February 9th, 2011 / 10:50 pm
Author Spotlight & Random

9 hand-painted maps of imaginary islands

9. I’m sort of blar of folks saying the words in first line “Call me Ishmael” are “so intense and effective that they go down in history.” That’s revisionist as Gary Kasparov. The reason “Call me Ishmael” is a boss first line can be found 212,757 words later.

9. Some good books written by musicians if that’s your thang-a-lang.

9. Anybody else want to ban the word moon from all contemporary poetry?

9. Deb Olin Unferth Revolution ‘review.’ Somebody call roll, because we got a lack of class up in here. Oddly, Mr. Robert P. Baird doesn’t really do any reviewing, per se. He might have read the book, not sure. Here’s a snarky line, not about the actual book, etc:

Today, Ms. Unferth is a narrowly but deeply admired writer of fiction, hailed wherever the names Diane Williams and Gary Lutz hold currency.

Hold currency, oh man. I was actually waiting for MRPB to break into tipsy doggerel next.

9. I should talk a bit about hooking and hooking up and the girl libertine.

Do say.

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  1. wrongtable

      Goat bags

  2. Trey

      I like poems about the moon or containing the moon or mentioning the moon. it is as inescapable in poetry as it is in real life. it is always tugging on your brain.

  3. phc

      i like words

  4. nb aqeel

      i include ‘moon’ in every poem i write. the word (even though ‘moon’ is not just a word to me anymore, it’s pretty much where i come from, but i don’t say it often that i believe i am from there because someone will project their claims of insanity onto me and i simply don’t like that) kept showing up in my writing without me trying to include it so now i just make a space for it because it clearly wants to be there and i don’t care to resist it.

  5. drew kalbach

      what if i use moon to refer to the action of pulling down my pants to expose my buttocks at you? because i’m pretty sure poetry can’t live without mooning.

  6. deadgod

      9 the first. What did Kasparov ‘revise’, other than the Sicilian suicide?

  7. Sean
  8. Sean
  9. Madison Langston

      please no more moon or moonlight

  10. phmadore

      As hard as he seems to be trying, he doesn’t make it sound like a bad read or anything.

  11. Ryan Call

      i just read the whole review and dont think its snarky, sean. he seems to actualyl really like the book.

  12. Sean

      I didn’t think so. I thought he felt it was another default memoir, with a few moments that elevated it. I think he thought it puffery. But now I’m feeling all meta as we review a review. I would like to read the actual book, though.

  13. Ryan Call

      yeah, i can see that, sean. maybe i should have said he appreciated it instead of liked it.

      i read that narrowly quote that you cite and the initial quote about default as his way of setting the context for a way to criticize the memoir within that field. i didnt think his saying that she was narrowly respected was a snark though. same with the bit about a memoir for the believer set. i read those comments as ways he could help the reader figure out if it might be a memoir theyd like. once he established that field, it seemed like he felt able to describe what he liked, how it was quirky, patient, charming, escaping the predictable, despite those other things he disliked.

  14. phmadore

      Additionally, he goes out of his way to acknowledge that Unferth is self-aware enough to note her own shortcomings, which is a charming aspect of any memoir in itself. And she’s admitted her reluctance to the form of memoir in this very blog. I wonder if he reviewed that other guy — Sedaris, I think his name is — who’s memoir about quitting smoking felt very much like something a housewife would submit to Us Weekly but still somehow turned into a NYT Bestseller.

  15. Sam Ligon

      I want to ban the word “bruise” or “bruised” from poetry, especially pertaining to the sky or things in the sky — “bruise of sky;” “beneath the bruised sky;” “cloud bruised,” and on and on. Maybe it should be brews of sky?

  16. Sean

      And when did he address structure, language (with some, uh examples), themes, when did he address POV, the personal, immediacy, white spaces on the page, polyptychic arrangement of her memories, intention and design, her discourse, really at all, style, to approximate an understanding or could I at least get a passage, a line, a word of blood live prose

  17. Sean

      What about hearts that beat like birds, pulses that beat like the hearts of birds, hearts as caged birds, birds

  18. Sam Ligon

      Yeah, there’s been a run on birds, lately. No more birds for a while. And hearts, right. And the soul. Don’t forget the soul.

  19. deadgod


      From http://www.wordiq.com/definition/New_Chronology :

      Jesus is the same person as Pope Gregory VII and Old-Testament prophet Elisha

      ha ha ha, but also puzzling that Kasparov would have been persuaded by arguments of this apparent caliber

  20. nliu

      It’s not much of a review in that it really just summarises content–it would make a great start to a wiki page–but like Ryan, I have to ask: where’s the snark? Sounds to me like he liked the book. Sounds to me like I’d like it to.

  21. Sean

      I will agree maybe snarky was the wrong word. I just felt a smidgen of passive-aggressive with all the “believer” crowd and “narrow” focus stuff. Possibly I was being snarky using the word snarky. I’ll concede that point.

  22. William VanDenBerg

      The words soul, God, and spiritual were all words banned from an intro poetry class I took. Good decisions.