An Army of Lovers

Juliana Spahr and David Buuck. City Lights, $13.95 trade paper (112p) ISBN 978-0-87286-629-4
This avant-garde debut novel from poets Spahr and Buuck eschews convention while containing flashes of surprising humor and insight. The novel opens and concludes with the story of Demented Panda and Koki, two “mediocre” San Francisco Bay Area poets who decide to collaborate. Their planned epic poem is about a vacant lot on the border of two cities, but after a summer of talking, Demented Panda has written nothing, and Koki has produced so much that it’s “the same as nothing.” Subsequent sections tell the story of a composer infected with a mysterious illness, and a reworking of a Raymond Carver story is offered. The links between these sections are tenuous, although descriptions of illness and observations of the roles of art in society create a thematic unity. The deprecations of the poets’ processes in the Demented Panda and Koki sections are funny, and the observations about art in the other sections are sobering. However, many readers will question the point of the disjointed narrative, and several sequences describing the manifestations of the mystery illnesses are hard to take. This experimental work is not for the faint of heart, but it is laced with meditations that will appeal to readers concerned with poetry’s role in the world. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/12/2013
Release date: 10/01/2013
Genre: Fiction
Ebook - 150 pages - 978-0-87286-610-2
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