This Hasn’t Been A Very Magical Journey So Far by Homeless

Reviewed by New Pop Lit

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“I move through the world like it’s some sort of mirage. I move through the poetry the same way someone moves through a ghost they don’t see but is still there. And it really is there, the poetry. Poetry is everywhere because life is everywhere. But how can you write about life when you’ve completely fallen out of love with life? You move through the world, or your perception of the world, like some kind of lethargic tumbleweed.”
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Everything in the established literary world is geared toward standard status quo opinion. Everything among the literary cognoscenti is geared toward their peers, the herd of acceptable thought. NOT toward those writing outside the margins of approval or disapproval of the Big Five-financed literary establishment. Which are the only margins that matter. If you’re announcing your love of the marginalized at swanky dinners in Manhattan, at hyper-expensive chi-chi restaurants on Wall Street– Big Five-published marginalized– then how marginalized are they?

One writer who’s not on Wall Street but is marginalized and has named himself Homeless has written a novel published by an indy outfit named Expat Press.

The novel: THIS HASN’T BEEN A VERY MAGICAL JOURNEY SO FAR

I suspect Homeless is one of those homeless or near-homeless people you see throughout the island of Manhattan– that hyper-expensive island hyper-blind to its own authentic artists and writers– one of the characters handing out flyers to tourists in Times Square trying to survive to keep their art alive in that insular island dreams and disasters. . . .

His novel “Journey” has the vibe of homelessness, though it reads like a surrealistic dream, one of those dreams we all have which seem starkly real yet also mad and last forever, for days, then you wake up and you’ve been asleep for two hours. An experiment in reality and time.

The plot? There’s not much of a plot. Only a tale that begins in a hospital when the lead character meets a talking cat–

Hank Williams knows cats don’t speak. He knows they only purr or meow or sometimes screech and howl depending on their mood. But something about this unnatural act of the cat greeting him seems very natural, like it’s supposed to be happening, this unusual verbal exchange between human and feline.

–and they go on a long highway which might be a real highway or could be a highway of the mind. A mix of reality and unreality.

Isabel stops cupping her breasts and looks up around the ceiling, her face expressing intense levels of anxiety.

“I feel like an angel is locked onto my head with a sniper rifle. Like an angel’s lying on a cloud somewhere above me, staring down his scope at my head with his finger resting lightly on the trigger, ready to blow my brains out the back of my head and all over the wall.”

The narrative has the poignancy of a dream.

Expat Press is publishing more than a score of striking new writers. Fascinating, confident, intelligently imaginative writers. I see announcements about them everyplace. Their work isn’t pop and it’s not literary– it’s something underground that you’ll have to read for yourself to decide if it’s your thing. They might be, like Homeless, from the streets, or they might be instead the refuse of the academy. Or something in between. Are they the future– a possible path or magical journey showing the literary future?

That’s not for us but for you the reader to decide. They’re here and aren’t going away.
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Purchase his book here. Do it.

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(Photo of Homeless.)

 

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Temporium by Kelly Cherry

A Review by New Pop Lit

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“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.

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Temporium is available at Press 53.

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(Photo of Kelly Cherry.)