Book Reviews

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"The Mapmaker’s War" by Ronlyn Domingue
Detriot Rock City: The Uncensored History of Rock ‘n’ Roll in America’s Loudest City

Steve Miller

Street: 06.25

Da Capo Press

On first opening this book and reading the foreword, the author is pretty direct—he believes Detroit to be the mecca of rock n’roll and he’ll prove it. By the time I got to the halfway mark of this book, I was be pretty convinced. With non-linear interviews with the likes of John Brannon, Alice Cooper, Ted Nugent and several have-beens and scenesters of a bygone era, you get a solid picture of what it was like to be in the Detroit music scene from the 60s on. The most interesting portion of the book was when they focused on my least favorite music genre—horrorcore. A full chapter is dedicated to the grease paint-clad ICP and their origins, and it puts a unique light on these money grubbing sonsofbitches. If you’re not into horrorcore and reading that section, you still have interviews with members of Death, MC5 and The Stooges. While I read this book, I decided to listen only to Detroit-based music, and it definitely added to the educational experience—I recommend you do the same. –Alex Cragun

Kick Start: Memories of an Outlaw Biker

Ralph “Teach” Elrod

Friesen Press

Street: 04.29

For a concise rundown of Kick Start, look to the subtitle. The book reads like recounted memories, complete with scattered tangents and only semi-chronological organization. Although sometimes blurring my focus on a chapter’s original point, or introducing more characters than I can keep track of, the conversational quality of the narration gives the stories a more personal feel. While less than literary, the writing style fits and brings out the gritty quality of biker life. The lack of analysis keeps the memories entertaining and reflective, instead of reading like an academic study or journal. Elrod details his life from schoolteacher to the road captain of Salt Lake City’s Barons MC, to river pirate and beyond. Kick Start‘s look at the violence, brotherhood, heavy partying and even the political protesting of the 1970s outlaw biker community comes from the inside—not filtered through an outsider, like Hunter S. Thompson’s Hell’s Angels. –Steve Richardson

The Mapmaker’s War

Ronlyn Domingue

Atria Books

Street: 03.05

Domingue’s second novel is a striking legend, set in an imaginary yet familiar ancient land where a young girl dreams of mapping the world, a job far above her station in life. Her relationship with the young prince of the kingdom provides a path to her dream. Achieving it comes with consequences she can neither predict nor stop when she stumbles across a peaceful village full of ancient wisdom, rumored to protect a hoard of treasure. The story is a journal written by mapmaker Aoife in the rarely seen second person, which Domingue handles with exquisite mastery. She creates a semi-magical world without drowning in detail, instead using her word choices to enhance the emotions evoked by a scene. Aoife is complex, her relationships complicated: The way she views the world will strike readers as both unique and soothingly familiar to the immortal parts of their heart. In particular, there is a brave and candid exploration of motherhood and the expectations of women as Aoife wrestles with an unwanted pregnancy and, later, a welcome child. Domingue asks the questions without forcing philosophy or answers on her readers—something that can be said of many of the book’s themes. This is a legend that is touching and satisfying precisely because Aoife’s life draws the map, but tells no one how to walk the path. –Megan Kennedy

“Nein Juan, Juan!”
Ted Ottinger
Self-Published
Street: 02.26

Written as a parody of the romance novels you might find in the grocery stores next to issues of Cosmopolitan or Sports Illustrated, “Nein Juan, Juan!” is abso-fucking-lutely ridiculous. The tale starts in small-town Strudelvegan, Germany, with Olga, our heroine, who runs the local flower shop. On a dark and stormy night, studmuffin Juan Lopez strolls in, and, as fate would have it, a love affair unfolds. Although the scores of typos made it feel like Ottinger wrote the entirety of this novella on a cocaine high one night, the absurdity of the plot makes this a comical read, if only to roll your eyes at such a cliché romance. It’s short enough to read in one sitting, but hardly focused enough to want to. I’m sticking with Fabio next time. –Brinley Froelich

The New World Champion Paper Airplane Book

John M. Collins

Ten Speed Press

Street: 03.26

This book is going to be pretty easy to review. It’s basically about a guy who was able to throw a piece of paper really far. And if you follow John M. Collins’s instructions in the book, so can you. I don’t know if paper airplanes count as origami, but the ancient art of folding paper into cute shit is about to go flying in coach. I’m not the biggest fan of making paper planes in my spare time these days, seeing how I’m not, oh, a fucking 10-year-old. I do, however, like world record trivia. So I was interested to know that the paper plane that holds the Guinness World Record is named “Suzanne.” She flew 226 feet and 10 inches, and is surprisingly constructed of a simple design. There are also many more paper planes, with step-by-step instructions that you can learn, if you are stupid enough to read this book. I’m going to give my copy to one of my nephews, and if he asks me for any help on how to make any of the planes, I’m just going to tell him to throw the actual book instead. –Mike Brown

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