Absinthe Book Reviews
B O O K   R E V I E W S



   Lizard Dreaming of Birds by John Gist


Lizard Dreaming of Birds
by John Gist

 Edition 69 by Viteslav Nezval & Jindrich Styrsky       

Edition 69
by Viteslav Nezval 
& Jindrich Styrsky

  The Books of Angelhaunt Vol, II by Jason Stuart Ratcliff

The Books of Angelhaunt Vol, II
by Jason Stuart Ratcliff


Core: A Romance
by Kassten Alonso



Animal Rights and Pornography
by J. Eric Miller



by D. Harlan Wilson



Docufictions by Harold Jaffe


Valerie and Her Week of Wonders
by Vítězslav Nezval



More short cuts may become available, 
but don't hold your breath. We're on a long working vacation.

Madison House
by Peter Donahue
Hawthorne Books & Literary Arts, 508 PP.

Madison Ingram, already tested by the challenge of following her gold-seeking husband to the far north only to return to Seattle alone, finds her hard-won happiness threatened by the inexorable march of the city fathers' idea of progress in the early 20th century. As the owner of Madison House, a Denny Hill boarding house, Maddie treats the eclectic group of residents more as an unconventional family than mere boarders. When the city begins an ambitious re-grading plan, it's announced that all affected property owners are responsible for the cost of re-grading their land to meet the level of the streets set by the city, leaving the future of Madison House, and its residents, uncertain at best. 

The break-up of the narrative, feeding readers bits of Maddie's backstory at the conclusion of parts one and two only (there are four parts in the book) rather than through straight flashbacks, felt awkward, but Donahue's affecting literary narrative successfully incorporates social, political, and cultural history as seen through the eyes of the dispossessed, disadvantaged, and disenfranchised in a pivotal time in Seattle's history.  -A.A.-

Love Song for the Bad Priestess
Steven Kedrowski

iUniverse, Inc,
Lincoln, 197 pages

 If Holden Caulfield hunkered down with a high-powered hunting rifle outside his local high school picking off fellow students dressed in Goth black while measuring his penis, you might get some idea of this novel. The form is somewhat of a mess veering from straight narrative to diary to screenplay to poetry, but it is a well-written coming-of-age novel examining teenage angst. The narrative is set on the cusp of Y2K (how old-fashioned that sounds now). It deals with murder, love, Satanism, and stars a stigmatic porn actress. Like the use of mysterious movies in Don DeLillo’s Running Dog and David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest, it plays with the idea of an occult book, which has strange effects on the inhabitants of a small American town. It reminded me of a watered-down Brian Evenson novel in its exploration of religion and violence. For a first novel, it is brave and challenging.  -S.F.-



dry, and severe
by Nate Briggs
canniballife $14.95 297 pp
An intelligent and intricate faux-memoir, Dry and Severe holds enough compelling characters and situations for two or three books—and indeed, the reader might have been better served had the author focused on one or two fewer geographical story lines or offshoots. The shift between present, distant and recent pasts is handled well, but often diverts from what might have been a more enjoyable read. The talented Briggs fails slightly in early establishment of the female narrator, and does show a penchant for over-emphatic capitalization, which works occasionally but more often borders on irritating and “wrong.” (Sinned; Jet Lag; Not Knocking? Come on). Despite these slight sins of commission, this first-time novelist shows promise.

The Need for Character
by Richard K. Weems
Revelever Publications 
This chapbook of short-short fiction focuses primarily on disaffected, diseased, and odd characters: the tossed dwarf after the tossing is done; the mall Easter Bunny drinking in his off hours; a grandson nauseated by his decaying grandfather; an emotionally conflicted hill giant; and loads of schizophrenics, mild and otherwise. Weem’s work never fails to generate a strange dynamic interest (ALR has published one of his stories), but some readers will be put off by his occasional ambiguity or lack of intelligibility; others will love him for these elements. Our general observation is that Weems stands rock solid in the realm of idea and story, but perhaps needs a hair more navel-gazing in the realm of execution and editorial oversight. Not your usual fiction, in any case.

