A review of Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher and Anger and the Indigo Child by dianne Lancaster

  1. This isn’t “7” it’s really an introduction but for some reason the “7” seems “apt” (I really like that word). Okay, is it just me–and I don’t think I’ve ever read this, but, honestly, I haven’t drudged through much criticism on Catcher because I didn’t want it to ruin my life–but wasn’t Holden simply having a breakdown? I mean, the playout of his choices is excruciating. It’s like you float through, untethered, horribleness. While you LOVE him. You turn and turn to what you think will make a path. An old craggy one barely visible, a sunk rambler marshy as hell, no hilltop for revelations via song and Julie Andrews, but even one that shoots through a going-darkly moor. Because you’ll take anything anyone (or dog) has to offer. Come this way, they’ll say, all knowingly, with a sweep of hand. Or you’ll simply follow them because you know they get something you don’t, like they are that wonderful dog. The one you’ll never stop missing. And had so long ago.

 

  1. Yes, we are starting starting with “8”ish. It’s because what precedes “9” you don’t need to know about. I’ve got to keep it on the downlow or someone might cut me. Juuuuust kiddingggggggg. Anyway, just trust me. Let’s begin: Put this on repeat: I don’t review books I don’t love. (but also there are a lot I love but can’t get to in terms of reviewing)

 

  1. dianne Lancaster’s books, specifically, Anger and the Indigo child,
  2. are channeled from Museland or Muses’ veins.
  3. Hemingway says there are no characters but only people (if they are written excruciatingly well).
  4. In Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher the main character is a person. And since he’s not a real person on earth that we’ll be able to find, he’s living on another earth exactly the same as ours. In fact, you are living on another earth exactly the same as ours. He earns this, as does the writing because it’s him:
  5. So you’ll know you are the person you are reading. So not only are you him on another earth, you are you on another earth and you are you on this one, him, here. (See McNamara‘s known unknown, known known, unknown unknown . . . but opposite, in that you will, by experiencing this book, be doing the exact opposite of killing anyone, either directly or indirectly. Plus you will see how he loves his students (appropriately, of course, like the best and wisest person in the world who doesn’t know it and has human flaws). Plus you’ll love the fucked-up world again while you are laughing yourself silly. And maybe you’ll even look up a few of his words he uses ironically and go on this chain to find their history in the OED. You may even make a diorama that mirrors the book and when you look at it you’ll want to crawl into it and rest for a while peacefully. In fact, you may want to respond artistically or write a paper about it even if you can’t write those kinds of papers anymore so you’ll do something (like create that diorama). Or read it again. The only other book that did this for me, besides dianne’s and Julie’s that I can remember at the moment and that I haven’t reviewed yet and that aren’t poetry poetry, besides these two, is Reality Hunger by David Shields. Shit, read this too. And all Kevin McIlvoy’s stuff, for god sakes.
  6. Plus you will know there are profs out there who don’t judge. Humanness.
  7. Even if they have to grade it.
  8. And you’ll question literary prizes even if you hope you get some. And “maybe that’s just me,” a phrase that follows criticism, especially harsh criticism, spoken by students all the time, in workshops, after critiquing your art so as to let themselves off the hook, you’ll both forgive and realize it’s not necessary—the criticism, once you get through being pissed off, sitting in a closet after, or throwing up, if it was your piece being workshopped—in order to keep on the hell-joy path that you take so seriously and become a better writer. And now I’ll be direct: People, workshops don’t do anything but maybe some harm here and there.
  9. In fact, besides my thesis director who said to not throw out but just go deeper into what I already had (after years and years of listening for it and writing and reading and studying till I thought I wanted to gouge my eyes out), the only other person who shocked me (in a good way) to better writing was dianne Lancaster when she said to (artistically) write to the light.
  10. But maybe that’s just me when it isn’t, it’s you.
  11. Hey! (in the tone of “Why I aughta . . .” PmillionS. Could someone write a fucking review of my book, RUN SCREAM UNBURY SAVE, just out, having won a prize and been chosen by Michael Martone, yes, fucking Michael Martone, that Michael Martone (read all his stuff too; he’ll deploy you). It’s sitting, I’m sure, languidly, and sleeping, because it’s really really tired it made itself so good, at Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, New York whatever whatever Review of Books, as in the press sent it there For. A. REASON., the fucking New Yorker I grew up with, was raised on, for fuck’s sake. I LOVE my book. The title alone should tell you it’s worth it, that it will resound in one’s fucking rib cage. Plus, have I not convinced you I know what a fucking book is? Yooohoooo, Publisher’s Weeeeekleeee. And that life isn’t fair but we’re doing it?! And fucking miracles happen? I’m tired of googling my fucking self every day to see if I’ve gotten a review. I’ve sent every thought ball (see orbs to get somewhat of an idea) possible, trying to levitate my book or make it glow or Something so someone will SEE it for fuck’s sake in one of those offices in New YORK (or some other big city) to someone doing freelance or on contract writing at home or THERE so then they’d get a thought ball from IT wherever it’s sitting, via me. Following? In fact, then go read those books I’ve now rock starred and am in love with. Okay, okay, read them first but quickly. I’m running out of time. And so are you. I’m also tired of trying to figure out what changes every day within and can’t truly be figured out: the book industry. So I’m throwing caution to the wind. Don’t be a nuisance you say, Book Reviewer and Book Industry? But then, Do everything you can as a writer because it’s like the music business now? And JK Rowling is bankrolling the rest of us? Look, mister of, conflicting “suggestions,” Sophia stalked (her word) Bill Murray to get him to do Lost in Translation, and stalking paid off, as we now know, for fuck’s sake. And no one’s yelling at Her. And she’s laughing, for fuck’s sake, in her diorama! Like that author of So Sad Today (if you have a strong sex drive, note, not NEED one, but have one, because it’s not porn, it’s literary, read this book too; if not it can be a bit much. For me it’s about the person, not the sex for the sex then the person, so go figure, there were parts I wasn’t into but the woman can write): Basically, she said, PAY ATTENTION, PEOPLE, early on, in the best of ways. And here’s my PAY ATTENTION: I’m throwing out masses of thought balls. Every color of balloon against a roaring backdrop of doing-tricks-planes or skywriting yonder blue sky: Review my fucking book too. And love it or I will thought-ball you and you will feel compelled to do all this stuff you have no idea why you are doing. 😉 Okay, okay, I’m popping the balloons. Except: Balloons again!!: Read everything by Kevin McIlvoy, Robert Boswell and Toni Nelson. I owe them my life. Even if the last two were on-the-downlow mean to me sometimes. (I deserved it. Or as my eew says, no judgement them, her, or me, I asked for them to have the capacity they didn’t have. But, seriously seriously, I’m okay. I’m almost a rock star on the downlow or at least to myself on good days or in good hours or minutes or seconds once in awhile. I may remain some before almost, but it’s all good. Plus there’s nothing wrong with needing a lot a long time ago when you’ve been broken.) Plus their books are good. And I don’t have the capacity capacity myself. Or I do but I’ll get too worn down to write. And then I’ll die, not in the worst way but maybe.
  1. Lastly (I like that word too), my last book review should have “obviously duh” at the end of the sentence that comes before it the way it is now, “ Duh.” You’ll see how it lands with the wrong kind of thud (can a thud ever be right?) and is the wrong tone, according to the piece. So change it in your mind because I can’t ask the amazing queen of this review site to change one more thing post-publication or she might block me, as in arms up triple x digitally.

