Book News

An Intimate Look at Being Human

Guest Post by Antonio Addessi.

In Anatomy of Want, Lee takes us deep into the intimacy between lovers, the memories they create, hold on to and try to forget but can’t. Through his talent for noticing the small details of everyday life, he arouses all of the senses, often on the same line or stanza.

In poems like “Compliments to the Cook” and “La Cocina,” Lee wafts the scents of fragrant food into our noses and holds up the spoon to our mouths to taste the poems coming off the pages. The longing to love and be loved is stitched tightly into each line as we’re carried through cityscapes with lively streets and dark bedrooms with empty beds all reminding us of lovers lost.

Anatomy of Want is an enticing and heartfelt ode to what it means to give part of yourself to the people you allow close to you. In it we see ourselves as the speaker, the holder of secrets and the teller of truths sometimes hard to swallow. The nostalgia exudes itself onto every page—evoked by memories of sorrow and loss, of growing up too fast and living in an often foreign feeling state that is strangely familiar. Its Americana places us deep in the heart of Manhattan’s subway systems and the long aisles of grocery stores filled with people that infinitely stay strangers. This book is definitely on the edge of what poetry is going to look and feel like for years to come. It is one that deserves to be read and reread for it’s intimate look at what being human truly is.

Anatomy of Want by Daniel W. K. Lee. Rebel Satori Press, 2019.

Reviewer bio: Antonio Addessi is a poet and writer living in New York City. He received his MFA from Columbia University (’20) and his debut book of poetry Sleeptalking, published by Rebel Satori Press, comes out April 2022.

Taking Stock of America’s Two Decades in Afghanistan

Guest Post by Marc Martorell Junyent.

The border between current events and history is a blurry one. David Kilcullen and Greg Mills tread on both sides of this imaginary boundary in The Ledger: Accounting for Failure in Afghanistan. The co-authors have a long experience in Afghanistan working for the international military coalition in the country.

Throughout the book, they manifest their frustration for the chaotic evacuation of US citizens and Afghans that unfolded in August 2021. In their own words, “it would not have taken a rocket scientist to devise a better, more orderly, system.”

Their criticism extends to a much longer time period, however. According to the authors, the West never had a clear strategy in Afghanistan. By focusing on short-term goals, the troops and economic aid deployed to the country did not help build solid structures, but only delayed the collapse of a system based on clientelism, corruption, and the inclusion of former warlords.

Kilcullen and Mills argue that not inviting the Taliban to sit at the negotiation table in the 2001 Bonn Conference, convened right after their overthrow from power, was a key missed opportunity. The US ended up negotiating with the Taliban in the 2020 Doha Agreement from a much weaker position.

The Ledger is particularly strong in the anecdotical evidence it presents, based on the authors’ wide range of contacts among Afghan elites and Western officials. On the contrary, the reader would probably have welcomed a more consistent book structure. The continuous chronological and thematical shifts are often confusing and lead to redundancies.

When it comes to the immediate future of Afghanistan, Kilcullen and Mills defend the idea that the restoration of aid flows to the country is needed for both humanitarian reasons and maintaining a certain influence with the Taliban.

The Ledger: Accounting for Failure in Afghanistan by David Kilcullen and Greg Mills. Hurst, January 2022.

Reviewer bio: Marc Martorell Junyent graduated in International Relations and currently studies a joint Master in Comparative Middle East Politics and Society at the Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen and the American University in Cairo. His main interests are the politics and history of the Middle East (particularly Iran, Turkey and Yemen). He has studied and worked in Ankara, Istanbul and Tunis. He tweets at @MarcMartorell3.

Contest :: 2022 Press 53 Award for Short Fiction Closes December 31

Deadline: December 31, 2021
Press 53 Award for Short Fiction offers a First Prize of $1,000, publication, and 50 copies (ten hardcover and 40 softcover) awarded to an unpublished collection of short stories. Press 53 Short Fiction Editor, Claire V. Foxx, will judge. Enter online through Submittable. Deadline: midnight, December 31, Eastern Time. Winner and finalists announced before May 1, 2022. Reading fee: $30. Complete information, plus a list of past winners at Questions should be directed to Kevin Morgan Watson, Publisher and Editor in Chief at or 336-770-5353

Contest :: Inaugural Emma Howell Rising Poet Prize

Deadline: January 15, 2022drawing of a heron standing on one leg with willow springs books written to the right of it
Background: The contest is in honor of Emma Howell who was born in Portland, Oregon, and died in 2001, at the age of twenty. She left behind a single volume of poetry: Slim Night of Recognition. This prize is an effort to promote the publication of young poets, to honor Emma’s memory, as well as honor the time and effort her father, Christopher Howell, former Director of Willow Springs Books, has put into our press. Prize: $2,000 + manuscript publication. Eligibility: Poets 35 years old and younger who have not yet published a book-length poetry manuscript. Submit:

A Journey of Self Discovery

Guest Post by Mille King.

