Things That Go

Laura Eve Engel. Octopus, $16.95 trade paper (136p) ISBN 978-0-9861811-8-4
Engel traces intricacies and inaccuracies of memory in her nimble, philosophical debut. Shades of difference and nuance of feeling, as well as the vast chasms that can exist between two people, feature as prominent themes. In “The Field You Weren’t,” Engel astutely draws a line between fantasy and reality, noting the temptation to look back on a relationship with rose-colored glasses when the desire to reminisce “sits/ like a magnet sits nearby another magnet trembling.” Meanwhile, she amusingly describes falling in love as “Like finally finding inside a haystack/ there’s a more beautiful/ haystack.” Weather patterns and trains are constant touchstones, as when Engel describes how “A girl may not be meant/ to think of her mouth/ as a smokestack but insists// are you sure we’re still moving is a feeling/ and that feeling chuffs like a train/ until delay.” In a series interspersed across the collection, Engel speaks for Lot’s wife, capturing the plaintive voice of one rendered inert for eternity: “what will grow up/ around me will certainly/ die or else learn/ to live by my salt.” Recording and examining the minutia of emotional response, Engel offers moments of deep insight and quiet revelation that should prove relatable to anyone overwhelmed or mystified by their own wild feelings. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 11/19/2018
Genre: Fiction
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