Many things came out on Valentine’s Day 2012. Most of them will be reviewed here. Some of the bigger things will be given due consideration and reviewed at a later point. Read on.
OKSTUPID by Walter Mackey
reviewed by Justin Carter
Walter Mackey wrote a story about love for Valentines Day. It is about Sarah and Greg. They meet through OkCupid. They are both depressed. Greg is in an emo band. They talk on AIM. They meet at a library. They discuss things like ‘being straight edge’ and ‘being vegan’ and ‘Skype sex’. The story is told in a very deadpan way. It reminds me of Tao Lin sometimes. It uses details to draw emotion out of the characters and the story.
I think the story here is interesting. I think the writing might be a little rough in spots but there is clearly a lot of emotion in the story. I think that the emotion and the way that Walter pays attention to small details and uses them to build up the characters is good. I feel like you should read this. I feel like Walter Mackey has a good grasp on human emotion. I am unsure how to comment on the Paul Cunningham controversy surrounding Walter because I have never read Zachary German. I don’t know. There is a gchat excerpt from Spencer Madsen and Stacey Teague at the beginning of this ebook and I find that interesting.
Pretty Flowers by Gabby Gabby
reviewed by Rachel Hyman
Gabby Gabby wrote a chapbook called “Pretty Flowers.” Pretty Flowers blows the Black Dot Series out of the water. True to its name, the words in the chapbook are pretty. They’re also conversational, and evocative, and sweet. I read the chapbook and imagined Gabby Gabby sitting on her bed, or maybe by a window, with a faint smile, speaking half to me and half to whatever’s out there. Pretty Flowers is wry but quiet in its beauty.
I don’t think I really like state fairs but I like the idea of being the type of person that likes state fairs.
I think if I tried hard enough I could really be that person.
She speaks of buying a corn dog just to hold it at the top of a Ferris wheel.
She moves from state fairs to the 50 states, wondering if the people on one side of Michigan miss the people on the other side.
She thinks about the square states in the Midwest, and how she would spend her whole life trying to be a circle if she lived in one of those square states.
She shows us, with a picture, how Virginia slopes upward or downward, depending on your point of view.
In one of the last few lines, she admits, “Maybe I am an optimist. At least for today.”
Reading Pretty Flowers makes me optimistic for the future of alt lit. It’s casually pretty, effortlessly touching, without being overly quaint or twee. Highly recommended.
Love Stories/Hate Stories by Russ Woods and Brett Elizabeth Jenkins
reviewed by Jackson Nieuwland
I’ve been looking forward to this book for a while
because Russ Woods has been one of my favorite poets for a while.
Once I made a facebook status update about how awesome Russ Woods is.
I don’t know anything about Brett Elizabeth Jenkins.
The concept is simple:
Russ wrote love stories
and Brett wrote hate stories.
These stories are in the form of poems.
These poems are my favorite type of poems.
They are short.
They are witty.
They are fun.
They are funny.
They explore the concept of the joke as poetry, which I am very interested in (the joke form is just begging to be utilized in poetry, right? Especially since failed jokes are always funnier than successful ones, right? (shout out to Adam Robinson)).
They are spare/minimalistic.
They are beautifully balanced (I love a poem that uses line breaks well like so many of these do) (the collection as a whole is also really well balanced because the two writers play off each other wonderfully. Maybe a few poems could have been cut though because a few jokes/references were recycled).
They are not obvious.
They are well laid out.
They are making me write a review that is so overwhelming positive that I want to think of a few detractors to throw in to make it seem more balanced…
Everything is fantastic
Kimbra by Zack Schuster
reviewed by B. Barrera
B. Barrera attends an MFA program in fiction at a university in America
"Love is like a silhouette in dreams."
When Kimbra sings this line in a hot pink dress in the official Youtube video, I have no idea what she’s talking about. Zack Schuster, in his story Kimbra, however, manages to turn this idea into something palpable in a relationship between two characters. This story is made up of tiny moments, wiping a stray hair from across the face of a beloved, feeling the cold on bare feet, and these tiny, stolen moments are all this couple has to work with as a relationship. They seem to be “Cameo Lovers,” able to share only night time with each other until one of them is pulled away from their bed into the unremarkable realm of the awake. There does seem to be something else hinted at about their relationship. At one point the man leaves his sleeping lover voluntarily for—what? an affair perhaps? With such sparse prose it’s difficult to really tell what else is at the heart of their hurt, besides just never being awake at the same time, but there is definitely something deeper at work.
