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   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. 

         

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TMRB Reviews

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.

 

A - F             G - L           M - R             S - Z

        AUTHORS                             AUTHORS                           AUTHORS                                AUTHORS

Latest Reviews

Latest Reviews

J.D. SALINGER / Nine Stories

J.D. SALINGER / Nine Stories

1960. June. Sixth paperback printing.

The New American Library of World Literature, Inc. (Signet imprint). 501 Madison Avenue, New York 22, NY

     Taking a break from a multi-month doorstopper, I rooted around on my shelves and came away with this one, which I hadn’t reread in years, only to discover that 69 years post-initial-publication it’s better than ever, not a dog in the bunch, with a handful of classics whose names I will probably remember in the nursing home (e.g., “For Esme, with Love and Squalor,” “A Perfect Day for Bananafish” (featuring a character with the surname on my birth certificate, a name trotted out for laughs, in my experience)), and others that are equally winning and engaging; overall, the book is by now a real period piece (WWII and its aftermath are ever-present), complete with the need for this caveat when taken in through the lens of the present: some stories contain casual period attitudes on race and class that are jarring, if no doubt true to the moment of their writing, but which still made this reader aware of how far we have come as a society and how far we have to go. k

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GEORGE SAUNDERS / Lincoln in the Bardo

2018. Random House. www.penguinrandomhouse.com

     A facile writer facilitates departed Victorians. GG

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ROBERT SCOTELLARO / Bad Motel

2016. Big Table Publishing.  www.bigtablepublishing.com   

     Like the short subjects and serials that played before the feature films in the movie palaces of the thirties and forties (which, for many, were the real reasons to spend a hard-earned dime and be roundly entertained by fast-moving narratives), the 100-word stories in Robert Scotellaro's Bad Motel keep the reader's best interest at heart while whittling words and honing the craft of great storytelling—something increasingly rare in a field of longer, self-congratulatory fiction. PF

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ROBERT SCOTELLARO and JAMES THOMAS (Editors) / New Micro: Exceptionally Short Fiction 

2018. W.W. Norton. www.wwnorton.com

     This rollicking big-tent collection of very, very (very) short stories is not only packed with some of the most inventive storytelling around, but it also performs an amazing feat of derring-do high above the three ring circus of American fiction: whether by design or sheer happenstance, the editors of New Micro (James Thomas and Robert Scotellaro) have managed to present a subtle but cohesive narrative that links each of the 135 stories—from the first ("Letting Go" by Pamela Painter) to the last ("Grief" by Ron Carlson)—before anyone realizes it's happening without a net. MR

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ROBERT SCOTELLARO / What Are The Chances?

2020. Press 53. www.press53.com

     What Are The Chances? just might be Robert Scotellaro’s cleverest, edgiest, funniest and most earnest collection of flash fictions yet – sixty-eight, roll-of-the-dice tales from a true master of the short-short story in a beautifully designed book

from Press 53. PF

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ROBERT SCOTELLARO / God in a Can

2022. Bamboo Dart Press. bamboodartpress.com

     God in a Can is a stroke of comic smarts; a master class in the far side of reality and one more reason why Robert Scotellaro just might be the Gary Larson of flash fiction. RE

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RAYMOND SHAW / Dreams Through an Open Window

2012. Nprnt Press. www.nprntpress.com

     Raymond Shaw is the kindest, warmest, bravest, most wonderful human being I've ever known in my life. SC

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MICHAEL SIMMS / Bicycles of the Gods: A Divine Comedy

2022. Madville Publishing.

     A devilishly conceived satire that mashes the soft-centered potato of religion with the ham-fisted yam of politics into a steaming mush of mock-turtle soup which might have easily been concocted by Nathaniel West had he heeded his doctor’s advice and cooked a bit more with hallucinogenic mushrooms. AMP

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DON SKILES / Football

2014. Pelekinesis. www.pelekinesis.com

     Football is a tender, straightforward, character-driven novel about a young teenage boy coming to terms with his own loves, fears, and doubts in a small Pennsylvania town in 1956, written with a genuine inquisitiveness that's reminiscent of Jem Finch had he, and not his sister Scout, been the narrator of To Kill A Mockingbird—an apt description for those familiar with the work of Don Skiles, yet another un(der)-sung literary wordsmith who takes his place alongside other beloved weavers of the narrative word such as Tom Clark, Michael Lally, and Joanie Whitebird. BJL

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R.H. SLANSKY / Moss-Haired Girl: Confessions of a Circus Performer by Zara Zalinzi

