Best Night Listening…

Here are my current top five night records, in honor of an empty apartment and too many Black Friday purchases lying around my living room, waiting for their corners in the closet. Got different picks? If so, leave them in the comments. (I realize that many of my picks are rather generic and commercial, but I suppose these CDs are simply what I go to when the night descends and I sit for far too long in a dark living room before getting up to turn on the lights).

5. Modern Guilt by Beck

Chalk it up to Danger Mouse’s swampy production, the haunted whispers backdropping the record’s opener “Orphans” and its closer “Volcano,” Beck’s plaintive vocals, which at times nearly equal Sea Change’s depression, whatever the reason, Modern Guilt perfectly couples the hours post-bar close to the hour the station wagons swing around our neighborhoods, tossing out the daily paper. Or in my case, perfectly couples the lonely walk up past the lit-up dome of the Capitol to the police station to report to the parking office for work on a clear December night.

4. Mystery EP by BLK JKS

This is the record to pair with the moment the night turns, hopefully right as “Summertime” cues up. Perhaps the moment when you pull her down on the couch next to you and run a hand up the back of her shirt or when you tilt up the eighth of Jack only to see right through the wavy lens of the bottom of the bottle or when you cruise out of Las Vegas with a wad of money in your back pocket and the stars opening up above you.

3. Neon Bible by The Arcade Fire

Unlike Funeral, which by comparison has some incredibly uplifting moments (thanks largely to “Wake Up”), Neon Bible is a very dark record for a very dark time. The panoramic sweep of “Keep the Car Running” and its barren landscape; the Springsteen-ian, working class chant of “(Antichrist Television Blues);” the full-throated vibes of “My Body is a Cage,” surely blasting over the pews of an empty church; all this makes a good night record, particularly to sip gin to or—and perhaps here is where I am a bit biased—to coast north through Indiana and run the deserted freeway that swings through Indianapolis. While “In the Backseat” will remain one of my favorite night songs (along with Karen O’s “Hello Tomorrow, the song from the Adidas commercials of the same name), Neon Bible is a great night record.

2. All We Grow by S. Carey

Changing pace and tone and proving that not all night records need be overly dark, All We Grow serves as good background music to late-night grading or writing. Atmospheric, rollicking and wounding (sometimes in the same song, as with “In the Dark”), this is a record to sink into, as you rest on the couch, thinking that long ago, you should have been in bed.

1. Time Out of Mind by Bob Dylan

This record is so saturated with a soft shuffle reminiscent of the last 2 a.m. slow dance at a backcountry tavern that I can barely listen to it during the day. “Love Sick” enters slowly with the faint pat of a foot beating time almost imperceptibly before the organ and Dylan’s clear vocals gives us something to follow down a dark road. The record balances heavyweight ballads (“Not Dark Yet,” “Make You Feel My Love,” and “Standing in the Doorway”) with some upbeat jams (“Dirt Road Blues”) to keep things interesting. It’s strikes the perfect balance between lovelorn and late-night horny.

An old friend of mine years back had this CD stolen from his car one night along with his radio. In trying (and ultimately succeeding) to jar the radio loose, the kids cracked the plastic of the dash. My friend, shrugging his shoulders, said, “At least they aren’t good crooks.” It’s a sentiment perfectly fitting a record where Dylan sounds as if the world is sucking him dry, but he don’t mind. He just keeps trucking down the highway.

Honorable Mentions: ( ) by Sigur Ros, Rain Machine by Rain Machine, Blood on the Tracks by Bob Dylan, Dear Science by TV On the Radio, The Social Network (Soundtrack) by Trent Reznor, Broken Bells by Broken Bells, Dark Night of the Soul by Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse, The Ghost of Tom Joad by Bruce Springsteen, So Runs the World Away by Josh Ritter, 808s and Heartbreaks by Kanye West, Wyclef Jean Presents The Carnival by Wyclef Jean, XX by The XX


Found Poem: Jack Gilbert Refuses Heaven

Jack Gilbert Refuses Heaven

—With text taken from “Eight Takes” by Dan Chiasson

A poet of reckless charism
and aftermaths,
a catch-as-catch can Castiglione
consigned by the wayward
and imagined. He’s addled
talk after a wild night out,
strung out sprezzatura, as he bobs
and weaves among the memories
of old loves in old,
European cities. Like the Beats,
Gilbert is a classic backdrop,
stage-sets. He’s panoramically rural,
he’s intimate piazza and stone
fountain. He’s an allegoric ring
falling from a woman’s hand.
As so we meet Gilbert the cruiser,
scripture lost in the swagger
of a woman wiping barbeque sauce
across her breasts as he
gets lost in the energy flexes.


