Tag Archives: Poetry

Review & Blog Tour: Alien vs. Predator

Alien vs. Predator

Alien vs. Predator
By Michael Robbins
(Penguin (Non-Classics), Paperback, 9780143120353, March 2012, 88pp.)

The Short of It:

Sharp, edgy and bold.

The Rest of It:

I am not a regular reader of poetry.  I read poetry in college and every now and then, I’ll come across a poem that speaks to me, but once again, just to be clear… I am not a reader of poetry.  I often don’t know how to read them out loud, or on paper so what I look for, is something different from what I experience on a daily basis. I want to be disturbed (yes) a little bit and forced to think. I want to be shocked, but not put off and there is a fine line between shocking and disgusting when it comes to poetry.

When I first read Alien vs. Predator,  I felt assaulted and vaguely dirty. As if I had been taken advantage of and tossed to the curb.  I wasn’t sure what to think! I put it aside for a little while. That’s when I noticed that my mind kept going back to it, whether I wanted it to or not. The visceral reaction that I’d first had, morphed into a vague curiosity and of course, that led me to pick it up again. Why, you ask?

National Poetry Month - Blog Tour
I have a soft-spot for references to pop-culture and this collection is chock full of them. Kool-Aid, Amber Alerts, Care Bears, Michael J. Fox, Soylent Green (my personal fave) and the list goes on. The poems themselves are almost written in a stream of consciousness style which makes it impossible to predict which direction he’ll take. Sometimes they are dark and once in a while, they are funny. Although, I do have to admit that most of them seem a bit angry to me. Not violent, just angry, pissed-off at the world in some way but then right when they begin to get too dark, he throws in something to surprise you, like calling himself an asshole. I chuckled over that one.

This collection may not be for everyone. It’s certainly not for the reader who is looking for poems about beautiful gardens, paths not taken and white, puffy clouds of happiness but there is something here for a reader who is looking for more. More substance, more food for thought.

Check out this video of the author, reading one of my faves out of the collection, Material Girl. It’s a good representation of light and dark and gives you an idea of what you can expect from the collection itself. His reading begins right around the 1:00 minute mark.

Source: Review copy provided by the publisher via Net Galley.
Read for: National Poetry Month Blog Tour over at Savvy Verse & Wit
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Review: The Quickening Maze

The Quickening Maze

The Quickening Maze
By Adam Foulds
(Penguin (Non-Classics), Paperback, 9780143117797, June 2010, 272pp.)

The Short of It:

Here, madness and brilliance collide in an ethereal, tenuous manner but ultimately, the book falls short of its mark.

The Rest Of It:

This story is based on real events and is about John Clare, famed nature poet, and his stay at High Beach, a mental institution located on the outskirts of London in 1837. Along with Clare, we meet Alfred Tennyson who lives nearby and a host of characters including the hospital’s owners and their two young daughters.

Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, I had high hopes. I cannot argue its beauty, as it is beautifully written, but the story wandered in places and never really went anywhere. However, the world that Foulds creates is quite impressive. Mental institutions of the time were horrid places. Even for the well off, the treatment of the patients within often bordered on abuse,  which lends the book a “forbidden” quality that is slightly off-putting.

The idea of a famed poet, wandering around a mental institution opens the door to all sorts of experiences, yet… the experiences are brief, not particularly life changing and sometimes, given the nature of Clare’s condition, I was not sure if something was really happening, or if it was just taking place in Clare’s mind. I appreciated this aspect of the story, because these people were mad!  You can’t rely on any of them to tell the story and so you are constantly flipping pages and rereading passages to see if you read it right the first time around.

I considered this book to be an okay read, but not great. I felt as if the story went off in too many directions and sort of left Clare’s story hanging. There is a lot going on with the children, which is interesting to a degree but that path was also never fully developed. There is a bit of romance too, which seems oddly placed in a book about madness and although there was poetry, there wasn’t enough (in my opinion).  What could have been a really great read, was just okay.

This was my pick for book club but I was not able to make the meeting. I was told, that it was a good discussion though which doesn’t surprise me as there is plenty to discuss.

Source: Purchased
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.