Debudaderrah by Robin Wyatt Dunn

A Review by New Pop Lit

Debudaderrah-_frontcover_preview

“Come with me, brother, as we descend from Orbit onto Debudaderrah, that second and better Earth–“

What is this? A sci-fi novel? A poem? A dream? An “anarchic government of the mind,” to use a phrase from the book?

DEBUDADERRAH is about a journey to what might be a planet in a distant point of the universe- or a place in the narrator’s head. Speculative fiction at its most speculative, using former modes of sci-fi plotting as a foundation for wanderings literary and physical. As always with work by Robin Dunn, at the base of it all is his home city.

“What is a city like Los Angeles but another planet–“

Robin Dunn is one of the most talented writers in America– yes, for sheer imagination and wordplay– akin to a musical virtuoso who can play any genre, any style, jazz to blues to boogie to Debussy and Chopin. The trick for someone with the kind of ability which seems to come easy is harnessing it. Focusing the talent to sharpen the effect.

Dunn creates effects. Little literary explosions of insights on where we’re headed as a species and a civilization. Or where we exist, on a line between the illusion of material existence and the imaginations of the brain. The mind merging with robots– or with the universe.

“My name is Roberto, come from a planet called Earth, but this is not true. I am an alien, come from another dimension. And a robot, made by you–“

The novel-poem Debudaderrah is a puzzle. It’s not up to me, the reviewer, but you, the reader, to solve it. The key to the conundrum is in this sentence from the book:

“Picasso can occupy ten-dimensional spaces and so can I.”

Dunn has created the literary version of a Picasso painting, of several depths and dimensions, asking the reader to jump into it. To take the poetic trip. Every reader will find there a different experience.

***

Debudaderrah is available at several outlets, including here.

mammoth2

(Photo of Robin Wyatt Dunn.)

Advertisements

Temporium by Kelly Cherry

A Review by New Pop Lit

Temporium_by_Kelly_Cherry

“First on the agenda today is the topic of mystery.”

This is how award-winning writer Kelly Cherry opens her collection of Fictions, Temporium: Before the Beginning to After the End.

The theme of the book is the mystery of time. Cherry takes on a subject more appropriate for a physicist or philosopher than a literary writer, but it works. She makes real to our imagination a philosopher’s questions and wonders. They’re parables, of a kind.

An early piece, “Eternity Dies,” ponders the loneliness of God, and posits the notion that God created the universe to end his loneliness.

“His thinking that thought was the First Cause. Thus even the First Cause was caused, but it was also uncaused, because it was not caused by anything that existed. It was caused before existence existed, by his thinking of his loneliness.”

This is written with a sense of humor. Kelly Cherry is playing with physics and philosophy, with God, and with us.

In “A Maiden and Her Swain” a young couple lives in the Dark Ages as if there were no time, yet time moves forward and they find they’ve aged. The tale is a reflection on the swiftness of aging– of ourselves and our civilization– but it’s also a dream. It carries the timelessness of a dream.

These are all dreams– the kind of afternoon nap dream one has beyond plot and time; a temporary plunge into eternity. You awake with a sense of melancholy, of existential loneliness. Panic. The realization that our lives are impossibly brief– we’d like to live forever in this world but forever can happen only in our dreams. Or beyond this world of matter and onrushing time. A feeling of monumental sadness. This is the feeling Kelly Cherry captures in these fictions; these stories.

Though Kelly Cherry writes in no way like Ernest Hemingway, the book is structured like his early collection, In Our Time, with short interpolations between the longer pieces.

“SIX WORDS
Dead husband taught wife to shoot.”

Wry inserts like that one.

None of the few-score pieces is longer than a few pages. Nearly all are thought-provoking or amusing. A few stand above the rest.

“Aegea,” about a space ark; “Murray the Short Order Cook”; “He Wasn’t There Again Today”; and “Reunion” are my favorites.

One striking thing about the stories is the more surreal they are, the more real they seem. They’re speculations– amid them is an awful lot of truth and life.

They’re experimental pieces, experimental not just in style, but in ideas and theme. Part essay, part poetry, part story. Or: no review can adequately capture the feeling and meaning conveyed by this book. Plunge into it yourself and read it.

****
Temporium is available at Press 53.

kellycherry

(Photo of Kelly Cherry.)

Whores Are Always Melancholy by Jess Mize

A Review by New Pop Lit

jessmizechapbook

“She looked forward to the day of her funeral
As if it were her wedding,
And she was Grace Kelly.
But really she was the bride of death”

WHORES ARE ALWAYS MELANCHOLY is a chapbook of poetry/prose which is both rhythmic and visual. Jess Mize has incandescent talent, of a kind which comes by once a generation. This is not an exaggeration. Think Fitzgerald or Plath. Words and lines jump off the page with emotion and meaning.

Anais Nin once wrote:

“–the writer dares to dig into hidden worlds, dares perilous explorations in which he might lose, first of all, his contact with human life and possibly his sanity. But he is looking for treasures of another kind.”

