Today we’re thrilled to introduce another member of the Malvern team: Adam, who you might remember as our metal maven. When he’s not musing on the Melvins or tipping his hat to Helmet, Adam is browsing the Malvern shelves for the very best in books—and here’s what he has to say about one of his faves…
“Screen Door Jesus” by Christopher Cook (from the short story collection of the same name) is a story that takes place in a quiet, highly religious southern town. The story follows several different characters, all of whom have been affected differently by a town sensation. It is a very well written third-person narrative that vividly portrays the debate on religion and how both sides are affected by it. The characters in the book are portrayed in a way that allows the reader to feel a sense of understanding of what they are going through in their stories. This is definitely a book worth having for a reader who is looking for an original, exciting story with memorable writing and inspiring characters to go along with it.
I hope you’re feeling suitably social, my dears, because it’s time to meet another esteemed member of the Malvern mob. Today we’re saying hello to Taylor Jacob Pate, whom you might remember from our Grand Opening festivities. As well as performing assorted Malvern duties, Taylor is editor-in-chief of smoking glue gun and the art director for Bat City Review. And today he’d like to introduce you to one of our all-time faves, the artfully alarming Holy Land by Rauan Klassnik.
Hold on to your face and dance around wildly while you still can. Holy Land is a smash and grab job that will slam your heart in and out of human tenderness and violence. In this dreamy world everything’s gleaming and bloody like smashed glass in the light of the moon. Klassnik’s language is swift, direct and brutal as he darts from the domestic to the cosmic to the afterlife to the ditch by the side of the road.
And so, we stood before him at last, our ribs shining
through like painted blood, and he shook his cage,
there in the center of the universe, howling, till we gave
him a cigarette and he leaned back, his eyes a newborn
child’s. It isn’t hard to kill. The beauty of a dove
trapped in a circle filled with smoke.
It’s about time you met another Malvern! You’ve already made the acquaintance of Dr. Joe, Katherine, and Tyler (who you can also get to know a little better via our sparkling new YouTube channel)—now allow me to introduce the delightful Polly Monear, our visual merchandising expert and lover of fine poetry. Here’s what Polly has to say about one of her recent discoveries, The Roads Have Come to an End Now, by acclaimed Norwegian poet Rolf Jacobsen (1907-1994)…
WOW—I’ve read this book three times in the last week, and I can’t wait to read it again! I love the crisp, clear language of Jacobsen’s poems. Buses, snails, telescopes, loss—Jacobsen can find value in it all. This collection is beautiful, accessible, and definitely worth multiple readings. One of my favorite images is from “Morning Crows”:
It’s the crows that wake the countryside
with their tiresome racket over the fields,
like zinc buckets rattling in the gray dawn.
I do hope your week is going well, my shimmering little book buffs. Here at Malvern we’re frantically getting ourselves all packed up for this weekend’s Texas Book Festival. We’ll see you there, right? Wonderful! Look for us in Booth 500, right next to the lovely folks from Austin Community College. Meanwhile, if you’re in urgent need of a dash of poetry, you should stop by the bookstore and say hello to Katherine Noble (right), who has superb recommendations vis–à–vis verse. Here’s what she has to say about one of her faves, Valzhyna Mort’s Collected Body:
Belarusian poet Valzhyna Mort has been praised as “[a] risen star of the international poetry world” by the Irish Times. In Collected Body, Mort combines gorgeous and haunting lyrical poems with two prose poems in her first collection written completely in English. The motifs running through the collection paint a picture of people in their most corporeal, vulnerable state. The poems dichotomize idealized sexuality with the grotesque, the purity of familial ties with the perversion of incest, the surreal mingling with the physical world, and the unabashed acknowledgment of death.
Mort’s collection falls in line with many of the great female poets of today such as Sharon Olds, Anne Carson, Linda Gregg, and Louise Glück, but the freshness of her images, and her distinctive voice grants Mort her own solid ground. The mythology cast in her more narrative poems is interspersed with a fresh honesty that can sometimes be either overdone or missing completely in contemporary poetry (“i found healing/… should i be ashamed of myself?”). The understated grotesqueries are remnants of German and Austrian fairytales.
With an array of characters, seemingly based loosely on her own personal history, Mort’s poems feel like secret histories of her homeland, to which she slowly allows the reader to be privy. I highly recommend this book!
It’s opening day here at the bookstore—oh boy!—and what better way to celebrate our metaphorical ribbon cutting than to ask for a book recommendation from a cheery Malvern staff member. If you encounter the awesomely named Tyler Gobble (below left) at the store, here’s what he’ll have to tell you about one of his favorite poetry collections:
Joe Hall’s second book, The Devotional Poems, is like the transcription of a journal found in a lonely, winter-beaten Midwestern woods, taken home, unfolded, typed back out—the words, but also somehow the musty stench and the hisses and the blistering wind it has brought back too—and here unleashed. I love what that wild/wise man, Blake Butler, said in that blurb of his: “[d]evoted, yes, to terror, but true too to the gorgeous black underbelly of how we’re all at once somehow together possessed.” Devotional poems, exorcisms, names for the abyss—these poems transact in that old-timey way of getting rid of the demons, real and imagined, understood and baffling. And whether it works or not—for the author, for the speaker, for you there in your demented home—the shrieks come out of the dangerous rubble and treacherous lulls of life and bring forth a new meaning to staggering and a new breath, somehow, to the broken.
With (soft) opening day well and truly nigh, it’s about time us mighty Malverinos introduced ourselves! And what better way to meet the bookstore crew than to ask each staff member for a book recommendation… let’s start with Dr. Joe, also known as the Curmudgeon in Chief (and our official pirate wrangler). What have you got for us today, Joe? Here’s what the doctor has to say…
At Swim-Two-Birds by Flann O’Brien was described by Dylan Thomas as, “Just the book to give to your sister if she’s a loud, dirty, boozy girl!” It rollicks with laughter and wit that only an Irishman can supply. While I love Mr. Joyce, his work can become such a trial to read that I forget I’m having fun. And Beckett, well I love his work to tears, but have a hard time laughing through them. But, oh, to read the madness of narrators and characters attacking each other in their sleep while the whole of Irish mythology rolls by, now that is cooking with all burners. Long live Dermot Trellis!