Book Reviews

Dodging Traffic is an eclectic selection of poems that close the gap between poetics and reality. The character of this poet feels harsh at times, almost juvenile in his often hillarious sarcasm, but he seems to grow throughout the collection as the tone remains the same but the inflection matures. This poet introduces the reader first to mere glimpses of a heart charged with passion, love, and (believe it or not) hope seeming to take refuge in caustic observations and both metaphorical and literal erectionsbefore allowing those purer instincts to have free reign in poems such as Letter From Department of Health and These are Vows both of which use wit to convey heart and seem to reach out to embrace the perfection of flaws. Vivid sexuality, brutal honesty, and wicked wit cannot mask this poets underbelly and what is found there is at moments breathtaking and at others smile-cracking. Bradley’s wisdom shines through these pages like little rays of daybreak filtering through curtains of irony, lust, humor, and everyday observations. Bradley uses simple language to craft simple poems that transcend simplicity, creating an appeal to both the literary mind and the average reader.

Though the sexuality in this book is heavily ‘male’ and almost embarrassingly frank, Bradley charms the reader into overlooking vulgarity in favor of sincerity.

When You Say OneThing But Mean Your Mother

Poems by MelissaBroder

A Review by HarmoniMcGlothlin

Melissa Broder’s collection of poems, When You Say One Thing But Mean Your Mother, offers an entirely fresh type of writing.

Broder’s work coveys a powerful character; youthful, sassy,observant, firing off wit like an automatic weapon. The setting for this character is every bit as integral to the works as the character herself: San Francisco from a very unique perspective. But Broder doesn’t write about the Golden Gate Bridge or fog hazed cityscapes. She brings us into the heart of the place; to middle-aged men still trying to find themselves and quasi-hippie chicks wavering between lifestyle and practicalities like their dancing on a highwire. Diving into this book is to dive into a world of junkie girls and boys who don’t give a shit, introspection shaped by retrospection, peyote buttons (I swear I didn’t inhale?) and urinary tract infections– into life, uncensored.

This poet doesn’t spare us the details, she lashes us with them with a razor sharp tongue and an even sharper sense of intelligence– and, oddly enough, a deep sense of rightness. She’s a gunslinger, staring down reality, taunting it, laughing down its barrel. With uncomplicated and comfortable language, Broder creates the type of poetry that could breathe new life into the world of poetry; taking the proverbial stick out of the ass of modern literature.

She writes:

If I don’t stop using

the word fingerbang

I’ll never get to be

 Poet Laureate.

That would be a shame.

–If she stopped using the word fingerbang, I mean. 

Under WhatStars by Ryan Davidson

Published by Ampersand (&) Books

Reviewed by Harmoni McGlothlin

UnderWhat Stars begins with these lines:

I want to burn bridges and block

               every tunnel with my voice. 

…And with those words, Mr. Davidson became my new favorite contemporary poet.

This collection presents a raw and personal perspective on love, life, and everything in between; using stunningly original language and a narrative voice that whispers in the ear long after the book is closed and retired to the nightstand.

Davidson’s poetry is like the moment before an orgasm, that blink of time, sustained for 74 pages. And every page is worth the wait.


DO SOMETHING! dosomething! DO SOMETHING!

A Novel By Joseph Riippi

Published by Ampersand (&) Books 

Reviewed by Harmoni McGlothlin

Do Something is a brilliantly crafted introspective journey through the lives of three characters that examines amodern “victim” mentality from several angles.

The Young Critic gone mad becomes a victim of his own mind, of his own delusions, which serve to make him more interesting and more tragic in his own mind.

His sister, The Woman With a Starfish Tattoo, seeks to re-grow her emotional limbs after a rape.

And the Alcoholic Playwright becomes thevictim of fate when tragedy tears his life apart.

 

Riippi manages to weave a vibrant tapestry with these characters and their individual  journeys using a natural flow reminiscent ofpop fiction but with all the thought-provoking grace of literary fiction.

The highlight of this book, for me, pertained to The Woman With a Starfish Tattoo.  Describing a group therapy session after herrape, she talks about a girl in the group who set fire to herself in front ofher abusive father; killing her father and leaving her scarred for life. The Woman With a Starfish Tattoo says, “No one said it, but everyone in the circle was jealous of that story.”

In so many subtle ways, Rippi flawlessly examines the victim mindset and the concept that a person’s identity becomes entwined in their own tragedies. A person’s self image suffers not from the traumatic incident itself but from the feeling of being commonplace; the feeling that this one event should define the victim as a human being and when the event turns out to be ordinary so does the victim. 

Do Something might just be more than a “must read” -it might change the way you look at life.