You Can Make Anything Sad by Spencer Madsen

MadsenCoverYou Can Make Anything Sad
by Spencer Madsen
Publishing Genius, April 2014
90 pages / $10 Preorder from Publishing Genius







Spencer Madsen’s latest book, You Can Make Anything Sad, seems to be a response to a question Spencer asks himself within the poems he writes: Who am I and what am I doing? The poems constantly shift in image, but seem to stay in a general area of themes and moods. He plays with his voice, and style, to create something that feels very much completed, while at the same time quite fragile and open. It’s sincerely insincere, approaching the mundane as if it was wondrous, and the wondrous as if it was mundane.

I move back to Facebook, I type:
If you feel an aversion to me and I don’t feel an aversion to
you, please don’t feel an aversion to me.
I think about how my parents had hoped for more.
I think about letting them down constantly.
I think, at least I’m not a murderer.
Mostly because murderers are very ambitious.


The feeling I get most of all from these poems is a sense of longing. A longing for connection, a longing to feel less exhausted, and a longing for some sort of concrete idea of identity. With this is a feeling of cynicism, a sort of “I know it sucks but what are you going to do about it,” juxtaposed with lines that feel lost and alone.

I look at my hands typing and I make fun of them, only
without words, because that’s how my brain interacts with
my body.

I have this very uncomfortable feeling of doing nothing.
Just sitting. Trying to get rid of it. Eating excessively.
Masturbating excessively.

There is also an element of humor, but a humor that is made to appear as if ‘by accident’. These poems are funny, but they’re  only funny because of how sad and existential the lines that precede and follow them are. It’s the dry, matter of fact tone of the absurd which makes you ask yourself ‘am I supposed to be laughing?’

A new dance called please don’t look at me.
A new dance called some babies look like weird fish.
A new dance called emotionally abusive relationship status
on Facebook.
A new dance called are they any flights that go to my
A new dance called disappointed by this coffee and other
decisions I’ve made in my recent history.
A new dance called talking to your parents becomes
increasingly depressing and necessary as you get older.
A new dance called crying in public places for no discernible
A new dance called things you don’t want to do but should
do but don’t have to do but you do anyway.
A new dance called wishing I was someone else but that
person didn’t have to be me.

I feel like Madsen, in writing this book, is working with the idea that we no longer have one identity, but instead occupy many. He is the observer both inside and outside his body; he extends his subjectivities and hates all of it.

‘ Would read a self-help book called How to feel productive
on the internet.’

But ultimately, these poems seem to come from a person who just wants a connection, physical and otherwise. The poems portray the thought pattern of someone who is in a crisis of identity, and meaning, and is looking for someone or something to help relieve this crisis. The poems are also aware that the position that they take isn’t the only one, and that in fact almost everyone feels the same way. In doing so, the central figure of the poems is fractal; they are a collection of “we’s” using the name “I”.

‘ The most basic subtext of everything people put on the
internet is “Hello.”’


‘ Grasping for something in another person, the way seats
on the train become available right before your stop.’


‘ And if nothing is truly disparate, than there is some sort of
interconnectivity to all matter, something not just material
like carbon or hydrogen, but written within our most
basic perception, where we are able to see that blue and
yellow sort of convey the same thing even though they are
different colors, that a rough surface can be used to make
things soft.’

I feel that this book, as well as being powerful in it’s meaning, is at the same time very fragile. They are fragile because of how well the pieces are written, and if a line was left out or put out of place, then the piece would lose it’s impact; and Spencer is obviously aware of this. And because the work is so technically proficient, this allows the subject matter to become charged with meaning; is it the form or the content which shines through.

Ultimately, what Spencer has achieved with this is clarity. The work is both precise and decisive. It isn’t afraid to be strong and frail at the same time, nor is it afraid to cry when it wants to. This book shows that Spencer truly can make anything sad.