Is this blog still breathing?

If so, and I'd argue that it is (if barely), here's a found poem with text taken from this article. And you thought the earth cared...

The Earth Doesn’t Care About You

Six million years ago the Mediterranean dried up.
Ninety million years ago there were alligators

in the Arctic. Three hundred million years ago
Northern Europe was a desert and coal formed

in Antarctica. One thing we know for sure,
he says to me, is that people weren’t involved.


Twelve Twelve Ten: April 2010

April and May proved to be busy months, relegating me to the classroom and to all-night grading sessions, though I've been keeping up with my reading list. Regular posts, however, have suffered. To catch up, I will present capsule reviews of all the books I've been reading through (there have been a lot) and will preview what's to come for June. I will resolve, as always, to make my June 30th deadline this month, which shouldn't be too hard as I'm already 70 pages into The History of Love (along with a handful of others). Anyway, on to the reviews...

The list for April:

The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil
by George Saunders
144 pgs.

While pulling pick list in the Adult Fiction section of the Madison Public Library, I came across Saunders' little grouping of books and left work that day with a pair: The Persistent Gappers of Frith and The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil. Anyone familiar with Saunders will know he's not a stranger to the novelle--one of his most popular stories is the novelle-length "Pastoralia" (the capstone and title story to his second collection). This novella shares the same satirical bite of "Pastoralia," though it deviates farther into the surreal.

The novella follows the residents of Inner Horner, a country so small that only one of the half-human, half-machine Inner Hornites can fit into it at any time. (The rest must wait in the Short Term Residency Zone for their turn to step into their country). However, when Inner Horner shrinks, forcing the lone Inner Hornite resident to overflow into Outer Hornite, all hell breaks loose. Phil, a boisterous Outer Hornite with a loose brain (and continually falls off its track) and an attitude poisoned by jealousy toward the Inner Hornites, sweeps into action, declaring an Invasion In Process and levying taxes for trespassing against the Inner Hornites. Things spiral out of control from there.

The book has been compared to Orwell's Animal Farm for good reason. Both novels satrically skewer the predominate mindset of their respective ages, Orwell's novel illuminating the corruption that would inevitably take down a utopia and Saunders' novella pointing out the ridiculousness of uncontrolled nationalism and the danger of inept leadership. Saunders sketch is so relatable to real life that it is hard to stave off depression. This isn't a far-fetched story. Saunders' view of things could easily come to pass (for instance, if a certain former governor somehow becomes president). Hopefully, God will get us out of our mess too.

The Wild Things
by Dave Eggers
300 pgs.

If the cover hooks you from across the bookstore or the library, if you like the feel of the pages, the type-design that always sets apart a McSweeney's book, if you see Eggers and think, "Yes, a follow up to that memoir/novel/movie of his I loved," resist the temptation to take the book home. I don't mean to come down hard on a book that after all, it is aimed for children ages 9-12. Why should I, with my big huge brain, be drawn in by it? Why should I be reviewing a book for children?

Good questions, but let me propose this: Children's literature is often one of the last places we look for worthwhile and engaging literature, but often times, that's where its found. The action sequences, the mysteries, the strong-voiced narrators, the simple yet universal morals, the unbridled imagination unsoiled by age and responsibility and all the shit slog of life. The clay of Sendak's "Where the Wild Things Are" plus the literary skills of Eggers (a man with no shortage of imagination and cheekiness) should have equaled a children's novel with a simple message adults could still grove on. After all, the picture book is nothing if not dark and resonant beyond its audience and initial plot line.

Eggers adaptation, however, fails to deliver on the promise of the original. For such a strange yet imaginative boy, Max could make for an interesting narrator. However, he lacks depth and any sense of wisdom (even the skewed logic of an intelligent 12 year-old). Quite simply, he is boring, which makes for a long and frustrating read. Beyond that, there is little sense of change throughout the narrative. Max visits the island of the "wild things," causes a bunch of havoc, and returns home unmoved and unchanged. It's hard to pick out the purpose or the point of the narrative--what are we to take from this?--and that's fine if the story is interesting. Unfortunately, this one just isn't.

