I was a little surprised by the refined craftsmanship of the stories in Stuart Ross's Buying Cigarettes for the Dog. I guess I've come to expect some degree of heavy-handedness or lack of depth in fiction written in a frankly surreal/absurdist mode. Ross's examples, however, display a lot of writerly intelligence in knowing just exactly how far to push a bizarre concept to arrive at a perfectly satisfying aesthetic result. I was repeatedly impressed by the restraint and subtlety shown in dealing with totally off-the-wall characters and situations. The poetry of the language certainly enhances this perception too. In fact, I was motivated to order one of this author's poetry collections because it seemed I was getting some representation of what he could do in that arena by these prose pieces. Needless to say, this is a very worthwhile book.
Zachary Schomburg's Man Suit is a collection of prose poems but, as with so many of these little small press books, such labels are misleading inasmuch as the pieces here seem to be clear examples of flash fiction. And what hyper-imaginitively surreal and LOL funny work this is! I was completely entertained, frequently amazed even, by Schomburg's off-the-wall and extremely clever whimsical flights of fancy. It's the funnest book I've read in the past year or so and I highly recommend it to everyone.
Apr 08, 2010 04:48PM
Holy Land, a prose poem collection by Rauan Klassnik is filled with disturbing imagery of war and violence juxtaposed with wildly surreal renderings of male/female couplings and the natural world. Unlike some other work labled "prose poetry", these most definitely come across as poems and very good ones indeed. I really liked Klassnik's aggressive, unflinching attitude in bringing together very sharply contrasting elements in very creatively clever ways. Bravo.
April 12, 2010 11:05PM
My first encounter with Sam Pink is his newest book, Frowns Need Friends Too, which turns out to be a poetry collection that is riotously funny and off the charts in the absurdity of its biting and caustic imagination. I was sometimes reminded of the self deprecating comedy of Emo Phillips though with Pink, self flagellation or even annihilation is more like it.
Here is perhaps my favorite line in the book (from the poem Holographic Personality Disgrace):
Some people are such assholes that saying, "Look, again, I'm sorry I cut off my thumb and glued it to your baby's head because I thought you'd like him better as a unicorn" means nothing to them."
4.5/5 stars. And I can't wait to get my back-ordered copy of I Am Going to Clone Myself Then Kill the Clone and Eat It.
Finished the very fun little collection of narrative fragments which comprise Notice by the Canadian writer Geoffrey Brown. I came across this title among a favorite books list by Ken Sparling here and the book itself indicates some form of involvement by Sparling in its production. There is obvious similarity with Sparling's own fragmented prose stylings and a good thing too since I love Sparling's books. The story fragments in Notice are if anything even more decontextualized than in most of Sparling's writing but still, there are connections and correspondences which, to some extent, bring things together into something (albeit remotely) like a novel. 4/5 stars.
April 5, 2010 02:19AM
Really liked Zachary C. Bush's poetry collection Angles of Disorder; he mixes wit, whimsy and verbal/formal/typographical creativity in work that is fun for someone like me who has always tended to be mystified by a lot of contemporary poetry. Most of the pieces have a narrative structure and read like wildly imaginative prose. Great stuff; highly recommended.
April 5, 2010 02:19AM
Read another book of poems (albeit prose-ish ones): Kathryn Regina's chapbook I Am In the Air Right Now. Fun and whimsy feature prominently here but with tinges of darkness around the edges. The theme of flying is carried throughout, each poem being narrated by a female who prefers to remain permanently aloft piloting her hot air balloon. Thoroughly charming.
April 5, 2010 04:45AM
Finished another poetry chapbook, The Deviants by Jack Boettcher. A few of these, especially the title poem, were beautifully strange and fascinating multi-layered little journeys. A lot of them had me scratching my head struggling toward some sort of comprehension.