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.
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All reviews appearing in TMRB are staff-written and identified by the reviewer initials.
Books reviewed are conveniently listed alphabetically by author.
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AUTHORS AUTHORS AUTHORS AUTHORS
ART GOODTIMES & WENDY VIDELOCK / Medicine for Minds & Hearts
ALAN ALDRIDGE / The Beatles Illustrated Lyrics
2005. Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers. www.blackdogandleventhal.com
All you need is...this book. BJL
BLAKE AUDEN / To Drown as a Cure for Thirst: Poems
2022. Central Avenue Publishing. www.centralavenuepublishing.com
These short, soulful poems immerse the reader in a sorrowfulness that echoes memories from both a near and distant haunting; recollections that slowly bathe the reader in a pool of raw but hopeful mourning, reminiscent of the elegiac poetry of Poe and Stephen Crane. AB
ART BECK / Angel Rain: Poems (1977 – 2020)
2022. Shanti Arts Publishing. shantiarts.com
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.”
ART BECK / A Treacherous Art: Translating Poetry
2023. Shearsman Books.
Art Beck’s latest work is not only a spirited and engaging read from that mischievous, post-modern rebel interpreter of neglected early Roman poets (think Martial and Luxorius), but it also does much to confirm Beck's singular position as a savvy, accessible writer of literary criticism whose conversational style is laid out like a welcome mat for readers to navigate the radical notion that what a poem means is sometimes less about struggling to understand it and more about learning to enjoy its presence. RKM
JOHN BENNETT / Short Jabs
2013. Hcolom Press. www.hcolompress.com
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
ERIC BERNE / Are You Depressed Yet? No, I’m Still Depressed
1983. Workman Publishing.
A chatty treatise on pre- and post-coital melancholy. TH
ARNA BONTEMPS / American Negro Poetry (editor)
1963/1995. Hill and Wang. www.us.macmillan.com
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. www.orbooks.com
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. www.amazon.com
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. www.kazoomagazine.com
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. www.tigerbarkpress.com
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/sfau.edu
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
SARA R. BURNETT / Seed Celestial: Poems
2022. Autumn House Press.
The poems in Sarah Burnett’s debut collection, Seed Celestial, are deep dives into the heart of the woman-as-healer and represent a surprising and welcome shift that most first books fail to deliver: the dazzling and striking display of poetry as a pure and constant rhythm of words, poem to poem, page to page, keeping time like a golden metronome that faithfully carries the drumbeat of its umbilical message: that birth and rebirth are the sacred and unbroken cycles of our humanness. VRB
KAREL CAPEK / The War With The Newts (Translation by Ewald Osers)
1999. Catbird Press. www.catbirdpress.com
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
LEWIS CASTLETON / Heart Needs Home: Poems
1998. Next Stop Press.
To quote the last line from the last poem (“You Are Here”) from this simple but elegant book of poems by a man who practiced medicine for over forty years: “For this is where you begin again / where everywhere is an ending.” WD
JACK CHACHKES / The Kennedy Teeth
1984. Workman Publishing.
An intimate, straight-from-the-teeth memoir by the orthodontist who molded the smiles of three generations of America’s best-know political family. CF
MIKE COLAPIETRO and ROGER STONE / 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
BILLY COLLINS / Musical Tables
2022. Random House. www.randomhousebooks.com
Musical Tables is Billy Collins Unplugged: engaging, playful and voicing the joy of poetry in short, spirited breaths. CE
ROBYN CRESWELL and JONATHAN GALASSI / The FSG Poetry Anthology
Edited by Jonathan Galassi and Robyn Creswell
Oh, goody...yet another definitive and essential poetry anthology that includes just about everybody you'd expect to see on a Big Five publishing house's masturbatory list while conspicuously leaving out pretty much everybody else who isn't clinking glasses, kissing ass, or digging up the decomposed because, well, after all, gee whiz, aw, shit and what the...only FOUR Seamus Heaney poems?! LF
THOMAS J. CSORDAS and JANIS H. JENKINS / Troubled in the Land of Enchantment: Adolescent Experience of Psychiatric Treatment
2020. University of California Press. www.ucpress.edu
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). www.openlibrary.org/publishers/Hilltop_Press
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. www.cervenabarvapress.com
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
MILLIE DE CHIRICO and QUATOYIAH MURRY / 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
ANTONIO DE JESÚS LÓPEZ / Gentefication: Poemas
2021. Four Way Books.
These are the poems you teach yourself to memorize when your mind needs blowing, your ass needs kicking, and your politics need whatever it takes to cross the border separating you from the rest of the world—ya es hora. MDO
MATTHEW DICKMAN & MICHAEL DICKMAN / Brother
2016. Faber & Faber. https://www.faber.co.uk/
Some twins are born great, some twins achieve greatness, and some twins have greatness thrust upon them. MD
MICHAEL DICKMAN & MATTHEW DICKMAN / 50 American Plays
2012. Copper Canyon Press. www.coppercanyonpress.org
DUCK: Quack, quack, quack. MDA
DIANE DI PRIMA / Poems Are Angels
2013. Omerta Publications. www.lesgottesman.com
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. www.brighthorsebooks.com
DeStefano has the potential to become the next great American trapeze artist along the lines of Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis. KP
THOMAS DOWDING / God The Father: Inside The Religious Mob’s Greatest Crime Family
2023. Lotus & O'Sullivan.
I was skeptical at first, but after reading the first chapter on the illegal plenary indulgence trade, I immediately understood how everything we do is being written down for all eternity in a big book somewhere in the sky and that someday all of us will be called upon to either perform a favor or to answer for Santino. OD
PERCIVAL EVERETT / The Trees
2021. Graywolf Press. graywolfpress.org
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
In the tradition of Huckleberry Finn and A Clockwork Orange, debut novel The Panopticon features a 15-year-old Scottish girl as a narrator; having lived her entire life in “care,” what we would call foster homes, group settings, and a couple of failed adoptions, Anais Hendricks is great company (although you might not want her living on your block), and shares some of the third-rail “issues” that have made Huck Finn persona non grata in many school libraries, the “issues” in The Panopticon being underage same sex liaisons, casual drug use, antisocial and criminal behavior, and anti-authoritarianism, especially a low regard for law enforcement—making it just the kind of book Ron DeSantis and his minions would love to roast at one of their book burning auto-de fés. k
PAUL FERICANO / The Hollywood Catechsim
2015. Silver Birch Press. www.silverbirchpress.com
The Hollywood Catechsim does its wicked best to combat our self-congratulatory pseudo-pop cultural cosplay by using various weapons of social/political/religious send-ups in the service of a brave new poetry keenly intent on answering a rabidly misinformed and self-loathing populace (legion and oxymoronic) gumming on Rupert Murdoch teething rings and scrambling down whack-a-mole conspiracy holes—deaf, dumb and blind to what is being set fire to—in this clever and brilliant collection by a master satirist who (s)killfully uses nonsense to make sense of the utterly senseless. GH
PAUL FERICANO / Things That Go Trump in the Night: Poems of Treason and Resistance
2019. Poems-For-All Press / Little City Press. www.poems-for-all.com
Mock him up! CH
JERRY FERRAZ / Bully Goat’s Bluff: The Apotheosis of Donald J. Trump
2020 / Bird & Beckett. www.birdbeckett.com
A rollicking, rambunctious rant that tells the twisted tale, theme after theme, of trump’s incredibly infantile idiocy. JA ---
TINA FULKER / Jukebox
1980. Paycock Press. www.gargoylemagazine.com
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
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