The Persistent Gappers of Frith
by George Saudners
84 pgs.

A novella, a children's book, and now a picture book? I promise that from here on out (or at least for the rest of this and May's reviews), I'll devote my attention to "adult" literature, but I couldn't go without mentioning this wonderfully simple picture book. Don't let that categorization throw you, though. Like Where the Wild Things Are, the book seems aimed at adults as much as children (and in the Madison Public Library, it is actually shelved in the adult fiction section). It tells the story of a small town (composed of three families) who every evening is overrun with Gappers, baseball-sized creatures who love goats so much, they cling to the goat fur and let out squeals of delight. Doesn't sound so bad, does it? The problem is that these squeals wake up the goats, thin them out from worry, and keep them from producing milk--the lifeblood of the community.

To keep the milk flowing, the children of each family comb the Gappers off of their goats and toss them into the sea, where the process starts all over again. One day, they decide that instead of splitting up evenly between the families, the Gappers will all attach themselves to the goats of the nearest house. That's when things start to change...

An interesting (and quick) read, this book again delivers an indictment of society (the second from Saunders in this post). Add to that Lane Smith's illustrations (who's illustrated such classics as the Stinky Cheese Man and The Time Warp Trio series, and here's one you should devote an hour to, preferably on a rainy day when you can imagine yourself living next to a sea full of Gappers.

Wampeters, Foma, & Granfallons
by Kurt Vonnegut
288 pgs.

I thought this book would finish my spring fascination with Vonnegut, first brought on by his novel Galapagos. A collection of his non-fiction writing (in particular, a grouping of speeches he had delivered to such groups as the American Physical Society and the National Institute of Arts and Letters), WFG (for short) seems a bit unnecessary. Often times, his personal philosophy is better voiced and developed in his novels, and I found some of the short pieces (book reviews and random anecdotes) unnecessary. The reviews, along with the longer non-fiction pieces he wrote on Transcendental Mediation and Madame Blavatsky restricted Vonnegut from opening up his voice and scattering his asides throughout the pieces. For me, this is what makes Vonnegut's writing worth reading.

Still, the book contains some stand-outs: "Biafra: A People Betrayed" recounts Vonnegut's experience watching firsthand the final days and collapse of Biafra (and provides an interesting lens behind which to view Vonnegut's characterization of Ecuador in Galapagos). His screenplay "Fortitude" provides an interesting view of a novel premise that didn't quite make it to the development stage but is interesting nonetheless. The lengthy Playboy interview that finishes off the book is filled with Vonnegut-isms and insights. Overall, this is a book for the Vonnegut fan looking for a different venue in which to hear Vonnegut offer up opinions. Start somewhere else--Slaughter House Five or Cat's Cradle--then proceed on to other novels--Galapagos or Breakfast of Champions. Only tread here when you have nothing left.

Revolution in the Air: The Songs of Bob Dylan, Vol. 1: 1957-73
by Clinton Heylin
482 pgs.

Nobody but the die-hard Dylan fan will care much for what I have to say about this book, so I'll keep it short. This first volume (of two) that researches and reports on the composition of every Dylan song (even the scraps and rumored songs) up to Planet Waves is an interesting read, particularly during Dylan's fertile years when he was producing a new album every eight months. Because of it's layout, it provides a nice reference for the casual Dylan fan who wants to skip over unfamiliar songs, but it also brings the meat for the Dylan-aficionado looking for a discussion of the best studio take of a song like "Sign on the Window." The only problem with the volume is Heylin's pretentiousness. His one-upmanship gets tiresome and his refusal to cite internet sources is downright deplorable. Bad people can still write good books; all us AWP goers can attest to that, having watched our literary heros drunkenly fondle undergraduates in dingy bars. And Heylin has done that: written a good first volume. That doesn't mean, though, that I'd ever buy the guy a beer.


Twelve Twelve Ten: March 2010

If you came looking for John Smolens’ The Anarchist, I’m sorry to say that I must disappoint. Given my abbreviated time schedule (having finished Middlesex near the middle of the month), I decided to jump ahead to Vonnegut’s Look at the Birdie so that I would have the entire month of April to focus on The Anarchist. To make it up to y’all, I have a two-for-one Vonnegut month with reviews of both Look at the Birdie and Galapagos. For new comers to the 12/12/10 project, read about it here.

