A scattershot and thematically confusing collection.



Six Arizona-based authors present an anthology of poetry, essays and short fiction from their collective works.

Covering topics as diverse as the craft of writing, relationships, aging and even “Business, Culture and Society,” this compendium showcases the work of six writers hailing from Tucson, Ariz. Divided into 11 sections, their material is indexed as “General Essays,” “Historical Essays,” “Reflective Essays,” “Poetry” and “Short Stories.” But these varied forms and voices don’t always blend into a unified whole. Noble’s reflective essays, in particular, seem out of place; with titles like “Clearing the Deck for Success,” “How to Be a Millionaire” and “How to Be Really, Truly Well,” each essay reads like a chapter lifted from a self-help manual encouraging readers to “Say YES to Life” and “Say YES to Creativity.” Burrows-Johnson’s historical essays are interesting, if not thorough; her “Early History of Tucson and Her Cemeteries” never mentions the beautiful Binghampton Cemetery, established in 1899 in the Catalina Foothills and named Tucson’s best cemetery in 2007 by Tucson Weekly. General essays cover everything from bringing home a new cat (“Joshua Finds a Home,” Cosby-Patton) to putting up with a retired husband (“Retirement,” Lesh). Even the politcal makes an appearance in Sakin’s “A Declaration of Complete Independence.” Sakin also offers up a polemic blaming most societal ills on Starbucks in “Addled.” The pieces are generally quite brief, somewhat humorous and fairly casual. They often read more like blog entries than the sort of well-developed essays fans of the form expect to find in places like Best American Essays. The strongest section in the collection is the poetry, especially that of Cosby-Patton and her “Homage to My Thighs,” which pays homage to Clifton’s “Homage to My Hips,” and “As a Jewel in the Crown,” which asks for “a tried angel / an angel whose silver-stranded / tangled hair / slips beneath a tarnished halo.” Ultimately, this collection would have been more cohesive and successful if the authors had chosen to focus on a particular theme or genre.

A scattershot and thematically confusing collection.

Pub Date: July 20, 2011


Page Count: 230

Publisher: Imaginings Press

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2012

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Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of...

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Hoover’s (November 9, 2015, etc.) latest tackles the difficult subject of domestic violence with romantic tenderness and emotional heft.

At first glance, the couple is edgy but cute: Lily Bloom runs a flower shop for people who hate flowers; Ryle Kincaid is a surgeon who says he never wants to get married or have kids. They meet on a rooftop in Boston on the night Ryle loses a patient and Lily attends her abusive father’s funeral. The provocative opening takes a dark turn when Lily receives a warning about Ryle’s intentions from his sister, who becomes Lily’s employee and close friend. Lily swears she’ll never end up in another abusive home, but when Ryle starts to show all the same warning signs that her mother ignored, Lily learns just how hard it is to say goodbye. When Ryle is not in the throes of a jealous rage, his redeeming qualities return, and Lily can justify his behavior: “I think we needed what happened on the stairwell to happen so that I would know his past and we’d be able to work on it together,” she tells herself. Lily marries Ryle hoping the good will outweigh the bad, and the mother-daughter dynamics evolve beautifully as Lily reflects on her childhood with fresh eyes. Diary entries fancifully addressed to TV host Ellen DeGeneres serve as flashbacks to Lily’s teenage years, when she met her first love, Atlas Corrigan, a homeless boy she found squatting in a neighbor’s house. When Atlas turns up in Boston, now a successful chef, he begs Lily to leave Ryle. Despite the better option right in front of her, an unexpected complication forces Lily to cut ties with Atlas, confront Ryle, and try to end the cycle of abuse before it’s too late. The relationships are portrayed with compassion and honesty, and the author’s note at the end that explains Hoover’s personal connection to the subject matter is a must-read.

Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of the survivors.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5011-1036-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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A flabby, fervid melodrama of a high-strung Southern family from Conroy (The Great Santini, The Lords of Discipline), whose penchant for overwriting once again obscures a genuine talent. Tom Wingo is an unemployed South Carolinian football coach whose internist wife is having an affair with a pompous cardiac man. When he hears that his fierce, beautiful twin sister Savannah, a well-known New York poet, has once again attempted suicide, he escapes his present emasculation by flying north to meet Savannah's comely psychiatrist, Susan Lowenstein. Savannah, it turns out, is catatonic, and before the suicide attempt had completely assumed the identity of a dead friend—the implication being that she couldn't stand being a Wingo anymore. Susan (a shrink with a lot of time on her hands) says to Tom, "Will you stay in New York and tell me all you know?" and he does, for nearly 600 mostly-bloated pages of flashbacks depicting The Family Wingo of swampy Colleton County: a beautiful mother, a brutal shrimper father (the Great Santini alive and kicking), and Tom and Savannah's much-admired older brother, Luke. There are enough traumas here to fall an average-sized mental ward, but the biggie centers around Luke, who uses the skills learned as a Navy SEAL in Vietnam to fight a guerrilla war against the installation of a nuclear power plant in Colleton and is killed by the authorities. It's his death that precipitates the nervous breakdown that costs Tom his job, and Savannah, almost, her life. There may be a barely-glimpsed smaller novel buried in all this succotash (Tom's marriage and life as a football coach), but it's sadly overwhelmed by the book's clumsy central narrative device (flashback ad infinitum) and Conroy's pretentious prose style: ""There are no verdicts to childhood, only consequences, and the bright freight of memory. I speak now of the sun-struck, deeply lived-in days of my past.

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 1986

ISBN: 0553381547

Page Count: 686

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 30, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1986

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