Review

Bill Bailey by Tony O’Neill

Posted on by urbangraffito Posted in Chapbooks, Fresh Raw Cuts, Review | Comments Off on Bill Bailey by Tony O’Neill

Bill Bailey by Tony O’Neill
Black Bile’s One-off Chapbook Series 3
Black Bile Press, 16pp, $5.00 (CAN)

Review by Mark McCawley

Tony O’Neill is among the new vanguard of contemporary urban post-realist writers writing since the turn of the millennium. His fiction is raw, honest, unpretentious, unsympathetic and completely unapologetic in it’s use of sex and violence. O’Neill deftly explores and examines the underside of modern urban life with dark, sardonic humour and a mordant insight which only a past substance user and abuser can possess.

In Bill Bailey, O’Neill gives us a violence and lust-filled story which follows O’Neill’s unnamed narrator through a single alcohol-fueled day in Hollywood. As with much contemporary urban fiction, the setting functions almost as a character onto itself – Hollywood’s urban decay a microcosm for any urban center. O’Neill’s further use of post-apocalyptic imagery gives the story an almost cinematic feel akin to George A. Romero and John Carpenter, with a dash of David Cronenberg:

“…death was everywhere. It was in the air. It clung to my clothes like last night’s cigarettes. I stunk like a butcher’s window; I reeked of death from the inside out.” (p.5)

Read more

Eleven:Eleven by Liz Worth

Posted on by urbangraffito Posted in Chapbooks, Fresh Raw Cuts, Review | Comments Off on Eleven:Eleven by Liz Worth

Eleven:Eleven by Liz Worth
published in 2008
Trainwreck Press, 8.5×5.5, 24pp, $5.00 (CAN)

Reviewed by Mark McCawley

Written during a stretch of unemployment in the spring of 2008, this micro-novel pieces together a narrative that speaks through a fragmented consciousness of abstract poetics, claustrophobic fantasies, and scraps of torrid memories salvaged from Worth’s personal journals.

The last time I encountered so successful a hybrid between autobiography, poetry, and fiction was the 1992 publication of Daniel Jones’ Obsessions: a novel in parts from Beverley Daurio’s, The Mercury Press. While Worth has yet to attain the high literary genius Jones exhibits in Obsessions – she is not without her own overflowing cup of literary talent as she pieces together a complex narrative labyrinth of female coming of age rituals, overt media images, and juxtaposed images of sexuality, identity, gender, love, and madness of an anonymous narrator.

15.

Life outside this bed is unimaginable. Grotesque. A dreaded, hunched figure you don’t want to look at.

It seems there is no way to leave. It seems you will never want to.

Read more

First you know, and then so ordinary, by rob mclennan

Posted on by urbangraffito Posted in Chapbooks, Fresh Raw Cuts, Review | Comments Off on First you know, and then so ordinary, by rob mclennan

First you know, and then so ordinary, by rob mclennan
published in an edition of 200 copies, November 2010
above/ground press, 8.5×5.5 (saddle stitched), 8pp, price unknown

Reviewed by Mark McCawley

Rob Mclennan is a prolific poet, writer, editor, blogger, and publisher of the Ottawa-based micro-press, above/ground press. In his chapbook, First you know, and then so ordinary, we find a suite of six poems which perfectly illustrates the understated lyricism which weaves throughout mclennan’s poetry. The poet uses restraint like a kind of inner punctuation in his poems in combination with notions of breath and distance, as in the title poem itself:

I wanted to say: the big dumb
excuse of me,

the phone rings
all the way from lakeshore,

Toronto Island Airport

Read more

I Have Come To Talk About Manners by Stuart Ross

Posted on by urbangraffito Posted in Chapbooks, Fresh Raw Cuts, Review | Comments Off on I Have Come To Talk About Manners by Stuart Ross

I Have Come To Talk About Manners by Stuart Ross
published in an edition of 50 copies, February 2010
Apt 9 Press, 8.5×7, 19pp, $10.00 (CAN)

Reviewed by Mark McCawley

In his first book of poems since 2008’s Dead Cars in Managua (DC Books), I Have Come To Talk About Manners collects eighteen new Stuart Ross poems in this attractive chapbook from Cameron Anstee’s Ottawa based micro press, Apt. 9 Press.

From the first instance I encountered the poetry and prose of Stuart Ross — in the Proper Tales Press titles When Electrical Sockets Walked Like Men (1981) and Father, the Cowboys Are Ready to Come Down from the Attic (1982) — it was his sardonic, yet playful use of the surreal in the face of modern culture’s hyperreality that struck me most. His use of ordinary, mundane, quotidian elements of everyday existence become extraordinary in Stuart’s deft surrealist hand.

I Have Come To Talk About Manners is no different. Ordinary, everyday elements are constantly on the verge of becoming something else as Stuart’s poems transfigure whatever hyperreality they happen to come into contact.

In “Fathers Shave”, something as ordinary and seemingly innocuous an object as a Father’s razor blade becomes a surrealist allegory for rigid codes of masculinity as viewed through the eyes of a child: “The blade rips the bristles / from his cheeks, his chin, / beneath his thunderous / nose”, “rips the carpet / and the curtains, rips / Sylvester the Cat / right off the TV screen”, “rips the welcome / mat off our porch, the / grass off our lawn” and Father’s “boss caresses / his smooth face. The clients ohh and ahh.”
http://66.147.244.54/~timbecke/urbangraffiti/?p=1250 Read more

Men and the Drink by Julie McArthur

Posted on by urbangraffito Posted in Chapbooks, Fresh Raw Cuts, Review | Comments Off on Men and the Drink by Julie McArthur

Men and the Drink by Julie McArthur
Black Bile’s One-off Chapbook Series 3
Black Bile Press, 16pp, $5.00 (CAN)

Review by Mark McCawley

In her second published story, “Men and the Drink”, Humber School alumna Julie McArthur has written a unique story of one woman’s dealings with all the men in her life. What makes this story so unique, though, is how McArthur abandons traditional narrative to develop her protagonist — instead relying upon the relationships, themselves, with the various men in her protagonist’s life to describe her character.

Whether it’s her relationship with a distant father on a road trip, or a co-dependent relationship with her lover, or a friendship with an aging widower — who she really is changes to suit the man she happens to be with at the time. For her father, she’s constantly the little girl attempting to please. For her lover, she is the exact opposite — vixen. For the aging widower, she participates in his weekly fantasy reenactment becoming a replacement for his dead wife over lunch — seeing the meal for something more than what it actually is.
Read more