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25 Points

Reviews

25 Points: Mother of a Machine Gun

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Mother of a Machine Gun
by Michael J. Seidlinger
Lazy Fascist Press, 2014
100 pages / $7.95 buy from Amazon

1. When I first read the title, I pondered the possibility of an automatic weapon being successfully birthed from a woman’s vagina. (Pretty sure your genitalia would never be the same.)

2. The writing style of Mother of a Machine Gun reminded me of some strange Dr. Seuss book I read as a child.

3. Michael J. Seidlinger is a fucked up Dr. Seuss.

4. Kind of wonder if Seidlinger’s mother has read Mother of a Machine Gun and whether or not she thought it should be “critically acclaimed.”

5. Pondered the economic and environmental costs of having so many one-line paragraphs.

6. To go along with point #5, probably should’ve put in pictures or something to fill in the vast amount of white space.

7. To go along with points #5 and #6, the vast amount of white space and one-line paragraphs make for a quick read. (Could be a positive or negative thing depending on whether or not you like the book.)

8. Mother of a Machine Gun is a story of denial.

9. Mother sucks at being a mother.

10. Mother probably shouldn’t be left to go on a crusade to find her son.

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September 25th, 2014 / 4:30 pm

Reviews

25 Points: The Road to Emmaus: Poems

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The Road to Emmaus: Poems
by Spencer Reece
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2014
144 pages / $24.00 buy from Amazon

1. I have always had a thing for men of God.

2. Spencer Reece is an Episcopalian minister. Do not let this turn you off. If you do, you will be doing yourself a great disservice.  You will be denying yourself something sight unseen.

3. The priest at my father’s funeral was a radical one. His name was Father Pat, and he was a notorious IRA sympathizer. At the service, Father Pat was treated like a rock star. At his own funeral, my father was upstaged.

4. Reece did not become a minister until he was 48 years old. It took him eleven years to write the poems in The Road to Emmaus. I find this to be strangely reassuring; I always feel like I am rushing, trying to make up for lost time.

5. In 2010, Reece served at the only all-girl orphanage in Honduras, Our Little Roses, in San Pedro Sula. San Pedro Sula is the murder capital of the world. At a reading from this book that I attended last week, Reece told a story of a friend’s attempt to raise money for the orphanage from a wealthy benefactress. The woman agreed to make the donation, saying, “How else will Honduras get its maids and prostitutes?”

6. A year after my father’s death, Father Pat was arrested for laundering money for weapons to the IRA.

7. The Road to Emmaus refers to a story in the Gospel of Luke where Jesus makes an appearance to two of his disciples as they leave Jerusalem for the city of Emmaus, two days after Jesus’ crucifixion. The two disciples are leaving Jerusalem, perhaps for good, because of the events surrounding Jesus’ death. A man appears to the disciples on the road; he does not identify himself, and the disciples don’t recognize him. Instead, as he walks with them, the man corrects their misinterpretations about what has transpired; telling them it was all in line with God’s plan. Still not recognizing the man as Jesus, the disciples invite him to eat with them. Later, when they finally recognize him as Jesus, he disappears.

8. Reece describes himself as coming to religion “tentatively.” He told the Poetry Society of America that he feels a connection to T.S Eliot, who was also devout. Like Eliot, many of Reece’s poems mix verse with prose. “When I try to write, his example is never far from my mind. At times, I’d like to think I am in conversation with him,” Reece has said.

9. I have dreamed in lyrics from “Me and Julio Down by the School Yard.”  And when the radical priest comes to get me released...I blame the Berrigan Brothers.

10. The story of Reece’s road to publication is oft-repeated. He wrote for over two decades, mostly alone, sometimes while living in farm house/ bird sanctuary in Minnesota, publishing only a handful of poems over that time. He sent out the manuscript for his first book of poetry, The Clerk’s Tale, to over 250 first- book contests without success. In 2003, he won the Bakeless Poetry Prize, judged that year by Poet Laureate Louise Glück.  The title poem from The Clerk’s Tale was made into a short film by James Franco while Franco was a student at NYU. The poem is a story of the day in the life of Reece, and an older gay co-worker, as they go about their work day at a Brooks Brothers in the Mall of America.

