Tuesday, September 30, 2008

John reads John (Ashbery, Gallaher)

Yes, we wrote that the right way round.

Last week, at a Best American Poetry event in NYC, John Ashbery read a John Gallaher poem, "In the Book of the Disappearing Book," which appeared in The Little Book of Guesses (Four Way, 2007, winner of the Levis Prize judged by Henri Cole).

You can get your hands on John's book at the Four Way Books website - a 32% discounted price when you buy direct from Four Way!

The Little Book of Guesses was one of the first books of poems to present an especially 21st century mindset. It takes place in a world where we’ve “accustomed ourselves to our customized dogs” and “honed the idea of ideas there in the obstacle race / that’ll never catch up.” But while it’s a world we’re not unfamiliar with – “in the New Age tourism is the answer” – Gallaher’s turn of speech is at once unique and exact, making the familiar strange and the strange familiar.

Serving as our escort through scenes including ‘The War Presidents Afternoon Tea’ and ‘A Moment in the Market of Moments,’ Gallaher offers us several Guidebooks: “to the Afterlife”, “to When Things Were Better”, a “Pocket Guide to Some Foreign Country.” There can only be guesses, but these poems are ever confident in their form and lyricism. Abundant with comedy, they contain more than a dose of irony and cynicism, and still find room for the quiet anger of frustration, of knowing that what seems most surreal about this world turns out to be reality itself.

Bin Ramke has commented, of John Gallaher’s poetry, that it is “neither pretending wholeness nor embracing fragmented language as if it were good enough…a powerful new kind of poem.”

"It appears / someday we’ll have a wonderful / future, in the green houses, the red hotels” writes Gallaher, and we find ourselves believing him, or at least wanting to—and desperately.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Eileen Pollack: Reviews, Readings

Eileen Pollack, author of the critically-praised and much-loved collection of short stories and novellas, In the Mouth (Four Way Books, 2008), is reading in several Jewish Book Network events, including at the Jewish Literary Festival in Washington, D.C., next week, September 22nd. If you're within travelling distance of D.C. go hear her, and find out why Stephen King called her "an American talent." Eileen will also be appearing at the Jewish Book Festival in Ann Arbor, MI, and the Jewish Book Festival in San Francisco, CA, both in November.

Eileen has recently received another two wonderful reviews, in Jewish Book World and in Ploughshares . Congratulations, Eileen!

Eileen also was quoted in the NY Times this week, asked for her opinion about the boundary between art and pranks. A busy week for this wonderful writer!