In a world as terrifying as Plath’s and as mistake-ridden as Curly Howard’s, a world trapped in its Gothic, Southern O’Connor-esque box, Gay picks through the wreckage of the years with gritty idiomatic narrative, and sardonic lyric. The key word in this one-step-forward-and-two-steps-back little pamphlet of darkness is “alarm”. Yet eventually, that which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger is a platitude that rings true. The poems slog through farm tragedies, grueling football practice, problems with marriage and alcohol, stupid jobs, rejection of poems, and shaky self-esteem with plucky tenaciousness. Fatherlessness and fruitlessness may be the detours but thankfully not the destination. Gay’s quirky sardonic voice perfectly matches the foibles described herein. Far from the typical failure-to-success story, the collection does arc toward a hard-won edification of a kind, a sort of smile, if you will, even though weather-beaten and wry.
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Published by Texas Review Press