This is what Jess Mize does in her writing.

“Gilded sculptures and horrible romantic novels of the 19th century echo from the shallow depths of my past imagination.”

“She loved the bright vermillion flushings of the fresh blood.”

Her words connect our inner selves to the world.

“The love you crave cannot be purchased. To satisfy your desires you need an annotated trucker’s atlas and a serious deficiency of remorse.”

The question is what to do with the overflowing talent. Limiting it to poetry is too easy. She writes her explosions of emotion as if they come easy. But among the rush of words there is pain and despair, so it can’t be easy.

Her fiction, unfeatured here, bursts with a deluge of words. The chapbook gives a strong taste of it. Good writing– no, great writing– but can the flow be directed? Channeled? Should it be?

The chapbook may be all that’s needed. Receive it in short blasts full of compacted energy.

Whores Are Always Melancholy is Hurricane Harvey put onto the page. If you survive the encounter, it’s a thrilling experience.

****
Whores Are Always Melancholy is available at Finishing Line Press.

newpoplit2

(Photo of Jess Mize.)

Bright, Precious Days by Jay McInerney

A Review by New Pop Lit

bright precious days Jay Mc

Dinosaurs! All dinosaurs.

In style, the well-hyped “big” lit novels from Big Publishing in New York are dinosaurs. Just as surely as were the long, tank-like automobiles of the 1950’s. Cruising leisurely along with giant fins gleaming. A display of waste and ornament.

BRIGHT, PRECIOUS DAYS by Jay McInerney is the dinosaur novel in question. Not a bad novel, if you can stick with it. Tale of a publishing Insider caught in domestic crises involving bimbos and billionaires. Overpriced wine, food, and drugs. Hard-cover version sold last year for $27.95. Lavish coverage by New York print media. Swanky release party in the Hamptons. Not a ripple in the greater culture. In 1959 when big dinosaur novels were the thing, it would’ve been a best seller.

Much of McInerney’s writing style– the standard literary style for decades– is ornament. Long paragraphs of useless description or rumination. Waste. In his long and successful career Jay Mac never realized the more description he gives of a room, the less clearly the reader sees it. T.M.I. You could cut out half the verbiage. It’d be a better read and sell for half the price.

THE INCREDIBLY SHRINKING LITERARY WORLD

Jay McInerney writes for an audience which no longer exists. Today, even the leisure class has no leisure time. In reality, he writes for book reviewers at newspapers– entities which are themselves vanishing.

Obsolescence– provided by the bloated bureaucracies of the New York book conglomerates.

Even the book’s concept is from another era. McInerney’s long-ago first novel had a style which grabbed the reader’s attention. He’s forgotten why that hit novel was a hit. In the 1980’s Jay McInerney was the literary future. Today he, his book, its artistic premises– the conglomerate agent editors entire edifice which produced it– are the quickly vanishing past.

***

Jay_McInerney_2014

(Photo of Jay McInerney.)

Lone Crusader by Samuel Stevens

lone crusader cover

A Review by New Pop Lit

A young American writer of the 1930’s, like many of his compatriots, enlists to fight in the Spanish Civil War– for the other side!

Far Left and Far Right duke it out for truth and justice, hypocrisy or evil, with layers of ideological choices between them. Is Stevens writing about events in 1937– or 2017? His novel is aggressively timely.

LONE CRUSADER tells the story of Adam Wolfe, an idealistic Roman Catholic college student who travels to Spain to do good– or to find himself. Along the way he discovers romance and adventure. A lot of it– Lone Crusader is action-packed, with clear style and relentless pace.

Halfway through, new FBI man Mike Barnes is sent to find Adam. Does he? For the results, you’ll have to read the book.

Pulp noir with ideas. Samuel Stevens is part of a wave of new writers publishing across a variety of lit sites which present alternatives to predictable status quo writing and thinking. Stevens will only get better. Read him early.

***

Lone Crusader is available HERE.

Sam Stevens for Interview

(Photo of Samuel Stevens.)

The Spoilers by Rex Beach

Spoilers book cover

A Review by New Pop Lit.

When men were men and women were gorgeous– The Spoilers is classic populist storytelling courtesy of Rex Beach, whose popularity at the turn of a century (1905) was exceeded only by that of fellow adventurer Jack London.

In that period American literature was vigorous and thoroughly American– not a copy of stuffy European drawing rooms.

THE SPOILERS: A good girl named Helen and a bad girl named Cherry. The “good” girl may or may not be in league with the bad guys. As to men there’s a politically incorrect roughneck, and a slick villain who everyone thinks is good. . . . Also a mystery man lurking around the edges named the Bronco Kid.

Who’s really bad and who’s good? More importantly, who ends up with whom? Who gets the girl? Which girl?

The melodrama is set in virgin Alaska during the gold rush. On every page is the feel of crisp air and vast landscape. It’s fabulous storytelling, a fun read leading to a famous climax.

rex beach

(Photo of Rex Beach.)