 

About the reviewer: Katherine McCord’s two books of poetry are Island and Living Room (prose poems). Her third book, My CIA, is a lyric essay/memoir. My CIA was named a top ten book of 2012 by the Review of Art, Literature, Philosophy and Humanities and added to their ongoing list of Great Nonfiction reads. It won a Baker Artist Award; was showcased on Maryland Public Television’s, An Artworks Special; and was featured through an art installation co-produced by Maryland Institute College of Art’s MFA in Curatorial Practice in early December 2013 in Baltimore. She has published widely in literary journals and magazines such as American Poetry Review. She has an MFA in Poetry and an MA in English/Creative Writing/Poetry. In 2011 and 2014, she won Maryland Individual Artist Awards (state grants in creative writing in poetry). She has been awarded finalist/semi-finalist status in the Emerging Writer Fellowship Competition, The Writer’s Center, Maryland; the Joaquin Miller Cabin Reading Series, Washington, DC; the Autumn House Press Open Poetry Competition; The “Discovery”/The Nation Poetry Contest; the Poet Lore Narrative Poetry Competition; The Chester H. Jones Foundation National Poetry Competition; The Maryland Poetry Review Poetry Contest; NDR’s Poetry Chapbook Competition for her manuscript, Muse Annie; and the fellowship competition, Summer Literary Seminars in Lithuania and Kenya, 2013. She teaches Creative Writing at Stevenson University and University of Maryland University College. Finally, recently she won the Gabehart Prize in (Creative) Nonfiction for an excerpt from her manuscript, RUN SCREAM UNBURY SAVE; was named one of three finalists for the Tony Quagliano International Poetry Award; was awarded a Hoffer Legacy (Creative) Nonfiction Award for My CIA; was named a finalist for her manuscript of prose poetry, Muse Annie, for C&R’s Summer Chapbook Contest; and (incredibly good news) won the Autumn House Press Open Book Award in Creative Nonfiction for her literary memoir manuscript, RUN SCREAM UNBURY SAVE, which means they’ve published it as of February 7, 2017.

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