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September 23rd, 2014 / 1:56 pm

Reviews

40 Points: Witch Piss

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Witch Piss
by Sam Pink
Lazy Fascist Press, 2014
112 pages / $8.95 buy from Amazon

1. Lot of 40s get drunk in Witch Piss.

2. So, take a pull.

3. King Cobras to be specific.

4. King Cobras are dirt cheap at just $1.99.

5. It’s hard to get an idea of the narrator.

6. Early on, he decides to be a ‘yes man.’

7. “I decided then to only ever encourage people, no matter what they wanted to do.  To get through life by saying yes to everything, so no one could say I didn’t get what I wanted, and also so nobody would dislike me.”

8. Most everything he says is deflective in this way.

9. The reader does, I think, get a glimpse of the narrator when he shares his thoughts every now and then.

10. “Imagining myself enlarged, inhaling the smoke off a burning cop as he scream ‘no no no’ – unable to even touch his agonizing face because his skin’s so blistered.”

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September 18th, 2014 / 5:18 pm

Reviews

25 Points: Crystal Eaters

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Crystal Eaters
by Shane Jones
Two Dollar Radio, 2014
172 pages / $16.00 buy from Two Dollar Radio or Amazon

0. (is) The number of fucks Shane Jones gave when he wrote Crystal Eaters.

1. Like let’s be honest. Crystal Eaters really, is Shane Jones’ giant middle finger to the publishing industry and I love it. (Like, New York City, aka: where the big book-type stuff happens). (*cough* *cough* Penguin Books *cough*).

2. I like that Crystal Eaters was released via a small indie press like Two Dollar Radio and not Penguin Books. Really. And I don’t know why.

3. That’s a lie.

4. Actually, I do know why.

5. When Shane Jones wrote that article about his shitty experience with (publishing and editing) Daniel Fights a Hurricane, I kept thinking to myself: so, for his next book, is he going to try and come up with something super-boring and ultra-generic/fake for the suits so they will sign him for another deal or is he just going to keep doing his own thing and not sell out?

6. Crystal Eaters pretty much answered my question.

7. Really, for me, the experience of reading Crystal Eaters felt a little like watching Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Holy Mountain, in the sense that it is a contemporary fable “of what social engineering caused by greed has done to the modern world, but shows us how to live and not give in to a material world.”

8. (Isn’t it weird how the IMDb synopsis for Holy Mountain just blends beautifully with/and works as a sort of faux-narrative for Crystal Eaters?)

9. The cover, I love. It’s this highly colour-fucked version of Elias Martin’s pen drawing of the Dannemora mine circa 1780-1800. (Or, at least, what I think looks like a highly colour-fucked version of Elias Martin’s pen drawing of the Dannemora mine circa 1780-1800).

10. And it’s neat to think that the art for Crystal Eaters isn’t anything custom-made (like the covers for Light Boxes and Daniel Fights a Hurricane) but something that comes from something that already existed in this world prior to Shane Jones ever even coming up with Crystal Eaters.

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September 16th, 2014 / 2:30 pm

Reviews

25 Points: New Tab

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New Tab
by Guillaume Morissette
Véhicule Press, 2014
224 pages / $19.95 buy from Véhicule Press or Amazon

1. Morissette’s second full-length is set in a hip neighborhood in Montreal. Characters drink cheap beer, ignore their parents, promote cinema.

2. As an American, the most striking cultural moment in this Canadian novel was when two of the characters discussed, without guilt, never having seen The Shawshank Redemption.

3. New Tab tells the story of roommates born on Craigslist—their complex negotiations with landlords, utility companies, each other.

4. The narrator Thomas, a writer in his 20s, sulks through a dayjob designing video games for palmheld devices. At night he sneaks beers into dance clubs and hosts house parties. He attends a Creative Writing Program where he befriends the hard-partying, socially uninhibited Shannon. He falls in love with Romy, a walking distressed sweatshirt. Recalling a breakup conversation with Romy to Shannon, Thomas admits: “it’s like we were talking about golf.”

