Boiled Wonderland and The End of the World for some odd reason. The words in it reminded me of friends who went away and no longer keep in contact. It was a heartwarming mini zine.

Thanks for the stuff Sinoun and thanks to my brother for taking the pictures because my iPad camera sucks, well, I have an older version, but still.

I Truly Lament by Mathias B. Freese (ADVANCED READER’S COPY)

Pages: 230
Genre: Short Stories, Literary Fiction. Jewish Literature, Historical Fiction
Format: E-book 
Published by Wheatmark
This was given to me by the author for an honest review. Thank you!

Here is a book  that I received for review, as I obviously stated above here. Lately, I’ve been trying to avoid these submissions unless it came from an author or publisher I was familiar with. Freese was actually a Leapfrog press guy in the contest and he almost won. Before this short story collection, he wrote a novel, a pretty long one. But what really made me want to read and review this was because of the topic. I had a feeling that it was going to be a lot different from the ones I read when I was younger, the ones that were a lot watered down compared to the actual, true events. Those books were Stones in Water and The Devils Arithmetic, and a few others that I can’t remember the names of at the moment. 

We all know that novels that deal with a certain dehumanizing tragedy such as the Holocaust, which is what this short story collection was based on, will affect the reader emotionally or at least try to. Because war is usually when we toss aside any sort of human feelings to go through our destruction of not only the universe and others, but ourselves too.

That is what these stories are about. Written in a sort of cheeky humor, heavy self-loathing, and tears to be dried, these stories all chronicle what it feels like to be treated like trash and murdered inside and out, during the Holocaust. These stories are all narrated by Jewish characters who are surviving or survived. The Jewish identity is strong, of course, because that is the reason of their persecution. 

You will find Yiddish words, which you will read a list of, with some translations on the side. Of course you won’t remember most of them, but eventually you will get used to it. It’s not as dense and frequent as Anthony Burgess’ use of Cockney English and Russian in The Clockwork Orange.

You will also meet the Golem, which is the monster that is created by any of the characters when they are being pursued. I don’t remember the exact story of what the Golem was, but it is a sort of guardian angel, a vile but wise one, when it wants to be. There is a story where the Golem eats people, but I don’t remember, I’m assuming this was because the person who created it didn’t like the victims of the Golem. The Golem only appears in maybe two stories. This creature was probably the only aspect in this collection that clashed against reality. Excuse my lack of memory, I didn’t have much time to write this post until now. I’m a college kid.

There are three or two essays in here about the collection and the writer’s research on the Holocaust and his fascination with it. Well, I wouldn’t call it fascination, but sort of a fixation on it, that with all the answers and evidence, something still leaves us unsatisfied. Because why would anyone want to accept the fact that such an atrocity was committed?

As you can see, I can talk a lot about this. It was excellent in its  humanlike characters and its self-loathing humor. But the self-hatred humor isn’t heavy enough to dehumanize the character into a walking joke. Because being a victim of such an oppressive force can make you have nothing but hatred for yourself. 

But there were times where it was too much for me. Which anybody would understand. I usually tolerate depressing stuff, including books like this. but I think, lately, I have reached my limit, which is why I didn’t finish reading the latest Ma Jian book, because I just read too much tragedy. I also felt that the cycle of stories got a bit repetitive and it was just so bleak, that it became a drag to read. The prose was beautiful, but how can I describe this? it felt like looking at a black canvas and then trying to brighten it with something nicer. So you try this and it doesn’t work, you just get more black. And after denting more brushes and wasting more colored paint, you finally realize that every ounce of bright pink or yellow turned black, no matter how much you tried. I am just the queen of weird, cheesy metaphors aren’t I? But I feel like I can’t find the words to describe this, but Freese did what he did right, he wrote a Holocaust story collection and did a good job of it. He managed to poke and prod, repeatably, the ugliness and weakness of us all. Now I will write the stories that I liked and felt more, I guess I can, say they screamed the most at me. 

Golem, I Need Your Help

This one introduced this grotesque mud creature. It’s one of those really smart ones. How do I say, it’s very “literary.” I say in a few words: Purpose, self, and life itself.

Food and Food Part 2

I actually sort of liked these. It made me question some writers who write about the Holocaust. I thought of, specifically, The Boy With the Striped Pajamas. Just read about the movie and you will see what I mean.

Der Fuhrer Likes Plain

Well, this one grossed me out, I kind of felt like laughing too.

Herr Doktor

I think I remember this one. It tossed my brain a bit.

Cantor Matyas Balogh

This one is the one that will make a tear shedding worthy short film.

Away

It’s where a mother gets taken away, leaving behind a child. Heart stabbing.

Longing
Letters of longing, not much to say.

Archipelago

This one almost made me gag, much like the narrator. 

The Indifferent Golem

The Golem stories were fun.

Soap

The lightest, it consists of something Hitler wore. 

There are definitely more favorites than this, some little snippets of it will stick to me, but I just can’t place the titles on which. My memory of this is quite faint now, because I took too long to write this post. I apologize for my lack of memory. But school got in the way and this computer needed to be tweaked. I guess it was also the blogging/reviewing funk lately. 

Rating: 3.5/5