Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Review: Light Boxes by Shane Jones

Title: Light Boxes
Author: Shane Jones
Publisher: Publishing Genius Press
Pages: 172
ISBN: 982081316
How I Heard About It: Jessa Crispin's interview with Shane Jones at Bookslut.
Two Sentence Summary: A small town is driven to despair and desperate measures by acts of malevolent schemer, February, who steals flight and warmth and children.  Thaddeus Lowe struggles alongside balloonists and beloved(s) to encourage the return of Spring.

Things I Think: This short, surrealist book reads like a collection of poetry, comprised of brief (often page-long) titled pieces that shift perspective from character to character.  (So of course, I was immediately interested.  Such a choice also means the book is a pretty quick read.)  Experimentation with type-setting and pagination works synchronously with the narrative.  The author's use of symbolism (recurring visions of "flight" appear as owls, kites, balloons, teeth, to name a few)  gives Light Boxes the feel of a grand mythology - a new brothers Grimm story set on shifting terrain, a fairy tale of every-time, every-place, every-worry.

Light Boxes has been accused of 'kitschy' melancholy by some, but I feel this negative summation ignores the beautiful work Jones does at the line level.  Yes, I'm reading not as prose, but poetry, and I think such a distinction re-frames Light Boxes in a pertinent way.  My experience was that of peering into a dollhouse, less concerned with the large-scale architecture than the individual, delicate trappings carefully placed in each room.  While I sense that Jones' design could use a bit of a re-org in places, his writerly gestures are ultimately quiet, focused, poignant.

For more thoughts, check out the beautiful review from The Rumpus or this less conventional write-up at Urban Elitest.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Mailbox Magic: "Damascus" and Mary Kay

My mailbox, tiny though it may be, has been a pretty happening place lately.  The delight of finding a padded surprise-filled mailer, particular when unexpected, is incomparable.

Exhibit A: Care Package from Meghan

Meghan Flannery is one of the most extraordinary humans I have the pleasure of knowing.  We've been adventuring together for the last ten years, and though frequently distanced (Meghan and her brilliant husband recently moved to Brooklyn), the good times have not been staunched.  This talented crafter, chef, music afficionado, sexy librarian (I could keep going) has sent me some of the best care packages a girl could ask for.  When I was living in England, she sent me American peanut butter, mac 'n cheese, and Ranch dressing - staples of my diet that she knew I couldn't access.  Treasure trove, I say!

Here's what I found in my mailbox most recently:

An eyeliner fiend's true love.
Meghan is my Mary Kay rep (read: dealer) and sent me some serious love.  Black eyeliner being ever a part of my personage, she hooked me up with the above-pictured accoutrements: onyx black mascara and this bubbly pink eye-makeup remover. It's pretty much the best ever.  My eyes have been reveling in the glory for days.  Her site is up and running, and she's got free shipping. I'm in big trouble (and so are you.)

Exhibit B: "Damascus" by Josh Mohr

Thanks to a giveaway on my favorite local lit blog, The Rumpus, I got the hook-up on a copy of Josh Mohr's latest book, "Damascus."  Reasons to love this book: It's set in my neighborhood, the book is beautifully designed, and Josh is an alum-turned-prof at my recent alma mater, USF.  He's excellent, his prose is gritty and wicked, and his publisher sent this delicious new book straight to the welcoming silver walls of my mailbox. Nothing left to be desired here, folks.

And now, having already been spoiled rotten, I'm off to dinner at Bushi-Tei with my dining companion and other half, Myla K. Tutt. Knocking on wood, but life is pretty damn good. Hope you are all having a cozy weekend.