What's in the trunk of your car? The remainder of my dreams, old sweaters, a jigger, a copy of Nabokov's Pale Fire... I drive a Subaru with a hatch back.
What's your favorite memory? I was ten years old swimming at a beach somewhere in Japan. The water was incredibly clear and I found three pairs of scuba goggles.
Who would play you in a movie? Jake Gyllenhaal unless someone found a way to resurrect Arthur Rimbaud.
Using one word describe yourself: Flâneur.
Author you love to hate: Hemingway.
Theme song to your life:"dlm" by James Blake
What's your favorite smell? Burning sage.
What's your porn star name? Evan Kleekamp is a porn star name.
If you had a superpower what would it be? Mind Reader.
Favorite pair of shoes: Red Zuriick Betas
What's your sign? Aries. And, yes, it is important.
Stick or Automatic? Stick.
What do you think your job is at Left Bank Books? To smile very wide and convince as many people as possible to read Richard Siken.
“We have to come to terms with our Self / Like a marmoset getting out of her Great Ape suit.” So begins Lucie Brock-Broido's National Book Award nominated collection, Stay, Illusion. Devastatingly elliptical and emotionally intuitive, Brock-Briodo manages to sift through the supposed moral ambiguity of today's political theater to guide the reader into a form of jarring self-embrace where the whimsical and the sinister are inextricably intertwined, deconstructed, and recalculated in search of the true cost of sublimity where, “Wisdom is ruin. / Dispatch in white chalk left out in the summer rain.” Brock-Broido's prophetic animal rights activism sits well besides examinations like that of executed Crips gang leader Tookie Williams, and her poetic investigation of the human spirit forces an odd hand on our ambiguous relationship with ambiguity itself, questioning all along what lines must be drawn and what is my role in this? Although answers may seem difficult to come by in Brock-Broido's particular way of writing, poems like “You Have Harnessed Yourself Ridiculously To This World,” give plenty of clues as to what thoughts illuminate her ethical mission, “I am obliged, now, to refrain from dying, for as long as it is possible. / For whom left am I first?” It is this incredible foresight that pushes Stay, Illusion to its concrete praxis and give bearing to its interpretation. -Evan's August Staff Pick, 2014
A handbook to a new brand of poetics CAConrad dubs (soma)tics, A Beautiful Marsupial Afternoon is a monstrous book of poetry that comes equipped with a useful tool for (non)readers of poetry: a skeleton key of exercises paired with the poems they produced. Conrad is mystical, ephemeral, and possessed with the insularity of a moment (read: immanence) when he writes poems about visiting the former home of Emily Dickinson, consuming food of only one color everyday for a week, or eulogizing a slain former lover. If Conrad (and perhaps poetry as a whole movement) can be reprimanded for “pretentiousness,” A Beautiful Marsupial Afternoon is an intuitive rebuttal aimed at reinstating poetry's political force: “write on / walls write on court / house sidewalks write on / every single mirror you / can find / 'I MAKE HOLES IN AFGAN FAMILIES EVERYTIME I PAY MY TAXES!'” A poetry that strikes at itself, imagine that.- Evan's July Staff Pick, 2014
after day she dragged the children from sight to sight and night
after night lay in bed with the husband and thought about how,
despite the many carousels and verveine
and the peaches that tasted like peaches (and would forever ruin the
tasteless peaches available in the city that was her city), this city
was more like her city than any other place on earth,” begins a
paragraph in the opening prose poem of Rachel Zucker's newest
If anything, her work exemplifies how what is believed to be known is
best adorned by threads of doubt; the development of other possible
realities nested within our own require a closer examination in which
there is no safe distance, no particular angle at which to approach
the benign yet all important truth. Zucker’s work maintains an
autobiographical air, but does not shy away from surreal tangents and
reimagining. An incredible take on motherhood, love, sex, and the
poetic form. -Evan's June Staff Pick, 2014
There is something disturbingly pure about this collection of poems. They invoke nightmarish images (a mother turned octopus, ham opining on the dinner table, a giantess that swallows park benches with her...) while the speaker manages to deliver clearheaded sentiment alongside master-of-puppets conviction, but this is exactly what makes The Book of Frank an absurdly delectable read. By turns sparse and immediate, these organic poems unfold into explosive feelings of self-reverence (“Frank knows a/butterfly/who wonders/about her old/caterpillar/friends”) and ecstatic singsong. The constant shifting of voices and the displacing, shrinking and forever reviving of our hero Frank causes us to wake up in a dream in which we are the dream itself, stepping into the sky, riding dandelions and having lusty encounters with chocolate cowboys along the way. -Evan's May Staff Pick, 2014
