“This chaste book could be titled The Story of O. Ryo Yamaguchi rhapsodizes, if more quietly, in the mood of Keats when he exclaims “O for a Life of Sensations rather than of Thoughts!”:
O machine, O accord, I no longer ask the things I need
not ask . . .
the slow atmosphere of story has refused too long
to seat my rhythms, and I
have refused to elaborate myself through its lines.
His drama of sensate consciousness is based on the refusal (ergo the title) to follow the suit of narrative poetry, in favor of the mind’s free play. Yet one may legitimately ask, as we sometimes do of historical novels, whether the writer courts anachronism or rather renews the proposition. In the case of Yamaguchi, the answer is complex. . .
Read the review at Cleaver Magazine.
These poems certainly elicit skepticism, but they are more than simple conceptual or design exercises. They have an oddly effective way of opening up. This is the sort of art you think you could easily make, but when you sit down to it, you make something of horribly poorer quality. Artful elimination requires a deeply tuned dedication, a kind of mental conditioning. This is how John Beer—former assistant to Lax and editor of this collection—roughly describes it in his wonderful introduction: during the writing of these poems, Lax led a spare, if not ascetic life on the Greek islands, handwriting notebooks worth of work—several poems a day—from which he would later select and typeset only the very best “worthy of preservation.”
Read the review at Michigan Quarterly Review
Hemmed in by questions, suspended over days that mete out incremental evidence, with an investigative protagonist alternating between the archive and the street, this little chapbook—a/0—is an exemplar of the detective genre. But it is so much stranger than most. One wants to say Pynchon or Murakami. No usual suspects here, and the universe is not what you think.
Read the review at NewPages.
Riding SideSaddle* is not like most things you’ve read. On the surface it startles with its three-dimensionality—it’s not a spinebound book but a deck of cards, and you shuffle it before each reading. It’s a new, and wonderful, adventure each time, a story of outcasts, their caretaker, and the friendship and love they find with each other. It’s a story about the body and hybridity—based on the myth of Hermaphroditus—and it’s a story about magic and the slipperiness of categories.
Available in physical format from Springgun Press, it’s also available for free online at OddBooks, a reading platform written specifically around the novel and its randomizability. It’s also open-source—free to use, adapt, remix, and incorporate into other pieces. I talked with Eric Suzanne, the polymath visionary behind this project, about innovations with literary form as well as some of the issues—body, gender, friendship, memory—at work in the novel.
Read the entire interview at Michigan Quarterly Review.
With the weather warming and our spirits high, let’s raise a bowlful of something good to this thought: it’s never been a better time to get inebriated. Now, don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying we’ve earned anything. I’m not offering a toast to a job well done. Rather, I’d like to point out the fact that we’ve really been figuring our substances out, that the market for high-octane intoxicants has never been richer. With the explosion of microbreweries and the recent legalization/decriminalization of recreational marijuana in a handful of states, our culture is positively exuberant over the prospects of getting ripped, and wherever you fall morally in your stance (or your slouch) on such matters, there is no denying that the times, they are a-changin’.
This is, of course, especially true for pot, and a host of questions have opened up in its haze concerning health, sociology, public policy, and economics. These are important and interesting domains, but the real shape of marijuana’s legal future will be determined by what we say about it, by how we envision it fitting into our lives—in short, by how we market it. Well, its marketing has arrived; let’s take a look. . .
Read more at The Hairsplitter
“Poets are our professional observers,” quotes Yamaguchi, before looking closely to see how traditional “witness” sorts with its evil twin: “surveillance.” It could be that poets can sometimes do both, and in the process engage our contemporary culture in untraditional ways.
Read the review at AGNI
Mary Jo Bang is a slippery poet, with a mind that often seems a few seconds ahead of itself. A quick glance at the cover of her new book, The Last Two Seconds, perfectly encapsulates this kind of speed: the monorail that has just slipped from our frame of vision, the typography of the title trailing like a futurist contrail. It is this trailing, however, that is a crucial point—this collection is not about the next two seconds, but the last—as in the last two seconds you’ve just spent reading this sentence.
Take a quick leap of scale and you land at the collection’s central concern: history. . .
Read more at NewPages