cover image The Four Seasons

The Four Seasons

Brandon Brown. Wonder, $14.95 trade paper (150p) ISBN 978-1-73209-000-2

Associative prose poetry, self-flagellating humor, personal anecdotes, and magical thinking blend in this innovative fifth collection from Brown (The Good Life), a journal of a year that spans from one May Day to the next. He slides between glib jokes and earnest tenderness for his family and friends, depicting a romantic relationship that is casually troubled yet made self-aware by a punk ethos. Brown recognizes the poetic failure of trying to do something artless and automatic that resists the schmaltz of personal mythology, while succumbing to the urge nonetheless: “It’s so ‘poetry’ to try and name how a smell makes you feel and what it reminds you of. It’s so ‘season.’ ” Brown divides his book by season, with each one functioning similarly according to different accelerants. Autumn revolves around John Keats’s ode “To Autumn” and features a Thanksgiving with “lots of wine and a joint called ‘Caviar Cone’ that smelled and tasted just like strawberry milk.” Winter slides on a mythological tilt, and Oakland becomes a journey into the land of the dead. Brown’s charm comes through half-remembered quotes, devotion to the animated sitcom Bob’s Burgers, hummingbirds, and Carly Rae Jepsen. Readers shouldn’t be fooled by Brown’s candor or addictive prose—while trying to create something simple and unaffected, he has produced a complex literary work that is as fresh and resourceful as it is sophisticated. (Apr.)