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A Critical Look

Tressie McMillan Cottom's essay collection Thick (The New Press) "takes up the question...: how are American institutions designed 'so that most of us always fail?'" In her review for LA Review of Books, Maggie Levantovskaya explains that "the collection reflects the author’s versatility and multifaceted-ness as she tackles topics ranging from Miley Cyrus to academia’s structural racism; she combines theory and slang, and speaks frankly about her desire to be 'a socialist black feminist' while retaining a membership to Amazon Prime."
In their interview in Entropy Alex DiFrancesco describes to Andrew Byrds how their essay collection Psychopomps (Civil Coping Mechanisms) came to be: "I think the book sort of blossomed out of from the essay 'Psychopomps,' which deals with trans people metaphorically guiding each other from one life to the next, sometime in positive ways, sometimes in really awful ways. In writing it, I wanted to show the breadth and individuality of the trans community, while also weaving in this notion that’s really present in trans and queer history that trans identity was once this sacred role in society. That essay sort of sums up how I feel about trans community and the world in general: the potential and the harsher realities that exist side by side."
"Captivating, intense, intriguing."  In a gushing review of Sophie Last Seen by Marlene Adelstein (Red Adept Publishing), Linda Zagon gives us a glimpse of Jesse, a mother whose daughter Sophie disappeared at the mall six years earlier. Through vivid descriptions of quirky, complicated characters, Adelstein creates a suspenseful story about a mother's search for the truth about what happened to her daughter, toughing on themes of forgiveness, acceptance, faith, hope, and love. 
 
"Stephanie Allen's debut novel, Tonic and Balm (Skyhorse Publishing), concerns itself with a medicine show traveling in Pennsylvania during the summer of 1919."  Katharine Coldiron describes it as "a deeply sad book, full of heartbreak and injustice," in The Master's Review, praising Allen's ability to render odd characters as well as the quality of her writing on the sentence-level. A loose connection of networked short stories, "the book still treats the more general turn of entertainment toward recorded, non-nomadic forms as a sorrow. It’s an unusual book on an unusual topic, and a fine fictional chronicle of a lost art."
An Inside Look
Yes, I'm a bit late for Valentine's Day. My editor can confirm I struggle with deadlines. This month I invited small press authors to write love letters to their publishers: the people who believe in our work and expend their energy putting it out into the worldoften when many others have already said no; who engage with and improve our books and make sure they have nice covers to wear out in public; the people who want to hear the stories we have to tell, and think other people should hear them too. Yes, 7.13 Books, this is my Valentine to you. This newsletter is a Valentine to all the rest of you small press publishers out there. Thanks for the work you do.
In the Inside Look column I'll share with readers a bit about my own writing life and experiences publishing my debut novel with the small press 7.13 Books. I'll also be reaching out to other writers, publishers, cover designers, book reviewers, and independent literary magazines and journals to learn more about the small press landscape. If you have an idea for the column, please feel free to reach out! 
Another Look
I want to start by saying that I don't read many romances, and when I do I don't generally like them. I know this says more about me than about the genre, but there you go—they're just not my thing usually. So, that said, I'm genuinely abashed by how much I love Patience & Sarah by Isabel Miller (Arsenal Pulp Press, reissue). I read this entire book with a smile on my face and a smile in my heart, as embarrassed as I am to write that. The story (originally published in 1969) is a romance between two women in 1800s New England, who forge a life together with no models of how to make a life like this work. It's one of the best examples of perspective switching that I've ever read, with such distinct voices and insights as the women each tell part of the story in their own style. This isn't just a romance—it has a compelling story, real feeling, in-depth character development, believable tension, a lot of unexpected humor, and excellent writing. Or maybe that's everything a romance should be, in which case this is the height of the genre.
Each month, Another Read Through owner Elisa Saphier will choose a small press book released a year or more ago for our Another Look column. Based in Portland, Oregon, Another Read Through ships, so if you want to order any of the books featured in Magnify, follow the links to order them from Elisa
Thanks so much for reading Magnify! If you have a review of a recent small press book you'd like to see included in our Critical Look, or questions about life as a small press author, feel free to contact me. See you next month! 

 
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