Tag Archives: review

My Only Book Review

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Jaden
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Nearly two years after its publication, and despite the dissemination of forty or so copies among the few friends, family members, and strangers beating back the night sweats of literary intent, I have come to accept the fact that I write in such an outlandishly dull way as to render this special class of improbable bibliophiliacs completely and utterly devastated to the point of unleashing their inner mute upon the very grains of sand upon which I stand.

Now, I have not handed this book away to just anybody with a cap size or a Big Gulp to spare, but only to those who pleaded, cajoled, paid for in the case of some of the more deep pocketed critics, wished for, promising a review each and every one of them, and if cool beans are a good source of protein, threatened my well-being for a personal copy of this collection of visceral sweat and tears, bloody for the twenty-five years it stewed in the making, usually a signed copy, and usually accompanied by some petty insolence that they loved poetry, or some such glad-handing gush as that. Notions of the silent rejection, notwithstanding, The Silent Cull & Other Mechanical Ideas, Collected Poems 1980-2005 is not your usual thin volume of contemporary poetry, but is four hundred pages of seething canonical arrest, and I use the word "canonical" and "arrest" in all their usual connotations plus a few more that I insist are both canonical and arrested within the pages themselves, banking on subtleties of style and insight that are only coming apparent to the ill-prepared general public in these, our own spectacular terror-driven chaotic times. Well-minced words are a swallower's delight, and this book rarely portrays paradise, or other romantic follies of the past or future tense of mankind, but in its own galloping way wraps itself in the contemporary physics of time and thought itself, tackling its author as much as the culture that spawned him.

But this entry is not about describing the book. It has been aptly described elsewhere.

Here I wish to fan myself with those few words of praise, or words of any kind that have wafted my way in the context of this inpenetrable book. The following paragraph was sent to me by a local artist, a young painter of some early renown, still in his late twenties, whose first son was to be born on my birthday (the second of my friends whose firstborn sons arrived likewise) named James Coleman:

I really like the book man, I read it out loud to Christie at night when we go to bed, they say the baby can hear it and its good to read to him, but I dont know. I really love it man they say if you reach one person, blah blah blah, well thats me. I can sit on the roof and smoke a cigarette, lay in bed at night, damn i would even take it to the beach. It flows it pulsates, it moves me. Im not kissing your ass, I have no reason to. Just wanted to give you an honest opinion, and for whatever reason, it speaks to me. When I read it I feel like I did when I was in college smoking opium and reading boulbelaire or at the coffee shops reading dylan thomas, thinking I should start a fight. What I am trying to say is that at this point in my life your book works for me. Great job man, Im not a literary figure or even a good writer but just wanted to tell you. If I see you and I am drinking and tried to tell you all this, you would think I was full of shit.

What can I say? For all the silent pretenders haunting my crude ambitions, this single review is just about the most stirring string of thoughts an old poet, fat on the failures of inertia, far past his gameface prime, could ever hope to absorb.

Thanks JColeman...

Review: Guy Debord, Revolutionary

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Guy Debord & Etienne
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Originally published on January 31, 1997

I'm glad I went into detail. I checked my database. November 14 was the transition date from Big Al to the current notation.

You asked me for editorial comments on "GUY DEBORD - Revolutionary" by the indefatigable Len Bracken. I have not forgotten, and was quite pleased that you asked for details of my impressions, so I suppose I should lay in a few lines on the topic right here, seeing as life is settling down again for me, and shorter than a thrice-used candlestick.

Considering the Situationist International's (SI) big cheese was, by revolutionary and philosophical necessity, a subterranean conspiracy veiled in secrecy, trapped in a state of chaos by idiosyncracies leaning toward an accelerated paranoia and strong diva tendancies, the volume was a decent read for the first biography ever written about the man (vested propoganda offered as fact by Len) in English. Especially for newcomers to Guy Debord and the SI. I was surprised by the general sense of objectivity in handling the material, having presumed Bracken to be a terminal sycophant of Debord as the self-anointed philosopher king of the whole romanticized SI movement.

I was able to argue plainly and successfully my objections with Len to the man and the philosophy based on details the book offered over the last week of proofing and finalizing the 420 page manuscript. The author's style was rather straightforward, his own voice almost non-existent, a minor flaw in the book as I pointed out to Len.

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Guy Debord Revolutionary
As any serious reader might be, I was plagued with the question, who is this Len Bracken fellow of few daylight credentials? Again, I emphasize, this was no ordinary biography, given the secrecy of much subversive material hidden by its originators, so as might be expected much of the narrative is speculative and heresay. Debord's two wives are still alive, intellectuals in their own right, and yet were not interviewed personally by the biographer.

And while Bracken's bibliography and footnotes are extensive, this dependency on so much second and third hand information will no doubt register as a flaw with serious reviewers. Historical threads of Debord's intellectual ancestors are woven rather seamlessly into the cloth of the story, while personal anecdotes from behind the scenes are perhaps in short number. By the end of the volume I had gained probably for the first time ever a respect for both the biographer and the subject, while still disdaining the ultimate outcome of such a philosophical stance. Debord was a tyrant and a romantic. He carved up friendships with bold sweeping strokes. (Hmmm, something I might actually respect in the man given my own circumstances.)

Bracken indeed proved himself capable of putting flesh and flaw onto the man and the myth, much to the book's advantage. To his credit, Bracken's usual bluster and misplaced pomposity (Bracken's Breath) that this was a book that will be read for 500 years fortunately was kept out of the pages, and I could only plead in a feeble GT grit and grunt that my own ears had not been spared the oft repeated utterance, no doubt a trumped up cry for respect of a very needy author and personality.

I had to insist repeatedly that I was no cheerleader type, no empty flatterer, a symptom of my childhood no less, but that my comments were sincere and as comprehensive as I could make them. It was a roller coaster ride around here, but I think we did a pretty damn good job on the proofing, the layout, and an unbias review of the material. Could he not just leave it at that? Needless to say, I was not sad to see that job finished, and a satisfied Bracken wheeling out the door.

I am promised another $250 plus two copies of the finished product to add to the original $500. One can only speculate if I'll ever see either. Small press insecurities chewed at Len persistently over the month we worked together. Adam Parfrey is not intentionally a fly by nighter, but the Feral House Books wing span ain't exactly an eagle's badge of honor either...

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