Staff Book Reviewer Spencer Dew is the author of the novel Here Is How It Happens (Ampersand Books, 2013), the short story collection Songs of Insurgency (Vagabond Press, 2008), the chapbook Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres (Another New Calligraphy, 2010), and the critical study Learning for Revolution: The Work of Kathy Acker (San Diego State University Press, 2011). His Web site is spencerdew.com.
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There’s a girl who misses her father and in the meantime she’s showing off her body, naked, to the crowds, though she at least gets to do this on rollerskates and keeps adding new moves, extraneous from the actual business angle of pay-for-gaze, but everything to her:
Lucy kept changing her routine, adding curlicues, terser circles. “Angel, all you have to do is show your snatch. I don’t know why you’re getting so worked up about it,” Billy said after another failed Salchow, another messy loop.
Billy has a bum leg and is only slightly in charge, owning some bad guys, amping up his derelict porno cinema with live attractions, namely Lucy:
She’d be perfect and brutalized, no shaving bumps or glaze of drugged endurance in sight. He reckoned that stray day-tripper dads could be reeled from their dry wives and kept in the cinema’s seats by raunch and rollerskating skill.
I quote at length because language is the real star here, spectacular like a hall shark’s snooker shot, all stuttering English and elaborate ricochet. Call it trickshot prose, perhaps: the sort of fancy “curlicues” and “terser circles” described for sole wheels, only with words, instead, as here, where a schmuck dips in to the theater, paying “with warm coins” and does his tissue-filling business staring up at screens wide with
slobbered muck, a spider’s web in winter cemetery light. The sheer industriousness of pistons and hams unrelenting. His rattling hurt caved again and again.
The purpose of such so-called experimental prose, such a strong stylistic lean, isn’t, I think, just to show off, the effervescent verbal pyrotechnics of corner rap battles or the like. What Reverb goes for, here, is the construction of a frame for consciousness, buckling us, as readers, into the skulls of her characters as they jerk and drop and roller us through this ride. The ultimate effect of such prose, then, is a variety of claustrophobic: imagine tap dancers on a coffin and you locked inside. The tattoo is indeed impressive, but it serves after a while just to shore up your confinement. So Reverb’s work here puts us firmly with her motley, tetchy characters as they roll toward their climax, her prose, at that point, breaking into a page of mind-snap screaming, a loud, needle-stuck-in-groove echo of Tristram Shandy’s marbled page. A classical act of mourning and indictment, vengeance at the end of despair, “a scathing moon with a dubious past outside it’s all cruelty even in softest light is this tinnitus or an SOS there are back-alley ways of speaking and remembering” and this book is looping example of that.
Official Julie Reverb Web Site
Official Calamari Archive, Ink Web Site