The Second Sex

Michael Robbins. Penguin, $18 (52p) ISBN 978-0-14-312664-5
Robbins made waves with his 2012 debut, Alien vs. Predator, whose pages relished shock value, pop culture, disorientation, non sequiturs, and rock'n'roll almost as much as they relished rhyme. This thinner follow up—almost all in rhyme, most of it in short-lined quatrains—keeps the jangling sound, but ups the name-dropping and shock value per page: "If it's romance you're after in Phoenix,/ just ask a teen girl for a Kleenex." An abundance of names worthy of VH1 Classic invade and transform the literary classics throughout Robbins's peppy, irritable set—from the sub-Rilkean adjuration "You must improve your archaic bust" to sub-Blakean "dark/ Satanic Hayley Mills." He depicts himself, "alone with my cat," as a would-be star, a reluctant indie intellectual, and a sadly typical, frustrated American straight guy: "I make the beast with no backs." If his first book landed somewhere between the speedy cultural kaleidoscope of, say, Dean Young and the kitschy provocations of Frederick Seidel, these un-PC, often sarcastic, fast-moving lines find him closer to the latter. Robbins is also a talented, prolific critic, and his fans may anticipate the synergy, or just line up for more of his verse, though some might be afraid to find more of the same. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 02/02/2015
Release date: 09/01/2014
Genre: Fiction
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