Los Angeles Review of Books

Fighting Trump, the Early Years

Jeffrey C. Isaac, professor of Indiana University, Bloomington, and former editor of Perspectives on Politics, has a series of essays and opinion pieces called #AgainstTrump: Notes from Year One. In one respect, the American public have heard many of his arguments elsewhere. But as an artifact of its time, perhaps readers can see how journalists like himself who were labeled “enemies of the people” used their resources and writing abilities to document this important era of American history.

American Resistance, Explained

Biggers does an exemplary job of unpacking concepts and historical events and presenting them in an easily digestible way for the general reader. But I was still confounded by his intended audience. While the tone of the book is fairly objective — especially when presenting historical events or influential figures — its overall slant would most likely appeal to those who are more of a politically and socially liberal persuasion.

Postcards from the Edge: The Voices of Hard Times in Today’s United States

MY MATERNAL GRANDFATHER, whom I call Tata, tells me stories about his days as a fruit picker on a crew with Japanese, Mexicans, Filipinos, and displaced Oklahomans from the Dust Bowl who labored from sunup to sundown. Tata would get blisters on his hands from planting acres of small trees and hoeing crop lines, and he’d get paid six cents per box of oranges picked. With the money earned, he’d go to the picture show to watch a Western double feature. When I hear these stories, I feel as if Tata’


SEE! HEAR! CUT! KILL! EXPERIENCING FRIDAY THE 13TH Is A Treasure Trove Of Information For Readers & Scholars

Can you think of a more iconic American horror villain than Jason Voorhees? Released this past October by University Press of Mississippi to coincide with Friday the 13th’s 40th anniversary, Wickham Clayton’s See! Hear! Cut! Kill! Experiencing Friday the 13th provides readers with 238 pages of generous overview and detailed analysis on the popular horror franchise.

MASK OF THE SENTINELS Sweeps You up and Carries You Along for the Ride

It’s rare when I find a fantasy that impresses me and in which I can fully invest. Ricky and Toby Franklin have produced such a volume with their debut graphic novel, Mask of the Sentinels. Full of adventure, horror, social commentary, and well-developed characters, the narrative sweeps you up and carries you along for the ride. Personally, I felt the same wonder and excitement I had as a kid when I read Emily Rodda’s Deltora Quest children’s fantasy book series.

FEAR: THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF DARIO ARGENTO is Simultaneously Fascinating and Frustrating

Overall, Fear: The Autobiography of Dario Argento is a satisfying read. Structured chronologically, the book is full of anecdotes, personal reflections, and candid observations on cinema. Although some memories or particulars of film productions may be familiar to people who have listened to some of his interviews or viewed documentaries about the production of certain films, the amount of detail Argento incorporates in the book help flesh these areas out.

LAST CASE AT A BAGGAGE AUCTION is a Swift, Enjoyable Yarn

Last Case at a Baggage Auction is a swift, enjoyable horror-mystery yarn. Here, Bram Stoker Award-winning author Eric. J. Guignard granted one of his earlier novellas an “Author’s Preferred Text.” What does this mean? The term for books is synonymous with that of a director’s cut for film—instances where established writers rerelease previous work in authorized expanded or restructured editions. Some of the most notable cases are Stephen King’s The Stand, Chuck Palahniuk’s Invisible Monsters Remix, and Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere.

Drunk Monkeys

100 WORD BOOK REVIEWS / The Meadow / Kristin Garth

Kristin Garth’s novel, The Meadow (Alien Buddha Press), builds upon her autobiographical poetry collection of the same name. Make no mistake: The Meadow’s not salacious BDSM Twilight fan fic marketed toward mass audiences. What’s key to understanding this work is the humanity with which Garth imbues her young protagonist, Scarlet. As Scarlet explores her sexuality through lurid encounters with various characters, the reader cannot help but simultaneously sympathize and empathize with her as she attempts to reach catharsis. Furthermore, Garth paints this niche community with respect, while also fairly criticizing certain aspects of it. Readers wanting sole titillation look elsewhere.

100 WORD BOOK REVIEWS / Dear Ted / Kim Vodicka

Kim Vodicka’s (The Elvis Machine) latest poetry collection, Dear Ted, is a tsunami of words—simultaneously destroying with feminine rage and empowerment the male shitstorm women deal with every day while also honoring women survivors and those who deserve to be remembered. Mixing popular culture and open discussions of sexuality, Dear Ted eviscerates Ted Bundy and other serial killer/stalker/dater-esque men. Reading her poems becomes an act of complicity as each word or image slices male entitlement to ribbons. Even in the rare moments where the metaphorical knife briefly dulls, Vodicka’s poetic onslaught remains a continuous bloodletting experience.

BOOK REVIEWS / The Craving / Kristen Renee Gorlitz

Writer Kristen Renee Gorlitz and her team of collaborators have released a graphic novel entitled The Craving. Independently published through Mindweird Media, the story traces a zombie apocalypse and how it affects one couple. Before you complain about the oversaturation of zombie themed stories in literature, comics, and film, consider reading the graphic novel. Whereas Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead helped reinvigorate the horror subgenre and solidify modern zombie tropes, Gorlitz’s The Craving is more so concerned with character development and inverting reader expectations. This results in an intelligent and diverting story.

MUSIC / Unwrapping Jim Croce’s Christmas Song, “It Doesn’t Have to Be That Way” / Sean Woodard

But amid all the covers of classics your mother should know, there are a few musical gifts hidden deep within the Christmas tree boughs if anyone wishes to search for them. One of those songs is Jim Croce’s “It Doesn’t Have to Be That Way.” It remains one of my favorite songs he composed. Recorded in 1973, the song serves as the closing track of Croce’s Life and Times album. The record, which also contained the No. 1 U.S. Billboard Hot 100 hit “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown,” proved to be one of the singer-songwriter’s most commercially successful.

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