cover image The Sugar Book

The Sugar Book

Johannes Göransson. Tarpaulin Sky (SPD, dist.), $18 trade paper (208p) ISBN 978-1-939460-03-5

Doubling down on his trademark misanthropic imagery amid a pageantry of the unpleasant, Göransson (Haute Surveillance) strolls through a violent Los Angeles in this hybrid of prose and verse. The central figure, a father/husband and grotesque stand-in for the author, peppers his purposefully disturbing images with crooked aphorisms. “Once I had a girlfriend who liked to/ collect my sperm in a glass ampule./ I can’t tell the difference anymore/ between mass graves and Duchamp,” he declaims in one poem. The motifs are plentiful and varied, including constant reworkings of image-driven ideas, among them prostitution, pubic hair, Orpheus, law, pigs, disease, and Francesca Woodman. There are also occasional mysteries and plots buried in the progression, such as the death of a starlet and the speaker’s hunger for cocaine and copulation. It’s a project skewed toward immersion rather than critique, and one that finds a home for lines such as “We’re so fucking skinny when we’re white/ we sometimes go backwards and become homosexuals/ or just choke in hotels. I’m so white, I’m your lover./ You’re so white you’re more beautiful than Nagasaki.” The purpose of this subjection is rarely clear, but amid the misfires is also insight, and fans of Göransson’s distorted poetics will find this a productive addition to his body of work. [em](May) [/em]