David Lynch’s Room to Dream

As one might well expect from a book about the life and work of the eccentric auteur David Lynch, Room to Dream is by turns hilarious, heartbreaking, and a little strange. Biography and memoir in one, each chapter contains two sections separated by three or four pages of black-and-white photos from the time period covered in the chapter. First, we get a well-researched and clearly-presented biographical take featuring input from Lynch’s friends, family members, and collaborators. Former L.A. Times journalist Kristine McKenna does a fine job of keeping the story of Lynch’s improbable rise moving along. She gets out of the

The Imminent Return of Sailor Ripley & Lula Pace Fortune

Jon Pareles isn’t exactly wrong when he writes in October 19th’s Playlist column in the New York Times that Farao’s new song “Lula Loves You” is “named after the character in David Lynch’s ‘Wild at Heart,’” but the movie is an adaptation of Barry Gifford’s fantastic novel of the same name. It might have been more accurate to say that the song is named after the character in Barry Gifford’s novel, Wild at Heart, which was made famous by the David Lynch film. Incidentally, Wild at Heart was the first of eight Sailor Ripley and Lula Pace Fortune novels Gifford wrote. All eight

Three Books I Thought of Today

Three books I read years ago came to mind as I read today’s news about the further allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. I remember the impact of reading No More Masks in the early eighties, my first experience of an anthology that wasn’t the writing of a bunch of men with a sprinkling of women. It was an eye-opener, for sure, sort of a literary equivalent of this video produced by Elle.     Reading of the privilege, entitlement, misogyny, and frequent drunkenness of the D. C. area prep school world in which Kavanaugh grew up reminded me

Punk-Poets and Poet-Punks: A Review of Daniel Kane’s Do You Have a Band?

Maybe you’ve had the same experience, you go looking for a book you are sure someone must have written only to find that no such book exists. No one has written it yet. A few years ago, I wanted to learn more about the interconnections between the early days of punk rock and the poetry scene in New York City in the Seventies. This, in part, grew out of research for a project. I was searching for information to help establish a backstory timeline for the poet-professor parents of the protagonist of my then novel-in-progress/now novel-in-search-of-an-agent Gangs With Greek Names.  I was

Because: A Review of Matthew Zapruder’s Why Poetry

Part literary criticism, part memoir about how he found his way into the life of a poet, Matthew Zapruder’s Why Poetry is a good read for anyone who loves poetry and would like a reminder of why. It is also a good read for those who feel they’ve never understood poetry and would like to try again. Here is how the introduction begins: “‘I have a confession to make: I don’t really understand poetry.’ For over twenty-five years, I have heard this said, over and over in slightly different ways, by friends, family, colleagues, strangers I met in bars and at dinner

Joanne Kyger: An Appreciation

The bio in the back of On Time, Joanne Kyger’s collection of poems written between 2005 and 2014, describes her as, “One of the major women poets of the SF Renaissance.” That is, of course, correct, but I would make a case for removing the word “women” from the sentence. While I’m sure the intention of including that gender signifier was to emphasize the importance of her position as a woman in what was largely a man’s world/boy’s club, its placement before “poets” in the sentence diminishes rather than enhances her standing. It reeks of “pretty good for a girl” condescension, unintended as

Dark Days in Western Mass.: A Review of Jon Boilard’s Settright Road

Like Ray Carver’s What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, Jon Boilard’s Settright Road is a cohesive collection of stories about working-class life that delivers an impact similar to a novel when read as a whole. Set mostly in dying mill towns in Western Massachusetts in the eighties, these sometimes interrelated stories, composed in taut yet often lush and lyrical sentences, present characters teetering on the edge of ruin and sometimes death. Children living in unstable households mismanaged by adults struggling with fading economic prospects, mental illness, alcoholism and drug abuse cope as best they can. Go get my medicine you

Enter the Ouroboric: A Review of Anselm Berrigan’s Come In Alone

Upon first look, Anselm Berrigan’s latest collection of poems, Come In Alone, reminded me of that bit, “Is This Anything,” Letterman used to do on The Late Show. They’d open the curtain to reveal some random act — a guy riding a flaming unicycle while juggling chainsaws or suchlike. Afterward, Dave and Paul would discuss to determine whether or not what they’d just seen was anything. The form (or formlessness) Berrigan employs in Come In Alone — one long line running around the perimeter of the page with no definitive beginning or end — has that now there’s something I’ve never seen before factor going for it,