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Joshua S. Raab, Editor
theNewerYork Book II
theNewerYork Press
US Paperback Original
ISBN 978-4-467-53383-6
Publication Date: 08-01-2012
98 Pages; $10
Date Reviewed:09-24-2013
Reviewed by: Rick Kleffel © 2013

Index:  General Fiction  

If you mention genre literature, the chances are your audience will, not without reason, think of science fiction, romance, fantasy or even non-fiction. The distinctions are useful and helpful to readers. But genre goes beyond this form of sorting. For example, Coffee Table Books are clearly their own genre, generally obeying rules as clear-cut as "military science fiction" or "historical romance." Big format; lots of photos, usually pretty. Low on type.

theNewerYork Book II, edited by Joshua Raab in LA will work perfectly well for many coffee tables even though in most ways it's the polar opposite of a coffee table book. It's a smallish paperback book with lots of type and lots of illustrations. I have Volume II, and Volume III actually "hits the shelves" today. It may be totally different, but I'm pretty sure it'll make a fine coffee table book as well.

Look inside, and you're likely to find a page full of slanted type ranting, or a weird drawing with an equally odd caption. The feeling here from beginning to end is surreal and experimental, printed superbly, with content that lives up to the fine presentation. Prose poems, weird declarations, a few illustrations that might cause a cringe and a few nice color plates; all of this adds up to a wonderfully textured and thought-provoking reading experience. It's really pretty weird. It might frighten the horses.

The big saving grace, the strength of this work, is the sense of humor that informs most of the pieces here. This is the kind of experimental literature that does not take itself seriously. The exceptions to this trend are all well enough wrought to stand on their own, but in contrast with the more whimsical fare, they add just the right touch of seriousness to the proceedings. This is a delicate balance that one might take for granted as one peruses the collection in coffee table book reading mode. The volume I got came with two very nice heavy-duty postcards, suitable for framing or using as bookmarks. (The latter is an honored use around my house.)

Add it all up and you'll find a compact work of inexpensive experimental fiction that you'll poke at for months to come. The illustrations and graphics are handsomely produced. There's a nice follow-on telling you who did what. And even if the issue I got is more than a year old, it feels contemporary. That's a hard effect to pull off.

Of course, alas, the chances are that you're not going to find this at a store near you. Look to the publisher's website, Here's the coffee table book that offers every bit of the entertainment value of its bigger brethren, with no sugar, no artificial sweetener and at about a quarter the price.

Review Archive
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General Fiction
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Supernatural fiction, supernatural horror and non-supernatural horror.

Science Fiction
Science fiction, science fantasy, speculative fiction, alternate history.

Fantasy, surrealism and magic realism.

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