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The Electric Affinities by Wade Stevenson reviewed by Kirkus Reviews!!!

The Electric Affinities by Wade Stevenson reviewed by Kirkus Reviews!!!

The Electric Affinities by Wade Stevenson reviewed by Kirkus Reviews!!!


A free-love opus set in a bygone era. Ben Steinberg, a successful architect, hosts a collective of artists and free-spirits in his Sag Harbor, N.Y., house in 1969. Among the damaged but earnest people that move through his home are Andre, a director; Robert, a Vietnam War veteran; Carolina, a spiritual youth endeavoring to live without restraint; and Maya, the apex of a romantic triangle that consumes her suitors. The plot follows a fairly straightforward design: As the year progresses, each character wrestles with their own particular demons. Robert’s disenchantment with the world is reified in his aversion to visiting his wealthy grandmother, the woman who raised him; for Carolina, it’s an evolving quest to live as freely as possible that, eventually, takes her away from Sag Harbor. But the plot, as it is, feels secondary here. The real tension comes from within. Working with a true ensemble cast, Stevenson explores the radical aspirations of each of his characters while balancing them against the dramatic irony of a world that didn’t turn out quite the way it was supposed to. Perhaps the best stand-in for the contemporary reader is Robert. He may have been disillusioned by his experience overseas (as readers may have been by the course of history), but he yearns for some kind of meaning in his life, something true to aspire toward. The same goes for everybody in the novel; amid pain and loneliness, they look for some kind of purpose in a world that doesn’t seem prepared to accept them. It’s a familiar enough theme for books set in the late 1960s, but Stevenson’s effortless prose brings a freshness to what could otherwise have easily been a trite tale of hippie naïveté. He laces the story with insightful mantras throughout: “It’s not like cooking—there’s no measuring cup. Freedom has to be unconditional or not at all.” The narrative movements here are subtle, often more interested in providing a full picture of the characters’ struggles than in building a propulsive plot. At times, the pace may feel sluggish for some, but readers willing to stick with it will be rewarded with a stunning resolution. An atmospheric, evocative tale of youth endeavoring to live free.

—Kirkus Reviews


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Music for another life by Kristina Marie Darling and Max Avi Kaplan reviewed at Pank by Anne Champion

 

[REVIEW] Music for another life, by Kristina Marie Darling and Max Avi Kaplan

music

BlazeVOX Books
77 pages, $18.00

Review by Anne Champion

Kristina Marie Darling, already an accomplished poet in her own right (she’s published sixteen poetry collections), has begun paving a new trail with her foray into collaborative writing. Her previous collaborations work alongside poet Carol Guess, but her newest work, Music for another life, collaborates with the accomplished visual artist and scholar, Max Avi Kaplan, and the finished product is a brilliant and moving piece of art. The cover, featuring a Marilyn Monroe look-a-like donned in Jacqueline Kennedy inspired attire, chillingly depicts a woman laying in grass in a corpse pose, and this image foreshadows what’s to come: stunning, delicate beauty that adheres to societal standards juxtaposed with hauntingly devastating realities.

The narrative, composed solely of short prose poems, follows a speaker named Adelle as she traverses her lavish landscape in heels, swanky sunglasses, and pencil skirts. Each page features a different picture of Adelle—either standing outside of her domestic sphere or lounging in nature. The work of light and shadow in these photographs speaks volumes to the Adelle’s search for self and inability to find it, either from being blinded, outshined, or blurred into unrecognizablity. Some of the poses only vary slightly, so you can flip through the pictures quickly and watch Adelle move as if she were an animation. Regardless of the various ways you can look at and interpret the images, the most important thing they do is immerse the reader in a very real and detailed world: paired with the poetry, it’s hard not to empathize with the character while also feeling as trapped and suffocated as she does, despite the fact that she clearly frolics in an upper class status. Maybe even because of it.

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Leah Umansky reviewed in Best American Poetry

Posted by Kristina Marie Darling

February 25, 2014

I'm intrigued by Umansky's treatment of the poem as a space in which intervention into literary tradition becomes possible.  Just as she re-imagines Wuthering Heights from a fragmented, postmodern stylistic standpoint, Umansky presents each poem as a theoretical act, an active engagement with the work that came before her own.  Domestic Uncertainties is filled with poems like this one, which read as both conversation with and revision of received wisdom. 

Read the whole review here   

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Vow by Kristina Marie Darling reviewed in TCJWW

 

VOW BY KRISTINA MARIE DARLING

VowVow
by Kristina Marie Darling
BlazeVOX, 2013
ISBN: 978-1609641603
62 p.p.

Kristina Marie Darling sets the imagination ablaze in her newest work Vow. With a chorus of dark melodies, words come as beautiful colors, gripping scenes happen in mere words, and the haunting promise of the vow becomes exposed. This absorbing collection creeps down the corridors of the mind, illuminating the spaces that a broken vow leaves behind.

“So we bury our vows one by one. We are pieces of an altar collapsing from the inside.” Writing in a coolly detached rhythm, Darling’s understated voice takes hold of each moment, “I dream another me exists in the burning house, reading aloud from what I have written.”

A collection that sits a little more on the unconventional side, what’s especially enjoyable is the meaningfully placed white space and text placement. The non-traditional format supports the creative power of the book and even inspires thought on the concept of the imagination as a whole. Consider that the expectations we have for something—someone—are rooted deeply in our imagination. Darling meditates on just that, using media as metaphor for the way our minds idealize such a commitment:

I had always imagined the day would look like: velvet backdrop
onto which the landscape is projected like a sad film.
Somewhere in that picture, a declaration.


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Kristina Marie Darling, Interviewed and Reviewed!

 

Hurray! Kristina Marie Darling has a lot of media out there this week. Have a look and be sure to check out all of her book on BlazeVOX [books]

 

+ A new interview about her book, Vow, at The California Journal of Women Writers:

 http://tcjww.org/2014/01/29/interview-kristina-marie-darling/

 

 

+ A new review of Music for another life at American Microreviews and Interviews:

 http://www.americanmicroreviews.com/#!kristina-marie-darlings-music-for-anoth/cke1

 

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