Seven American Deaths and Disasters

Kenneth Goldsmith. PowerHouse, $19.95 trade paper (176p) ISBN 978-1-57687-636-7
By transcribing and collaging radio and television coverage of seven watershed events in recent American history, Goldsmith (Uncreative Writing) repackages the media's language as it grapples with tragedy. Out of its original context, the reporting on the attacks on the World Trade Center of September 11th, 2001, for example, turns chilling as the horror of the event overwhelms the descriptive power of the journalists covering it. Radio coverage shortly before the assassination of President John F. Kennedy unfolds as a jarring collage of turkey meat commercials and pop songs before reports of the assassination cut in. Similarly, what seems to be a radio scan, on the day of former Beatles singer John Lennon's murder, juxtaposes some of his greatest lyrics with discussion of how his music and activism affected individuals as well as society at large. Goldsmith is a poet who has previously expressed his fascination "with rendering the mundane" in writing by transcribing newspapers, his own quotidian words as well as old weather reports. Here, his attention focused on these tragic events, he creates a fascinating, poly-vocal document that not only investigates the nature of language but challenges both individual and collective memories of these moments played out in real time. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 04/01/2013
Release date: 03/01/2013
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