Scary, No Scary by Zachary Schomburg

I read most of Scary, No Scary in the bathtub last night. For poetry, it's not bad. At first I thought, well, this is too simple, too mired in nonsense. The lines, by themselves, are not shockingly good. I thought, this is awfully youthful stuff, as in, who cares.

Then I read a couple more poems and got it. There is a lot of repetition in this book, a lot of stacking of concepts and "characters" (like hummingbirds and darkness and falling and black holes and half-buried hearts). The poems become beautiful by accumulation, and the scope of the book broadens through the pages.

The more poems I read, the more I got into the space of Schomburg's ideas.

If you've ever heard the expression, "I don't know how to read that book," which is something smart people say when they're confused by what a poet is doing, this is a good book to read. I heard someone say that and thought, "When I don't get a book of poetry, I just figure I don't understand poetry. I never thought about different ways and techniques to read something." But this book provides an elementary way to understand how it, itself, should be read. It teaches the language as it's being read.

Also, the titles are really good.

A Cake Appeared by Shane Jones

I freaking love this book man. I think Shane Jones gets more wildly imaginative in the poems in A Cake Appeared than in his other work, which of course is all pretty wild in its imaginativeness.

I don't know how, but all these absurdities work when Shane writes them. Like facial hair breakdowns and stuff. They are good. There's a village in a dresser drawer.

It's pretty abnormal poetry. I don't think it's supposed to be taken too seriously.

But something serious happens anyway. Like, emotional seriousness happens even though the book isn't based on that.

If you were to ask someone why this book works, that person might say, "It works mostly because whoever wrote this didn't try to make something work." Someone else might say, "It's funny." Someone else might say, "Actually, it doesn't work because it's a little too much of nothing," and then that person might think, "Actually, that's pretty interesting."

If you were to ask someone about why this book works that person might say, "It's pretty good."

Anyway, this book was a lot of fun to read.

Questionstruck by William Walsh

This is an interesting book. I got it about a year ago and haven't really spent too much time with it. It is made up entirely of questions that the "author," William Walsh, culled from essays by Calvin Trillin. That is, like, whoa, what an idea. It was published by Keyhole Books. For some reason when I think of Keyhole I don't think of it as the most experimental press ever, but this book is a big experiment. When Lou Reed put out Metal Machine Music he didn't want it to be in the same bins as his other records. He wanted it to get a separate label so the kids didn't buy it thinking it would be like Coney Island or whatever. Berlin, I mean. Either that or he definitely wanted it to be on the same label, I can never remember.

Anyway, it's cool that Keyhole put this out because I like their books.

Okay, I have some questions. Who's Calvin Trillin? Why Calvin Trillin? Why questions, all? How does Walsh feel about that Padget Powell book, The Interrogative Mood? How does Calvin Trillin think about Questionstruck? Has he read it? All of it? In order? Did Calvin Trillin read it and think, "Why would I ask that question?"

I haven't read it too much because I'd usually rather watch 30 Rock. But from what I did see, I think Walsh ordered the questions in the best possible way to create an engaging thing. Conceptually I am interested in this book and would like to talk to someone who has read it all. I would like to know if they liked it. I really like the cover because it is handsome. Recommended for fans of wild life rifle fire.

A Common Pornography by Kevin Sampsell

Here's a book I really liked. It's different from other books I read because it's a memoir. I don't read a lot of memoir. I read James Frey's one. I read one by Franky Schaeffer about being Francis Shaeffer's son. A Common P is the only one I really liked. Well, I also read A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. Is that memoir? Anyway, I wasn't crazy about it.

When I read it I thought that Sampsell's book has a similar feel to the other memoir's I read, as in, the sentences don't seem meticulously crafted. There is a breezy quality to them. A breeze blew through the book and upset any of le words juste that had been there, and the remainder is a lot of functional sentences. That's what I thought about the sentences when I read them.

When I heard Sampsell read them, though, I changed my opinion. They seem to be very well crafted to storytelling, because when I heard them read aloud, I thought, this isn't like a boring reading, this is like listenting to an interesting storyteller.

