Saturday, November 25, 2023

If I Survive You

If I Survive YouIf I Survive You by Jonathan Escoffery
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I read this as a novel and was completely involved in its first chapter, but it's chapters seem to meander away in short stories while I wanted the narrative force of a novel. Writing was admirable, often funny.

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The Sarah Book

The Sarah BookThe Sarah Book by Scott McClanahan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

One critic called Scott McClanahan the Appalachian Charles Bukowski which is fitting. Described as a semi-autobiographical novel, there is much about getting drunk (with a water bottle filled with gin and two forgotten babies in the back seat as he sails along the highway), bodily fluids, camping out at Walmart, hospital tales from his estranged wife, a nurse, yet his story is engaging and very sad. There are snippets of humor but mostly it is an unflinching description of divorce, tragedy and resilience, told in beautiful melodic writing. "In one life we are dead. In one we are rich. In one we are poor. In one we are parents. But always we belong to others."

Thanks to for pointing me toward this story and to so many other books.

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The Book

The Book (Wave Books, 110)The Book by Mary Ruefle
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I think of [Mary Ruefle|282933]'s brain scan and can't believe it's anything like mine or anyone I know. Unique and thought provoking vignettes about every imaginable subject from cashews to Jung to haikus to Dear Friends: "Then one day I picked up a magazine and read an interview with the COO (chief operating officer) of Facebook, perhaps she still is, I don't know, but she was asked how many friends she had and she said, "Over three thousand. I don't know all of them but I have met them in one shape or form." I would rather be antiquated--I would rather die--than make a statement like that. I know my friends..."and she goes on with a precise, knowing descriptions of her various friends: "I had a friend who loved apple trees and apple blossoms and apple orchards, he loved swimming in ponds and lake, and making current jam and jam from mulberries and playing the harmonica, but when he read, he loved books, he read heavy German tomes."
Or "I have a friend who believes that birds have souls but humans do not."
As Poetry Foundation's Janina Ambikapathy wrote "If this book is about recollection, and a meditation on the inevitable passing of all things, it is also about errors, cracks in our recall that switch the familiar world for one that is slightly strange. [Mary Ruefle|282933] writes about the fluctuating intensity of friendships, missed connections, and affections sent out into the world that bounce right back: “She kept calling, I didn’t pick up, and finally she stopped. I think she understood I was somehow not the same.” "The plum sat in the sun for three hours, its skin split apart and its syrup began to ooze out. When I bit into it, I thought of William Carlos Williams..."
"I am a tall person who is small and mean inside. For instance, I wake Christmas morning and begin to pack away all of my Christmas decorations."
Wave Books is a publisher to treasure as is this volume.

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Tripas: Poems (Georgia Review Books Ser.)Tripas: Poems by Brandon Som
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Christopher Spaide in Poetry Foundation's review writes of this book: "
Aristotle, Li Po, Ezra Pound: these are among the cited sources of Brandon Som's The Tribute Horse (2014), whose textual collages map the arduous passage of Chinese migrants and poetry to North America. With Tripas: PoemsTripas (2023), Brandon Som turns his attention to histories, plural: toxic dumping in Phoenix, Arizona; a father’s “nine-year fight with cancer”; a Chicana grandmother’s work inspecting circuits for the earliest Motorola cellphones. Those latter devices are forerunners to Brandon Som’s poetic instrument, his “TelĂ©fono Roto”—literally, a broken telephone; idiomatically, the children’s game telephone. Both are ways of communicating through mishearing, translating signal and noise into surprises of sense and sound..."cries Llorona from those little phones inside our pockets" and Motorola moved to Guadalajara after the manufacturer was fined and their Phoenix location was declared a Superfund site.
Very moving and powerful verse.

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