Friday, March 23, 2012

A Review of Zack Wilson's book Stumbles and Half Slips

Zack Wilson's book “ Stumbles and Half Slips”could be described by many flattering adjectives, however the writing in these twenty four short pieces is exemplary in its negatives; its very lack of pretense, lack of mimicry. Words come alive, seemingly bypassing the thought process as if poured straight from life itself, expressed in un-sanitized language of common streets. Open brain stream of consciousness relates the meanders of daily tedium in full view.

The sense of place reads as a travelogue to Work Town UK. As the reader rides shotgun in the van with the main character, a whole countryside unrolls, a whole retinue of mates unfolds; it is a situational series at its best portraiture. No need for prompts and adverts, no mandatory formula; a film develops steadily in mind toward satisfaction. Nope, no flashy ending or painful suspense, just a sense of having been an intimate witness to the process and essential revelation.

No sensational descriptions to tease the reader, visions come in ground level realism...sparse and short as a clean phrase. Each segment a complete tableau of work day complexities. Each story apart and yet a part of the whole of daily drudge for a Brit, for a man, in that place, in this time. Anywhere between short skirts and tattoos, youth and geriatrics, people bob in and out of pure text as experienced by the main character.

Modern in tone and tense, yet a classic struggle of coping and maintaining personal integrity amid a cash hungry society which equates work with identity. Moral meanderings of workplace ethics visible in the mandatory safety vests and hygiene gloves. Out of construction rubble surfaces respect and patience, the hard way. Out of white coats and blue hair nets, emerge a whole range of perceptions.

Discontent exposed in riffs of ill spent energies in the pursuit of some happiness or drunkenness. Relationships on the rungs of job hierarchy weave and wobble along definitions and expectations.
rouge patches of distress cloud his dirty cheeks”
Scuttling feet and giggling grimaces boil up toward explosion or fade in flattening depression.
but the unguarded rage in his eyes was terrifying—our foreheads locked together at the focal point”

No clever titles to hype the chapters, no substitutes or clichés; colloquialism is served raw, the picture is clean.
I'd been spending another night down the local, the Green Man, trapped in the kind of immediate after work session that's becoming a bit of a worry”
Sex and loneliness ooze out of text between pubs and trips. Age and gender evident in subtleties.
one of those girls that's so gorgeous it's physically painful to look at her”
The pace is present, personal and proud, each scene a dramatic capsule of life on the pavement.

Dialogue exposes the immediacy of blue collar England.
What’s going on with this Barbados thing and that lad there?” ---“Oh, ‘im,” a swarthy young fella with bad acne scars smirked. “’Ave you sin the paper today?” ---I know he probably means The Sun, so I say, “No. Don’t read one mate. Which one?”---“It’s bin on telly too, mate,” he responds.
Between spliffs and pints, cider and coke, painless details smoothly drive the discourse to full spectrum of interrelated actions and reactions. No artifice, no hide and seek, and best of all, no psychological games to lure the would be reader to unnecessary emotional expense.

You listen to the sounds, the accents, the punches and trenches of muddy yards and pub atmosphere.
I decided to head down to the snap wagon for a sausage sandwich and a cup of foul grey tea, the bloke asks me...”
You revisit the faces, the twists of emotions and deliberations, knowing the dance and avoidance of voices escalating, observing body language toward aggressive stance, no gore needed, no special effects wanted. The scenery in place, a panoramic setting for the next plot.
No one ever told him to face how much they hated him, though they whinged plenty when they thought he couldn’t hear. It seemed to scare them that he was blind. They tended to be very fond of his guide dog though, a big golden retriever called Morph.

Stumbles and Half Slips is the sort of book which demands to be read again, not the kind which leaves you hanging or longing. More like a movie running in different parts of the city on the mind.

Zack Wilson.
Author, sports writer, poet, reviewer and word collector, he stacks stories straight out of mind in Sheffield England. Able to dive under philosophical layers without a breath, he surfaces with concise prose and manifests his observations in multiple publications.

Lescar: volume 1, Blackheath Books.
The Mirror: prose collection, Erbacce press.
Poetry reviews of Rob Plath' s and John Yamrus books, Epic Rites.
Film reviews: Seraphim Falls, The Great Silence...
and an impressive et coetera on both side of the pond.
Stumbles and Half Slips: is available through Epic Rites press.
(Wolfgang Carstens editor)

Monday, March 5, 2012

Hunting Camp at Yucca Valley

French writer lost in buffalo dreams, where grass grows tall and oceans never meet.
The words keep coming, the readers expecting, and soon we should all be satiated.
From the trail of tears, i translate thoughts to poetry, life to fiction and love to text.
This poem is an excerpt from the upcoming book of desert scratchings, etchings and sketches. It was published in Hobo Camp Review.

Hunting Camp at Yucca Valley

A thrush sharpens its beak on an Atriplex,
and suddenly, it is morning;
I push the sand with naked toes,
I am alive with need, waters beckon.
The thrush is in full song,
the mountain in full rose.
Children stir.

Hunger makes its usual rounds.
First the men grunt, then they sway toward the rocks,
shivering quietly in their long-johns and woolen socks,
they put their boots on in haste; no time to waste at dawn.

The grain ground up and boiled,
I prepare the gruel for the children
who groggily slither out of their bed-sacks,
one by soft one,
Coffee begins to sing on the makeshift grill.
I blow on my fingers in silent anticipation.
Gun propped up against the tent,
I watch for any movement, alert.

The men walk out of camp,
whispering position and angle of their prospective prey.
Now sun is ready to return to hell in its quotidian chore,
to suffocate life down here by noon.

A last coyote silently lopes away
not far from the fading embers of our last fire.
A game quail marches by, in full breast and cocky plume,
to lead me away from its young.
At that moment,
I decide to let the carbine rest on its wooden pedestal,
a harsh token of my weakness.
Eye full of grits and fat;
Hunger subsides to conscience.

Let men rip the air with their power in the mid-morning hush -
let them drag a heavy carcass home to the mining camp,
for me to butcher, for the children to grow.

One shot is all I hear:
Winter will be kinder
with a burro in the freezer this year.

With sincere apology to the animal kingdom for the humble distribution of protein for healthful childhood development.

you may meet me at: