February Book Releases

February Fiction Book Releases

Shadows of Men

Author: Kevin Grauke Publication Date: December 11, 2012


Here are long shadows. Cast as inherited notions of what it means to be a man, Kevin Grauke’s Shadows of Men is a

Picture of Kevin Grauke

defining meditation on maleness, masculinity, and manhood. The fathers, sons, husbands, and lovers of this ambitious first collection occupy a suburban terrain where insecurity, uncertainty, and inadequacy all project a disquieting shade. Their floundering may demarcate the thirteen stories humor and poignancy, but a dignified, near-elegiac portrayal of the modern man resonates. The shadows reach is long, and these characters may stumble and lose their way, but Grauke’s empathetic clarity sweeps the unsettling land.


“Kevin Grauke’s elegant portrayals of introspective and fragile men recall John Updike’s best work. This insightful and empathetic collection animates its characters’ hearts so completely that they seem to beat within us.” – Tom Grimes, author of Mentor: A Memoir

A note-perfect, resonant new work. At turns, hilarious and painful, dark and uplifting, these words speak genuinely to what it means to be a man in the world.” – Darren DeFrain, author of The Salt Palace and Inside & Out

Grauke writes from deep inside his fraught, clear-eyes protagonists, sons, fathers, and husbands…. This funny, sad and brave book refuses to simplify its exploration of heroism and its evil twin, savagery.” – Debra Monroe, author of On the Outskirts of Normal

Kevin Grauke’s stories have appeared in such publications as Fiction, The Southern Review, Five Chapters, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Story Quarterly, Quarterly West, Blue Mesa Review, and Third Coast, amongst many others. He also regularly reviews fiction for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Born and raised in Texas, he now lives in Philadelphia with his wife and two children. He teaches at La Salle University.

Book Reviews:

Book Review by Dallas News

The Dragon Keeper: A Novel

Author: Mindy Mejia Publication Date: September 1, 2012


Meg Yancy knows she may be overly attached to Jata, the Komodo dragon that has been in her since it arrived at the zoo from Indonesia. Jata brings the exotic to Meg’s Minnesotan life: an ancient, predatory history and stories of escaping to freedom—an independence Meg understands well. She’s always been better able to relate to reptiles than to people, from her estranged father to her live-in boyfriend to the veterinarian who’s more concerned with his career than with the animals’ lives.

Then one day, Meg makes an amazing discovery: Jata has produced viable eggs— without ever having had a mate. Faced with this “virgin birth,” Meg must now defend Jata’s hatchlings from the scientific, religious, and media forces that converge on the zoo to claim the miracle as their own. As Meg fights to save the animal she loves from the consequences of its own miracle, she must learn to accept that in nature, as in life, not everything can be controlled.

Picture of Mindy MejiaReviews:

“…impressive…ambitious…Mindy Mejia is a talent to watch.” — Sheila O’Connor, author of Where No Gods Came and Sparrow Road

“The Komodo dragon world that Mindy Mejia creates is an unforgettable world, and the feisty character of Meg Yancy, the dragon’s keeper, is an unforgettable character. I came away from this book with a deepened respect for the welfare of endangered species and with an eagerness to see more writing from this dazzling young talent.” — Jim Heynen

Mindy Mejia received her MFA from Hamline University, and her work has appeared in rock, paper, scissors; Things Japanese: An Anthology of Short Stories; and THIS Literary Magazine.

Book Reviews:

Review by Switchback Literary Magazine

Review by Our Hen House

Review by 5 Minutes For Books


February Nonfiction Book Releases

She Matters: A Life in Friendships

Author: Susanna Sonnenberg Publication Date: January 8, 2013


The New York Times called Susanna Sonnenberg “immensely gifted,” and Vogue, “scrupulously unsentimental.” Entertainment Weekly described Sonnenberg’s Her Last Death as “a bracing memoir about growing up rich and glamorous with a savagely inappropriate mother.” Now, Sonnenberg, with her unflinching eye and uncanny wisdom, has written a compulsively readable book about female friendship.

T he best friend who broke up with you. The older girl at school you worshipped. The beloved college friend who changed. The friend you slept with. The friend who betrayed you. The friend you betrayed. Companions in travel, in discovery, in motherhood, in grief; the mentor, the model, the rescuer, the guide, the little sister. These have been the women in Susanna Sonnenberg’s life, friends tender, dominant, and crucial after her reckless mother gave her early lessons in womanhood.

Searing and superbly written, Sonnenberg’s She Matters: A Life in Friendships illuminates the friendships that have influenced, nourished, inspired, and haunted her—and sometimes torn her apart. Each has its own lessons that Sonnenberg seeks to understand. Her method is investigative and ruminative; her result, fearlessly observed portraits of friendships that will inspire all readers to consider the complexities of their own relationships. This electric book is testimony to the emotional significance of the intense bonds between women, whether shattered, shaky, or unbreakable.


