What’s your next great read? Here are two I highly recommend, and one, well, you be the judge!
The reek of damp and emptiness
“Love affairs, one-night stands, beartbreak, joy, betrayal”—that is the essence in Deborah Price’s one words of her breathtaking memoir The Peanut Factory from Guts Publishing. The book recounts her unabashed, untarnished life living over the course of eight years in several of London’s s “squats,” the ad hoc, rent-free housing that was to be had in seedy, rundown buildings in the 1970s, including the infamous abandoned Peanut Factory of the book’s title. It’s a frenetic journey from one squat to another and another with a dizzying array of true-life characters who file in and out of the squats, in and out of her life from steadfast girlfriend Tessa to the passing parade of couples, lovers, galpals and creepy lowlifes. If you’d like to check out for 148 pages from the horrors of the 2020s and taste life on the wild side, this is true-to-life escapism to explore and savor from it’s gripping opening scenes to Deb’s triumph at the end when she at last is able to leave behind the squalor for a settled and ultimately successful life.
Get your copy at:
Nobody does it better
Elizabeth Johnston Ambrose is a poet to be reckoned with. I’m wild, wild, wild about her poetry. And Wild Things is the best book of poetry I’ve read in the past year. I kid you not. The VERY best.
There’s nothing like a poet genius with a feminist bent to take on so many of the myths we were taught–really, force fed–through the years of schooling from grade school to grad school. What of the Biblical myth of Samson and Delilah, for example. In Delilah’s defiant voice in “Delilah Scorned,” Elizabeth writes: “I intend to convert him/ to the nihilism of my love.” You go, Delilah! In “Waist-Deep,” Elizabeth opens with the line: “My Barbies had a lot of sex.” (Admittedly, mine did too!) So we meet “Captive Barbie,” “End-of-Days Barbie” and “Polygamous-Ken. There’s levity in Elizabeth’s lines as in that poem as well as “Scrapbooking with Ms. Frankenstein” in which said Ms. undergoes plastic surgery. But there’s also a scathing indictment of patriarchy that has defined our myths by male misogyny, because “There’s profit in misogyny, bit money in violence as she writes in “Coals.” The ultimate take-away from this collection? “But go ahead, storytellers. Rewrite.” Elizabeth, I am all over that!
Order your copy from:
I have no recollection of buying this slim tome of prose poems by Richard Garcia. Maybe it arrived from Press 53 as a “freebie” from entering a contest. No matter, I dove in and soldiered on through 66 pages of what really are flash prose poems.
And weeks later, riffling through the collection, I still have no idea what Richard is up to. The poems read a little like mini fairy tales as in “Regret,” which deals with Satan and Lilith, only in this rendition Lilith arrives “in a black Cadillac convertible driven by an enormous serpent.” Ok, so? Satan mocks her. So? “The Next New Thing” is about fads, in this case, “Marting the Dancing Bear” who is not a fad but succumbs to the faddish impulse. Maybe the poem is a warning? We shouldn’t be fooled by “The Harp.” What friggin’ harp?
Really, I can’t recall ever being so flummoxed by a collection of poetry. A “Mynah Bird” shows up in the poem “Dark Matter Here.” Yeah? And? The closest I got to grasping something meaningful came in a single poem, “The Show,” which opens with something I can wrap my head around:
“The first act of the show was called The Old Crone. It featured an old crone[is there any other kind?] sitting in a rocking chair smoking a corncob pope. The mean in the audience were not pleased. They wanted a young crone [no such thing–see Merriam-Webster] naked in a wine vat stomping grapes.”
But then what? Nothing much. Just the men demanding their money back.
My sense of this nonsense? It’s prose, not poetry. And it’s pretty pointless. Sorry, Richard.
To order, go to: https://www.amazon.com/Porridge-Richard-Garcia/dp/1941209351/ref=sr_1_1?crid=V4GI3VHO8BEP&keywords=Richard+Garcia%2C+Porridge&qid=1663448341&sprefix=richard+garcia%2C+porridge%2Caps%2C128&sr=8-1