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  1. mimi


  2. Sarah Jean Alexander

      nice job review rhys

  3. Sarah Jean Alexander

      good job book spem

  4. spencermadsen


  5. andrew c

      so can’t wait to read this

  6. spencermadsen


  7. spencermadsen


  8. Mira Gonzalez

      im posting this comment so spencer will pay me

  9. Mira Gonzalez

      i dont own a copy of this book

  10. spencermadsen


  11. spencermadsen


  12. Mira Gonzalez

      u said i would get $1 the second time, thats $4

  13. spencermadsen

      oh yeah sorry. $4

  14. Mira Gonzalez

      spencer is trying to cheat me out of the money he promised ($4.25)

  15. spencermadsen


  16. Sarah Jean Alexander

      4.25 jesus get it together

  17. Mira Gonzalez

      you should buy this book because adam robinson is good and deserves money, idc about spencer

  18. Mira Gonzalez


  19. spencermadsen


  20. Sarah Jean Alexander

      spence paypal my money directly to adam

  21. Mira Gonzalez

      if i keep this up ill be able to buy weed tonight

  22. spencermadsen

      laughing ($4.25)

  23. Mira Gonzalez

      im losing steam

  24. spencermadsen


  25. Mira Gonzalez


  26. spencermadsen

      sorry $4.25

  27. spencermadsen


  28. Mira Gonzalez

      spencer if you paypal my money directly to adam im gonna be so pissed

  29. Mira Gonzalez


  30. Sarah Jean Alexander

      really bad, $4.45

  31. spencermadsen

      i already paid mira $800 for her book

  32. Sarah Jean Alexander

      paypal my money directly to mira’s weed dealer

  33. Mira Gonzalez

      f u

  34. spencermadsen


  35. Mira Gonzalez


  36. Sarah Jean Alexander

      spencer just keeps typing $4.25 all over the place like he is trying to confuse us

  37. Mira Gonzalez

      im gonna go outside and smoke weed but ill be back here soon, i really want $10 ($5.25)

  38. spencermadsen


  39. spencermadsen

      $4.25 i think

  40. Mira Gonzalez

      im keeping tabs, dont let him fuck u up, hes a sneaky little guy ($5.35)

  41. spencermadsen

      i think, technically, $4.25

  42. Mira Gonzalez

      ill find u fucker ($5.45)

  43. spencermadsen

      $4.25 in reality

  44. Sarah Jean Alexander

      hoe much banana for ten dolar

  45. Mira Gonzalez

      sarah and i both had to deal with you living in our homes fucking pay us ($5.65)

  46. Sarah Jean Alexander
  47. Sarah Jean Alexander


  48. spencermadsen


  49. Sarah Jean Alexander

      + box cereal, berry blowwoms

  50. Sarah Jean Alexander


  51. spencermadsen

      can i live with one of you again

  52. spencermadsen

      is there a right answer

  53. Sarah Jean Alexander


  54. Steve

      I’m glad I ordered You Can Make Anything Sad. Now, I wait for my copy.

  55. Sarah Jean Alexander


  56. Sarah Jean Alexander


  57. Sarah Jean Alexander


  58. spencermadsen


  59. spencermadsen
  60. Madison Langston

      too poor to buy this book so commenting

  61. Mira Gonzalez

      not it

  62. Mira Gonzalez

      im stuck w spencer theres no escaping him

  63. Mira Gonzalez

      how much fucking money do i get

  64. Mira Gonzalez

      im rakin in the dough, doing very little with my life

  65. Mira Gonzalez

      i think i can survive without food, im very high (like, ~8.25)

  66. spencermadsen


  67. Steve

      I sent an email. Thanks. Need money for gasoline and booze.

