Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Compulsive Reader Newsletter May

Another month has gone by and the May Compulsive Reader newsletter is now on its way to inboxes everywhere.  I've been trying to get on top of my backlog of reviews so keep adding more and more to what used to be 10 a month.  This month we actually have 16 new reviews and 2 interviews, including Turn Up the Heat's Ruth Danson along with our Compulsive Reader Talks segment with the wonderful Kent MacCarter who reads from and talks about his book Fat Chance, also reviewed. We have 2 new book giveaways including Night of the Hawk by Lauren Martin and The Alone Time by Elle Marr, and of course a huge round up of awards and other literary news from around the world.  If you haven't gotten yours yet, or just want to check it out before you subscribe (for free of course), you can pick up a copy in our permanent archive: 

CR Newsletter May: Justin Gardiner, Patrick Woodcock, Karen Van Fossan, Kent

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Sunday, March 31, 2024

Compulsive Reader Newsletter April

The April Compulsive Reader Newsletter has now gone out featuring a large number of fresh reviews of writers like Ann Patchett, Steven Belletto, Matthew Louis Kalash, Sarah Day, and Bruce E. Whitacre and interviews with David Dvorkin, and at the podcast Robbie Coburn on his new book Ghost Poetry. We also have giveaways of The Deepfake by Joan Cohen and Pure: The Sexual Revolutions of Marilyn Chambers by Jared Stearns.  

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You can check out this month's issue in the archive here:

Thursday, February 29, 2024

Compulsive Reader Newsletter March

The March Compulsive Reader Newsletter is now on its way to inboxes around the world.  This month features a new interview with Kin's Marina Kamenev along with a bunch of reviews of books such as Notorious in Nashville by Phyllis Gobbell, Stephen Davenport's Ninety-Day Wonder, Rambles by Beatriz Copello, An Unshared Secret and Other Stories by Ketaki Datta, and Ask Me About the Future by Rebecca Jessen to name just a few. We also have two new competitions, a big February news round-up, and loads more.  If you can't wait for it to arrive (please whitelist my email address so I don't end up in your spam!), you can view it in your browser.  To sign up for free just visit 

Books in HCRO Dorm Library" by C G-K is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Thursday, February 1, 2024

Compulsive Reader Newsletter - February

The Feb 24 Compulsive Reader Newsletter has now been sent out to inboxes everywhere.  This month's issue includes  12 new reviews from authors like Jennifer Maiden, Patrick Süskind, Sarah Maclay, and Deborah Blume as well as a conversation between poets Mary Pacifico Curtis and Tiffany Troy. A new giveaway for a copy of The Wet Wound: An Elegy in Essays by Maddie Norris, as well as our great big news roundup for the month of January.  

If you haven't received yours or want to check it out you can grab a copy from the archive here

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Sunday, December 31, 2023

Compulsive Reader Newsletter January


The January Compulsive Reader Newsletter has now gone out and is on its way to inboxes everywhere.  This month's issue includes 14 new reviews including One River by Steve Armstrong, the new translation of The Iliad by Emily Wilson, Thieves by Valerie Werder, and The Girl Who Cried Diamonds & Other Stories by Rebecca Hirsch Garcia.  We also have a new giveaway for a copy of The China Shelf by Jennifer Maiden, the usual literary news roundup and an exclusive interview with Valerie Werder at the podcast here:

If you can't wait or somehow aren't getting it you can grab a copy in the archive here.

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Thursday, November 30, 2023

Compulsive Reader Newsletter Dec

The December Compulsive Reader Newsletter has just gone out.  As always the issue is chock-full of new book reviews and interviews including The Lady in The Bottle by Rozanna Lilley, Aboard the Time Line by Bastian Gregory, The Unreal City by Mike Lala, See What I Mean by Charles Rammelkamp, A Brilliant Life by Rachelle Unreich, and lots more as well as 2 new book giveaways, interviews and much more.  To read it online visit: Compulsive Reader Newsletter archive.  To sign up visit:

Happy reading!  

Friday, November 10, 2023

New York Surrealism: On Alice Notley's How to Really Get an Apartment

Here is my third ModPo essay this year. Unfortunately I cannot find the source poem online to link to and I don't want to reproduce here in case of copyright issues so I'll just say that the source poem is from the book At Night the States, published 1987 by Yellow Press, Chicago and is well worth checking out if you can. The book is available on Scribd so if you have a subscription as I do, you can view it on page 49 at the link above.  And just for fun, you can read the much longer title poem of the book here if you're wanting more Alice or can't get to the book on Scribd:


Alice Notley’s “How to Really Get an Apartment” is, in many ways a classic New York School poem. It has all the hallmarks. The setting of course which is probably the most defining feature given the name - the apartment with its buzzer, the landlord, even the sense of the importance of having secured a rental property - its preciousness in the city.  There are the cultural references - the name dropping of Jack Kerouac and the republican salt - one assumes that the line in quotation marks is a slogan in use at the time, and the sequencing from passing by an apartment to securing it - all happening in the present tense and progressing in a seemingly orderly way from one step to the next with multiple uses of the ampersand to indicate the next step forward in a way designed to be intentionally conversational and visual.  There is also the abbreviation of apartment to apt and the four em dashes that create a visual sense of motion in the work. 

The conversational quality here is one that mirrors the breathlessness and easy quality of a discussion you might have with someone over a drink - the intimacy that begins with starting the work with ellipses and a reference “the same building”, as if we had already been talking about the building, and takes on the cadence of a narrative that melds present tense with reminiscence and digression, as if this were an anecdote told to the reader as addressee. This is partly indicated by the title which is a kind of recipe or even a hook - read this and you’ll find out something you need to know, which is humorous because it’s not a standard logic and shaking salt at a landlord and calling it wine will not get you a coveted apartment in New York City.  Besides, it negates itself at the end in the classic New York School way of calling into question the overall tenet of the poem.  

The surrealism here is one that Notley is famous for - her use of dream sequencing.  In this instance that dream logic is in play where each image gives rise to the next one - and the relationship does not have to be the kind we are used to in daily life or “plain time”.  Instead we have building to Kerouac to buzzer to salt to wine to access.  It’s a progression that works perfectly from a grammatical and linear point of view but has a subverted semantics where salt and wine can be synonymous, and where the desire to really obtain an apartment is a desire for what is already there.  The symbolism here is one that has a sonic quality - using free association of sound, including subtle alliteration and repetitions such as “girl” with the repetitions of “get”, the multiple instances of salt, the alliteration of “w” as the poem progresses through the latter part of the poem - “whenever”, “walks”, “Would”, “wine” and the multiple variations on “you” and “your”.  All of these sounds combine to create a gentle motion forward that mimic the progression of walking, forming a small but perfectly formed New York poem.