25 Points: The Pedestrians

The Pedestrians
by Rachel Zucker
Wave Books, 2014
160 pages / $18.00 buy from Wave Books

1. The ‘Once upon a time…’-style tone of the beginning of this book reminded me of the short story ‘Clay’ in James Joyce’s Dubliners and what he or someone called the ‘marmaladey-drawersey’ tone it was written in.

2. I really like the phrase ‘sublet bed.’ Sublet properties and the whole poetry of the rented house concept are so often commented on but not sublet beds. Hurray for this.

3. To return to the style and tone for a moment, if we may…(hey that was really formal for a moment wasn’t it, cool) I really like what I’m going to call the circumlocutory descriptions here such as ‘She had a small copper wire inside her. This made conception highly unlikely.’ when she could have said ‘coil’ or ‘intrauterine contraceptive device.’ This starkness really makes me laugh for some reason. In England, there used to be books called ‘Janet and John’ books for small children that used this kind of tone to help the kids learn how to read. They didn’t mention coils or IUCDs but I really think that style transplanted to adult life is cool.

4. ‘Every day she watched the UPS truck come toward her up the/road, make a three-point turn into the driveway before hers,/and pull away’

This is beautiful, man. I can’t say more about it than that.

5. ‘They had not known each other when they were teenagers but/when the radio with the human genome played Phil Collins it/was 1985 bar mitzvah season all over again.’

I have no idea what a radio with a human genome is but the imagery is fantastic that’s just my point I suppose, that’s just my point about this book, the imagery is delicious throughout.

6. Such juxtapositions. Babysitters, Buddhist monks and pole dancing competitions. The world and this book are full of such juxtapositions.

7. Another reviewer worried about this book. They worried about how the main character who lived in the most expensive city in the world (New York) and had trips to Paris and an apparently idyllic bourgeois life with husband and children and so on and yet complained all the time. They worried how this might be taken perhaps. Whilst my own working class proletariat background could go probing into this with my bullshit-detector, instead I was reminded of DFW and his thoughts on his, albeit slightly earlier, generation and how despite all the opulence everyone was still so lonely and miserable and how much of an interesting question this still is (even now the middle-classes have discovered Occupy in their gap year).

8. I’m defending it but it’s ok to worry about that too, I think it’s a valid point. Marxism is one of the better lines of enquiry for me.

9. I have a real affection for the poem called ‘Real Poem’ because it neatly and concisely parodies Poetry (that’s poetry with a capital P) and all its big profundity and arrogance.

10. Reminds me I haven’t had babies yet.

11. The writer often doesn’t want to go places.  Not enough is written about people not wanting to go places. Too much is written about people who want to go places.

12. At first glance the poem ‘Pedestrian’ is kind of Portlandia-ish but in New York.

13. At second glance the poem ‘Pedestrian’ makes me think the John Ashbery line from the poem ‘The One Thing That Can Save America’ at the beginning of this section of the book is apposite.

14. At third glance I’m in love with the poem ‘Pedestrian’ and particular in love with the writer’s worries about whether it is a waste of ink because every writer should worry about that (although there are PDFs these days too and also print on demand and, apparently, fewer restrictions on ink).

15. At fifth glance I catch this: ‘Jeremy thinks I’m selling myself short selling short is what Jeremy as a hedge-fund manager actually does…’. It makes me laugh.

16. Maybe don’t just glance but read. I mean glance if you want to. Glance if you believe the adverts and imagine you have a real busy life, which you don’t.

17. ‘Sarcastic Overdrive’ (p. 112) isn’t actually a good name for a rock band. Not unless it’s a doomed to get nowhere Italian rock band with pretensions managed by the impressionable gangster’s moll girl from The Sopranos and backed by mafia money and even then still doomed.

18. This poem reminds me I haven’t had babies yet. Again.

19. There are actually alot of poems called ‘Real Poem’ in here so point 9 was meaningless to anyone but myself probably.

20. I’m not a fan of poetry workshops but there is a another ‘real poem’ in here that probably illustrates to me just why I am not a fan of poetry workshops. In this poem, she (the writer) uses the word cunt alot in a poem that she has a guy named Eddie write and then watches it criticised by all the females in the workshop and watches this all happen. I think this is why I won’t go to a poetry workshop because for me poetry should never be designed by a committee like a piece of public art.

21. One of my favourite poems in here is the O’Hara like ‘i’m nobody you are too’ with its opening O’Hara like apostrophe and its art gallery setting.

22. I really like how she sounds jaded and dissatisfied with poetry and the ‘official poetry world’ in that one because to me it is a jaded world.

23. I just thought ‘Sylvia Plath.’

24. Recipe for reading this book. Read it if you have children to look after or if you haven’t had children yet and are worried about your girlfriend’s biological clock.

25. For some reason, I wish I’d read the poems first and the prose second. I have no idea why. Why not do both?


Richard Brammer is the author of three books ‘MDMA and Menthol Cigarettes’, ‘Public Dick Punk 83’ and ‘Cult Boyfriend’ that are all available from Amazon here but isn’t the author of the German version of the book about Adobe Publishing Suite and nor is he the author of ‘Cuckoos of the World’. Or just get his free PDFs from Richard Brammer is Unwell.

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