cover image Fantasy


Ben Fama. Ugly Duckling Presse (SPD, dist.), $17 trade paper (88p) ISBN 978-1-937027-47-6

Fama could be the voice of a generation, or the hyper-alert, giddy, composite voice of well-read contemporary Brooklyn. Gossipy, sometimes giddy, "weightless in badinage," Fama juxtaposes high-culture names, high fashion and luxury brands, and Internet ephemera, mixing in tongue-in-cheek attacks on "normsies"; echoes, or satirical imitations, of the born-digital generation%E2%80%99s hookup and hangout slang; and sophisticated, almost despairing, critiques of contemporary political economy. "There%E2%80%99s not much I believe in," he muses, not many "Things I can be present inside." Instead, his sometimes stuttering, sputtering poems (whether just a few lines or multiple pages long) stack up references to things he knows: they move fast and will not settle down. We are destroying ourselves with our endless distractions, Fama implies, poisoning our cities, bleeding the young, and crushing the poor, but we can%E2%80%99t help loving the latest iPhone app. It%E2%80%99s a familiar argument, and a familiar style lately, but Fama makes it vivid, even elegant: his prose pieces, scattered among the verse, also make arguments%E2%80%94Chelsea Manning is "allegorical of nearly 100 years of failed western culture"%E2%80%94or pursue rudimentary science fiction. "Gossip," Fama characteristically decides, "is better than pornography/ but they both make great screen grabs." (Mar.)