2015. Anvil Press. www.anvilpress.com

     Moss-Haired Girl is a real gem of a little novel—Slansky writes like her hair is on fire. TC

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STEVE SNEYD / The Legerdemain of Changelings: Poems

1977. Paroptic Press. www.detritus.com/maser/

     Some of the best of the early outlaw/SF/asylum poetry ever penned; a collector's edition worth going to jail for. LGH

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KATE SOUPISET / False Anatomy: Selected Poems

2019. Soupcan Press.

     If more younger poets like Kate Soupiset had the courage to reveal their fearlessness in a first book of poems like False Anatomy, perhaps there would be more optimism about poetry’s ability to connect with real people in the here and now—something this book accomplishes with “eyes / young and unblinking”. MK

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LAUREL SPEER / Election Day 2016

2018. Privately printed and available from the author.

       A master of the ironic turn of the other cheek, Laurel Speer sums it all up nicely in the very last poem of this short but perfect kick through the goalposts of our folly: Football / is about money / dementia / and death. SC

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DAN STUART / Marlowe’s Revenge

2022. R&R Press.

     The final volume in a loose trilogy, this brisk novel is a rather large step forward in sheer reading pleasure, in that it knows exactly what it is—a noir murder mystery, with influences equal parts Don Winslow and Stuart himself, and a setting in 1990s Tucson, Arizona, the author’s hometown, that achieves a page-turning momentum as it finds 80s rock star Stuart’s alter ego  drawn into a tangled skein of lethal intrigue courtesy of the cross-border drug trade consequent to his stumbling across a corpse in a sand trap while trying to get away from it all on the links, his happy place, to the extent that a man licking his wounds (from heroin addiction, the adulation of fans at rock clubs the world over, depression, and a torch carried for a glamorous, poetry-loving wife from Spain who has tossed him on his ear) has one. k

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PATTI SULLIVAN / Not Fade Away
2014. Finishing Line Press. www.finishinglinepress.com   
     One reading of Patti Sullivan’s simple but honest chapbook of poems, Not Fade Away, will cause you to grab your jacket or sweater and take a long walk outdoors where the light and the air are reminders of the truth of her words. CG
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ROGER STONE and MIKE COLAPIETRO / The Man Who Killed Kennedy: The Case Against LBJ  

2013. Skyhorse Publishing. www.horsesasspublishing.com

     Having Roger Stone explain what happened in Dealey Plaza is like having Donald Trump explain what happened at Wounded Knee. VK

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PHIL TAGGART / Rick Sings
2014. Brandenburg Press. Available from the author. www.philtaggart.com
     Should you pass a homeless person on the street and think to yourself: there has to be family somewhere, you’re right, there is: it’s you and me and Phil Taggart, who explains it beautifully in his compelling book of poems, Rick Sings, a love letter to a brother with schizophrenia. RW

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JAMES THOMAS and ROBERT SCOTELLARO (Editors) / New Micro: Exceptionally Short Fiction 

2018. W.W. Norton. www.wwnorton.com

     This rollicking big-tent collection of very, very (very) short stories is not only packed with some of the most inventive storytelling around, but it also performs an amazing feat of derring-do high above the three ring circus of American fiction: whether by design or sheer happenstance, the editors of New Micro (James Thomas and Robert Scotellaro) have managed to present a subtle but cohesive narrative that links each of the 135 stories—from the first ("Letting Go" by Pamela Painter) to the last ("Grief" by Ron Carlson)—before anyone realizes it's happening without a net. MR

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DOUGLAS THOMPSON and MIKE ROTHMILLER  / 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

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MICHAEL TORRES / An Incomplete List of Names (poetry)

2020. Beacon Press. www.beacon.org

     Torres has the potential to become the next great American triple jumper along the lines of Alan Guth and Dorothy Provine. KP

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ANTHONY VARESI / The Bob Dylan Albums / 2nd Edition

2022. Guernica Editions. www.guernicaeditions.com

     There hasn't been a more invaluable, informative and wholly entertaining book regarding Dylan's legendary recordings since…well, since the first edition of this essential contribution to the history of American music was introduced back in 2003. CE

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SALLEY VICKERS / Where Three Roads Meet

