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Book Reviews

Looking to read more Indiana authors?

Every month, we’re releasing a book review highlighting a new book by a Hoosier author, reviewed by a Hoosier writer. Check back every month for a new recommendation or look for the review in your local paper.

All Book Reviews

The Complete Writings of Art Smith the Bird Boy of Fort Wayne

“You’ll Want It All To Be True” At first, you think the author Michael Martone is 100% serious in this faux biography about Art Smith, an early Fort Wayne aviator who invented skywriting.   Art Smith (think of a wordsmith with a plane) performs his skywriting stunts, flying for, over, and sometimes through major historic […]

The Ku Klux Klan in the Heartland

As a child growing up in Indianapolis during the 1920s, John Bartlow Martin, later a noted freelance writer and political speechwriter, endured an unhappy childhood filled with family tragedies and setbacks, describing his Brookside Avenue home as living on “a mean street in a mean city.” One stark scene he retained into adulthood was the […]

All He Knew

Helen Frost has a way of carving out interesting characters and shaping deep, rich stories, using the cleverest of a poet’s tools. Her novels Salt and Keesha’s House have always been two of my favorite novels in verse, and her latest book, All He Knew, is another showcase of her master skills as a poet, […]

Be Holding

For Ross Gay, a writer who embodies Lucille Clifton’s assertion that “you come to poetry not out of what you know but out of what you wonder,” a book-length poem is a thrilling vehicle. In Be Holding, Gay’s love of basketball—as a player and fan—finds a fitting muse in Julius “Dr. J” Erving. That he […]

The Way of Imagination

Scott Russell Sanders has always provided us with a way to look at the Ohio Valley, at Indiana and beyond, to make sense of what is around us, and that continues in The Way of Imagination, published this year by Counterpoint Press. Sanders is looking back at a full life lived in Bloomington, more personal […]

Library of My Hands

Library of My Hands by Joseph Heithaus begins like a medieval book of hours, with a richly illuminated capital letter. The introductory poem “Ode to the Letter A” addresses “Aleph’s child”—Aleph being the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, a letter signifying the oneness of God—and then draws forth a profusion of visual metaphors: “point, […]

The Town of Whispering Dolls

Wrong Russia; Wrong Russian: The “Realism” of Susan Neville’s The Town of Whispering Dolls “We don’t take our dissidents out to Duluth and shoot them,” William Dean Howells, editor at The Atlantic, wrote, arguing, at the dawn of the 20th Century, not only that American literature be “Realistic” but that it be a certain kind […]

You Should See Me in a Crown

High school senior Liz Lighty loves being in band, staying under the social radar, and—unbeknownst to all but her best friends—girls. It’s not that it’s a secret, exactly, it just…never really comes up. When financial aid for Pennington, her top-choice college, falls through, Liz voluntarily-but-unwillingly joins the popular crowd in their high school’s annual contest to be named prom queen. The crown comes with a $10,000 scholarship award—just enough cash to get […]

Where the Angels Lived

What does it mean to find the name of a relative you never knew existed?  What would it take to travel to another country to piece together a picture of that person’s life?  What would compel you to upend your, your husband and son’s life to learn about a person who never even appeared in a family photo album?  In Where […]

How Quickly She Disappears

Midwesterners are often characterized as stoic, polite to a fault, and hard workers who do anything they can not to draw attention to themselves. Enter Elisabeth Metzger Pfautz, known to her friends and husband as Else, the main character in Raymond Fleischmann’s debut novel, How Quickly She Disappears. Elisabeth was born and raised in Pennsylvania, a product of a small town and farming community […]