I am hesitant to include quotes from the book in this review. Not that it is a bad book, completely the opposite actually. I had such fun reading the book that I feel like any lines or poems I could use would be short changing the book as a whole,almost like watching a few scenes from True Detective and not watching all of the first season. You have to see all of it to truly absorb the density, and you should. A very ambitious collection that succeeds at many things.

This book is the definition of the phrase “image driven.”

Blackening blue envelops the receding

Neighborhoods, sometimes a bridge

I put a white candle in

The tin lamp I pulled from the fire

From sad to irreverent to surreal and all places in between, John Barrios has written a very good collection. There are almost puzzle-like poems that you will enjoy deciphering. There are prose stories that not only tug at heartstrings, but lets the reader BE THERE with the narrator in a way few writers are successful with. There are shades of Stuart Dybek and Dean Young pop up throughout, but never in a way that feels like anything other than authentic and pure. And there are moments to be lost in.

The apple shape two bodies make.

Yosemite Valley, the memory

of an afghan.A mother’s

making, not smiling. Dawn

saying “you should look more like your father.”

The few times I found myself drifting out of poems it was because I was obsessing over a previous line or image that stuck with me enough to cause the image or line to repeat itself to me at inopportune times. If the only problem with your book is that it is so good the reader is distracted by its own content, that is a damn good problem to have.  

Purchase your copy through University of Hell Press. 

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