Monday, December 13, 2010

Now we're cooking, says Frank from the pan

About time. Two differently insightful reviews of CA Conrad's The Book of Frank have appeared. One in HTML Giant. And another in my backyard--in Seattle's The Stranger. The latter gets right to it: noting that Wave Books has been "kicking ass" for the past several years. Indeed. While the HTLML Giant review, I think, meets Frank on its own terms (if that makes sense), reads the work for the subtlety that it carries as ethical and poetic burden, the latter is kind but offers a simplistic, reductive, heteronormative analysis of 2 paragraphs, using terms that seem to gong in self-refusal like "everyman" to describe Frank, and "person" to describe Frank, and, well... but, alas it's true that Wave certainly kicks, er, ass; and so too with this new steel-toed edition of TBOF, where "new edition" (Chax the other-ass-kicking publisher of the first book) is rather substantially different, not a term d'arte or some marketing ploy on the part of Wave--several new poems makes for a richer, and quite different, read. Perhaps this is so due to the narrative and nearly-narrative aspects of these poems (yes yes, they are far more than that, but). Not that the poems sum in any definable sense: The whole, as the parts do, transgress playground rules for nomenclature, care not about the latest craze in poetic convention--haiku and story often make love like dogs and people, authors and their devices--, and otherwise rebel in ways that would drive anyone who dislikes The Metamorphosis, Kafka's or Ovid's, a little nuts. But each acts on narrative in some way, whether as narrative or as something reminiscent of what we might call narrative, and so over time the various but always marginal Franks metamorphose into and through one another, and so when you put several more in the room or at the threshold, the whole kaleidoscope changes refractory output. So it's deeply worth getting both fistfuls of Franks. With two different editions now, one can see just how contrapuntal Frank is as set of "characters" and poems (socially, poetically, and politically)--where from one to the other Conrad's pressing down a few more keys here, a couple fewer there, thus making for an interesting difference in scoring and texture. Is it strange to think of the two different books as akin to movements in an opus, rather than as editions?

Anyway, I'll save it.

I try not to read these so as to write my own review of TBOF without parroting what I'd read elsewhere (why write the same thing twice--when you can do it seven times!), but I'm both incredibly slow (those who correspond with me know I take weeks to write back due to drafting/editing compulsions)* and yet I'm incredibly curious about these things that I love.

* = then why don't you edit your blog posts? you ask. Because this is my notebook and I'm an exhibitionist.**
** = shifts in tense are usually on purpose; misspellings and unusual grammars such as subject-object displacements are mostly accidental.

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