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Jim Cox Report: June 2022

Dear Publisher Folk, Friends & Family:

The fundamental missions of the Midwest Book Review are to promote literacy, library usage, and small press publishing. But there is also a fourth mission.

When I was 17 and in the US Military (first the Utah National Guard and then the US Army Reserve) I took an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States from all enemies, foreign and domestic. Now 62 years later I feel that I am still bound by that oath. So as a personal prerogative (and because I got a review copy from the publisher in my role as the editor-in-chief of the Midwest Book Review) I want to share with you a very special book showcasing the reason why one of the pillars of American democracy and its Constitution is that of a citizenry that is informed, influenced, and inspired by the written word -- words written by authors and publishers dedicated to the same oath I took so many years ago -- and am still keeping faithful to.

Read Dangerously
Azar Nafisi
Dey Street Books
c/o William Morrow & Company
9780062947369, $26.99, HC, 240pp

Synopsis: What is the role of literature in an era when one political party wages continual war on writers and the press? What is the connection between political strife in our daily lives, and the way we meet our enemies on the page in fiction? How can literature, through its free exchange, affect politics?

A galvanizing guide to literature as resistance, with the publication of "Read Dangerously: The Subversive Power of Literature in Troubled Times", author, academician, and political activist Azar Nafisi seeks to answer these questions. Drawing on her experiences as a woman and voracious reader living in the Islamic Republic of Iran, her life as an immigrant in the United States, and her role as literature professor in both countries, she crafts an argument for why, in a genuine democracy, we must engage with the enemy, and how literature can be a vehicle for doing so.

Structured as a series of letters to her father, who taught her as a child about how literature can rescue us in times of trauma, Nafisi explores the most probing questions of our time through the works of Toni Morrison, Salman Rushdie, James Baldwin, Margaret Atwood, and more.

Critique: Thoughtful and thought-provoking, inspired and inspiring, exceptionally well organized and presented, and occasionally iconoclastic, "Read Dangerously: The Subversive Power of Literature in Troubled Times" must be considered essential reading for not just the general public with an interest in preserving democracy with respect to today's political climate at home and abroad, but also authors and small press publishers with an interest in the politics of censorship, the political aspects of literary criticism, and the role of books and reading in shaping and influencing American political culture.

Each of us as members of the publishing industry should give careful attention what Azar Nafisi has to say on these subjects.

While unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library Political Science & Literature collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, academia, political activists and writers, as well as non-specialist general readers with an interst in the subject that "Read Dangerously: The Subversive Power of Literature in Troubled Times" is also availble in a digital book format (Kindle, $13.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Blackstone Audio, 9781799953197, $34.99, CD).

Editorial Note: Azar Nafisi is the author of the multi-award-winning "Reading Lolita in Tehran", as well as "Things Iíve Been Silent About", "The Republic of Imagination", and "That Other World". Formerly a Fellow at Johns Hopkins Universityís Foreign Policy Institute, she has taught at Oxford and several universities in Tehran.

As the editor-in-chief of the Midwest Book Review I'm sent all manner of materials from expert freelance 'book shepards' and publicists on the subject of the publishing and marketing of books. Dick Margulis Creative Services

is just such a one and he sent me a rather impressive poster chart (24" x 18") titled "Be The Publisher". It clearly plots out in a linear presentation the process of publishing (including self-publishing) from beginning to end. This includes such elements as starting the book and completing the manuscript, to the various functions of the author, an editor, the design and publisher functions. In a clear, color coded presentation all in one throughly 'user friendly' and informative poster chart, "Be The Publisher" will prove to be a welcome instructional guide to make sure that in the entire process of transforming a manuscript into a finished book all the bases are covered in their proper chronological order. You can find out more (as well as see) about this useful and highly recommended poster at

Now here is a review of a new book of interest to aspiring writers:

Infographic Guide to Creating Stories
Hank Quense
Strange Worlds Publishing
9798985309713, $24.99, PB, 118pp

Synopsis: Do you have a story struggling to come out? Do you know how to write it down? Or how to tell it? Writing a story involves weaving many elements together to create a singular tale. If you're stumped on how to get started then giving the "Infographic Guide to Creating Stories: Learn How to Write a Story" by the award-winning author Hank Quense is a good way to begin.

In this basic 'how to' instructional guide and DIY manual, Quense tells you how to create your story. He believes that stories come from the melding of three elements: getting ideas, story design and story-telling. Ideas have to come from the author. "Infographic Guide to Creating Stories" concentrates on the last two.

"Infographic Guide to Creating Stories" concentrates on developing characters including such rarely discussed requirements such as a dominant reader emotion and the character's biography.

Plots are also covered in depth and a number of graphics are included to illustrate complex points. Still section discusses subplots and how to utilize them and how to nest them within the main plot. A separate chapter discusses the relationship between the plot and the emotional arcs.

Other topics covered in "Infographic Guide to Creating Stories" include: character arcs, scene design, point-of-view, writing voice and more.

Critique: A complete course of 'how to' instructions on the art and craft of writing stories other people would enjoy reading, "Infographic Guide to Creating Stories: Learn How to Write a Story" is comprehensive and thoroughly 'user friendly' in organization and presentation. Highly recommended to the attention of all aspiring writers, and while also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99), "Infographic Guide to Creating Stories" is an especially useful and commended addition to personal, professional, community, college, and university library Writing/Publishing collections and writer workshop curriculums.

Editorial Note: Hank Quense has a blog at blog: He can also be followed Twitter at, on Facebook at, and on the Writers and Authors Resource Center

"The Midwest Book Review Postage Stamp Hall Of Fame & Appreciation" is a monthly roster of well-wishers and supporters. These are the generous folk who decided to say 'thank you' and 'support the cause' that is the Midwest Book Review by donating to our postage stamp fund this past month:

Ryan Neely
Deborah Brosseau
Joanna Slan -- "Law, Fully, Dead"
Nancy West -- "Nine Days to Evil"
Krista Ehlers -- "Daze of Isolation"
Chris Enss -- "The Widowed Ones"
Anna Marie Hernandez -- "A Teacher's Cookbook"
Birke R. Duncan -- "The Troll Tale & Other Scary Stories"
Tracy S. Deitz -- "Employed By God: Benefits Packaged With Faith"
Oreste J. D'Aversa -- "I Didn't Get a Chance to Say Good-Bye - Now What Can I Do?"
Inspired Press Limited
Elizabeth Frazier -- Waldmania! PR
Eileen Duhne -- Eileen Lynne Duhne PR

In lieu of (or in addition to!) postage stamp donations, we also accept PayPal gifts of support to our postage stamp fund for what we try to accomplish in behalf of the small press community. Simply log onto your PayPal account and direct your kindness (in any amount and at your discretion) to the Midwest Book Review at:

SupportMBR [at]

(The @ is replaced by "[at]" in the above email address, in an attempt to avoid email-harvesting spambots.)

If you have postage stamps to donate, or if you have a book you'd like considered for review, then send those postage stamps (always appreciated, never required), or a published copy of that book (no galleys, uncorrected proofs, or Advance Reading Copies), accompanied by a cover letter and some form of publicity release to my attention at the address below.

All of the previous issues of the "Jim Cox Report" are archived on the Midwest Book Review website at If you'd like to receive the "Jim Cox Report" directly (and for free), just send me an email asking to be signed up for it.

So until next time -- goodbye, good luck, and good reading!

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive, Oregon, WI, 53575

James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575-1129
phone: 1-608-835-7937

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