cover image Top Top Stories

Top Top Stories

. City Lights Books, $9.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-87286-258-6

Playful, innovative, strange--the writings and artworks collected here were culled from the journal Top Stories , which Turyn ( Missives ) edits. Cookie Mueller, of John Waters's film fame, contributes a series of quirky, poignant stories revolving around an acne cure (``How to Get Rid of Pimples''). In one, a female bartender, freed from pimples, acquires supernatural healing powers--only to be jealously hunted by the CIA. Although it consists of monotonous declamatory sentences, Gail Vachon's poem, ``This is my mother. This is my father,'' succeeds in rendering idiomatic expressions like ``she always had her head in a book'' hilariously literal by decontextualizing them. Most impressive is Ascher/Straus's eerie ``Red Moon/Red Lake'' which, while relating a murder story, digresses into descriptions and observations so dazzlingly precise their ``lucidity, heightened to its extreme, resembles dreams.'' These diverse pieces share a strategy best summarized by a phrase in Kathy Acker's ``New York City'': ``anything that destroys limits.'' Thumbing their noses at accepted notions of style and content--or trashing them outright--these works make for invigorating alternative reading. (June)