Frank Bidart belongs to a rare class of humans. He writes elegant poems. He has been nominated multiple times for a National Book Award. James Franco wrote a poem about a poem Frank Bidart wrote. It was pretty meta. Yes, James Franco is a fan of Frank Bidart. So the question is why aren't you? -Evan's March Pick, 2014
Stemming from an essay with the same title, MFA vs NYC is the brainchild of author/editor Chad Harbach (The Art of Fielding, N+1). The collection features opinions from PoMo powerhouses George Saunders and David Foster Wallace, publicists, editors, agents, and even an essay from critical theorist (read: acolyte) Frederic Jameson. It seeks to answer a very basic question: What is the worth of an MFA? Of course, the question is never directly answered. Instead, we receive a plethora of complaints, defenses, meanderings, theories, etc. concerning the new and decidedly American phenomena of the Creative Writing Program. A provocative read for those considering a degree. -Evan, 3/11/14
best way to engage Noelle Kocot’s four part meditation Soul
In Space is
to let the poems announce themselves. We could borrow phrases like
“psychotic beauty,” “an occult measure,” or, my personal
favorite, “this feeling of being saved,” but none of these
capture the complete palette of Kocot’s elegiac timbre. A third
time through the collection left me with William Carlos Williams in
mind, and the comparison is more than deserved; Kocot uses the same
New Jersey landscape to launch her into “suicidally kind,”
neo-pastoral ruminations. She frequently employs abrupt lines to
portray the startling images often found in Williams’ poems. Her
work is startling. -Evan's February Staff Pick, 2014
Marcus’s short story collection Leaving
The Sea is
a study of failed masculinity. With stories populated by absent
fathers, desperate husbands, and like-minded boyfriends, the stories
culminate into a surprisingly touching final note: we see these men
are failing because they are trying in the darkest of circumstances.
The more experimental stories in Marcus’s collection are incredibly
moving, they adopt a lyrical tone and deploy jarringly wounded lines:
“I have a photo of my brother that is simply an empty field.”
While some stories in the collection may only require a traditional
quick read, readers beware. Ben Marcus can throw a wicked shadow
punch. -Evan's February Staff Pick, 2014
Saunders' most recent collection of short stories humorously examines
moments of darkness-- a botched kidnapping, drowned kittens,
chemically induced love-- with an eye for intimate moments of
despair. Something is very sincere about Saunder’s prose, we
witness his beautifully imperfect characters from the inside out.
Each story possesses a distinct attitude, each moves us to a
different silent understanding or provokes a deep sigh of relief from
the without. Often compared to his contemporary, David Foster
Wallace, Saunder's Tenth
of December is
as touching as Wallace's Girl
With Curious Hair orBrief
Interviews With Hideous Men,
but there is no anxiety in his prose, just a little heartbreak. It
also happens to be much easier to read. -Evan's January Staff Pick,
and unabashed, Bram's newest book is fueled by unapologetic gossip.
He tells all about Gore Vidal's jealous rivalry with Truman Capote,
casually mentions Tennessee Williams' drinking habits, and reveals
the unforgiving side of James Baldwin's temper, managing to capture
50 years of gay history in the process. Sure there is sex, trips to
Paris, and discussion of Broadway, but there is also discussion of
love in all of its complexities. Bram is overt about his mission to
correct old myths concerning the inability of two men to experience
love (“the Tragic Homosexual myth”). His prose is clear and to
the point, he skips right to the bludgeoning to reveal a tender to
side to many gay authors like Edward Albee and Christopher Isherwood,
who stayed away from the limelight as public concerns about
homosexuality flared. Bram also includes his own opinions about the
writing of his subjects, he isn't afraid to venture into the
mysterious realm of subjectivity (in fact, he doesn't give the sense
that anything talks about is subjective). Overall, the book is a
wonderful little skeleton key to understanding gay writers, their
works, and the question of love that permeates between them. -Evan's January Staff Pick, 2014