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Archive for February 21st, 2011

In addition to–or, rather, in conjunction with–my decision to give up on books if they don’t catch my interest by page 50, I also vowed to take more reading gambles in 2011.  The Orange Eats Creeps was just such a gamble when I found it recommended on an NPR book blogger’s “Weird and Wonderful Books: 2010’s Hidden Gems” list. 

Other reviews were interesting, to say the least.

Like something you read on the underside of a freeway overpass in a fever dream. The Orange Eats Creeps is visionary, pervy, unhinged. It will mess you up.” -Shelley Jackson

And so I began the adventure of the twisted poetry.  While reading, I occasionally wondered at the constant vulgarity of the prose, frequently felt metaphors sailing over my head, and was always delighted when a phrase jumped out at me.  While I hated certain aspects–the metaphors I couldn’t decipher!–I loved the parts that spoke to me, and to me only.

My traumas are individual and specific and private…”

The parts that made sense…

Walking; walking all night on the roadkill tour of Oregon.  Flattened hawks every few miles on the freeway.  How do you run over a bird of prey?”

And the parts that didn’t…

At dawn I dug up my dream cat, collapsed dead in the snow.  I held up the damp hide as snow fell silently around us.  I kept digging away and found more and more signs of a past race of modified creatures—a mass grave of psychic cat-rats.”

I tugged at my raw throat and coughed forth an owl pellet.  My eyes pounding out of my head, fighting passing out I tore at it, breaking it open with my hands I discovered the fine white bones of my dream cat. I had eaten him!”

But even for those words that didn’t exactly make sense, I loved the way they sounded in my head.

The wild blackberry bush consumed it all, lapped up its death, this gift that stained its own blossoms and caught like whiskers in my throat.  I swallowed a wild pulpy mass of blood and tiny white whiskers gathered in the palm of my hand.  My hand devours wild blackberries.  We are all voracious for wild blackberries.  We eat without care until the bushes are reduced to piles of whiskers and bramble.  We eat all the blossoms, they plump in my mouth and I spit out half-formed blackberry babies.”

And, rather than annoying me as I thought they would, the repeated phrases and themes gave the book a sense of familiarity toward the end.

Cats rats snakes

            Roadside diners

                        Chamomile vagrants vomit

                                    Orange

                                                Men bones blood

                                                            Rape

                                                                        Insects calico poison

                                                                                    Convenience stores

                                                                                                Sugar hippies teens

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