Look at the Birdie
by Kurt Vonnegut
251 pgs.

My love for Kurt Vonnegut is perpetually in flux, directly proportional to the rollercoaster quality of his work—in college, I was addicted to Slaughterhouse-Five, I loved Timequake, Man Without a Country seemed largely like unnecessary repetition, Armageddon in Retrospect reaffirmed my belief that there is a reason early and unpublished stories remained uncollected. I love him. I dislike him.

For this reason, I began his latest posthumous collection of previously unpublished stories, Look at the Birdie, with a fair bit of caution. As Sidney Offit explains in the book’s foreword, “It could be that these stories didn’t appear in print because… they didn’t satisfy Kurt” (x). To prove this hypothesis, Offit offers a memory of Vonnegut’s workrooms, which were covered in “rolled up balls of paper in the wastebaskets” (xi). And though some of the stories seem underdeveloped and many of the entries feel like kindling for a bigger fire, this collection is far less unnecessary than Armageddon in Retrospect. While not his best, the collection does help to illustrate some of Vonnegut’s hidden talents in the area of suspense and crime drama writing hitherto unknown, at least to me, and largely unexplored in his novels.

The opener “Confido” is typical Vonnegut: an innocuous science experiment threatens to ruin a family and wreak wide-spread havoc on society at large. Henry, a tinker in all things mechanical, invents a machine to satisfy humankind’s most basic desire—the need to have someone to talk to. Everything works fine at first until the machine, which they named Confido, until it begins voicing “the worst in us,” the suspicions, the self-pity, the insults. At that point, Henry and Ellen decide to stop listening. For a story most likely written well before the 21st century, I couldn’t help but wonder at the social commentary the story could offer on our present reliance on cell phones, the need to constantly communicate, and the corrosive effect it can have. Even from the grave, Vonnegut can point out our flaws with his compassion and biting wit.

An undercurrent in “Confido” could also be the relationship between the sender of the message and the receiver. Read another way, the story could be Vonnegut’s veiled way of working through the complex relationship shared by author and reader, a conflict that takes center stage in “Shout About It From the Housetops.” This story chronicles the effect an author’s writing can have on a relationship, the danger of connecting an author’s work to his life, which is a sort of strange warning to get from Vonnegut, an author who didn’t take too many pains to mask the parallels between his life and his work.

The line between fiction and memoir in Vonnegut’s work has always been vague, whether its his novel/memoir/vignette hybrid Timequake, the glimpse we are offered into Vonnegut’s insecurities through his alter-ego Kilgore Trout, or his direct intrusion into Breakfast of Champions, Vonnegut’s later works seems as interested in exploring himself as it is in narrating a plot. Even Slaughter-House Five, if the introduction can be believed, was written, at least in part, as a way for Vonnegut to process his eye-witness account of the bombing of Dresden.

Here though, Vonnegut seems to be worried about the disastrous effects of reading one’s work as a diary of one’s life. In the story, a woman writes a thinly veiled romance novel that centers on a man who greatly resembles her and a woman who shares much in common with the author. The author lampoons and caricaturizes people from the her town in the novel, which leads to her husband's firing from his job and puts a strain on their marriage. Although the two end up reconciling, the story ends on an ominous note: the narrator of the story, a window salesman who stumbles upon the husband and wife as they argue over the book, hears that the woman has penned another novel, though this time, the main character is a window salesman.

These opening stories are what we’d expect from Vonnegut, but the collection quickly moves on to a different aspect of Vonnegut’s work: the crime drama, starting with “Ed Luby’s Key Club,” and continuing with “Hall of Mirrors,” “The Honor of a Newsboy,” and the title story, “Look at the Birdie.” “Ed Luby’s Key Club,” the 52-page centerpiece, is the first story in the collection to see Vonnegut venture into the psychological thriller. The near-novella follows a Da Vinci Code-esque sequence of events after Harve Elliot and his wife Claire are framed for a murder committed by Ed Luby. Luby, a former member of the Mafia, is protected by the city’s police force (his brother is the chief), and he controls the rest of the city with his massive wealth. To clear his name, Harve will have to take down the corruption of an entire city. That is, if he can make it out of the city alive.

