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Book Review: ‘Some of Us Are Very Hungry Now’ by Andre Perry

The memoiristic essays in Andre Perry’s Some of Us Are Very Hungry Now (2019, Two Dollar Radio) reconstruct — from journal entries, memory and fictionalized correspondence and dialogue — Perry’s youthful encounters with American music, women, culture and racism-loaded language. Most accounts are positioned in three geographic […]

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Book Review: ‘Guitar Chords by Brook Hoover’

Brook Hoover is an Eastern Iowa music scene staple. He plays out every week, whether it’s a solo gig with his cover band the Flaming Camaros or a tour stop with his surf-rock group the Surf Zombies. When he’s not in the spotlight, he’s teaching guitar to folks from the very young to the, well, older. His classes are tailored to the goals of the […]

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Five authors to meet at the fourth annual I.O.W.A. book festival

This year’s edition of the I.O.W.A. book festival is set for Sept. 7 and 8 at the Cedar Rapids Public Library. The acronym stands for Imagine Other Worlds with Authors, and the writers on the slate certainly represent a wide array of literary worlds. From fantasy to mystery to romance and more, the festival offers readers an opportunity […]

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Ben Westhoff’s ‘Fentanyl, Inc.’ is the most frightening book of the year, and it’s mandatory reading

First a spoiler alert: Among the multiple apocalyptic revelations in Ben Westhoff’s Fentanyl, Inc.: How Rogue Chemists Are Creating the Deadliest Wave of the Opioid Epidemic is sour news for all hard drug users, from casual weekend abusers to full-time cocaine cowboys. In light of developments presented in this epic book in gruesome […]

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Book Review: ‘Near the Exit: Travels with the Not-So-Grim Reaper’ by Lori Erickson

Life as a travel writer and spiritual itinerant was jolted, for Lori Erickson, by the sudden death of a brother and the precipitous progression of her mother’s dementia. Seeking in part to cope with the proximate loss and to recalibrate her own spiritual equilibrium, Erickson looked anew, far and near, upon death. She invites us to join her […]

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Book Review: ‘Walter Benjamin Reimagined’ by Frances Cannon

Artist, former Iowa Citian and sometime-Little Village contributor Frances Cannon has delivered a delightful, insightful nugget of wonder with Walter Benjamin Reimagined. This book is everything a fan of the German Jewish cultural critic and philosopher could ever hope for, and it offers an accessible window into his brilliance […]

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Book Review: ‘Redemption Songs: A Year in the Life of a Community Prison Choir’ by Andy Douglas

What can music do for the incarcerated soul? Turning trauma into personal transformation, music and art creates a nest in even the most locked-up hearts. Iowa City author Andy Douglas explores this idea in his 2019 book, Redemption Songs: A Year in the Life of a Community Prison Choir. […]

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Book Review: ‘God Land: A Story of Faith, Loss, and Renewal in Middle America’ by Lyz Lenz

I heard about Lyz Lenz’s newest book, ‘God Land: A Story of Faith, Loss, and Renewal in Middle America’ (out Aug. 1), a few months ago and had been eager to read it, as it brought together almost all of my personal and professional interests: art, religion, community, Iowa, theology, space, place, stories. It is an audacious attempt to synthesize […]

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Book Review: ‘The Most Fun We Ever Had’ by Claire Lombardo

In Claire Lombardo’s debut novel, ‘The Most Fun We Ever Had,’ she isn’t afraid to tackle the biggest of topics, specifically for women—sisterhood, fear, general annoyance and birth or the absence of it. The reader gets an intimate look at the conception of the Sorenson family (literally, considering Lombardo’s plethora of sex scenes),
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Book Review: ‘Look, Black Boy’ by Caleb “The Negro Artist” Rainey

With his first self-published chapbook, Look, Black Boy, Caleb “The Negro Artist” Rainey confronts and challenges his readers while communicating with them on a variety of levels. The central theme of this short collection is how it feels to be a young black man in 2019 in the Midwest. […]

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Book Review: ‘Gangster in our Midst’ by Betty Brandt Passick

Gangster in our Midst is a multiple-perspective historical fiction by Betty Brandt Passick, about Louie Da Cava, a man with alleged ties to Al Capone, who married a woman from Oxbow, Iowa. The first chapter introduces us to Louie in his brother-in-law’s home in Oxbow as he hesitantly welcomes the paperboy […]

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