The prose, while sparing, is lovely. The atmosphere of Kimbra is wistful and romantic, everything colored in black and white. The warm, dark fullness of his lover’s hair and their bed together vs. the cold room, the man leaving the bed in his “tidy-whities,” a color palette worthy of Kimbra’s own signature look. And the setting where the lovers finally meet, awake at the same time when their love becomes something real and not just a “silhouette” is suitably colored “brown.” The use of Kimbra lyrics in between sections of prose is lovely, the black-and-white atmosphere of the silhouette love the characters have is perfectly heartbreaking, I just wish there had been a few more “brown” moments with the characters interacting, that they had really “opened up [their] heart to me,” instead of kept me at a distance.
I’m going to fuck. And that’s a place you little asshole, not a verb by Pancho Espinosa
reviewed by Walter Mackey
If there is one thing Pancho Espinoza is good at, it is creating imagery. This little collection of poems completely blew me away when it comes to translating words into images in my fried little brain. From lines like ‘I’m like a Windows ‘98 screensaver at [night]’ to ‘I know there’s people lined up outside of Best Buy right now’—you really get a sense of how Pancho’s words form these beautiful pictures in your brain that you would have probably not even thought of if you hadn’t read this collection entitled ‘I’m going to Fuck and that’s a place you little asshole, not a verb’.
I thought it was really funny that Beach Sloth in his review decided to do some further research to find out if there was actually a place called ‘Fuck’. However, he states that ‘The title is incorrect. There is no place with the name ‘Fuck’. A town in Austria is called ‘Fucking’. Unsurprisingly that small town in rural Austria has a serious problem with people stealing its signs’ [Beachy Beachy Sloth Sloth 2012]. Nevertheless, I think there should be a place called ‘fuck’. I mean, in my province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Canada, there is a place called ‘Dildo’. Yeah, I’m serious. Look it up. In the excerpt from the Dildo, Newfoundland wiki page, I think it’s really funny that it states ‘It is located on the southeastern Dildo Arm of Trinity Bay about 60 kilometres west of St. John’s’ [Wikipedia 2012]. I mean, I think ‘Dildo Arm’ just sounds a Hell of a lot worst than Dildo. Right? Upon hearing Dildo Arm, I just recall my first experience to a sex shop and being emotionally damaged for weeks.
The poem ‘yes, I am mulder and this is scully’ really reminds me of a Steve Roggenbuck poem. I can really picture Steve shouting in his Mr. Bean voice ‘i am like a retarded seven-year-old when I am with you’. Also, I think the poem at the end of this collection is Spanish. However, I don’t effing know because I’m from Canada and French is my second language. I’ll have to ask Jacob Steinberg about this because I don’t know if I could even have a conversation with Luna Miguel. I always click on the ‘view translation’ links on her statuses and they always appear in really broken English.
Overall, this was a really great collection. I felt depressed after reading most of these poems but I feel that is okay. I am depressed. I am really content with being depressed. It gives me character. It’s part of my ‘brand’. Being ‘depressed’ is totally ‘in’ these days. Feeling depressed? Pop a Xanax. Feeling depressed? Write a poem. Feeling severely depressed? Read ‘I’m going to Fuck and that’s a place, you little asshole and not a verb’.
Oh, also, Pancho Espinoza, I think your writing is incredible and your blog is even more perfect. I luv u, lil bb.
the moon looks red and the sky looks black by Keegan Crawford
reviewed by Justin Carter
Keegan Crawford completes the trifecta of the new emerging voices that I am about to, at this moment, dub the “Screaming Seahorsers.” (The others are Walter Mackey and Gabby Gabby). Keegan’s v-day release is in the form of these tiny little vignettes. The “forward” and “back” links in the collection function as part of the text also. There is a self-awareness in Keegan’s writing that I really like. Here is an example:
Sometimes I wonder if wearing enough black will make me completely invisible, and then I think about how that’s really dumb.
Every piece in this feels like it has strong emotions, but the language is very concrete, for the most part. The emotion in the text comes more from how the reader interprets the writing than from the writing itself. I hope that makes sense. Keegan shows very good control over the language of these pieces. They are easy to understand. Here is another example from the text:
Slow song and I hold you and you put your head on my shoulder and we kiss by a tree and try to find some other place to go but we go home instead and a couple years go by and I still have the ticket in a box in my closet and I still kiss you the same way.
Whereas, I think, other writers in the ‘alt lit’ scene would have a tendency to try to focus more on how these characters are feeling, Keegan gives us the details. He uses language that makes the details clear and forces the reader to understand perfectly what he is trying to say.
Other things that dropped on Valentine’s Day include:
-NAP Issue 2.3
-Pank Issue 7.2
-UP Issue 2
-i’m not a slut, i’m a romantic by Jacob Steinberg (paypal firstname.lastname@example.org $1)