The collection follows “Ed Luby’s Key Club” with a trio of thrillers: “Hall of Mirrors,” a story about a murderous hypnotist, “The Honor of a Newsboy,” a relatively generic and undeveloped murder mystery, and “Look at the Birdie,” perhaps his most interesting of the trio. In “Look at the Birdie,” Vonnegut combines his interest in psychological thrillers with a broader discussion of societal conventions. The story opens with the narrator talking loudly and half-heartedly about wanting to have an enemy killed when a man sidles up next to him and offers to do the job. Very shortly, though, it’s the narrator who finds himself in danger.

The book is subtitled: “Unpublished Short Fiction,” and perhaps some of the book should have remained this way, at least in its current form—“Confido” feels like start notes for a much longer novel, “Ed Luby’s Key Club” verges on novella length, the ending of “The Honor of a Newsboy” seems tacked on—but we cling to Vonnegut and rejoice in new work, whatever state its in, because we want to live a little longer with his wry, self-deprecating, fatherly voice.

His present day equivalent could be John Stewart in one key aspect. Of course, both offer social critique, both point out absurdities, and cloak their messages in humor—many satirists do this. What connects them, though, is what made me love Vonnegut and now John Stewart: they aren’t disconnected social critics. Readers (and viewers) can perceive the hurt, the sadness over the “human condition” behind their words. We don’t want someone like Vonnegut to give up on us. Thankfully, we have these stories, even if they vary in quality, as comfort.

by Kurt Vonnegut

After Look at the Birdie reignited my love for Vonnegut, I decided to deviate from my reading schedule and knock off one of the final few Vonnegut novels I have yet to finish. Galapagos has long been a fascination ever since I first stumbled upon a hardcover, first copy of the novel on the dusty shelves of a used bookstore. Back then, the twenty dollar first copy price tag sent me instead to old copies of Jailbird or one of his other lesser novels, but I never lost that desire to read a book that listed this enticing tagline on the back cover: “Kurt Vonnegut takes you back one million years to A.D. 1986—and the beginning of the human race.” He uses this retrospective perch to lambast the prevailing mentality of the 1980s (especially the abuse of the environment, uncontrollable greed, and the mistreatment of the poor—sound familiar?). So what is his criticism? Humans fall victim to their giant brains, which tell them to lie and to act mule-headedly out of shame and devise elaborate ways of killing one another. Here’s one of the problems the narrator of the book has with our big brains:

That, in my opinion, was the most diabolical aspect of those old-time big brains: They would tell their owners, in effect, ‘Here is a crazy thing we could actually do, probably, but we would never do it, of course. It’s just fun to think about.’ And then, as though in trances, the people would really do it—have slaves fight each other to the death in the Coliseum, or burn people alive in the public square for holding opinions which were locally unpopular, or build factories whose only purpose was to kill people in industrial quantities, or to blow up whole cities, and on and on. (266)

Eventually, Mother Nature says enough is enough and sends mankind some mysterious virus that keeps everyone from conceiving. Everyone, that is, except for a small community of refugees from Ecuador, who have run aground in the Galapagos Islands and inadvertently "restart" humanity. It is an intriguing premise made even more intriguing by the narrator of the story (who I will purposefully leave unnamed) and the narrator’s perspective. By placing him a million years in the future (from 1986), Vonnegut can use him to show that our accepted view of the direction of evolution might just be misguided.

Before entering this book, I had my clearly defined list of Vonnegut favorites: Cat’s Cradle, Slaughterhouse-Five, Timequake, Slapstick. Now I have another book to add to the list. If you haven’t yet stumbled onto this one, make time for it. I guarantee it will find its place in your top three.


After my poor showing in February, I am back on track with my (now revised) schedule. In April, I will read The Anarchist by John Smolens followed by The History of Love by Nicole Krauss in May. I’m hesitant to forecast my schedule beyond May, since I read books, most often, on whims. But by the end of the year, I’d like to tackle Catch-22, One Hundred Years of Solitude, a mess of Faulkner, and a trio of Toni Morrison books: Song of Solomon, Beloved, and The Bluest Eye.

Check back at the end of next month for my review of The Anarchist by John Smolens.


