The Minderbinder Review of Books
The Premiere Resource for the One-Sentence Book Review
Welcome to The Minderbinder Review of Books (TMRB), the premiere resource for the original one-sentence book review. TMRB presents concise, creative, and sharply condensed reviews of some of the most interesting and thought-provoking books that have been written, published, imagined and cooked-up at any time, anywhere, in any dimension. And always in one sentence.
Our purpose is to challenge the business of what and why books get reviewed and how often they become irrelevant to those with little time and inclination to read at all. By holding our profession up to a brighter light, TMRB plans to raise the bar while lowering it. Our reviews promote the Voltairean principle that any criticism, no matter how praiseworthy or blameworthy, should be used in the defense of the fewest possible words.
The Minderbinder Review of Books is an ever-changing, vastly confounding and constantly entertaining resource. We are committed to showcasing books by the well-known, the little known, the unknown, and those known only to us.
If you can read this sentence, you have time for TMRB.
All reviews appearing in TMRB are staff-written and identified by the reviewer initials.
Books reviewed are conveniently listed alphabetically by author.
To find a title, click and scroll to determine if a specific author's work has been reviewed.
AUTHORS AUTHORS AUTHORS AUTHORS
CHRISTIAAN WIKKERINK / Conceptual Art for Dummies
TEDDY MACKER / The Kingdom of God
2012. Privately printed and available from the author.
With original linoleum prints by Kaori Nakama.
Should one seek enlightenment by asking: what is the sight of one eye reading? one might well answer: Teddy Macker’s exquisite poem, The Kingdom of God, previously published in Orion Magazine and presented here as a lotus flower in book form. NS
RICHARD MAREK / The Ludlum Formula
1981. Workman Publishing.
An intricate yarn about the writing, publishing, and promoting of suspense novels. CF
GABRIEL GARCIA MARQUEZ / El Castillo de Tremarric
1982. Workman Publishing.
A Spanish-language fotonovella about a beautiful Puerto Rican girl shipwrecked on the rockbound coast of Cornwall in the early 19th century. PE
ROBERT MARTIN / Death of a Ladies’ Man
2022. Stark House Press www.starkhousepress.com
A reissue of the 1960 Gold Medal Book edition / Reprinted along with The Pale Door (not reviewed here)
While a novel called Death of a Ladies’ Man was issued in 2009, and an unrelated movie with the identical title came out in 2020, both releases presumably were meant to echo the name of the fifth studio album of a certain Montreal-born godhead of poem and song; by contrast, this noir thriller’s title refers to a small town married policeman who conducts serial affairs with other men’s wives and ultimately pays the price; and a page-turner of a good read it is, with more plot twists than Dead Man’s Curve—but that title! a title distinctive enough to conjure a vision of the aforementioned Judeo-Buddhist bard as he spots the lurid cover of the original 1960 pulp edition on a drug store or bus station rack and squirrels the phrase away in one of his legendary notebooks, where it gestates into the song that names an album released in 1977 and produced by Phil Spector in one of his notorious gun-brandishing moodswings, and then lends its name yet again, the following year, to an ingathering of the monkish Romeo’s page poems from the 1950s and 60s. k
LEO MCCARTHY / One October Night: A Memoir
2021. Farcountry Press.
This skillfully written account of a father’s tragic loss of his teenage daughter to a drunk driver is a heartbreaking read, to be sure, but it also challenges the reader to examine how honest narrative supports and embraces the healing properties of grief when the burden appears all too unbearable. DK
MICHAEL McCLURE / Mule Kick Blues: And Last Poems
2021 / City Lights Publishers / www.citylights.com
This legendary eco-star rockpile poet’s gumlike modal structures will keep you humming and guessing which way the wind is blowing while 'black ants circle a bubble of honey,' which could be annoying if you’re picnicking--but then, what the hell are you doing on a picnic in this weather? WD
HERMAN MELVILLE / The Confidence-Man: His Masquerade
April 1857/*August 1949**. Dix, Edwards & Co.* / Grove Press** www.groveatlantic.com
When Philip Roth stated, in 2017, that The Confidence-Man was the book we should read “today,” and called it a “darkly pessimistic, daringly inventive novel—Melville’s last,” he left me little opening to argue; by the time I read it, in 2022, Roth was dead and Melville had yet to issue another novel, so The Confidence-Man remains his ultimate foray into fiction—as good a book that ended a career as any ever written—leaving aside Billy Budd, which was published posthumously and struck a far different chord than the tale of flimflammery under review, whose locus of action is a riverboat making its way down the Mighty Mississippi transporting a shifting cast of characters (passengers embarking and debarking along the way, as is their wont) and a shape-shifting protag with a gift for gab and prolixity and separating interlocutors from their simoleons that outmatches even this garrulous sentence that will not so much achieve an end stop as run out of steam owing to an exhausted reserve of West Virginia coal in the engine room of my cerebellum. k
ANN MENEBROKER / Love
2002. Poems-For-All Press. www.poems-for-all.com
