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"A"


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3 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars For hardcore poets only, 14 Oct 2011
By 
John Ferngrove (Hants UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: "A" (Paperback)
Being of a compulsive nature, a flaw of mine is that I can never bring myself to stop reading a book having once started, no matter how unrewarding or painful the process. Perhaps though, by writing a public review giving reasons, I might be able to summon clarity of will enough to stop reading this one. I took a poet's recommendation that this was righteous work, and the promise of the opening pages, and now I am mired waist deep in its shambling, quotidian glossolalia, and have been for some months. Objectively considered, to persist with further wading through the 800 pages of this impenetrably viscid anti-epic, would be a waste of precious consciousness cycles that might be better assigned to pursuits that might yield actual insight, or even pleasure. All the same, I cannot bring myself to just banish this book to the outer darkness of the charity shop heap, for the author's purpose was righteous, and in its way, admirably fearless. Although there is little to enjoy or enlighten in `A', I can't bring myself to doubt that there is also art there; that what he was trying to do needed to be tried, and that just maybe future poets will read the signpost Zukofsky so relentlessly planted, and follow it to their own fruitful pastures.

What is Zukosky then? He's a bricks and mortar, steel and coal, rain and shine, kitchen sink, confessional stream of consciousness, proletarian, Jewish everyman kind of a family guy, with a love of Bach that brings occasional sunshine to the proud and plain, gritty urbanity, which he inhabits and dispassionately reports on. A worthy project. But then! Take some scissors, and chop it all up, a la William Boroughs, but without the junkies and alien mind-parasites, shuffle and reassemble for maximum dislocational effect. Voila!

It needed doing. As the obvious logical terminus of modernist twentieth century poetic trends someone had to do it. But now it's done, while it may reward a random dip with some moments of tantalising intrigue, no-one is ever going to sit down and read the thing, from cover to cover, for pleasure. I tried, and got little past half way, but as stated, needed to find a mode of honourable disengagement. But just maybe, an ambitious poet looking to break out of too established habits, might just find, at the right time and place, the catalytic spark they need in Louis Zukofsky's sprawling meta-poem.
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"A"
"A" by Barry Ahearn (Paperback - 4 Mar 2011)
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