  68. tao lin

      im posting this comment so spencer will pay me

      spencer, a book never arrived to me, i’ll save the rest of this comment for next comment for more $

  69. tao lin

      forgot what i was going to add

  70. Mira Gonzalez

      i think i deserve money for taos comments also, somehow

  71. tao lin


  72. amy_smith_vanilla

      you can make anything sad
      except for me

  73. tao lin

      mira can have my $ on this, feel like i’m not desperate for $4, why am i doing this, where am i, afk

  74. amy_smith_vanilla

      posting to support spencer
      posting to support spencer support my paypal acct

  75. tao lin

      i never got a copy of galley or whatever it was that was coming to me

  76. Chris_Dankland

      I’m 6.8 high

      I just saw someone use the term ‘edge-lit’ online and I wonder if in the future online lit will have a billion micro-genres like music does w/ grindcore & witchhouse & babydaze & softcrunk

  77. moon temple


  78. Mira Gonzalez

      do any of u fuckers think spencer is rly gonna pay u, spencer isnt paying, wake up ppl

  79. moon temple

      fucking sheep

  80. abysmal
  81. Chris_Dankland

      it would be better if everyone agreed to label things according to fruit flavors maybe, or fruit colors like blue and rainbow

  82. Johnny Garcia


  83. moon temple

      n they’ll all only be a ‘thing’ for ~3weeks

  84. Chris_Dankland

      literature moves so slowly and the internet moves so fast, that’s such a big culture clash

  85. Chris_Dankland


  86. Chris_Dankland


      also the book looks good, good job

  87. Johnny Garcia

      who’s here

  88. lloyd goldsmith

      does it have tweets from rappers again, i really want to know what rappers have been thinking but i don’t want to go through the hassle of following them myself

      can i have $3 to pay someone to sort through tweets from rappers and send me the good ones

  89. erica chang

      gonna get this on the jogging, instantly double my money

  90. Rhys Nixon

      I will accept doge coins. Reviewing your book was fun so I guess that’s all the doge coins I need.

      Hype Swag Toothwave Yolo

  91. Alex Manley

      maybe it’s just my mental state but the comments on this are stellar imo

  92. Eric Roy

      “Interconnectivity to all matter” is down my street. Cool post; I will check this out. thanks!

  93. Gabby Bess

      can i have $500?

  94. Mark Cugini

      So far, Spencer owes spencermadsen $12.50

  95. bartleby_taco

      was promised a birthday copy of this book via twitter, as its release date is my birthday (4/29)

      i never received copy

      spencer madsen is full of empty promises

      wouldn’t be surprised if this book didn’t even exist

      wouldn’t be surprised if every single alt lit person i’m friends w/ on facebook is just, like, the cyber-invention of a genius child in a comma, like that episode of cowboy bebop

      this is the state of literature 2014

      frank o’hare is crying in his grave, u can hear him scratching on the inside of his coffin

      i’m gonna be 26

      im listening to u frank o’hare, these are ur children

  96. beachsloth

      I remember the first time I read this book.

      I was dead.

      The second time I read this book I was alive.

      I was more alive than I had ever been before.

      The air outside tasted beautiful on fire.

      Part of me wanted to embrace the shitty environment before I left to go onto another plane the one that would take me to the mountains.

      Right now I am in the mountains and the air is fine.

      Next to me is Spencer Madsen’s book “You Can Make Anything Sad” and I am not sad.

      I am happy.

      I want everyone to drop what they are doing and leave the cities.

      Artists can move out to the countryside, eat wild berries, and be merry or something.

      The words told me what to do and I listened.

      Now I’m a doctor of the most important emotion ever: anxiety, which rules everything around me.

  97. Guest

      I’m a sloth not I sheep

  98. beachsloth

      I’m a sloth not a sheep

  99. Dip Noodle

      Dude, Spence is the ‘Plato’ of our generation

  100. postitbreakup

      i would pay up to $4 for an ebook of this,

      up to $5 if it turns out the typos (they/there, than/then) are just in this review and not in the printed book.

  101. spencermadsen

      those are rhys’s typos

  102. Adam Robinson

      do you have it now?

  103. tao lin

      yes, ty

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