Humbled Wise Men
by Dan J. Flore, III
I’m going to keep this review as simple as this short, delightful collection of holiday poetry. In this series of short poems, Flore captures moments of Christmas celebration, triumph and defeat. In his minimal memories of even commonplace moments of Christmas past, the author provokes nostalgia without rose-colored glasses.
The simplicity of the pieces makes them a window into personal Christmas memories. I found that I was looking through the poems into my own past holidays. The book ends by inspiring readers to create their own poetry, a gift they can give themselves.
Flore says it best himself in a note to his readers:
Literature about the holiday season has always helped me to feel closer to that sometimes elusive entity – the Christmas spirit. It is my hope that this little book of Christmas haikus will do the same for you and your loved ones. Many of these poems are simply little thoughts, images, or memories of mine and none of them were written with the traditional haiku form in mind. Some may not be what you expect. After all, aren’t tiny surprises part of what makes this holiday so endearing?
Dan Flore's poems have appeared in many publications, including Sick Lit Magazine and Lummox. His first poetry collection, Lapping Water, is published by GenZ Publishing.
Confessions of the Lioness
Review by Jarad Johnson
Confessions of the Lioness is a haunting, lyrical narrative told through the perspective of two journals, Mariamar Mpepe, a local woman who lives in the village, and Archangel Bullseye, a hunter who travelled there to kill the lions plaguing the village. Through these two diaries, the author juxtaposes the African Landscape against the pettiness and cruelty of the village where the novel takes place; however, one of the things I don’t like about lyrical poetry is that it’s meant to give an overall emotion or feeling, but rarely are there concrete images. At times, that’s what Couto’s writing felt like, especially toward the end, which took away from the rest of his excellent prose. Overall, though, it’s an enjoyable novel for the message that it presents and its unique take on anthropomorphizing lions.
The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane
Review by Jarad Johnson
This delightful novel tells two stories; one of a woman accused of witchcraft in 1692 during the Salem Witch Trials, the other of a graduate student in 1991. The Salem Witch Trials have long been the subject of fascination both to scholars and enthusiasts alike, but the author, who is a descendant of Elizabeth Howe and Elizabeth Proctor, two women accused of witch-craft during the Salem hysteria approached the event not through the eye of history, instead choosing to take the villagers at their word, and elaborate on the uncommon question: what if witches and witch-craft really were present in Salem?
Jarad's Choice Book Club: Zoo City
Review By Jarad Johnson
“Monkey on my back,” is a common term for heroin addiction, but in this riveting magical-realism novel, Beukes takes it quite literally. Here, set in an alternate of the South African city of Johannesburg, people who have committed a crime, and those who bear a significant amount of guilt are, “animalled,” or magically attached to an animal familiar. While the animal brings with it some magic in the form of psychic powers and perhaps marginal comfort, the animal is their version of the scarlet, “A.” In short, the animal is a sort of marker for their wrong-doing. The protagonist of the novel is Zinzi December, an animalled girl with a sloth who lives in a slum nicknamed, “Zoo City,” for its large population of animalled people. When she is first introduced, Zinzi is attempting to pay back her drug dealer by charging people for her ability to locate lost objects. However, she quickly gets caught up in harrowing missing persons case that leads her to reevaluate everyone and everything she trusts.