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 simple, concise and thoughtfully condensed reviews of some of the most interesting and important books being published, imagined and fabricated at any time and in any dimension. And always in one sentence.
            Our intent is to challenge the business of what and why books get reviewed and how, in the end, they become irrelevant to those who have less and less time and inclination to read at all. By holding our profession up to a brighter light, TMRB  hopes to raise the bar while lowering it. Our reviews promote the Voltairean principle that any criticism, no matter how commendable or blameworthy, can and should be used in the defense of the fewest possible words.

         The Minderbinder Review of Books is an ever-changing, vastly confounding and always entertaining resource. Over time, our extensive list of titles will continue to showcase books by the well-known, the little known, the totally unknown and those known only to us and to us alone.  If you have a minute, you have time for TMRB. If not, perhaps you need to wind your watch--if that is, indeed, a watch you're wearing.




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, simply scroll down to determine if a specific author's work has been reviewed.

ART BECK / Angel Rain: Poems (1977 – 2020)

2022. Shanti Arts Publishing.

     Art Beck’s selected poems are beautifully composed homages to the honesty of language and the fidelity of craft;  testaments, in the bowdlerized words of Shakespeare, to the “welcome lack of pretense that knits up the sleeve of poetry.”




2013. Hcolom Press.

     The legendary John Bennett is the undisputed heavyweight champion of the short jab, packing each knockout punch with such poetic force that even iPhone zombies look up in awe, if only for the briefest of moments. BL



ARNA BONTEMPS / American Negro Poetry (editor)

1963/1995. Hill and Wang.

     A classic anthology of African-American poetry and a must-read that deserves a place on the shelf of every serious poetry lover’s bookcase. AA


JASON BOOG / The Deep End: The Literary Scene in the Great Depression and Today

2020. OR Books.

     If you’re a working class writer struggling to make a living in a literary (COVID-19) world of shrinking, paying markets, corporate indifference, MFA sameness and a growing disregard for professional courtesies, take heart and read Jason Boog's The Deep End – it’s as essential as the “shift” key on your laptop. RB


NICKI BRANDON / The Solarbus Legacy

2014. CreateSpace Independent Publishing.

       For a dystopian novel awash in a tsunami of dystopian novels, Brandon's clever contribution to this popular genre braves the waters by anchoring its buoyant narrative to an inventive plot, while, at the same time, offering up a character or two that may remind you of your neighbors down the block who are quietly stockpiling their motor homes for the coming apocalypse. TJC  


ERIN BRIED (Editor) / Kazoo Magazine

2018. Kazoo.

       A big problem with boys is that they don't seem to know how to go about seeing the complete girl; how to care enough and respect enough to know why girls are just as smart, inventive, creative and inquisitive as they are (and, often times, more so)--which is to say: boys would do well to start reading Kazoo, a magazine that supports girls, helps them become more aware of their place in the world, and offers them ways to communicate with their brains and their hearts—something boys will appreciate someday if and when they decide to grow up. VB


KURT BROWN / I’ve Come This Far To Say Hello: Poems Selected and New
2014. Tiger Bark Press.    
     You probably heard it before from some other reviewer recommending some other book, but this one you can take to the bank: if you’re thinking of buying just one book of poetry this year, for any reason at all, Kurt Brown’s hauntingly beautiful I’ve Come This Far To Say Hello is the one to spend your hard-earned money on—not because it offers the most bang for your buck (which it does), but because it makes those who never heard of Kurt Brown wonder how they could have ever missed him when he was alive; and it makes  those who did know who this gifted poet was only miss him all the more. BP 
CHRISTOPER BUCKLEY / Varieties of Religious Experience
2013. Stephen F. Austin University Press. www.sfasu/ 
     Think: top of a mountain inside a volcano beneath the ocean and you’ll have a pretty good idea of the sheer mystery and mastery of Christopher Buckley’s Varieties of Religious Experience, which proves, by the way, that belief in poetry is belief enough. LZ  



KAREL CAPEK / The War With The Newts (Translation by Ewald Osers)
1999. Catbird Press.