And the book is crafted in the best possible way to become a page-turner-of-a-memoir. It's not just that the chapters (or sections) are exceedingly short. It is also that they are arranged in a give-and-take way, as in: here's a story from my life that is common to everyone; now here's something messed up that is local to my family.

If you want to read something interesting and worthwhile (worthwhile to humans, I mean), read this book. It's for sale for cheap, too. Only $9.95 at Powell's and I think it's $1 cheaper than that at Amazon.

Wild Life Rifle Fire by Paul Siegell

Well now, this is a very peculiar book. It costs $10. Whenever I encounter a book such as wild life rifle fire, by Paul Siegell, I start thinking about money.

This book is a single poem. Words of the poem continue from page to page, and for the most part there isn't one single word on any of the pages because the type is set at, what, probably 72pt. Many of the words are interrupted by ASCII drawings (I think this is accurate).

The effect is shocking. I hope I didn't ruin the shock for anyone who buys the book, because it seems to me to be an important book. Probably there is a long tradition of this sort of stuff. Probably it is called "concrete poetry," you know, like a poem about a swan that looks like a swan. But this is different because the poem is nonsensical in a pleasant way. It's nonsensical in a friendly way, and also in a smart way.

The poem adds to the conversation about what is poetry.

I would say the book is worth $10. The cover alone, the title, if we are paying people for good ideas, is worth your $10.

I'm going to go home and make some chicken stir fry with a peanut sauce.

Boring Boring Boring Boring by Zach Plague

I have received a lot of books in the last couple weeks and I want to read them all. How can I choose which one to read first?

Design helps.

I flipped through Zach Plague's book, Boring Boring Boring Boring (&c), starting at the front page. It's a little overwhelming. It's like these massive swooping design ideas going on all over the place. It's all really good, really consistent even in the huge variances of design style, but my first thought was, "This Plague guy is crazy. This is too much. It's overdesigned."

But then I started reading the story and I got pretty interested in it. It isn't the kind of story I have read in a while. It's countercultural in a direct way. It seems to hinge on the idea that some people are different than other people. That's a pretty basic idea, but lately I've been kind of feeling like everybody is the same.

So now I think that even though the design is over-the-top, I feel like that was a smart move. It made me look at this book first even though I have maybe 10 more that I've received in the last few days. I want to see what happens next. I want to look at it more to see how the story and design relate to each other.

I think everyone should see this book. Highly recommended. Buy it from Powells. As of this instant it's only like $5.95. What? That's crazy. Damn.

Eat When You Feel Sad by Zachary German

Eat When You Feel Sad is really good. It is written by Zachary German, who is young and lives in Brooklyn. It is a story about Robert, who is young and phlegmatic. I want to write about it more. I want to say something about how German's style is like Tao Lin's but different. It's even more detached, maybe? It's even more precise without being so cautiously self-aware? Whatevs. One thing that is often not noticed in Tao Lin's style is how funny it is. It's really funny. Same with Zachary German in his first book, Eat When You Feel Sad.

There might be something wrong with Robert's brain, or he might be totally fine and normal.

Highly recommended. Perhaps influential on society as a whole, or at least an important contribution to a movement that will be studied by aliens when they come to earth and try to understand earthlings (including humans and other life).

Killing Kanoko by Hiromi Ito

This collection of poems is really good. It is written with a sharp voice. Hiromi Ito is a Japanese poet. There is memorable repetition. I want to read it some more. I am going to write a review of it. It is very bright. One of the lines is "On days I can write poetry, I masturbate." Ito focuses on that line. She also writes, "On days I can write poetry, I do not masturbate" and "On days father can write poetry, he masturbates."

Another part goes, "On days I can write poetry, I have diarrhea."

Highly recommended. Buy it at SPD.

I don't understand it, but I can tell it's good. You might think that based on these lines Hiromi Ito would be like a 16-yr-old boy, but in fact she is in her 50s.

What is Book Daily

Writing about a book every day or so.