5. While reading this novel I kept thinking of my mother: Girls grow up faster than boys do.

6. New Tab is a page-turner.

7. I read it on vacation. I also read other books. I kept swiping out of those books to get back to New Tab.

8. I read on beer-stained hammocks and undercrowded chicken buses. I read in a colorful doorway and at a taco bar where body-obsessed Australians were puking up cheladas. I wanted to read New Tab when I couldn’t digest soccer. Like on July 4th during a long lunch when it took me the whole meal to realize Germany was in brown and the French were in black.

9. Morissette has a considerable talent for dialogue, and by that I mean everyone is written the same way.

10. I was eager to read New Tab after reading Morissette’s first book, I Am My Own Betrayal. I remember being deeply moved by this thought in the poem “Vaster Emptiness Achieved”:

We write poetry, people hate us, do we really have to hate each other also?

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September 9th, 2014 / 1:46 pm

Reviews

25 Points: Wish I Was Here

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1. I cannot explain how excited I was to see this film. I watched Garden State and listened through the new soundtrack to prepare for, what I figured was going to be, an emotional experience.

2. The opening monologue was a little unnecessary. (I think he says the same damn thing, like, three times throughout the whole film.)

3. Zach Braff must be one of those “California Dads” who yell obscenities in front of their children, smoke weed in the drop off lane in front their kid’s school, is an unemployed “artist,” and is constantly having an existential crisis.

4. Zach Braff seems uncomfortable with being Jewish.

5. Things I didn’t expect to see in this film: Zach Braff masturbating.

6. This is the most attractive I’ve ever seen Kate Hudson.

7. Thought it was cool when I realized that Zach Braff’s son, Tucker, (played by Pierce Gagnon) is the “Rainmaker” from Looper. (How the hell did he get into this movie?)

8. Zach Braff clearly has daddy issues. (See Garden State for further evidence.)

9. Can’t believe Zach Braff doesn’t at least have a part-time job or something. His father pays for his children’s schooling, his wife brings home the bacon, and I guess Braff just sits there and studies his lines all day.

10. What I learned from this film: God doesn’t care about your dreams.

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September 4th, 2014 / 2:26 pm

Reviews

25 Points: On the Road

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On the Road
by Jack Kerouac
Penguin, 1999
304 pages / $17.00 buy from Amazon

1. First thing I read by Kerouac was On the Road.

2.  After that I read Dharma Bums, Big Sur, Mexico City Blues and a lot of other Beat shit (the most obscure of which was this poet Bob Kaufman who didn’t write his poems but walked up to ppl in cars at stop lights and spouted them then and there.  After JFK died he went into a 10 year silence.  When it ended the first words he spoke were: “To all those ships that never sailed” and then some more.  I got that quote transcribed on my iPod.  The iPod broke last summer.)

3. Big Sur is my favorite.  The last few lines – that turn, that blink – I want it to be true and I think it is.

4. I first read On the Road my junior year in high school.  It was just what I needed.  I was bored.  I called it depression at the time, but really I was just bored.  I wanted to get my kicks.

5. When I got to college and read more “literature,” I grew wary of my early infatuation with the Beats.  It seemed juvenile.  I was eager to reread so I could dismiss it.

6. Then I reread it my junior year in college and  I still liked it.

7. Dean is a crazy motherfucker.

8. I want to “sweat” like Dean.  Of all the words I got from Kerouac (“blow,” “ball that jack,” “kicks”) I think sweat is my favorite. Dean gets going a hundred miles an hour just sitting there talking, scheming, licking his lips.

9. I’m not sweating. When I do sweat I don’t sweat for the reason Dean sweats.  I sweat because its hot out or I’m nervous.

10. On the Road is very much of its moment: cars, San Francisco, the attempt to lay naked the psyche.

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September 2nd, 2014 / 1:15 pm