The Stranger Manual

Catie Rosemurgy, Author . Graywolf $15 (94p) ISBN 978-1-55597-547-0

Rosemurgy's oddball second book is spoken in the voice of a quirky alter-ego named “Miss Peach,” who says about herself, “There is a cartoon about everything/ I've ever done.” Indeed her adventures are rife with Loony Tunes–like hyperbole and darkly comic violence. Miss Peach speaks with the self-deprecating vigor of an angsty teenager, but with the wisdom of someone who's lived a bit. We follow her through her days, going shopping (“...Miss Peach has a spring catalog for a To Do list, and she moves her legs/ like a prodigy”), looking after her health (one of Rosemurgy's many lengthy titles reads “Miss Peach Seeks Treatment at the Rural Health Care Walk-in Clinic”) and attending college, where, “he kissed me as if to apologize.” Her self-flagellating confessions—which are often wordy and prose-like—amusingly, and beautifully, bear the burden of off-center insight that is the result of experience and pain: “...Having a flowering core/ ...hurts in the way that being flower-like always hurts,// which is to say sexually, as if the whole self/ has exceeded the skin, which it hasn't, which means// we always seem to be opening but never do.” (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 12/21/2009
Release date: 12/01/2009
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