Reviews

Baby Hedgehogs and American Apparel Dogs: A Review

Baby Hedgehogs and American Apparel Dogs by David Fishkind is self-described as an “epic poetic narrative,” which is what it is — if one considers one’s life since conception (“I was nothing and then I was two and then I was one”) to┬áthe present to be “epic,” a word hopefully employed by the 19 year old with a little sarcasm. It’s easily readable and generous in its candidness. There is a trend of hyper-aware self-conscious writing among younger (I use this word as a description of age, not qualifier) writers which is either the last course of irony, or its propagation. There is a difference between the self-consciousness behind, say, Notes from the Underground and Fishkind’s, the former being a philosophical device, the latter more of a collection of tweets. I don’t say this in derision, only to suggest that our recent technologies (iPhone, myspace, youtube, etc.) have altered our orientation with “the self.” But that’s okay. Fishkind describes autobiographical prosaic experiences (getting erections, going to museums, being in love) with refreshing stoicism met with thoughtfulness:

I become a caricature of myself,
Smiling viciously at something that has not happened yet,
We hold one another in your car and your brother tells you he
hates me.

or,

When I think about the projection of the future I see the past
When I think about the projection of the past I see a tall black
man punching someone I know in the back of the head.

and,

I asked my mother for the keys to the car and I walked around.
One time I sped so much that I thought I would crash into the
universe;
I threw an orange at a wall and it went through the wall and I
was alone.

The question, one might ask, is what makes autobiographical prose a poem? If writing is from the “self,” is not all writing — however veiled in aesthetic fancies and humanist intent — simply egocentric? Fishkind, inadvertently or not, may have addressed this by a single line snuggled by parentheses: “(Don’t achieve illusion),” a line which struck me as a recipe for how he writes: unabashed realism of the absurd contemporary experience, where everything — iPhones, Jesus, Adam Sandler, Arizona — is thrown in the whirlpool of potential meaning (think Warhol, whose name is still creeping around somehow). Fishkind does not edit what makes it into the poem, because, I think, he did not edit it into his life. There is no illusion rendered, for [his] life itself, however meaningless and often depressing, is texture enough. This faith in the “stupid,” is, well, smart.

It is self-published, a career “no-no” admirable in its humility — a key word for Fishkind, for his life, nor the verse which renders it, is really meant to be impressive. Here is a dude who wrote an honest chapbook which, if you’re down with that, as I am, you can read and enjoy. Support young writers, as their feelings are our feelings: old feelings going strong.


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37 Comments

  1. david
  2. david
  3. Mather Schneider

      Baby Hedgehogs and American Apparel Dogs are the Best Things Ever!

  4. Mather Schneider

      Baby Hedgehogs and American Apparel Dogs are the Best Things Ever!

  5. Some people call me Maurice be

      This review is too kind and sounds fishy.

  6. Some people call me Maurice because I speak of the pompetus of lit

      This review is too kind and sounds fishy.

  7. mike

      I kinda of wonder about all this hyper-self-aware lit with all these pepperings of contemporary life, I mean, I wonder if in 30 years it will seem really dated? I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing, I just sometimes wonder if people will read like Tao Lin in 20 years and be like “Lol gmail”

  8. mike

      I kinda of wonder about all this hyper-self-aware lit with all these pepperings of contemporary life, I mean, I wonder if in 30 years it will seem really dated? I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing, I just sometimes wonder if people will read like Tao Lin in 20 years and be like “Lol gmail”

  9. Mather Schneider

      Gotta be a joke. Typical Chen humor. Meaning: not funny, but you’re stupid if you don’t get it.

  10. Mather Schneider

      Gotta be a joke. Typical Chen humor. Meaning: not funny, but you’re stupid if you don’t get it.

  11. Jimmy Chen

      i only write kind reviews because this place needs more kindness

  12. Jimmy Chen

      i only write kind reviews because this place needs more kindness

  13. Matt Cozart

      I read stories from 1980 and am like “lol Betamax”.

      Not really, that was a hypothetical. But it could happen.

  14. Jimmy Chen

      hemingway at a bullfight is dated, but it’s still good

  15. Matt Cozart

      I read stories from 1980 and am like “lol Betamax”.

      Not really, that was a hypothetical. But it could happen.

  16. Jimmy Chen

      hemingway at a bullfight is dated, but it’s still good

  17. Jimmy Chen
  18. Jimmy Chen
  19. david

      like, philip roth thinks newark has a lot of jews, lololol c’mon ferillz?

  20. david

      like, philip roth thinks newark has a lot of jews, lololol c’mon ferillz?

  21. reynard

      oh yeah, i totally hate it when i read rabelais and he’s talking about codpieces and furlongs and when he says ‘ho!’ does he mean, like, ‘an unchaste lady’?

      so confusing.

      why can’t he just say underwear and kilometer and ‘yo!’

  22. reynard

      oh yeah, i totally hate it when i read rabelais and he’s talking about codpieces and furlongs and when he says ‘ho!’ does he mean, like, ‘an unchaste lady’?

      so confusing.

      why can’t he just say underwear and kilometer and ‘yo!’

  23. reynard

      granted, too much of anything is probably a bad thing. i just don’t think being dated really matters very much when you’re talking about something that is contemporary.

      if that becomes a concern later on, and if there are still scholars analyzing the written word in 30 years, it will, if nothing else, be a way for scholars to discuss our epoch’s obsession with technological advances and the rapid nature of internet culture.

      plus, there are always glossaries.

  24. reynard

      granted, too much of anything is probably a bad thing. i just don’t think being dated really matters very much when you’re talking about something that is contemporary.

      if that becomes a concern later on, and if there are still scholars analyzing the written word in 30 years, it will, if nothing else, be a way for scholars to discuss our epoch’s obsession with technological advances and the rapid nature of internet culture.

      plus, there are always glossaries.

  25. effectinfull

      i doubt this is any good. this kid is trying to hard. at first, he tried to be a musician but failed miserably at that and now is self publishing a book? buyers beware i bet this isnt anything special. oh yeah, i forgot to mention that this kid is an arrogant prick.

  26. effectinfull

      i doubt this is any good. this kid is trying to hard. at first, he tried to be a musician but failed miserably at that and now is self publishing a book? buyers beware i bet this isnt anything special. oh yeah, i forgot to mention that this kid is an arrogant prick.

  27. Paul

      i think the review sounds excellent. it’s the non-fishiest review i’ve ever read.

  28. Paul

      i think the review sounds excellent. it’s the non-fishiest review i’ve ever read.

  29. Paul

      oh my god, you’re just so right. SELF PUBLISHING A BOOK!! shame on him, shame on him!!! let lightning strike ye who attempts to SELF PUBLISH A BOOK!!

      curse him for doing something so “arrogant”

  30. Paul

      oh my god, you’re just so right. SELF PUBLISHING A BOOK!! shame on him, shame on him!!! let lightning strike ye who attempts to SELF PUBLISH A BOOK!!

      curse him for doing something so “arrogant”

  31. Mather Schneider

      now that’s funny. I don’t know karate.

  32. Mather Schneider

      now that’s funny. I don’t know karate.

  33. mimi

      Furlongs are what cavemen wore in the winter, furshorts are what they wore in the summer. These were considered significant technological advances at the time.

  34. mimi

      Furlongs are what cavemen wore in the winter, furshorts are what they wore in the summer. These were considered significant technological advances at the time.

  35. Mike

      fishmannnnnnn

  36. Mike

      fishmannnnnnn

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