2007. Canongate. www.canongate.co.uk

     This fascinating novel in the form of a series of dialogues over quite a few years between Sigmund Freud, as he slowly fails of an excruciating form of cancer (of the jaw), and an otherworldly being (from a realm Freud does not believe in) who brings the Oedipus myth alive for Freud and the reader, and appears to have been a historical participant in the events that gave rise to the myth, was commissioned as part of the U.K.-based series The Myths and executed with panache and wit by Vickers, a Jungian psychotherapist and contemporary author (born in 1948 and very much alive) of many books in various genres; it is touching and singular and thought-provoking, and bears extra emotional impact on me, as it was a holiday gift from my wife Colette’s paternal grandmother Hilary (“Billie”) Jappy, a champion reader who lived in Guildford for much of her life and introduced me to several other wonderful books by U.K. authors that I never would have heard of were it not for her inquisitive nature, generosity of spirit and willingness to make the trek to the post office in wintry U.K. weather. k

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JACK VIERTEL / The Secret Life of the American Musical: How Broadway Shows Are Built

2016. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. www.fsgbooks.com

     To anyone who has spent 9 years (co-)writing a musical—a rock musical in my case—I would recommend this book, and also to anyone who enjoys musicals or hates them (as I used to, with key exceptions, such as The Music Man); its author is the rare know-it-all who actually knows it all, and better yet, can communicate what he knows in a way that is anecdotal and offhand, but at the same time granular and practical, enough so that it turned my head around and compelled me to dive in for yet another (please, Lord, let it be the final) rewrite. k

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MELANIE VILLINES / Windy City Sinners

2015. Sugar Skull Press. www.sugarskullpress.com   

     Prepare to read this devilishly clever satire with your overcoat buttoned up tight, your back to the wind, and a firm grip on the real thing. MM

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MELANIE VILLINES (Editor) / Nancy Drew Anthology

2016. Silver Birch Press. www.silverbirchpress.com

     With the publication of the Nancy Drew Anthology, Silver Birch Press has produced another unique and compelling collection of poetry, prose and artwork that encourages us to continue challenging the highfalutinism of American literature and to playfully explore the rich terrain of popular culture. DB

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ALAN WALOWITZ / The Story of the Milkman and Other Poems

2020. Truth Serum Press.

     If I didn’t know any better, I’d swear the poems in The Story of the Milkman, were written about me, my family, my friends and a host of others who’ve wandered in and out of my life over the last fifty years—and I suspect this may also be true for others who read the poems captured here in this masterful collection by Alan Walowitz—which is just another way of saying that forging a strong and personal relationship with those who love poetry is what good poets do so well. WD

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REBECCA WATTS / The Met Office Advises Caution (poetry)

2016. Carcanet. www.carcanet.co.uk

     Watts has the potential to become the next great British miler along the lines of Jackie Stewart and Princess Anne. KP

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J.T. WHITEHEAD / The Table of the Elements

2015. The Broadkill River Press. www.broadkillriverpress.com

     If poetry were a neutron microscope (and who's to say it isn't?), the magnetic pull of J.T. Whitehead's scintillating collection, The Table of the Elements, would reveal amazing astronomical observations of the human condition with a decidedly atomic spin. FW

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A.D. WINANS / Cityscapes: A Quilt of Poetry

2022. Cold River Press.  

     When you’ve been around the lit scene as long as Winans (more than sixty years) and continue to create powerful, street-smart, working-people poems that are more alive and honest than the cookie-cutter varieties cranked out by MFA clones, you begin to understand the ugly politics of a cynical, who-you-know, prize-driven, arrogant publishing business that tries (and fails) to keep poetry like this—the latest from one of San Francisco’s true poet laureates—off everyone’s radar. SW

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A.D. WINANS / Blurred Visions and Wasted Nights

2020. Cyberwit. www.cyberwit.net

     In Blurred Visions and Wasted Nights, A.D. Winans opens himself up in a series of deeply personal poems as he continues to examine the moving parts of the people and places he’s known, breaking and mending the heart with a steady beat as genuine as his voice. DK 

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A.D. WINANS / Mayday Poem

2020. Holy Yurt Books / Feeding Tube Records (distributor). www.feedingtuberecords.com

     In a world of limited attention spans, there will be some who might be quick to label Winans' latest gem, Mayday Poem, as another rant--and they would be guilty of not reading enough current poetry to broaden their education, not understanding how a poem screws with your head to reveal its relevance, and, more importantly, for not recognizing the mastery of a fiercely personal and political poem for our times, the likes of which we haven't seen since Ferlinghetti's "I Am Waiting." BC 

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BOB WOODWARD / Fear: Trump in the White House

2018. Simon & Schuster. www.simonandschuster.com

       Cheer: Trump in the Big House. MM

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RICH YURMAN / MORE! New and Selected Poems

 2015. Wonora Press

     A one-of-a-kind book of poems from a one-of-a-kind poet that is difficult to find but worth the effort. SW

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