Pleasure

Angelo Nikolopoulos. Four Way, $16.95 trade paper (80p) ISBN 978-1-954245-08-2

Nikolopoulos follows Obscenely Yours with a lyric travelogue of a queer writer visiting the Greek island of Syros after his mother's diagnosis with a brain tumor. As he explores the "jagged, prehistoric" coastal landscape, fear and grief over his mother's prognosis lurk at the edges of his mind. But this is foremost a book of the flesh, of a "bachelor," "unmonitored" and "untethered" in a foreign land, "having chosen aloneness,/ removed [him]self from need's loud reel." Pleasure, Nikolopoulos observes, is a "reflexive desire ... when faced with self-annihilation." He evokes experiences of the body in luscious, often vivid detail, from the solitary to the sexual, and sometimes both: "Perhaps I absorb men/ like a greedy mouth? I harvest and preserve/ them in my mind like an owl pellet." But no pleasure can numb the pain of losing a parent. He cannot "retreat from the world/ into the amphitheater of the mind." He cannot save his mother from death. "Pleasure exists," Nikolopoulos writes, striking the central epiphany of the book, "in the echo that follows or the ache that precedes it." This ruminative book will reawaken readers' senses. (Feb.)