Book Review – A Distilled Spirit by Joseph Pinto

I read this book on my kindle. This is an unsolicited review.


A Distilled Spirit is the debut poetry collection from author Joseph Pinto, the bar fly poet. I loved his dedication: “for you: the wayward, the broken, the pained, the lost, the grieving, the unloved, the lonely, the blackened, the muted, the different, the observant, the rare.” A fitting beginning to observation and rumination he made while sitting in bars, drinking the evenings away. The book is broken up into sections, beginning in the early evening at 7pm and making its way to last call. Pinto sums up humanity, in particular the lost, dark, and sad sides of it, as if watching from the corner, patrons coming and going, sipping scotch and jotting notes or sketches throughout the evening.

There were times I could hear the rise and fall of voices, laughter, muted conversation, bottles clinking, money slapped on the bar, music waxing and waning and a never empty glass. As such, I did not read this in one sitting. Sometimes I read a few pieces, or a whole section, but I felt the need to sober up here and there. The pain, the loneliness, the longing, the spite, the dread, he covers it all. I loved it. I grimaced. I held my heart.

I liked the simple cover and the layout worked great for me. Nice length with just over 160 poems included, not too short or too long for my tastes. I wished, at times, for a break in the darkness, but felt it would have been out of place, had it been included. When I needed a break I took one and came back refreshed and thirsty for more. 4.75/5

Some of my favorite pieces were:
the tree – “she stood alone bowed an ancient tree in the forest awaiting a fall no one would ever hear”
the sweater – the entire piece made me laugh, observing some guy with an ugly sweater and even worse pick-up lines
hand poised on knob – always on the edge of making that one big life changing decision
the room you live in – “your skin as translucent as the lies you tell yourself”
winter’s sunset – “the wind carrying a name turned to frost on my lips”
of a new age – “it bore into me that horrible flaking of rust the anguished drumming of the mechanism she was”
atomic number 26 – “you’ll always view me that way nothing more than your atomic number 26 while the greater part of me flakes bit by bit over time”
burn to your core – “i am charred; i am lifeless without ever having died”

Recommended to those who will appreciate modern free verse poetry about the loneliness of man and the late night reflections.

Additional Note: Mr. Pinto’s third poetry collection, From My Front Steps, is due to release June 5th.


Read more book reviews by following my Review Category.

be a good writer: read.
~tara caribou

**If this review was helpful or you’ve read it and want to add to the discussion, please let me know in the comments!


I will also, as a side-note, say, it may seem that I am harsh on many writers for their editing, formatting, grammar, punctuation, etc. I do so unapologetically. One, because this is a review, not a popularity contest. Two, because honest criticism should help us grow as artists.

The fact of the matter is, these things MATTER. A mathematician must use his tools and use them correctly to be an effective mathematician. A surgeon cannot simply say, “I know I can’t sew the wound closed but at least I could remove the appendix or whatever it’s called.” Same with writers. We can’t claim to be writers but refuse to use proper spelling, grammar, and punctuation. We can’t claim to be a photographer just because we know how to push the button on the camera (or phone). There’s an art to it.

So while I may appreciate the artist as a person and their words, I believe that it does us all a disservice to say lower quality editing is okay. Believe in yourself! Believe in the power of your words! Put the effort into being the very best you can be. Ask for help. Grow and learn.

10 Comments on “Book Review – A Distilled Spirit by Joseph Pinto

  1. I so love your book reviews, Tara. They are always evocative and genuine… and, I sit here sipping on my scotch as I read this. I too agree very much agree with your mention of editing and constructive criticism as well. So important. Cheers 🥃

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Tara, thank you for your kind review (finally getting a chance to read it!). I’m very happy that you enjoyed A Distilled Spirit, & even happier that you included some of your favorite poems from it.

    ‘atomic number 26’ might be one of my personal favorites from my collection, too 😉

    I appreciate your support always, Tara 🥰😍

    Liked by 2 people

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