SOURCE CODES

Susan Wheeler, Author
Susan Wheeler, Author SOURCE CODESSusan Wheeler Reviewed on: 03/26/2001
Release date: 05/01/2001
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Despite high-tech concerns and quips that place her within the interests of Charles Bernstein in his loopy "Nude Formalist" mode, Wheeler's "sources" in this third book seem equally drawn from the allusive grand style of the Bishop/Lowell/Berryman line. Taking overblown advantage of these poets' colloquially pessimistic strains, Wheeler's talent for crushing rhymes exposes total disaffection: "You've been pure trouble since I thought you up,/ Acie, hairnet, glass eye, wormy dick/ through stretch pants across a girth so thick/ even your dog don't jump." Wheeler's pantheon of effects, previously exercised in Bag O' Diamonds and Smokes, takes in everything from jingles, tight syllabic stanzas, the odd mix of stentorian modes and cartoonlike plasticity from middle-period Ashbery, pseudo-didactic literariness ("The death of peace is no literature/ Leisure is death without letters./ Death is without the leisure of letters./ A lettrist's death is without peace."), myths, fables, surrealist mantras and Swiftian turns. A table of contents that sources these 49 untitled, numbered poems—including 24 jarring collages that are placed on equal poetic footing with the 25 texts—is bookended by three appendixes of drafts, clippings and HTML code, further elaborating Wheeler's relationship to the strangeness of "being" in a time when any attempt at expression is echoed back by the circuit-board of media. Formally dazzling and spiritually unforgiving ("On an upper story, someone is dying./ On this lower floor, I am revising."), this is an important, limit-testing book. (May 1)Forecast:Wheeler's three collections have been published by the Univ. of Georgia, Four Way Books and now the Australian Salt. This book will be well-reviewed in literary venues and sought out by her solid following, and it should find her a steady U.S. house.

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