Book Reviews

The Hurricane Lamp: poems.
Sundin Richards
Otis Nebula Press
Street: 04.05
Sundin Richards is many things to many people—a beautiful boy genius and a promise gone to seed. He is also a substantially talented poet, as his new book demonstrates. The Hurricane Lamp, as its name suggests, is both sentimental and antique. In illuminating, it darkens—written here in easy central-casting conceits of Tom Waits, and here in the surprising turns of later Robert Creeley. These short lines are free from the responsibility of the moderns and the existentialist desires of the confessionalists, but like them here is a reaction to western romanticism, fist-throwing and rambunctious.  Richards uses his pages as coy confession, obliquely and without actually enumerating experiences or making accusations at any particular person or event. This is a book of sorrows and ecstatic yelps. Sometimes the spitty bluster of the late Pound is echoed, its fury and confusion as to how “It wreaks the / heart in its / chamber,” is followed with soap opera logic: “That’s high on my/ tough shit-o-meter/ so belly up and order,” At its very best the stanzas are inscrutable and satisfying like sushi.  Richards’ command of the lowbrow word in the service of a moment’s epiphany is mind-tasty in a David Foster Wallace way.  A barroom poet, Caliban-like, he translates gold light and black clouds from the sky of imagination onto paper, for you. –Duncan Shroud

Mini Cupcakes
Leslie Fiet
Gibbs Smith
Street: 03.01
Miniature cupcakes have really caught fire in Utah over the last few years, partly because Utahns have an incredible sweet tooth and partly because it’s hard to feel guilty about eating such a tiny dessert. But trend or no trend, mini cupcakes are awesome. It is even more awesome, then, that Leslie Fiet was able to distill the brilliance of her commercial miniature cupcake empire into a handy, if slightly undersized, cookbook. Fiet is the owner of Mini’s Cupcakes in Salt Lake City—the first bakery in Utah to specialize in gourmet cupcakes. Many other shops have popped up since hers, and very few of them have been able to stick around. This cookbook gives us some insight into why her bakery has so much staying power. Not only does the book walk us through the steps of crafting truly gourmet desserts, it also allows the reader to create many stunning varieties of cupcakes by only slightly tweaking a few master recipes. It also includes tips on why certain ingredients will work better than others (I had no idea that the acidity of cheap cocoa would prevent a good rise). It encourages the reader to bake in small soufflé cups, eliminating the need for special baking pans and making cleanup a snap. In all, this is a fantastic and gorgeously photographed book (photos by Zac Williams) that will allow you to litter your next dinner party dessert table with several dozen varieties of mini gourmet cupcakes. Just don’t try to open a shop afterwards. –James Bennett       

Sasha Grey
VICE Books
Street: 03.29
In our American Idol-centric society, everyone wants to be famous. Internet media and the ability to access anything, anywhere have only fueled our lust for notoriety. Composing a book of photos of yourself scantily clad is an obvious choice for any porn star looking for a little extra fame. Sasha Grey has done just that in the new book/photojournal NEÜ SEX, and she has done it quite well. Filled to the brim with photos taken by herself and her fiancé, the photos reveal a little more about Grey than just the usual penetration expected from a porn star. Along with the plethora of photos, there are a few short stories littered throughout, covering a range of things from life, society’s beliefs and yes, sexuality. This is one of those books that I recommend checking out for a glimpse into the more personal side of someone in such a gritty industry. At the very least, it makes for a great conversation starter as a coffee table book, or I guess if you had nothing else to do, you could use the photos within as some spank bank material. Either/or, it’s still worth a look. –Alpha Braith