Every time I read or hear the words of L. Frank Baum -- "A heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others"-- I am reminded of the late poet Ann Menebroker and how the author of the OZ books, had he only known Ann for even an hour, would have surely recalled his own words as well. SDR
JEFFRIE G. MURPHY / Getting Even: Forgiveness and Its Limits
2003. Oxford University Press. www.oup.com
Murphy’s thoughtfully researched book helps us understand that forgiveness is neither a one-size-fits-all panacea, nor a straight-and-narrow path festooned with ornate religious beliefs pointing the way to inner peace; forgiveness, he contends,
is a deeply personal journey that, when chosen willingly, charges us to question and examine motives and intentions until what we discover may not be any one, single path, but many forks in the same road. AD
QUATOYIAH MURRY and MILLIE DE CHIRICO / TCM Underground: 50 Must-See Films from the World of Classic Cult and Late-Night Cinema
2022. Running Press. www.runningpress.com
De Chirico and Murry lovingly say grace over a sumptuous feast of half-baked bombs, deep-fried flops and savory cult clinkers—all served up hot, cold or peeled raw with a dash of reverence. AM
MIKE PENCE / So Help Me God
2022. Simon & Schuster. www.simonandschuster.com
Pence’s autobiography makes a compelling case for book burning—so help me God. MG
JORDAN PETERSON / Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life
Just what we need: more unwanted advice from a babbling, psycho-pseudo intellectual-type and self-serving know-it-all who couldn’t find his moral compass if his phallic-sized ego depended on it—and it probably does. MP
NORMAN PODHORETZ / Making it
1967. Random House / 1969. Bantam. / 2017. New York Review of Books
When a friend gave me this dog-eared paperback over 10 years ago, I couldn’t bring myself to open it, owing to Podhoretz’s well-deserved pariah status (shanda in Yiddish) as a founding member of the NeoCons who have poisoned American political life for the majority of my years on this planet, but then I ran out of books from the library and was too lazy to walk there in the December chill, so decided to give it a try; and boy am I glad I did read this book, which was written just before Podhoretz began to morph into an Ur-stooge for the plutocracy (culminating in his slavish adoration of Trump – yes, Dormant Norman is still kicking, at 92), and is a riveting, essential read (in which ways I’ll leave to a deeper thinker of a two-sentence reviewer) that will outlast our current cultural climate and outlive even Podhoretz himself, despite the fact that the old buzzard seems to be threatening to live forever based on the “I’m too hypocritical to die” brief he has on file with the Grim Reaper. k
TONY PRESS / Crossing the Lines
2016. Big Table Publishing. www.bigtablepublishing.com
Crossing the Lines is a complete book of masterfully conceived fictions in which every story beats like a human heart pumping love and gratitude into its readers until compassion dares us to be decent to ourselves and to others. NF
DIANA RAAB / Writing for Bliss: A Seven Step Plan for Telling Your Story and Transforming Your Life
2017. Loving Healing Press. www.lovinghealing.com
For those who have been reluctant to explore their life through the written word ever since they picked up a pencil for the first time and began scratching their name at the top of a blank sheet of paper, Writing for Bliss will not only get their hand moving across that sheet of paper, but it will steady it with an infectious joy. RW
PIERS PAUL READ / Dead!
1980. Workman Publishing.
The gripping story of a group of passengers who fail to survive the crash of a DC-10 jetliner in the Canadian Rockies. TH
PATRICK T. REARDON / Puddin’ - The Autobiography of a Baby: A Memoir in Prose Poems
2022. Third World Press.
It’s not a hyperbolic stretch by any means to say that Patrick Reardon’s Puddin’ - The Autobiography of a Baby, is not only the most improbable and intriguing personal account by a writer published in 2022, but quite possibly the most ingeniously imagined memoir by any writer in any given year—with kudos to Third World Press for another smart addition to their catalogue. BL
JENDI REITER / Bullies in Love
2015. Little Red Tree Publishing. www.littleredtree.com
If the human experience counts for everything, which it should, Bullies In Love is proof that poems, when crafted with honesty, wit and compassion, are capable of moving us at lightening speeds. BJL
LEE ROSSI / Darwin’s Garden
2019. Moontide Press. www.moontidepress.com
The rumor that The Letters of Wanda Tinasky, published back in 1996, was in fact the work of Thomas Pynchon, still has its adherents, but the innuendo that the unoriginally named Darwin’s Garden, a book of polite, cisgender, white heterosexual male verse attributed to one Lee Rossi, were the brainchild of Pynchon, can now be laid to rest, the sole insistent party to that effect having recanted on his deathbed, admitting that he tried to start said rumor as a party favor to Rossi, who, cutting birthday cake at a festhschrift he had thrown for himself, had grown despondent upon having realized his poems held little interest for males, females, or nonbinary beings of any ethnicity—even Midwesterners of Italian extraction like Rossi himself. CS
MIKE ROTHMILLER and DOUGLAS THOMPSON / Frank Sinatra and the Mafia Murders
2023. Ad Lib Publishers Limited. www.adlibpublishers.com
Far and away the best and last word when it comes to reckoning with organized sinatra—and just for the record: Raymond Shaw is the kindest, warmest, bravest, most wonderful human being I've ever known in my life. NF