She Matters lingers with you, inviting you to construct a patchwork quilt of your own life and salute the many women who helped you along the way.” – Susan Chira, The New York Times Book Review

“Sonnenberg is a gifted literary stylist with a stunning ability to write sentences that read like beautiful traps…She Matters artfully reveals the depth and gravity of love between women as they make sense of the changing and often treacherous emotional and logistical terrain of their forward-moving lives.” – Emily Rapp, The Boston Globe

“Susanna Sonnenberg’s She Matters is a cause for celebration…The book’s honesty, eloquence, laugh-out-loud humor, finely wrought prose and magnificent scope will keep readers eagerly turning the pages…For readers who welcome a complex perspective beautifully rendered in writing, this book is not to be missed.” – Kelly Blewett, BookPage

Susanna Sonnenberg is the author of Her Last Death. She lives in Montana with her family.

Other Book Publications:

Her Last Death: A Memoir

February Poetry Book Releases

Playhouse State

Picture of Playhouse State

Author: Stephen Danos Publication Date: September 12, 2012

Picture of Stephen Danos


“For a chapbook, this is exhaustive and painfully mindful of craft but to get caught up in that alone would be to dismiss the content that we have all endured, whether bloody or clean. There is no handholding in the line to the rollercoaster.” – Zachary Green

Stephen Danos is author of a poetry chapbook, Playhouse State (H_NGM_N Books, 2012). He earned a BA in English from the University of Iowa and an MFA in Creative Writing – Poetry from Columbia College Chicago. He has been awarded a residency from the Vermont Studio Center, a Follett Fellowship from Columbia College Chicago, and a University & College Poetry Prize from the Academy of American Poets. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in 1913Anti-BateauColumbia Poetry ReviewCourt GreenForklift Ohio, iO PoetryThe Laurel ReviewTransom, and elsewhere. He serves as an Assistant Editor for YesYes Books and is Editor-in-Chief of the online journalPinwheel. He lives in Seattle.

Book Reviews:

LitBridge Book Review by Zachary Green



Author: Kathleen Jesme Publication Date: September 30, 2012


Winner of the Snowbound Chapbook Award, selected by Patricia Fargnoli.

A meditation on the death of a mother, Meridian measures the hours and reflects on how experience collapses and elongates time, creating a lens through which we can look at how we’re connected and separated. And the poet asks: Is music our best refusal to accede to the irrationality of death?

Moving deftly in and out of ‘the small apartment where my mother lay dying,’ laced with memory and opened into aftermath, Meridian is a study, by a probing spirit, in darkness and snow, of private sorrow mirrored in larger patterns: of celestial passage, of excavations in the opened earth. Musically cadenced, contemplative, respectful of silence — these taut, resonant lines bear not one extra ounce of language, but only and exactly what will suffice. — Eleanor Wilner

Picture of Kathleen Jesme I have long considered Kathleen Jesme a truly remarkable poet. In Meridian, however, she outdoes herself. Jesme fills this lyric chronicle of the death of her mother with precise observations, strange silences, and breathtaking moments of beauty and music. Whether she dwells on the relentless snow whispering around the house or slips into crystalline recollection of her mother’s slow failure, I sense in these poems a subtle mind at work on an unsolvable problem. For Jesme knows we can find neither clarity nor conclusion in the emptiness death leaves behind, but must always circle around it, reaching for meaning in the images and memories that surround us as we prepare to grieve, and then grieve. ‘I am swimming toward you,’ she writes late in the poem, ‘through / the past / which clings to me / and holds me / back / and up.’ Meridian is not merely a beautifully written, ambitious poem—it is also the most moving I have read in a long time. — Kevin Prufer

Kathleen Jesme is the author of three previous collections of poetry, The Plum-Stone Game (Ahsahta, 2009); Motherhouse, winner of the Lena-Miles Wever Todd Poetry Prize (LSU, 2005); and Fire Eater (Tampa, 2003). Jesme holds an MFA in creative writing from Warren Wilson College and a BA in English from the University of Minnesota. She lives in Minnesota and works as a training consultant.

Other Book Publications:

Fire Eater: Poems

The Plum-Stone Game

Motherhouse: Poems

The Monarchs

Author: Melanie Noel Publication Date: January 1, 2013


THE MONARCHS is a conversation. Pastoral field notes picnic with the voiceovers and subtitles of films and other forms to transform “the wet paper of the sky” into a techno-naturescape. Visual and aural, these textual sculptures transport readers from monarch groves to Mars. Any earthling’s ear reenters the world anew after this read. Noel pollinates primary sources to produce a hybrid: medicinal, personal and pleasurable, these poems are lyric documentaries of an imagined reality. Welcome. Here, kings are unseated, and there is no apocalypse. “Loose little fists of apples and the moon” and “a perfume of opera” remain.


“Melanie Noel has managed a remix of natural history in which an acute attention to the details of the world brings us up close, but at a marvelously odd angle. Things we know well remain familiar, yet take on new twists and, above all, new relationships—cashmere dawn and aviary eyelet—her stunning phraseology and vibrant vision put things together in novel, awakening ways. Tender and bitingly exact, this work is among the most exciting of our time.”—Cole Swensen

Melanie Noel’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in La Norda EspecialoWeekdaythe water_sideThe Arcadia Project and The Volta. She’s also written poems for short films and installations, and was a co-curator of APOSTROPHE, a dance, music, and poetry series. She lives in Seattle, where she teaches workshops on synesthesia and imagination in parks, schools, and community centers.