So Late, So Soon
by D’arcy Fallon
Hawthorne Books
A highly readable memoir about the author’s experiences as a young adult in a hippie-era Christian commune. Fallon’s honest tale of her internal and external struggles within the repressed traditional construct of a garden-variety Jesus-Freak Central should be required reading for any young person who has recently “found” the Lord. The book is a heartfelt and well-executed testament to a precept of which almost every person of modest reason, age, and/or education is aware: a narrow definition of divinity is always too confining and usually too ridiculous for the expansive mind to bear. (Why is it that those minds that God/god wrought best invariably have the most difficulty accepting the simplistic politicized confines of religious institutions? Could it be that He/She/It gives greater gifts to those who have to deal with the congregated legions of blindered dumbasses while the dumbasses themselves only require a rudimentary nodding mechanism and a deep sense of insufficiency?) So Late, So Soon addresses the problem of spiritual hunger within the human sphere with style and a considerable eye to warts, navels, and better angels.  Recommended. 

Dragons: Lexicon Trimuvirate
by Kenneth Che-Tew Eng
A novel about dragons, mechanical and otherwise. (We do not review books in the dragon/sword & sorcery/fantasy genre—even if they have a slight “philosophical” twist.)

Happiness is.
by Shawn Christopher Shea, M.D.
We only review non-fiction with a heavy literary angle.

Ard Righ: The Sword on the Stone
by Ray Cattie
Looks fine, but there’s no way in hell we’re going to open up the sword and sorcery sluice gates by reviewing Arthurian lore. 

Dark Side of Time and Phase One After Zero
by Vladimir Chernozemsky
No comment.


Previous Book Reviews

Extraterrestrial Sex Fetish
by Supervert

Tales of Galicia
by Andrzej Stasiuk

Streets that smell of dying roses
by Prakash Kona

Out of Oneself
by András Pályi

Have You Seen Me?
by Laura Denham

Desert Burial  
by Brian Littlefair

Slow Monkeys and other stories
by Jim Nichols

Ha Ha Tonka: a book of rune
poems by Ryan G. Van Cleave

15 Serial Killers
Docufictions by Harold Jaffe

The Books of Angelhaunt: Volume I
Art Prose by Jason Stuart Ratcliff

by Wanda Coleman

Things I Like About America
personal narratives by Poe Ballantine

Making Scenes
by Adrienne Eisen

stories by Jane Eaton Hamilton

Signs and Symptoms
by Róbert Gál

The City of Your Final Destination
by Peter Cameron

Bonneville Stories
by Mark Doyon

In the Shadow of the Globe
by Michelle Cameron

Hymns to Millionaires
by Soren A. Gauger

Second-Hand Souls
by Nichita Danilov

God Clobbers Us All
by Poe Ballantine

Sick: An Anthology of Illness
Edited by John Edward Lawson

Dastgah: Diary of a Headtrip
by Mark Mordue

below the low-water mark
by Ryan Masters

The Greening of Ben Brown
by Michael Strelow

Diary of a Seducer  
by D.A. Blyler/Marcus Reichert

3: a novel
by Julie Hilden

by Emanuel Xavier

The Losers’ Club
by Richard Perez

Rants & Raves
by Nathan Leslie

Weapon in Heaven
by David Bulley

by Alma Marceau

The Last Great Glass Meat Million
by John Thomas Menesini

Billie’s Ghost
by Chad Hautmann

Arguing With the Troubadour
Poems by kris t kahn

The Lakes of Coma
by Michael S. Begnal

by Hertzan Chimera

The Kafka Effekt  
by D. Harlan Wilson

Elizabeth Must Die
by Jeremy Needle

by Neale Sourna

The Martinet
by M.S. Valentine

– Wow
– Highly recommended
– Recommended
– Some nice things, but ...
– Not especially recommended