We Swallow(ed) Spiders in our Sleep

The latest edition of Word Riot is out, and a review caught my eye because of the title of the book:  We Swallow(ed) Spiders In Our Sleep.  The book is a collection of poems by Zachary C. Bush, and you can read the review here, which includes a few excerpts.  I gather that the reviewer, Christopher Cunningham, is a bit of a poet himself, judging from the opening sentence of his article:

“Zachary C. Bush’s hallucinatory poems, riddled with unexpected word choices, strong images, the occasional foray into surrealism and the razor edges of a hard young life being lived are the songs of an adventurous poet determined to squeeze each drop of lyrical imagination from the sun-burned, needle-pricked, aching skin of existence.”

Wow.  If I ever manage to get a collection of my own poetry together, I’ll have to remember to send a copy to him for review.

Unfortunately, like most poetry chapbooks, it’s not available on mass market sites like amazon.com.  The book is published by Pudding House Publications, but is not listed on their early 90’s-style webpage either (frames? really??) for some reason.  The author advises in his blog to contact Jen@puddinghouse.com to order a copy.

Following are pieces of poems I found by Bush in online magazines.  I’m not sure if these poems are published in his book or not, but these should give you a feel for his writing style.  The first excerpt is from Expelling Angels(s) as published in The CommonLine Project:

Love was spending Sunday
Mornings in bed wrapped in you,
Laughing at the weeping angels
Blanket curled, leaned against
The grey brick corner of my mind, holding
Soggy cardboard signs that read:

[Will Work for Some Pity]

And this one is from a poem called 18. as published on the  cleverly named site, Unlikely 2.0.

Blindfold her        tight, not to allow light.
Strip her               slowly.
Lay her                on granite couches clothed in velvet.
Tie her                  limbs with maroon sash.
Offer her              drinks flavored with peppermint and sweat.

I will be keeping my eye on this talented writer and also keeping my fingers crossed that his next book is a little easier to get my hands on.

Heart-Shaped Box

H.  It’s the eighth letter of the alphabet and the one I’m currently on in my ongoing alphabetical feature of 2007 novels.  Today’s book is Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill (which is actually the pen name of Stephen King’s son, Joseph King).  Lev Grossman sums up the plot this way in his Time Magazine review:

“Heart-Shaped Box is about a very rich and very washed-up rock star named Judas Coyne. At 54 Coyne is jaded and cruel and bored and emotionally shut-down, living in rural splendor in a converted farmhouse with his various disposable goth girlfriends, his recording days long behind him. He likes to collect gruesome artifacts like snuff films. ‘When Danny Wooten, his personal assistant, told him there was a ghost for sale on the Internet and asked did he want to buy it, Jude didn’t even need to think.'”

He then goes on to state:

“…every artist has to work in the shadow of his or her father-in-art, and symbolically, Oedipally overcome him, and in Hill’s case his father-in-art is also his literal, biological father. Heart-Shaped Box isn’t about appeasing fathers, and learning to love them, and seeing that they, too, are human beings and not monsters. It’s not about that at all. It’s about knowing your father, and finding him, and then killing him. That’s what the best artists do.”

Daydreamingmom has this to say about the book in her blog:

“Run out and buy this book now. Seriously…it is that good. I have heard several people say it was great for a debut novel. But this book would be great even if it wasn’t a debut. It had just the right amount of creep factor to make me a bit skittish when I was reading in bed after midnight. It’s been awhile since that has happened.”

Here is an excerpt from the book:

“He had a stiff and worn noose that had been used to hang a man in England at the turn of the century, Aleister Crowley’s childhood chessboard, and a snuff film. Of all the items in Jude’s collection, this last was the thing he felt most uncomfortable about possessing. It had come to him by way of a police officer, a man who had worked security at some shows in L.A. The cop had said the video was diseased. He said it with some enthusiasm. Jude had watched it and felt that he was right. It was diseased. It had also, in an indirect way, helped hasten the end of Jude’s marriage. Still he held onto it.

Many of the objectsin his private collection of the grotesque and the bizarre were gifts sent to him by his fans. It was rare for him to actually buy something for the collection himself. But when Danny Wooten, his personal assistant, told him there was a ghost for sale on the Internet, and asked did he want to buy it, Jude didn’t even need to think. It was like going out to eat, hearing the special, and deciding you wanted it without even looking at the menu. Some impulses required no consideration.”

Click on the links above to read the full reviews, or visit Joe Hill’s blog here.