In 11 collections of poetry over 30 years, Russell Edson has created his own poetic genre, a surreal philosophical fable, easy to enter, but difficult to leave behind. In this volume, Edson seeks to continue and refine his form in 72 new poems.In 11 collections of poetry over 30 years, Russell Edson has created his own poetic genre, a surreal philosophical fable, easy to enter, but difficult to leave behind. In this volume, Edson seeks to continue and refine his form in 72 new poems.Read Less
Publishers Weekly, 2001-04-16 To echo Mark Twain's famous warning to his readers, attempting to locate a motive, moral or plot in any of these 73 miniature narrative poems is ill-advised. "The Babies" begins: "He wanted to know what she had in her blouse that heaved so nicely when she moved./ My babies, she said as she opened her blouse and showed him her breasts." The poem does not develop much further, and the rest of the work here pointedly does not boast much more sophistication. Like carnival mirrors in which images are distorted and exaggerated for low entertainment, the images they reflect are vulgar and most often sexist: "The Flower Pot" asks "wouldn't the nice gentleman like to drop a seed or two into an old lady's flowerpot?"; "Night Song" clarifies the fact that "If mice are interested in human hair it is the hair found at the lower end of a woman's torso. They love the idea of secret passageways." When the circus actually does come to town, it's an occasion for remembering how "the last time... it left a fat lady dumped on the sidewalk like a pile of varicose cottage cheese wearing lingerie." None of this is a departure for Edson, who, in over 12 small-press books of similar vignettes (selected by Oberlin in The Tunnel) and a novel (The Song of Percival Peacock, from Coffee House), has taken Ivy Compton-Burnett-style domestic strife and banter further than most might care to go. The amount of ironic violence on these pages is indeed startling; as Pauline Kael once said of Billy Wilder's movies, these poems "pull out laughs the way a catheter draws urine." (Apr.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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