July 3, 2008

Paul Deppler et al., Woke to a Freezing Room (American Book Congress, 2008). 13 pages.

If I'm not mistaken, this is the first physical publication of the American Book Congress. Between ABC members, it's being refered to modestly as "the pamphlet." Mr. Deppler here has assembled 11 solidly written prose poems (or short-shorts, if you prefer fiction's marketability). Each piece stands alone, while working to form a whole, disjointed narrative:

"Still on my walk, I bought a newspaper in a gas station along with a 24 pack of Busch Light and some lip balm. Made eggs, toast, coffee, read the paper, and was surprised to find there an editorial from a former mentor, which concerned, among other things, the idea that homosexuality was selected for at the population level in certain communities of spiders -- interesting -- and it reminded me, or got me thinking, of when I woke up before my alarm the other day . . . Ate hot wings and nachos, finally got around to clipping coupons" (7).
This particluar passage brings up recurring themes (gender ambiguity / sexual orientation, science, food, clocks / time) and uses them to frame an interesting discussion within the text. We are mid-point in the text, and here sexual orientation is being bracketed within the context of the narrator's ill-moderation of baser, physical desires: drunkenness & gluttony--a 24 pack, not a six pack; food at both the beginning and end of the passage / poem; eggs & toast, nachos & hot wings. Homosexuality is shown as a choice, but within a non-human, scientific context. How much can a newspaper reader induce from a study of arachnids to human behavior? And all of this is a preface to a day of the narrator clipping coupons (and presumably drinking a fair amount of Busch Light).
Each poem/short is equally packed with meaning, making this seemingly simple read, very complex.



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