Saturday, November 28, 2009

REVIEW: Fictional: Lurker in the Dark and Others

The review is part of the Absolute Write book blog chain. The preceding post in the chain is: Soon I Will Be Invincible by Raven Corinn Carluk, and next blog in the chain appears at: She Thinks Too Much.

Title: Fictional: Lurker in the Dark and Others
Author: Colin Fiat
Genre: Poetry
Price: Free download, $12.79
Publisher: Lulu
Pages: 102
Point of Sale: Lulu
Reviewed By: veinglory

I approached this collection with no great expectations, especially after the introduction describes the book as a learning exercise with a focus on structure.

But I was electrified by the first poem; I was actually quite excited. "Bad Night Out At A Pizza Joint" is one of the few examples I have ever read of a gritty urban poem that successfully combines a modern aesthetic with a formal structure, including a rhyme scheme. This snapshot of characters passing during a night out in town ends: "I want some more drink even though I am shaking / And hear the soft clink of a car window breaking / Somewhere in the dark, is a business man shouting / But empty car parks have no witness to help him."

If the collection had been ruthlessly trimmed down to a published collection of the very best works I imagine I could give it an 8 or 9 out of ten. However, in my opinion, in the great majority of poems simplistic structure trumps content leading to a Dr Seuss effect. This can be fairly successful in slight, humorous poems like "Thingamabob" ("I went to speak with whatshisname / About my new doohickey / And how the silly gizmo came / Without that paper thingy"). But more often the effect is that grammar seems tortured or unsubtle words chosen simply to meet the demands of the rhyme.

I could only rate the complete ungainly collection of disparate poems in the range of 6/10. However I would encourage anyone interested in modern structured poetry to take advantage of the free ebook version, and to pay special attention to the first section, dubbed the "Lurker in the Dark" poems. I can foresee purchasing a paper copy of this sequence if it was provided with an appropriate cover and given perhaps just a little more polishing to smooth the meter in some places and achieve a more perfect balance between format and subject.


Zahir Blue said...

Many thanks for a well-thought and well-written review. Brava on both counts!

Raven Corinn Carluk said...

Very nice, choosing an AW member. Great tie in.

And I like how you're honest without being brutal. This certainly doesn't feel like you're attacking Colin, just expressing what would make you rate it higher. And I appreciate that you're being honest, not just giving blanket praise.

Lost Wanderer said...

This is a very good review, because you've told us exactly what works for you and what doesn't. As for my personal taste, I am quite picky only because I don't read it often. I prefer the more traditional, old fashioned (Shakespeare, Blake, Keats) though I have occassionally read modern poetry that I enjoy.

Maureen said...

I like your site here, I don't think I've visited before? THanks for the review. Looking forward to more

C R Ward said...

As someone who writes a lot of poetry, I think it's wonderful you chose this collection to review. And I have to say I love your review as well.

Anonymous said...

Interesting. I like poetry and to me it's hard think of poetry as poetry if it doesn't rhyme. Probably from being in school. So it's nice to see that people still rhyme poetry.

ConnieFoggles said...

Well written review. I enjoy reading poetry and appreciate that you've taken the task of reviewing this type of book.

Colin Fiat said...

Thank you for a truly honest review of my vanity published collection of poems Emily, it is very much appreciated. Several people, friends, family and strangers, were approached and asked for an opinion or two. However, all I received were platitudes or excuses about lacking time or ability. I would like to take this small opportunity to thank Dichroic for being my biggest nemesis and forcing me to do better than a half assed job I often permitted myself.

I have learned a great deal from your review and should I endeavor to create another such publication it will be with your words as guidance. Additionally, any further efforts to publish more poetry will be primarily for the reader and not simply to fulfill a personal dream.

Thanks again.

Lee said...

I've got a hard copy, and I think it's terrific!

Lee said...

I've got a hard copy, and I think it's terrific!

Anonymous said...

Poetry is much more than rhyme and it gives you amazing insight into the world of magic and like Colin said-fictional! Here's our support to Colin from Maria Loves Me (Erik, Ana, Martina and Nina) from Croatia.