cover image I Have to Go Back to 1984 and Kill a Girl

I Have to Go Back to 1984 and Kill a Girl

Karyna McGlynn, . . Sarabande, $14.95 (88pp) ISBN 978-1-932511-76-5

Lurid, dominated by teen antiheroes, with plenty of underage sex amid a 21st-century Southern gothic atmosphere, McGlynn's debut is at its best vivid, disturbing and fun. Despite hints and feints, it has no consistent narrative; instead, it offers scenes, asides, interior monologues, fragments and portrayals of dangerous playmates and sexual awakenings: “death & sex tickle the same damn spot,” McGlynn warns. One of her clearest and best poems of memory is called “God, I Got Down There to Get Off”: “I'm flat on my belly, hand in my jeans—/ and how to say every penny has become the eye/ of a dead relative watching me?” With her adults either inattentive or ill-intentioned, McGlynn's strongest pages remember how she looked up to adventurous peers: “Erin with the Feathered Hair,” for example, who “unpeels my northern pretense,/ leaves me quivering in a glitter tube-top/ as she unlocks the liquor cabinet.” Conscious of precursors in popular film, McGlynn may not always avoid cliché. Yet her experiences crackle with life, and her best lines know when to stop, when to set out sexy facts and when to reach for verbal ornament, distinguishing her work from anything merely confessional. (Nov.)