Twelve Twelve Ten: February 2010

Editor's note: This review is the opener of my Twelve Twelve Ten project. (Props to Nick Lantz for the idea.) The basics: I will do my best to read (and compose short review/responses to) one book per month for the next ten years. My reviews are not meant to be overly critical. Instead, I hope to help generate a discussion around books that I find interesting, baffling, enjoyable, maddening, uplifting. In short, books that beg for a response. I am willing to take suggestions, though ideally, I want to work through books I own before taking on more, as my secondary goal is to clear off my bookshelf by getting through novels I've neglected for far too long. If you have a different "take" on Middlesex, please share it below. I'm curious to see how other's responded to this book. And while I began this project with Angela's Ashes, I decided against reviewing it. In truth, the depression brought on by that book made it hard to consider anything beyond its utter despair--not a good ingredient for a review. So, without further ado...

by Jeffrey Eugenides
Soft cover
Publisher: Picador
2002, 529 pp., $15

My philosophy on resolutions is that there’s no better way to start than by taking one of the biggest bites right off the bat. This is how I find myself turning the last page of Jeffrey Eugenides’ Middlesex in the middle of March, about two weeks overdue. (I promise to right myself this month). Despite overlapping a bit into March, I’ve gotten through the book. But that’s probably the wrong way to put it; I sound like reading the book wasn’t a pleasurable experience. In reality, Middlesex is simply incredible: an epic, historic (even Homeric) literary novel that is somehow still a page-turner (similar, in my reading experience, to E. Anne Proulx’s The Shipping News). It’s so stunningly poetic, I’m finding it hard to resist devolving into a muttering pile of superlatives. Wonderful! Brilliant! At times, orgasmic!

Instead, I should let the book show you what I mean. To describe the burning Greek city of Smyrnos, Eugenides’ narrator Cal describes the flames reflecting on the water, the water brightening as “though a school of phosphorescent fish had entered the harbor” (56). Later on, there’s this passage, an illustration of the book's mix of imagination and conflict over language and culture, of the inability to express emotion in a meaningful way:
Emotions, in my experience, aren’t covered by single words. I don’t believe in "sadness," "joy," or "regret." Maybe the best proof that the language is patriarchal is that it oversimplifies feeling. I’d like to have at my disposal complicated hybrid emotions, Germanic train-car constructions like, say, "the happiness that attends disaster." Or: "the disappointment of sleeping with one’s fantasy." … I’d like to have a word for "the sadness inspired by failing restaurants" as well as for the "excitement of getting a room with a minibar." I’ve never had the right words to describe my life, and now that I’ve entered my story, I need them more than ever. (217)
The book is full-up with these kinds of imaginative flourishes—a man woos a woman by playing a clarinet against her thighs, another man drives his car through the ice only to reemerge chapters later in a Mosque, an awkward teenager is turned into a mythological god in a dunk tank—and most of these images, the “life” of the book, is supplied by the first-person narrator, whom The New York Times described as a cross between Tristram Shandy, Ismael, and Holden Caulfield. The voice of the narrator is unquestionably vibrant and unique, but sometimes, such a classification—“strong voice”—can be an underhanded slight against technique. (Think performance poetry). I’m here to clarify that there’s no loss in technique, that as a poet, there were many moments that I wanted to tattoo the text into my brain because it’s just that well-written. This, for you writers out there, is a book to learn from.

While completing my Bachelor’s, I stumbled upon Eugenides’ The Virgin Suicides in the dusty stacks of UW-Green Bay’s Cofrin Library, and because I remember this book lodged in the backpacks of all the “cool” and “enlightened” girls in high school, I decided to read it. While the three-person narration was interesting and the book on a whole is competent, The Virgin Suicides is nowhere near the level of Middlesex, which isn’t to disparage Eugenides’ first book. Instead, it’s incredible to witness the growth from one book to the next. It won the Pulitzer Prize, and it’s not surprising to see why. This is a book that’s whittled a permanent place on my bookshelf.

My goal of getting rid of books is starting to fail miserably (though on second thought, Middlesex is too good to hold onto. I must, instead, send it on to someone else who’d appreciate it). Of course, it has its faults, particularly, the imbalance between the story of the Stephanides family and the more immediate story line of Cal's present struggle with sexuality. The craft, however, masks these (minor, in my opinion) issues with plot. Then again, as a poet, I probably read fiction for different reasons than the general populous. Lovers of words, take up the book. Those looking for Dan Brown thrillers, look elsewhere.

Two months down. Up next, John Smolens’ new novel The Anarchist. Check back at the end of March (or maybe, the first week of April).