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.


Bucho said...

this sounds like a fun one. might have to grab it up.

Monica said...

love your review, especially the dollhouse analogy.
i'm definitely interested. thanks.

punkychewster said...

sounds like an interesting read! you also write beautifully, even if it's just a review!

demie said...

interesting review and blog!
i`ll be visiting : )