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Three new reviews this week on Cleaver’s Review Pages— something for everyone!

THE SENSUALIST | by Daniel Torday | Reviewed by Michelle Fost
The Sensualist tells the story of Sam and his friendship with a recent Russian Jewish immigrant, Dmitri Abramovitch Zilber. The two bond after being mistreated by a gym teacher. Sam becomes smitten with Dmitri’s sister. There are a number of fights with another boy, Jeremy, who also involves himself with the sister. We know from the novel’s opening sentence that it’s not going to end well for Jeremy. We know that somehow he’s going to get beaten up badly by Dmitri and his friends. To Torday’s credit, there’s a lot of suspense in anticipating this attack. I found it interesting that the attack takes place offstage—we learn about it through Dmitri’s recounting for Sam over the telephone what happened… In The Sensualist,Torday makes a case for both conflict and connection being necessary for feeling alive…read full review

NO APOCALYPSE | by Monica Wendel | reviewed by Kenna O’Rourke
Monica Wendel makes every pretense of proving the veracity of her title, No Apocalypse, in her debut collection: as if responding to the question “What are some topics of poetry?” the poet has organized her work in orderly divisions — Politics, Dreams, Animals and Cities, Money and Ghosts — lending an everything-under-control sensibility to the book on the surface level. Indeed, her treatment of what many would consider signs of apocalyptic societal devolution – Wikileaks, the Trayvon Martin case, etc – is surprisingly deadpan, as if, in declarative ending lines, Wendel is grimly calming a gloom-and-doom hysteric… In rejecting the pastoral rivers of classical poetry, Wendel contradicts her neat subdivisions, and this – unlike, perhaps, zombie apocalypse movies or end-of-days premonitions – holds one’s attention…read full review

BARNABY VOL. 1| by Crockett Johnson with an introduction by Chris Ware and art direction by Daniel Clowes| reviewed by Travis DuBose
Crockett Johnson may not have the immediate name recognition of Charles Schulz or Bill Watterson, but his work is a mainstay of American childhoods: he authored Harold and the Purple Crayon and its sequels, and readers of the Harold books will recognize in Barnaby’s protagonist, five year old Barnaby Baxter, the prototype of Harold. Additionally, there are several Barnaby strips featuring a half moon seen out the window over Barnaby’s bed, the final, iconic image of the first Harold book. Harold readers will also recognize the art style: stark, bold lines over simple backgrounds that nonetheless show an impressive command of perspective and space… once the series hits its comedic stride, about half way through its second year, Barnaby doesn’t just walk or run: it flies on O’Malley’s pink and self-important wings…read full review