Book Review: “a/0,” by Laura Bylenok

41cgKZs8CBL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

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.

On Riding SideSaddle*: An Interview with Eric Suzanne

Riding-SideSaddle-620x414

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.

Yogic Weed and Revolutionary Beer: The New Image of Intoxicants

2oUZ0RK

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

Book Review: “The Last Two Seconds,” by Mary Jo Bang

51m2+ihKzyL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

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

Book Review: “Universe,” by Diana Hamilton

Universe_Giant_4

Diana Hamilton’s Universe is one of the tightest projects I’ve ever read: a chapbook length poem on ethics, broken into two sections (one roughly on property/possession, the other on race) and comprised largely of analytical propositions angularly cut into strikingly short lines. “You and I exist in a civil condition” the speaker asserts. Doesn’t sound very exciting, does it?

Oh, but this poem is exciting, for its sophistication and, especially, for its theatrical sensibility. . . .

Read more at NewPages

Book Review: “No Girls No Telephone,” by Brittany Cavallaro and Rebecca Hazelton

512ZIPfm5nL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

It’s funny to think of No Girls, No Telephones in the context of the fan genre, like everyone’s favorite 50 Shades of Gray, but let’s do that for just one wincingly good second.

Okay. Of course, this isn’t 50 Shades of Gray. This is poetry, for one. It’s a collaboration between Brittany Cavallaro and Rebecca Hazelton, two talented and accomplished poets. And perhaps most importantly, it riffs not off of a tweeny bestseller but one of the most sophisticated, startling, and idiomatic literary works of the American tradition, John Berryman’s Dream Songs. . . . 

Read more at NewPages