Thursday, December 22, 2011

Read This Book: Space, in Chains by Laura Kasischke

Her husband brought this book home from the magical place where most all the books in their house have come from--the best ones that move from bookcase to bookcase, the ones carried most and that, most often, while she and he sleep, seemingly try to slip out the door--again and again and so they must be pinned down with little notes in the margins, dark lines under their feet.

Space, in Chains is a collection of 72 poems by Laura Kasishke, whom she hadn't read or heard of until now and now she thinks is one of the most brilliant writers moving among us.

From the publisher: Space, in Chains speaks in ghostly voices, fractured narratives, songs, prayers, and dark riddles as it moves through contemporary tragedies of grief and the complex succession of generations. [. . .] Kasischke has pared the construction of her verse to its bones, leaving haunting language and a visceral strangeness of imagery.

This is one of those breathless reviews, the kind where she doesn't want to, or cannot yet, explain why this book is good, why we must read it, why the writer shows her skill--her genius here, here, and here, too.

For one, she hasn't finished the book, it's one of those, holding it off, delaying it, rereading what has been read, carrying it around like a pet under your coat because you haven't yet asked your parents if you can keep it.  She does this with all the books that have mattered to her: for example, a year passed between the second-to-last story and last story in Winesburg, Ohio.

She just wants to push the words into your hands, press them against your chin, as close to your mouth as possible so the words might climb in, take root in the back of your throat and grow up around your brain--to shade it in and bring its colors out from the grey.  Later we can talk about why we loved it, what we might not have, what we wish for.

Listen: "And still/her face waits on every page/like an ax left behind on the moon."*
Listen: "There is a place at the center of the earth where the dim rooms of our ancestors flicker. Their birds are there, and their crickets."**

on Google Books (and for e-book edition)

Purchase Space, in Chains 
from its publisher,
Copper Canyon Press (2011)

*from "The Photograph Album in the Junk Shop"
**from "The Sweet By-and-By"