Patrick Ness’s A Monster Calls represents the term ‘tear-jerker’; it explores themes of pain, loss, and guilt in a real and relatable way. It is clear that Conor, the protagonist, sees himself as a monster for wanting the pain he is going through to be over, even if this means losing his mother. This guilt manifests in a physical monster who he believes visits him but no one else can see. The monster helps Conor through his pain and helps him discover emotions even Conor didn’t know he had.

Ness shows how guilt comes from deep down and we often can’t acknowledge it because we cover it with lies and believe what we want to believe, even when we don’t actually fully believe it. This is a beautiful journey of self discovery and I loved every moment of it.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. Walker Books / Candlewick Press, May 2011.

Reviewer bio: My name is Millie King, I am an English literature major and read not only for school, but for fun too! I always struggled with dyslexia so reading was hard for me but I have overcome those obstacles and am an avid book reader!

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‘The Midnight Lie’

Guest Post by Shaelynn Long.

Marie Rutkoski’s The Midnight Lie is a riveting combination of a society rooted in socioeconomic and hierarchical issues and a young woman who believes the life of crime she has chosen was, in fact, her choice. When the main character, Nirrim, discovers that the rules that were seemingly in place to keep her safe are doing more than that, she partners up with a gorgeous traveler, Sid, to find out more about the magic within the places she’s been kept from.

The story has it all: excitement, a love interest, magic, and mystery. It would also be remiss not to mention the LGBTQ nature of the romantic plotline, which is told beautifully. Overall, the story is worth the read, especially if you’re seeking something rooted in the fantastical that still discusses the problematic nature of the relationships between those who have and those who do not.

The Midnight Lie by Marie Rutkoski. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, March 2020.

Reviewer bio: Shaelynn Long is a Michigan-based author who spends the majority of her free time consuming all the books she can, often while surrounded by her three dogs. She is the author of Blur, Work In Progress, and Dirt Road Kid. You can find more about Shaelynn at her website.

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November 2021 eLitPak :: Tartt First Fiction Award

Screenshot of Livingston Press September, October, November, December 2021 flier for the NewPages eLitPak
click image to open full-size flier

This year’s co-winners were Judy Juanita of Oakland, CA. and Schuyler Dickson of Houlka, MS. Their respective books will come out in June. The deadline for the new contest is December 31. Please see our website for details. And see our forthcoming books, also. Credit cards accepted for all book purchases.

View the full November 2021 eLitPak Newsletter.

Discovering Not New Fiction

Guest Post by Raymond Abbott.

This book is not new, so what you get is not new fiction as the title suggests. New Fiction from New England was published in 1986 by Yankee Books in Dublin, New Hampshire. Twenty-nine stories and not a clunker in the bunch. All were originally published in Yankee Magazine back when Yankee published stories (fiction). It no longer does, and it is lesser in my opinion as a magazine for no longer doing so. The editor then was Deborah Navas, a skillful writer in her own right.

If you’re looking for variety, and solid storytelling, you will get it here, in abundance, that is if you can find a copy. But do try!

New Fiction From New England edited by Deborah Navas. Yankee Books, 1986.

Reviewer bio: Raymond Abbott lives in Louisville, Kentucky.

Finding the Childlike Magic Within

Guest Post by Haydyn Wallender.

For as long as she can remember, Scarlett Dragna has dreamed of Caraval: a magical show where fantasy and reality collide. Legend, the mastermind behind the show, has declined to return any of Scarlett’s letters of urgency to see his magic—until now.

Swept off of her island by a mysterious sailor, Scarlett and her sister Tella aren’t just players of the show—they are the main attractions. Whisked into a world where nothing is as it seems, and with countless warnings to not believe what her eyes tell her, Scarlett learns that following her heart is the only way to find the truth—and her sister—before it’s too late.

Garber’s language and characters make the magic of her story come to life. Creating a strong bond between her readers and her characters using childlike wonder, hope infuses the pages with every turn, despite all the tension, confusion, and panic that is a common theme throughout this novel.

This book marvelously captures what it’s like to be caught in between a child and a young adult, where themes of love, sisterhood, and courage fill the pages. Garber’s ease of writing a story so full of twists using these themes is evident in her style and the composition of her work; each chapter seems to build up to something larger, as if Legend himself is creating the storyline. It is a wonderful novel for all who are grasping for that little bit of child—and magic—still left in oneself.

“Magic will find those with pure hearts, even when all seems lost.” ―Morgan Rhodes

Caraval by Stephanie Garber. Flatiron Books, May 2018.

Reviewer bio: Haydyn Wallender is an insatiable reader, writer and reviewer. Her experience with written work(s) extends back through her undergraduate, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in English at Washington State University. Her writing style and English-based experiences can be found at her website: (

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