Books

Playing Chicken With Thanatos by Dire McCain — review by Mark McCawley

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Playing Chicken With Thanatos

by Dire McCain

 

review by Mark McCawley

 

Playing-Chicken-With-Thanatos-DireMcCain-664x1024Playing Chicken With Thanatos
by Dire McCain
Apophenia, 2013
ISBN 978-0615903156
US $14.40 | CDN $17.02 | Paperback
8.5×5.5 inches, 346pp

 

Playing Chicken With Thanatos is Dire McCain’s coming-of-age tale chronicling her adolescent descent into drug addiction and the Southern California drug world of the 1980s and 1990s populated by drug dealers, gang members, skinheads, rockers, yuppies, jocks, Ephebophiles (adult sexual preference for mid-to-late adolescent girls, generally 14–16 years old), Pedophiles (sexual interest in minors below the legal age of consent) and other predators.

Playing Chicken With Thanatos is aptly structured into three parts, named after rivers running through Hades — Acheron (woe), Phelegethon (fire) and Lethe (oblivion). Beginning with her own mother’s undiagnosed mental illness and subsequent suicide attempts, followed by her parent’s divorce, added to that the attempted molestation at age 12 by a best friend’s drunk father (along with Dire’s natural adolescent rebelliousness) sowed the seeds of her eventual fall into addiction.
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Shedding Sin: A Verse Novel by Teri Louise Kelly & Jenny Toune — review by Mark McCawley

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Shedding Sin: A Verse Novel

by Teri Louise Kelly & Jenny Toune

 

review by Mark McCawley

 

Shedding Sin: A Verse Novel
by Teri Louise Kelly & Jenny Toune
Lady Lazarus-Press, 2013
ISBN 978-1484853412
Kindle Edition|$4.53|Paperback|$18.90
8.5 x 5.5 inches, 140 pages

 

“My girl, my girl, don’t lie to me,
Tell me where did you sleep last night?”

—”Where Did You Sleep Last Night”, Nirvana’s 1994 cover of Huddie Ledbetter, a.k.a. Lead Belly’s 1944 reinterpretation. Original artist unknown.

 

“A novel in verse, a poetic story told by two strong female voices presented in short bursts of verse in a back and forth, call and response type style. The poems feed of each other’s imagery, running the gamut from the simple unadorned line to hallucinatory, dreamlike passages and back. The real and virtual become entwined in dreamlike states where fantasy and reality become indistinguishable. Violently erotic imagery born of raw emotion, sex and drugs, pain and ecstasy, addiction to chemicals both natural and manufactured. Vivid images of damnation and salvation, death and rebirth. At once intimate and angry, fantastic and visceral. A lush, sordid tale of lies and mindfucks, and somewhere, maybe love…”

(from ‘Introduction by William Taylor Jr’, Shedding Sin: A Verse Novel by Teri Louise Kelly & Jenny Toune, p.7)

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Weather’s Feather by Mitch Corber — review by Lehman Weichselbaum

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Weather’s Feather

 

by Mitch Corber

 

review by Lehman Weichselbaum

 

Weather’s Feather
by Mitch Corber
Fly By Night Press, 2014
ISBN-13: 978-0963740540
14.9 X 22.6 cm, 108 pps, $15

Mitch Corber is an overgrown boy, and language is his toy.

In Corber’s hands, language isn’t about what it says, but how it says it—and how it sounds. His structuralist focus has clear affinities with other poets at play in modernist fields—New York Schoolers, language poets, Armand Schwerner of “The Tablets” fame. Throw in palpable echoes of the Beats and Lewis Carroll, not to exclude Wallace Stevens, Dylan Thomas, Gerald Manley Hopkins and John Cage (a few of whom get dedications in poems).
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Love At Last Sight: Stories by Thea Bowering — review by Mark McCawley

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Love At Last Sight:

Stories by Thea Bowering

 

review by Mark McCawley

 
loveatlastsighttheaboweringLove At Last Sight
by Thea Bowering
NeWest Press, 280 pp
ISBN 978-1-927063-34-7
$9.59 CAN Kindle | $14.36 CAN Paperback
September, 2013

 
In sinuous folds of cities old and grim,
Where all things, even horror, turn to grace,
I follow, in obedience to my whim,
Strange, feeble, charming creatures round the place.

— Charles Baudelaire, “The Little Old Women”
 
To the flâneur, his city — though he was born in it, like Baudelaire — is no home. It constitutes for him a stage.

— Walter Benjamin, The Arcades Project
 
 
Thea Bowering — “How to Read Your Lover’s Favourite Russian Novel” (excerpt) (Empress Ale House, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, 12 September 2013)

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For those open to contemporary literary experiment will most truly relish Thea Bowering’s debut collection of urban, post-realist short fiction, Love At Last Sight, published by Edmonton’s NeWest Press. In the eight short stories, and one novella, which comprise the collection, Bowering interrogates the fictive nature of reality through literary allusions and through the ongoing allegory of the flâneur —— a concept originally attached to 19th-century Paris, the flâneur is a person of leisure who walks the streets of his or her city, studying the buildings and fellow citizens in the hopes of better understanding them, popularized by Charles Baudelaire and Walter Benjamin.
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Dancing, with Mirrors by George Amabile — review by Mark McCawley

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Dancing, with Mirrors

 

by George Amabile

 

review by Mark McCawley

 

Dancing, with Mirrors amabileDancing, with Mirrors
George Amabile
Porcupine’s Quill
$19.95 pb, 192 pages
ISBN 978-0-88984-343-1

More than twenty years in the making, George Amabile’s ‘lyrical retrospective’, Dancing, With Mirrors is Amabile’s thoughtful fragmentation and re-arrangement of his personal history. Essentially one long poem which examines the major events and themes of the poet’s life, organized thematically into a roughly chronological narrative, this long poem is broken down into eleven distinct ‘cantos’, each with a different focus — pain, affection, desire, disappointment, loss, those small graces of the everyday found among the mundane aspects of living. These are intense snapshots of life-defining moments distilled over a lifetime of experience and poetry in which there is general sense of continuity with each of the cantos rather than an imposed unity.

When I began this project, my hope was that, looked at closely, fragments of an individual life — moments of intensity or understanding, crossroads, discoveries, the dynamics of family and friendship, the shifting gestalts of public and private events, glimpses of the interplay between mind, spirit, and world — might become a vehicle for speaking to some of the concerns that have emerged, with some urgency, from the cultural matrix of the last half century. The cantos, as I call them, are organized by juxtapositions which reveal thematic linkages, or narrative connections, and sometimes both.

~George Amabile, Author comments, Porcupine’s Quill webpage

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