Jesus and Magdalene

“And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the Earth, that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.’

Review by Grady Harp

Portuguese author João Cerqueira, having won a PhD in History of Art from the University of Oporto, happens to be one of the more clever and creative humorists writing today. His novels satirize modern society and use irony and humor to provoke reflection and controversy. Satire is the form of humor that holds people, or society in general, up for examination, and ridicules the follies revealed. Good satire should offer improving examples or at least make us consider choices we often take for granted. In this sense, satire is of huge value to society. While satire can be cruel to the victims it mocks, it should always be funny. Some of the great satirists whose ranks João Cerqueira joins include Lewis Carroll, George Orwell, Jonathan Swift, Günter Grass, Charles Michael Palahniuk, and P. G. Wodehouse – and I’m sure many have been left out of this too brief list. Continue reading

The Trinity

Dark Beginnings, Dark Expressions

Review by Joey Madia

Beneath the title of this book appear the words “A suspense novel.”

I had mixed feelings about this. Having read the first two books in Ambroziak’s vampire trilogy, The Journal of Vincent Du Maurier, I was already aware of the author’s facility with suspense but I wondered at the expectations of what such a statement might produce.

No need to wonder… The Trinity lives up to its label. And more.

Some novels are more challenging than others to review, because to say almost anything specific is to give more than a little away, which robs the reader of that which I most savored and for which the writer worked so hard.

So I will have to do a lot of “talking around” plot points here, and give you just the broad strokes of what Ambroziak attempts—and accomplishes—in the book. Continue reading

Resurrection Room: Bangkok dark rhetoric

Narrative Noir

Review by Joey Madia

“One night in Bangkok and the world’s your oyster/The bars are temples but the pearls ain’t free’You’ll find a god in every golden cloister/And if you’re lucky then the god’s a she/I can feel an angel sliding up to me” (“One Night in Bangkok,” Chess)

There are cities in the world that pulse with a deep mystique: the sleepless dichotomies of New York; the romanticism of Paris for lover and writers; the foggy Victorian mystery of London… the list goes on and on.

Bangkok (Thailand) conjures images of crowded streets full of steaming food, rickshaw drivers, and exotic women finger-motioning from alleyways and doorways… and Resurrection Room takes these images wider and deeper than perhaps your average reader wants to go. Continue reading

The Connoisseur of Alleys

“A Collaborator in Alleys”

Review by Joey Madia

To mark the occasion of my tenth review of a poetry collection by the prolific and boundary-stretching poet Eileen Tabios, I knew I wanted to do something special—something that would honor Eileen’s ability to take the reader from a position of relative passivity to one of co-creation.

I made an attempt at this before, ending my review of Tabios’ Sumptuous Sculpture (Marsh Hawk Press, 2002) with a poem crafted from another one of my reviews (Reproductions of the Empty Flagpole, same publisher and year).

This review, however, takes things much further. Since beginning her ongoing work “Murder, Death, and Resurrection (MDR),” Eileen has created new poems and published seven books that use re-constituted lines from a database of 1,146 lines from her previous works. The Connoisseur of Alleys is one such work. Continue reading

Book One of A Song of Ice and Fire: Game of Thrones

Review by Paige Ambroziak

George R. R. Martin’s prose is fit for more than simple storytelling in this postmodern saga. I use the term postmodern in the sense that Martin is deliberately mixing different styles, but also his work seems self-conscious and respectful of earlier conventions. He has layered his narrative with myths and stories going as far back as antiquity, and though the medieval elements of the world he has built are evident, it is these earlier mythologies woven into the fabric of his characters that seem to tout his mastery at making a neo-medieval novel. Whether you’ve known about the series since the first book was released in 1996 or you discovered it with HBO’s Game of Thrones television series, the first installment of A Song of Ice and Fire has much to offer, and much to love, for any literary taste.

And this is why it is so wonderful. For even the snobbiest literary critic can’t deny that this work of genre fiction, or fantasy, or the more recent highbrow moniker speculative fiction is a novel for the new age. As verbose as this first book may seem (it clocks in at 298,000 words and is one of the shortest of the series), it is a festival of language and characters and settings that are mixed in such a manner as to take nothing away from the narrative. Continue reading