A Neon Tryst

Author: Lina ramona Vitkauskas Publication Date: January 15, 2013


A Neon Tryst is a collection of ekphrastic poems featuring the films L’Eclisse (director Michelangelo Antonioni); Seconds (John Frankenheimer); and Wild Strawberries (Ingmar Bergman). Though divided in three separate sections by film, the collection stands as one, cohesive piece, as all main characters share an internal conflict—losing identity with the passage of time. One flees an unhappy marriage and throws herself into fleeting, cold relationships against a rigid and futuristic atomic backdrop—all of her apocalyptic decisions revealing the “time bomb” within. One alters his identity completely by committing pseudocide, then undergoing an intense surgical transformation, only to return to his “old” life. The last, a retired professor in his golden years, takes a journey to his alma mater to be honored for lifetime achievement, only to discover along the way that his life has been anti-climactic at best. The three pieces as a whole illustrate that human tendency is to erase before evolving—as Daumal said, “I become conscious of myself by denying my existence”—and that this is dangerous, liberating, and necessary.


“The ‘trysts’ of Lina Vitkauskas’ book are shot through with ‘neon’—that is, they are saturated with chemicals, textures, atmosphere, and media. According to this synthetic cosmology, ‘In an affair/arms laugh,/they become sheer.’ That is to say, they—arms, bodies, weapons, trysts—become both medium and adjective, both see-through and material. As in Antonioni’s great films, the body is clothes and the clothes are part of the visual atmosphere. A dress moves through a toxic landscape, or a ‘toxic love.’ The ‘trysts’ are movies, fantasies, art. Vitkauskas is ‘surreal, primitive, impressionist, whatever.’ ”—Johannes Göransson, Haute Surveillance (Tarpaulin Sky, 2013) + co-editor, Action Books & Action, Yes

“If film is linear, the ultimate time-based medium, during which we are supposed to listen and watch attentively, passively, Lina Ramona Vitkauskas’ poems in A Neon Tryst talk back. These poems create simultaneity, layers, and distillations toward new narrative logics like ‘Let’s laugh until panties.’ Vitkauskas is watching for the poem in the film, writing her own subtitles (deliciously peculiar subtitles) and in their irreverence they are expansive, wise, and sometimes very funny. Her playful gestures in the face of the tightly choreographed imprint of film create incidental and embodied new texts, and this may very well be a feminist enterprise in its daring, toppling film’s male gaze with ‘I have to half you.’ So if Bergman or narrative expectation of any stripe ever presses on you with too much force, don’t worry! Take A Neon Tryst in hand, ‘Be frothy/and rascally’ and soon you may delight in talking back to the screen everywhere, perhaps adding, with a shrug: ‘I can’t stand chalets.’ ” —Jill Magi, LABOR (Nightboat Books, 2013)

Picture of Lina ramona VitkauskasLina ramona Vitkauskas (b. 1973, Lithuanian-American-Canadian) is the author of A Neon Tryst (Shearsman Books, 2013); HONEY IS A SHE (Plastique Press, 2012); THE RANGE OF YOUR AMAZING NOTHING (Ravenna Press, 2010); and Failed Star Spawns Planet/Star (dancing girl press, 2006). In 2009, Pulitzer-finalist Brenda Hillman selected her for The Poetry Center of Chicago’s Juried Reading Award, and Another Chicago Magazine nominated her for an Illinois Arts Council Award.

She’s been published in literary magazines such as DIAGRAM, TriQuarterly, The Chicago Review, The Toronto Quarterly, VLAK (Ed. Louis Armand, Edmund Berrigan), The Prague Literary Review, Van Gogh’s Ear (Paris), White Fungus (Taiwan; displayed at MoMA), and more. She is a part-time faculty member at The Chicago School of Poetics, and the co-editor of the 12-year-running online literary magazine, milk magazine (featuring Robert Creeley, Wanda Coleman, Ron Padgett, Michael McClure, and Japanese surrealist, Yamamoto Kansuke, among others).

For over a decade, she has been a part of Chicago’s poetry community as a reader, collaborator, co-curator, co-founder, organizer/facilitator, instructor, and contest judge. Reading series/projects she’s been involved with include: Chicago Public Radio’s “Chicago Amplified,” Myopic Books, Danny’s, Red Rover (@ OUTER SPACE), Dollhouse Reading Series, Woman Made Gallery, Series A, Quimby’s, Balzekas Lithuanian Museum, Wĭt Rabbit, 100,000 Poets for Change, HUMAN MICROPOEM at Occupy Chicago, Discrete, and many more. She has an MA in Composition & Rhetoric: Creative Writing from Wright State University (where she participated in a summer workshop with National Book Award Winner, Nikky Finney) and holds professional certifications from Northwestern University (in philanthropy) and DePaul University (pedagogy).

Other Book Publications:

Range of Your Amazing Nothing

Shooting Dead Films with Poets