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A Review of Liar
(House of Anansi Press, CANADA, 2005)
by Lynn Crosbie
"Is this Henry Miller with PMS?"
A Review of Waiting for Rapture
(PERSISTENCIA PRESS, 1030 Ives Rd.
East Greenwhich R.I., 02818, USA)
by Kirby Olson
"...marking you for heaven?"
Since I have never met Lynn Crosbie , just knew of her weekly pop culture column in the Globe and Mail and her attention-grabbing books: Paul`s Case and Dorothy Lamour, amongst others, I assumed that she was another critical, academic scholar, flipping through People and Entertainment Weekly magazines writing about what she read and saw on CFTO News. I assumed Liar might be a pop culture book: after all what else did I know of Lynn Crosbie, the poet? (Granted she has published acclaimed poetry - Pearl, Queen Rat -but who reads the stuff? This is a truth we suffer to admit.)
When I was first given this book by a friend visiting the London Book Fair and told that the book was about a relationship gone sour, my wife`s reaction was: "All this for one man?" Surely one page was enough.
However I was astonished to find that I could read this book early on, and relate with interest at the quality of the observation here. Liar is told as if the narrator has lived through hell and then been given three hours on a recovery gurney to relate it all. I wasn`t expecting this book to be this good, nor was I expecting it to be so well-written about Toronto or relationships.
So what do I have to gain from this? Nothing. After all, I didn`t want to review this book. It was given to me, and I took it to a bar in London, perhaps hoping I might leave it on the subway. After all if I had my way, I would have said read Darren Greer (Tyler's Cape, Still Life With June), George Elliot Clarke (Execution Poems), Madeline Sonik (Arms: greatest alliteration/comedy scenes of recent memory) John Stiles, (The Insolent Boy - Remember Selwyn Davis, anyone?), Paul Vermeersch, (Burn) but I would say give the self-congratulatory Toronto pop culture writers a miss. I`ve been proved wrong here. This book starts with a "goodbye" in the cucumber garden stalks the lonely back alleys of College Street and quickly unearths the soiled, but smoldering details of a lovers life. Anyone who has ever been in love will be able to relate to this book. Its' anger and honesty and passion save its messy detail. Some lines quoted:
"I didn`t care who I hurt, I was wild for you, which is what you meant and what I mean when I say I was ashamed."
"You race me to your door and grab me, suddenly, awfully, you say I will always love you."
"...my heart in my throat, tearing it out, tossing it, how it fit into me like a tire nailed to a tree...."
"Your face is beautiful, like Christ. ...A degenerate Christ."
Crobie is not writing about Toronto, the silent city. She is writing about Toronto the wolfish, wild and ready to go at you. A larger and more muscular text would suggest Henry Miller writing with PMS.
And so I come from the heartbreak and desolation of Lynn Crosbie`s Liar, to Kirby Olson`s: Waiting for the Rapture. Kirby Olson, who studied under Allen Ginsberg and Gregory Corso at the Naropa Institute, is a fine writer, though certainly more novice than Crosbie. Instead of writing about a relationships frought with deceit and cheating he recounts the ordinariness, and certain joys of everyday life. His children, Lola and Tristan are the obsessions of his life, his relationship with God and those in his church compact and solid. Gleaned from another fine Persistencia Press offering I quote this line:
from Rustic Face on a Church Bench. Speaking, perhaps of his infant child Tristan, Olson writes:
"He puts his finger on your shirt button marking you for heaven."
Like another Persistencia Press poet, the talented David E. Patton, Olson reflects his vision of the (American) world and the church leaves its mark regardless.