Joseph Mitchell and John Fante and Bukowski Walk Into a Bar …
Hosho McCreesh’s new sweeping poetry collection, A Deep and Gorgeous Thirst, is, on the surface, about booze and bars and drinking a lot, something the speakers in Hosho’s poems know something about. But what’s beneath the surface is what counts. The people in these sly, funny, often heartbreaking poems know that a bar is never just a bar, a drink is never just a drink. These are poems about being human, the heartbreak and joy and horror of all that. McCreesh — like the great Joseph Mitchell (see McSorley’s Wonderful Saloon), John Fante (Brotherhood of the Grape), and of course Charles Bukowski – knows that the truth comes up when illusions of control come down. “And when the bottle’s / half gone, you say, “I / can’t do it man. / I’m not drinking / another drop of / that poison.” Which is a lot like a character in a Raymond Carver story saying, “My life is going to change. I feel it.” Just as it’s impossible for the speakers in McCreesh’s poems to put down that bottle, even if it means their lives, it’s impossible for readers to put down these poems. Highly recommended.
Lori Jakiela, author of The Bridge to Take When Things Get Serious and Miss New York Has Everything
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The book that emerged from a bog after 1200 years
This is the remarkable story of a medieval book that spent 1200 years in the mud. Around 800 someone had a Book of Psalms made, a portable copy fitted with a leather satchel. The book consisted of sixty sheets of parchment that were carefully filled with handwritten words. Somehow the book ended up in a remote bog at Faddan More in north Tipperary, close to the town of Birr. Dropped, perhaps, by the owner? Was he walking and reading at the same time? Did he himself also end up in the bog?
Fast-forward to 2006. Eddie Fogarty, the operator of a turf digger, noticed an object with faint lettering in the bucket of his machine (pic 1). There it was again, our Book of Psalms! At this point it resembled something from an Aliens movie (pic 2), but that changed quickly after it went to the restoration lab. Thanks to the conservation properties of turf, many pages were still intact, as was its leather satchel (pic 3), the only surviving specimen from this early period. Remarkably, among the damaged pages were some that had let go of the words: kept together merely by ink, the words were floating around by themselves - like some sort of medieval Scrabble (pic 4). It’s the most remarkable bookish survival story I know.
More on this phenomenal find in this news article and this one. Here is the bog and the machine that dug up the book More on the restoration process here. More about the papyrus found in the binding here. This is a nice movie on the book.
Scott McClanahan’s readings are always highly memorable. As he wrote me about this, the video of his avowed final such reading ever, “I’m quitting. Yep, I’m just straight up quitting. It’s in Ohio which will make you want to quit anything—including LIFE. It involves breaking stuff.”
Apologies to buckeye readers.
He IS the one who speaks the poems of the dead children…
R.I.P. Reading Scott — a death is well-earned.
Buy Something Random & Tragic To Set The Guts Aflame - Selected Poems - 3rd Printing by Hosho McCreesh (Paperback) online at Lulu. Visit the Lulu Marketplace for product details, ratings, and reviews.
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