     Capek has penned a wickedly clever satire of the modern age that can rightfully be called a masterpiece, right alongside Grass' "The Tin Drum," Heller's "Catch–22," McCarthy's "The Group" and Vonnegut's "Slaughterhouse Five." SD


THOMAS J. CSORDAS and JANIS H. JENKINS / Troubled in the Land of Enchantment: Adolescent Experience of Psychiatric Treatment

2020. University of California Press.

     The restorative power of this extraordinary book is evident in the moving, personal narratives that link readers to the suffering, torment and heartbreak of adolescents undergoing psychiatric care; a book that is a clear road map to compassionate clinical treatment. LB

ANDREW DARLINGTON / Euroshima Mon Amour: Poems from the Inner Mind to the Outer Limits

2000. Hilltop Press (United Kingdom).

     Take a seat, get lathered up and prepare for a close shave by one of England's finest; a razor sharp poet who makes a lot of spoken word poets sound like crybabies. RE


LUCILLE LANG DAY / Becoming an Ancestor: Poems

2015. Cervena Barva Press.

     Becoming an Ancestor offers a narrative style that is warm, seductive, ironic and filled with the imagery of compassionate living, welcoming us into a world of experiences and creations where the author’s past is the reader’s present. PF

DIANE DI PRIMA / Poems Are Angels
2013. Omerta Publications.
     The short and sweet of what poetry is all about is perfectly encapsulated in Diane di Prima’s Poems Are Angels which feed the reader tiny morsels of self-awareness that are  heavenly waged and gracefully won in the queendom of this legendary poet. CE

DANTE DI STEFANO / Love Is a Stone Endlessly in Flight: Poems

2016. Brighthorse Books.     

     DeStefano has the potential to become the next great American trapeze artist along the lines of Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis. KP



2021. Graywolf Press.

     A brilliant and intoxicating satire of American racism with characters and dialogue that rival Catch-22; one of the darkest, funniest and most hysterically (historically?) correct novels of (and for) the 21st century – an opening salvo worthy of the Bulitzer Prize. VF


PAUL FERICANO / The Hollywood Catechsim

2015. Silver Birch Press.

     The Hollywood Catechsim does it best when combating our self-congratulatory selves and using various weapons of social and political satire in the service of a brave and foolish new poetry; unfortunately, smug, bored, and uniformed readers (which are legion)--nurtured on red meat rallies and reality TV shows—will undoubtedly miss most, if not all, of what Fericano is setting fire to in this masterful collection, since, in the bizarro world of trumptown, making sense of the senseless is a full-time job. GH


PAUL FERICANO / Things That Go Trump in the Night: Poems of Treason and Resistance

2019. Poems-For-All Press / Little City Press.

     Mock him up! CH


JERRY FERRAZ / Bully Goat’s Bluff: The Apotheosis of Donald J. Trump  

2020 / Bird & Beckett.

     A rollicking, rambunctious rant that tells the twisted tale, theme after theme, of trump’s incredibly infantile idiocy. JA    ---


1980. Paycock Press.

     Nothing short of brilliant by one of Tipperary's favorite daughters who left us all too soon. BQ 


LISA FULLHAM / Virtue of Humility. A Thomistic Apologetic

2009. Edwin Mellen Press.

     Though academic in nature, Fullham's book reveals a wholly accessible and decidedly welcome portal through which readers can cheerfully approach the subject of humility with grace, humor and, yes, a playful measure of humility. RC


DAN GERBER / The Death of Michelangelo

2022. Copper Canyon Press.

     This is Dan Gerber at his most celebratory and most deliberate, embodying the beauty and belief of poetry’s power and purpose, particularly in desperate times; poetry that alerts us to living fully and completely as “some beacon of delight / with the sadness of things”. AT


DAN GROSSMAN /  Mindfucking Roundabouts of Carmel, Indiana: Poems and Short Prose

2022. Lulu Press. 

     Dan Grossman navigates this highly recommended book like an 'uber' uber driver, picking up passengers who are Old Testament Prophets, ancient mystics, Americans with bad directions, French surrealists, and 21st century high school students, dizzying them and us along the way, as he takes his readers round and around and round again. JW 


