Posted By jatyler - 12th June 2011
review + /// Fog Gorgeous Stag by Sean Lovelace
My expectations of Publishing Genius titles are very high. I anticipate beautiful covers, liquid designs, and words that I have never thought of before in that order or with that phrasing or in that structure. Fog Gorgeous Stag is one more notch in the PGP belt. Sean Lovelace’s words are words I have never encountered before in these arrangements, with such focal points, with this level of readable discord. This review may even suffer a bit for want of writing about writing that is so brand new, so unlike what has come before it. For example, this small excerpt, which should show you enough about Fog Gorgeous Stag to make my point for me:
from ‘One Mythology’:
In the year of Thud, of McEclipse, during the Third Purge of Knees, to own a single word of writing—a dot of black on white—was to symbolize, to say I am this, tick tock and venomous and verve, an endangered thing in a forest falling, wonderful and wrecked. On an island, in a cave, hidden from all seekers; and they say she owned a book! They found her with shreds of binding, a residue of glue…Can you imagine, can you witness now? Where walk the fucking pages! A howl of fog light, of shrieking blade. Tell us straight away! They say she was laughing. They say they found not a single word. She read them all, pried them from the page with her skillful fingers; folded them into intricate shapes. They say her name was your name, and she lifted the letters into the sky. This is how we have birds.
How does Lovelace decide to pop in at those particular times with those particular frames of dialogue? How does he set the words playful and yet make them impactful? How does he weave what is properly meta-fiction into what no longer feels like writing about writing? I don’t know, but he does, and Fog Gorgeous Stag is either a collection of these pieces or a new genre altogether, authoring a book that is not novel or novella or poetry collection or story collection. Fog Gorgeous Stag is brilliant collage, unsentimental divergence, uncorked spilling and a lack of containment. These are stories and lists and partial conversations and asides and secrets and broken codes and pseudo-poems and so many other forms and styles and thicknesses that you’d guess it grows cumbersome, but it doesn’t. Instead the variety here makes a reader sink, pulls a reader down, forces a reader even further into the text, farther down the path of whatever it is and however it is that Lovelace is doing:
from ‘Additional Prayer (with List of Potential Summer Employment)’:
A skeleton rimmed in gold walks proudly down the avenue, waving (to you, to me), waving into the gangly limbs, the spangly limbs, the glass windows and smiles of Marilyn Monroe’s face. [Prayer of everything that eludes.] Her whole body dash and comma. She keeps pausing to kiss things. Hey now! Stop. How would you like to buy a silver lair? Marilyn Monroe grips you by the apostrophe and screams, ‘Look at me wriggle, look at me wriggle—I wish you all were so moved you would set me free!’
1. Shaver of Pencils
2. Gut Piler
3. Heart Cupper
4. Huncher of Gray Knots
7. Mint Thinner
8. Happy Person Nearby Famous Person
Even as I typed these excerpts I was drawn back to the book. Even then I thought about all the other moments that I could include here to show what this books does, but in the end, I’d have to render the entire book into this review in order to really show you how Fog Gorgeous Stag lives. The bottom-line is that I will read this book again – I will open it at random many times to see what is happening inside, to find what has grown since I left it on the shelf, and this is the greatest compliment I can give to any book, to say that I will read it again.
[ stay tuned for our interview with Sean Lovelace in the coming days ]