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Book Review: ‘They Said This Day Would Never Come’ by Chris Liddell-Westefeld

Every president of the United States dominates public discourse so thoroughly that they almost erase their predecessor from the collective consciousness. No one has done that as thoroughly as Donald J. Trump. One has to think hard to remember the Obama presidency, given the relentless onslaught of dishonesty and brutish absurdity […]

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Book Review: ‘Cleanness’ by Garth Greenwell

Cleanness, the second book by Garth Greenwell (released Jan. 14, 2020), is exemplary. It provides rare rewards to its readers beyond the scope dared by many authors of contemporary literature. It demands much of the reader — not due to its difficulty, but in the unrelenting rigor of the narrator who patiently preserves the paradoxes of everyday […]

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Book Review: Kiley Reid — ‘Such a Fun Age’

Reading: Kiley Reid Prairie Lights — Friday, Jan. 24 at 7 p.m. Such a Fun Age By Kiley Reid — G.P. Putnam’s Sons Iowa Writers’ Workshop graduate Kiley Reid has written a timely and compelling debut novel. The action begins when Emira Tucker, a part-time babysitter, who is black, is called in for emergency sitting […]

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Book Review: Michael Zapata — ‘The Lost Book of Adana Moreau’

A Model Earth, the tale within a tale central to The Lost Book of Adana Moreau, is a science fiction story that involves travel between multiple dimensions. It is the manuscript that Saul Drower finds in his grandfather Benjamin’s possessions after his death, and sets out to deliver to Maxwell Moreau, son of its author, Adana. The debut novel […]

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Book Review: ‘Heart Notes’ by Caleb “The Negro Artist” Rainey

Caleb “The Negro Artist” Rainey’s second volume of poetry was self-published in October, just five months after his first volume (Look, Black Boy) was released. Heart Notes departs from race as its central topic and focuses on aspects of love, which Rainey explores through widely varying structures and types of poems. In fact, if you’ve ever wondered whether […]

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Local publisher spotlight: PromptPress

PromptPress ignores traditional boundaries with a quiet defiance. It began in 2014 with founding editor Jennifer Colville; her brother, Christopher Colville (photography editor); and Susan Goslee (poetry editor), creating an outlet for artists who wished to play at the boundaries. Jennifer did the bulk of the work until Kalmia Strong (book arts […]

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Local publisher spotlight: Ice Cube Press

Steve Semken founded Ice Cube Press in 1991, when he was living in Lawrence, Kansas. “I’d been working a series of jobs I hadn’t anticipated, like most of us need to do,” Semken said in an email, “and it was during a break at work that I wandered into the nearby Indie bookstore, picked up a copy of a Wendell Berry book […]

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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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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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