Bereft of emotion,
I set sail using a series of misconceptions.
Somewhere a dog is barking.
I am not him.
As you can see I’ve been trying my hand at some poems. They’re all pretty dumb. I am feeling the pressure of these times we’re living in, I guess you could say. Birds falling out of the sky. Kids getting loose with handguns. It can get you down, that’s for sure, so I started writing these poems. “Poems for Dogs and Others” I’m calling them. So far it’s just the one but I got ideas for at least three more.
Anyway, some while back the nice little man in the UPS truck drives up and hands me this package. It’s a Monday. Holiday season is over and I’ve just put together this new cheap fake wood bookshelf that I got for 16 bucks at the Walmart and wouldn’t you know it, there’s four books in this package, and I think, what the.., and I think, I didn’t order any books. Then I see this note tucked in there, between the books and the package, that says “Kindly Regards, from Kitchen. Four spanking new books. We thought maybe you could do a series on them or something. ‘Course, if you they don’t do anything for you, just consider it another couple of free books. Everybody likes free books, no?”
Those guys again, eh? Fucking weirdos. I get them out and hold them in my hands, the books, four thin volumes (as far as I’m concerned, everything under 400 pages is to be considered thin). I put them in my new bookshelf, rearrange them, try to get the right mix of colors, settle for chronological order, and I must admit, it doesn’t look bad. It doesn’t look bad at all. I leave them there.
Some days pass, I haven’t as much as glanced at the books, then I hear this scuffle coming from my office. I go to check on it. Ralphonso has gotten in there, on the shelf of the damn book shelf and is nibbling away at the ear of one of the volumes. Not just nibbling either, he’s really going after it.
“Easy boy. Down boy,” I say.
The book’s called, get this “The Baltimore Years” and the fucking funny thing is that he really has taken an ear out of it. I got the piece out of him that has the “ears” written on it, got some tape, and taped it back on. Fucking funny.
Sorry. I probably shouldn’t be using this kind of language. It probably will alienate some people. Well fuck it. I shouldn't be writing this in the first place. I had a good thing going with those poems, then this thing with Ralphonso happened. Don’t worry. I’ll pick it up a notch for the review, if there is a review. I’m thinking there might not be one, but you never know. I don’t know what’s going to happen next, I’m not fucking Nostradamus, I’m not Miss Daisy in the Tarot Shop either. Ha ha.
Okay. First of all, this book is like 6-7 years old and that kind of makes you wonder about these guys. It seems all like a conspiracy to me. I’ve been doing some googling you see. In that book, “Life and War” there was this one scene where some guy was blowing another guy, and that his cock was as big as a “rolled up Willesden Herald”. Turns out the guy fucking won the Willesden Herald Short story contest some years back, and that these guys in turn are connected to these Pretend Geniuses who has this book put out. It all comes fucking full circle doesn’t it? Then you look at the back of this book and one of the things there has been signed by a “Henry Delgado”. The empty banana trees are starting to tower up, aren’t they?
dirty or clean,
hanging on the same clothesline,
blowing in the wind.
It’s a jungle of connections and disconnections in the small time publishing world. At this current moment, “Shooting Miss Daisy” has been rejected, politely and not so politely, fucking 17 times.
The Baltimore Years by J. Tyler Blue (PretendGeniusPress)
Review by A. Peters
It’s a speedy read, doesn’t take more than a couple of hours to leaf through. Here are poems and stories tangled together into something of a mosaic, a disturbed man’s holy music. Mr. Blue moves from tragedy to comedy and back so quickly that once you hear yourself laughing, what you’re laughing at, you find, is Godless and deadly and utter despair.
Everything is drawn with razor-sharp precision, followed by a resounding echo: Nobody is there. The language is of the barest minimum, sentences stripped to their most functional and unsettling. By the same token, when something is beautiful it is not beautiful twice removed but first hand (as here, on the very first page):
“My kite string is running out just as the wind is picking up. Tennessee never looked so far away.”
After reading the second story in the book, “My Valentines”, you get the impression that this is a narrator that just can’t be trusted (believed, yes, trusted, no) so if you’re looking to be led by the hand, cuddled and entertained this is probably not the book for you. You will be led by the hand, all right, you will be led in spades, but not to anywhere you would particularly want to be, but rather a dark room situated somewhere in the back, where strangers will have their way with you.
Solipsistic, perhaps, the various narrators reflect back on the king of all narrators, behind which somewhere, we assume, the writer is hiding. It is all somehow connected, only you can’t quite put your finger on it. Little things here and there connect to other things, small things, creating an eerie feeling of dislocation, déjà vu. You find yourself thinking: Didn’t I just read this passage an hour ago? Am I losing my marbles?
In some ways I was reminded of the early cradle western literature, the Greeks and the Romans and their stabbing at what matters, with poetry but without décor. The basic ingredients of good story telling, good poetry anywhere, being: sex, violence, death.
The book reads like a three-stage rocket, starting out piling its stories and occasional poems in a somewhat conventional way, only the last stage is not a bang but the drawn out screech of someone terminally depressed. The receiver has been left off the hook, and all that is left is the dial-tone imitating itself. Sisyphus, we recall, attempting to out-clever Zeus, met a similar fate.
Actually I’m still here. I don’t know what I’m doing. Maybe I ran out of steam, what with the references to Greek mythology and shit. It got sort of out of hand. I was having to double check on Wikipedia as I did to get the names right and before I knew it I was on this other site. I needed a breather. Anyone can pull anyone of those old smoke blowers out of their hat and make it stick.
I don’t think I’m all that caped out to this reviewing business to be honest. It’s one liners and there he transcended the moment and there he undulated in a duendeesque fashion and here yet again he sounded like a seagull flapping his wings. It was terse, it was shallow, it was complicated, it was this and that. I mean, the writer goes about milking the world through his little tubes and then makes a poster of it all and the reviewer, if that’s suppose to be me, is left crunching his bones by the cardboard print-out trying to think of something clever to say.
Besides, I’m out of dog food. I’m out of a lot of things but that’s what makes itself most audibly known. Ralphonso is going chickens and it’s a hunger no book can satisfy. I’ll see if I can get back to this later.
Screw this. I’m clocking this review at 3 hours and 21 minutes (that’s 5 hours 7 minutes with research.)
It's a pretty good book though. I want to say that. I should say that.
(Kitchen note: We would like to ensure our readers that we have not nor will we pay Mr. Peters for any of his reviews. We're not too happy about this development in Mr. Peters writing, these innuendos. A review is about something else. Mr. Peters is making it all about himself.)