GEORGE GUIDA / Posts from Suburbia

2022. Encircle Publications.

     Posts from Suburbia is a raucous, lens-flipping romp into neighborhoods of absurd thought and far from the ordinary backyards of intellectual barbecues. SW


JANIS H. JENKINS and THOMAS J. CSORDAS / Troubled in the Land of Enchantment: Adolescent Experience of Psychiatric Treatment

2020. University of California Press.

     The restorative power of this extraordinary book is evident in the moving, personal narratives that link readers to the suffering, torment and heartbreak of adolescents undergoing psychiatric care; a book that is a clear road map to compassionate clinical treatment. LB


GREGORY WAYNE KELLY / Defibrillator Blues

2015. Poor Souls Press.     

     Sprung from the rich and fertile soil of activist storytelling, Defibrillator Blues does its part to green the landscape of a lost world devastated by flash fictions and narco narratives. LS


PHYLLIS KLEIN / The Full Moon Herald

2020. Grayson Books.

     This exceptional first book of poems should be required reading for anyone who 1) appreciates poetry as a meaningful way to explore who we are in this beautiful and troubling world; 2) is willing to open themselves to the honesty and intimacy of our shared and connected lives; and/or 3) wishes to mine the deeper nature of the news without the noise and nonsense of talking heads. VRB


ELLARAINE LOCKIE / Sex & Other Slapsticks

2019. Presa Press.

     After reading the alluring and playful poems in Lockie's sly little chapbook, Sex & Other Slapsticks, don't be surprised if you find yourself reaching for a cigarette—even if you don't smoke. AB



2014. Big Yess Press.     

     Moo is one of the most powerful and inspirational series of narrative poems you will ever read. MG

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 graciously presented here as a lotus flower in book form. NS 


MICHAEL McCLURE / Mule Kick Blues: And Last Poems

2021 / City Lights Publishers / 

     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**

     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



2002. Poems-For-All Press. 

     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.

     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


TONY PRESS / Crossing the Lines

2016. Big Table Publishing.

     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.

     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


JENDI REITER / Bullies in Love

2015. Little Red Tree Publishing.

     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


GEORGE SAUNDERS / Lincoln in the Bardo

2018. Random House.

     A facile writer facilitates departed Victorians. GG



2016. Big Table Publishing.   

     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


ROBERT SCOTELLARO / New Micro: Exceptionally Short Fiction (co-editor)

2018. W.W. Norton.

     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


ROBERT SCOTELLARO / What Are The Chances?

2020. Press 53.

     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



2022. Bamboo Dart Press.

     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


DON SKILES / Football

2014. Pelekinesis.

     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


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

2015. Anvil Press.

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


STEVE SNEYD / The Legerdemain of Changelings: Poems

1977. Paroptic Press.

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


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


2014. Finishing Line Press.   
     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

2014. Brandenburg Press. Available from the author.
     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


JAMES THOMAS / New Micro: Exceptionally Short Fiction (co-editor)

2018. W.W. Norton.

     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


MICHAEL TORRES / An Incomplete List of Names (poetry)

2020. Beacon Press.

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


MELANIE VILLINES / Windy City Sinners

2015. Sugar Skull Press.   

     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


MELANIE VILLINES (Editor) / Nancy Drew Anthology

2016. Silver Birch Press.

     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


REBECCA WATTS / The Met Office Advises Caution (poetry)

2016. Carcanet.

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


J.T. WHITEHEAD / The Table of the Elements

2015. The Broadkill River Press.

     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


A.D. WINANS / Blurred Visions and Wasted Nights

2020. Cyberwit.

     At eighty-four years of age, A.D. Winans’ Blurred Visions and Wasted Nights 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 


A.D. WINANS / Mayday Poem

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

     In a world of limited attention spans, some might be quick to label Winans' latest gem, Mayday Poem, as just another rant--and they would be guilty of 1) not reading enough poetry in their lifetime; 2) being unable to know when a poem is just screwing with your head to make itself seem relevant; and 3) 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 


BOB WOODWARD / Fear: Trump in the White House

2018. Simon & Schuster.

       Cheer: Trump in the Big House. MM


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