The Real Horse

Farid Matuk. Univ. of Arizona, $16.95 trade paper (104p) ISBN 978-0-8165-3734-1
Matuk (This Isa Nice Neighborhood) addresses his daughter in his second collection, a lyrical interrogation of Western notions of gender, race, and manifest destiny, as well as the dubious authority of parenthood in a turbulent political landscape where “the sky behaves itself/ with just enough war over us.” He explores these themes through lenses of history and myth, utilizing such figures as the 19th-century outlaw Juan Flores, whose posse’s activities inflamed anti-Mexican sentiments, and Adah Menken, a stage performer of mixed European and African ancestry who donned a white body stocking to play the role of a male Cossack. Such dramatis personae serve to support the notion of identity, particularly gender, as an adapted artifice, a “system of theater where actors younger than you/ learn a closed set of precisest faces and feelings.” Archival texts, internet sensations, and the detritus of American consumerism combine in an unpunctuated rush. Matuk conveys how Western ideology informs the father’s concern for how a daughter will “bear power’s projections,” and tender paternal observations provide humorous respite from moments of violence: “like if parenting is a thing are you childing us who gave you a face.” Matuk presents parental awareness as a sensory informational superhighway, “a picking at the earth’s curved surface and all laid on it.” (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 06/04/2018
Release date: 02/01/2018
Genre: Fiction
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