Since I’m feeling so positive, I want to list some books I read recently and loved. My mom would call this “a lick and a promise,” which, now that I think about it, is kind of gross. Can someone tell me what is a lick and a promise? Mom would say it when she only wanted me to do a fast job of cleaning up the living room with the intention of doing a better job later, as I intend to do with these book thoughts about Killing Kanoko, When You Say One Thing But Mean Your Mother, Ten Walks/Two Talks, Poetry! Poetry! Poetry!, The Irrationalist, and O Fallen Angel, below the fold.
First I read Hiromi Ito’s book Killing Kanoko, which Blake wrote about here, then I rethunk masterbatin’. I don’t know but wow, I rethunk diarrhea. Hiromi Ito is called a shamanist in the translator’s introduction, and I suppose that’s because her poetry leads the reader out of this world and into something wild, extremely bright, and unsettling. These poems are so vivid and transparent in their language (perhaps an effect of translation), but also so warped that the language becomes unsettling, homewrecking.
I read Melissa Broder’s When You Say One Thing But Mean Your Mother, which has been written up a healthy number of times, and everyone praises her pop sensibility, her deftness with reference. The cover covers that, with its nod to Some Girls. What pops for me though, is the vivacity of her language. As a preference I hold contemporary culture kind of low, but the vim Broder gives it, like a Sean Lovelace, takes the 7-11 from being a thing on the corner with weird hot dogs and makes it a place in a teenage girl’s heart.
In Ten Walks/Two Talks Andy Fitch and Jon Cotner walk around NYC and talk about the things they see in a really fascinating, non self-conscious way, relating much of it to brainy stuff like ancient Eastern thought. The book is a primer in contemporary aesthetics, and I found it inspiring because of the how easily they communicate their intelligence and personality.
Peter Davis’s new collection, Poetry! Poetry! Poetry! , is just asking to be reviewed. Literally. The poems, each one an address, are not poems so much as they are statements of what the poem is saying, and what they are saying in many cases is: I’d love it if you would write about this poem at your blog or in a review at a very good journal. Davis wants to get a tenure-line job as badly as he wants the reader to like the work. I thought at the beginning that the gag would become tiresome as the poems went along, but on the contrary — the more I read, the deeper the spread and in spite of their homeliness, the book becomes a really beautiful thing. The way this book works will take a long time to figure out.
The Irrationalist by Suzanne Buffam gripped me and I read the first two sections in one sitting. It’s about the end of the world, in part, I think. But my favorite poems are in the second section, “Little Commentaries.” One poem, “On Could,” has taken over my brain a little. It goes something like, “There is no cake in the oven, but with a little effort, their could be.” (I don’t have my copy at the moment, so sorry for the formatting.) This book is from Canarium, and all five of their books are breathtaking.
Oh, a novel: Kate Zambreno has been getting a lot of attention at htmlgiant, with all these interviews and stuff. Based on O Fallen Angel, it’s much deserved and more. The book is palpable, and provoked in me a practically physical revulsion — which is saying a lot, because in general I Don’t Care About Anything. But the characters and the way she writes them, with immediate syntax and more importantly probing judgments, become punching bags for Zambreno’s cruelty. If it weren’t so good I would hate it, and hate her. It is not a true book in its indictment of my very own mother, but it is a true book in its angst, and once you read it you’ll wonder about V and Klebold but you won’t accuse Zambreno of being into NIN, which is what I’m most impressed by.