Month: October 2019

Book Review: Michael Dickman’s “Flies”

Book Review: Michael Dickman’s “Flies”

Maybe I shouldn’t read poetry today. Or maybe I just don’t agree with the Academy of American Poets’ choices for the winners of the two most prestigious prizes in American poetry for 2010. In any case, I find Michael Dickman’s second collection “Flies” wanting.

And I feel guilty for it. It mostly addresses Dickman’s older brother who committed suicide and the emotional scars left behind: a worthy subject, and one that most readers will readily sympathise with. Dickman has my sympathies as well, but not enough to blind me to the short-falls of this poetry.

It is called “Flies” for a reason. Almost every poem brings in flies as imagery and gives these very tender treatment, more tender treatment than it does the humans who populate the pieces. In fact, there are so many flies that I began to imagine the poems as set in the dead heat of summer in the South rather than in cool, pleasant Portland, Oregon where Dickman lives. I also was reminded of steakhouse buffets my stepfather used to take us to where the flies lined the beams of the ceilings and blew around the tables like kings. Not a happy reminder. Whatever these flies are meant to illustrate or symbolise is lost on me.

Also, I had to check back with the cover several times to remind myself that I was not reading Charles Bukowski. These lines read so much like Bukowski that I have to wonder, Is Dickman consciously borrowing his voice? If so, what is Dickman’s voice? Imitation on this scale only works as a direct tribute. In this setting one is forced to ask, Why bother writing it at all?

But as I said, I feel guilty for this reaction when I consider what is being written about. Michael Dickman is clearly a man that has, in the words of Bono Hewson: “been in every black hole/ At the altar of a dark star.” (U2, “Moment of Surrender” from “No Line On The Horizon”, 2009). Therefore, his words here are fragments, violent, dirty, and unredeeming. He writes as a lost soul for a lost soul, his brother. I just wish he could have done so with a more original voice. But then, I’ve never really enjoyed the work of Charles Bukowski. If you do, you’ll probably like this collection.


Book Review: In the Shadow of My Brother’s Cold Blood

Book Review: In the Shadow of My Brother’s Cold Blood

I recently finished reading In the Shadow of My Brother’s Cold Blood . This was written by Lina LeBert-Corbello, Ph.D. It was told to her by Walter David Hickock. If the title of the book makes you think of In Cold Blood , it should.

Walter David Hickock, more common known as Dave was the brother of Richard Hickock, who was more commonly known as Dick. Dick Hickock was convicted as a participant in the Clutter murders. These are written about, although not with complete truth, in the book, In Cold Blood by Truman Capote.

In Cold Blood is not a bad book or movie. However, it does not deal with the reality of knowing a person. In the Shadow of My Brother’s Cold Blood deals with knowing the person from childhood and the effects that such a horrible event can have on a family.

It is found that Dick Hickock wasn’t always crazy or a bad person. There are a few reasons mentioned in the book why he may have snapped.

The first half of the book is dedicated to talking about Dick Hickock, his past, the murders, his arrest, and his hanging.

There are pictures of both Dick and Dave in the middle of the book.

The second half of the book deals with Dave’s struggles. He talks about his wives, his children, and the trouble he had finding peace.

It shows that there is more that happens to a family when a person commits a crime and when a person is sentenced to death. It is not only somebody who may be dangerous being killed.

If you have read or watched In Cold Blood or plan on doing either, the book In the Shadow of My Brother’s Cold Blood is book that should be read. It should be read before reading or watching In Cold Blood if possible.


Touchy Topics and Censorship in Literature

Touchy Topics and Censorship in Literature

After reading a few vague facebook posts raging about a book, my curiosity got the best of me. So, I did what any crazy over opinionated blogger would do. I searched Twitter for the source. My emotions went from annoyance over censorship, mortified by the content discussed and ultimately confused and disgusted by the support.

To further my knowledge on this particular book, I took to Goodreads. The place feared by authors and frequented by masses of readers. I wanted to be as educated as possible, without traumatizing myself or supporting the author by purchasing the book. I swam through the reviews of praises, freak-outs and a few very well written reviews giving specific incidences in WHY they rated this book the way they did. Thank you book reviewers.

In case you are staring at this with a blank face, here is the gist of it. Amazon banned said book, which I am going to call EWWW from here on out, from its site. Amazon’s censorship caused rage and spurred debates on both sides. One side about the book’s content. The other side about censorship. The censorship comes into play regarding incest. FULL DISCLOSURE I have not read this book. And I certainly have zero plans to. But, I will elaborate a little here, since maybe *some* incest might be just weird (like cousins or step-siblings). Taboo for sure, but not illegal or full-on disturbing. Other incest is disturbing as fuck, like fathers and daughters. YUP. This book goes there FULL ON. Adding to the level of disgust is the age of the daughter, who is underage.

So, here is the thing. I am not a fan a censorship in general. Yet, I believe some things shouldn’t exist to be censored. Romanticizing things like rape or sexualizing children shouldn’t even be part of romance. And just to be super specific – I am talking about romanticizing, not just existing. Lots of disturbing things exist in our world and I am NOT saying that just the good things need to exist in fiction. Lots of horror, thriller or mysteries might contain rape or various other hideous things. Again, I am not saying that those things need to change. Many times those books can push boundaries and create discussions about cultural issues that need to be talked about. But this particular book is supposed to be romance. EWWW is clearly marketed as romance. EWWW contains many sex scenes. EWWW clearly is making an attempt to romanticize a father / daughter sexual relationship. This shouldn’t be OK.

A standard should exist within the community and our society where these types of books don’t have the platform to exist. As a mother – I stand tall in stating that the subject matter and how it is portrayed is not OK.

Adding to my level of discomfort is the fact that the author is clearly using the banned issue as a marketing point. Making money off of something this dark and disturbing is beyond my level of comprehension. You see, this isn’t just fiction to some people. Some people have experienced being raped by their father, by their mother, by a friend… one deserves to have their trauma portrayed as fucking romance. And they sure as shit don’t deserve to have someone make money off of it or trying to.

Some of the support I have seen for EWWW seems to stem from a fear of censorship from Amazon. Stop it. Fear should not influence a decision that ultimately places you on the side of the argument that is supporting a sexual relationship between a father and daughter. This is not an OK message to send to our youth or our peers.

Taboo’s are one thing. Normalizing and romanticizing something this disgusting is NOT OK. Any healthy human being should be repulsed by this entire subject. It isn’t borderline anything. It is outright WRONG. The support I am witnessing is truly bothering me on a level I am having a hard time articulating.

We all need to stop and think long and hard before supporting ANY romance book that has such a high potential to do great harm.…