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Your Own Back Yard – Michael Gillan Maxwell

Visual Art – Creative Writing – Social Commentary

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February 2017

Drive-By Self Interview Book Review “So Sad Today” Melissa Broder

MGM’s Drive-By Self Interview Book Review of “So Sad Today” by Melissa Broder

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Q.     How much did you love this book?

A.     I loved it with the intensity of a thousand blazing suns.

 Q.     To whom would you recommend it?

A.     Curious readers with a capacity for self examination, an appreciation for existential absurdity, willingness to experience things from a deeply personal perspective other than their own and any reader who loves poetic prose and damn good writing.

 Q.     What did you learn from reading “So Sad Today?”

A.     How everyone we meet is fighting their own personal battles, inner demons and hidden insecurities, no matter how much it appears they may have their shit together. Also how little I know about Twitter and that I’m a really lame tweeter. I also learned some texting shorthand, although I had to Google some of it. I also realized that I am sexually repressed Catholic schoolboy.

Q.     Would you compare Melissa Broder’s style as an essayist to any other authors whose work you enjoy reading?

A.     I like David Sedaris and Jenny Lawson (“Let’s Pretend This Never Happened”) for similar reasons. I think Melissa Broder is a brilliant humorist and a keen observer of human nature and commentator on social norms with a stunning command of the English language. She pulls no punches and writes with astonishing candor.   

Q.     You’ve been described as a gushing fanboy. How do you feel about that?

A.     I am absolutely, without a doubt, 100% a gushing fanboy. I totally OWN that shit. As a middle-aged, mediocre monogamous white male, I might be a bit of an outlier from the rest of her fan base, but that’s never stopped me before from going out on a limb. A limb that may snap at any moment, and send me crashing to the cold, hard ground.

Q.     Why are YOU so sad today?

A.     Because I finished reading “So Sad Today.” NOW what the Hell am I supposed to do?     

Q.     How would you describe “So Sad Today”?

A.     I am a raging adjective/adverb abuser in recovery, with a touch of OCD, but here are a few descriptors off the top of my head. I had listed one for each year of my life in alphabetical order in two columns, but WordPress doesn’t DO that kind of formatting, and now I’m REALLY so sad today! Damn it Jim! I’m a DOCTOR not a code writer!

acerbic       addictive          beautiful          brilliant            brutally honest   candor     compassionate      compelling       courageous      creative     dead on      dead serious       delightful   erotic   excavation       excoriation       existential     exorcism    experimental extraordinary   fascinating  funny  genius  happy  heartbreaking  hilarious    hot      humanistic       humane   humble    humorous   hungry    imaginative  in-your-face     insightful     inspiring          instructive       intense    interesting      off -beat    off -kilter   painful   playful    poetic      poignant           provocative     redeeming        resilient      revealing      sad   seductive   self-effacing     sexy     spiritual  straight-up  strong  thought-provoking     titillating   trenchant  truthful  uncommon  unflinching   unique  uplifting  voyeuristic   witty

Q.     We’re just about out of time. Is there anything you’d like to say in closing?

A.     Yeah. What are you doing just sitting there? Go out and get this book and read the Hell out of it. Then, if you know what’s good for you, you’ll go out and buy any and all of her four poetry books you can get your hands on because  that’s EXACTLY what I’m going to do.

About the Author:

Melissa Broder is the author of four poetry collections:  LAST SEXT (Tin House, 2016), and MEAT HEARTWHEN YOU SAY ONE THING BUT MEAN YOUR MOTHER. She is also the author of the essay collection, SO SAD TODAY (Grand Central, March 2016). Poems appear in POETRY, The Iowa ReviewTin House, Guernica, FenceThe Missouri Review, Denver Quarterly, Washington Square ReviewRedivider, Court GreenThe Awl, Drunken Boat, et al. You can read the online ones HERE. Broder received her BA from Tufts University and her MFA from City College of New York.  By day, she is Director of Media and Special Projects at NewHive. She lives in Venice, CA.

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About the Drive-By Reviewer:

Michael Gillan Maxwell is a visual artist, author, and teacher. The Part Time Shaman Handbook: An Introduction For Beginners, a hybrid book of images and prose, was published by Unknown Press in 2015. Prone to random outbursts, Maxwell can be found ranting and raving on his website: michaelgillanmaxwell.com

 

Book Review “Cinnamon Girl” by Lawrence Kessenich

Book Review  Cinnamon Girl by Lawrence Kessenich

North Star Press of St. Cloud, Inc.  Fiction 233 pages

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Cinnamon Girl, the debut novel from award winning poet and playwright, Lawrence Kessenich, is a poignant and compelling story about a young man and his group of friends as they come of age in the American midwest during the height of the Vietnam War era.

John Meyer, a student at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, is fighting his own war on an asymmetrical front. He is in the process of leaving the halcyon days and secure cocoon of his conservative suburban family. Meyer questions his entire belief system, as he finds himself drawn into the radical politics of the anti-war movement, new friends, a love affair, experimentation with drugs and a new lifestyle. He struggles to come to terms with the plethora of choices he must make in the face of events that occur at a dizzying pace.

Kessenich skillfully and accurately depicts a thoroughly engaging, nuanced and multi-layered story of a classic love triangle. the overwhelming rush of first love and an impossible relationship all set against the backdrop of social unrest, political upheaval and the tumultuous events of the times.

He writes through a lens of adult wisdom about a much younger version of himself and the dynamics of Meyer’s family life, and his relationships with parents and siblings while they all struggle to maintain balance as the once secure ground is shifting underfoot.

Kessenich’s skill as a story teller is bolstered by his ability to vividly describe events and carefully develop multidimensional characters with the keen eye of a realist. I became so enamored of the characters and so engrossed in what was going on in their lives, that I did not want the book to end.

I connected with Cinnamon Girl on a deeply personal level because of my own life experiences and familiarity with the history of that specific time and the location of the events depicted in Kessenich’s novel. However, given the current political climate and the societal divisions that exist, protagonist John Meyer serves as an Everyman whose story could just as well be happening right now. I think Cinnamon Girl is a story for the ages that examines universal questions about growing up and awakening, adult decisions where nothing is black and white, the responsibilities that come with freedom; and the insecurities, moral conundrums, and choices a young person faces as they move into adulthood. Cinnamon Girl guides the reader through a twisting, turning, up and down journey of self discovery, triumph and defeat, and ultimately redemption. It’s a thought provoking and emotional read; a trip down a rabbit hole that eventually leads back out into the warm sunshine.

About the author:

Lawrence Kessenich has written in a variety of genres, including poetry, plays, short stories, novels, screenplays and essays. He won the Strokestown International Poetry Prize in Ireland in 2010. Other books include Age of Wonders, (Big Table Publishing, January 2016) Before Whose Glory, FutureCycle Press, 2013) and Strange News, (Pudding House Publications, 2008) Lawrence Kessenich lives and writes in Boston MA.

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