Sunday, August 3, 2008

Book Review: Bonomo's _Installations_

Installations (Poets, Penguin) Installations by Joe Bonomo

rating: 4 of 5 stars
Bonomo's _Installations_ is mysteriously gorgeous and intellectually haunting. Each prose poem (beginning with the lines: "A large, well-lit, white-walled room. You walk to a red line painted on the floor.") serves as an installation art piece that is examined by a "you." These pieces (the poems/prose/memoir) replicate the art pieces in an innovative way--one that realistically enacts viewing art into written word. Like viewing art sometimes I just moved on to the next piece without hesitation, sometimes I lingered, other times I obsessed and forgot the time, and almost always I acknowledged rigorous thought and felt some kind of emotion.

Note to self: One emotion I felt several times was jealousy (over the form, language, concept) but, of course, the kind that is from the most loving place.

Like minimalist contemporary art some of the pieces "seemed" easy or underwhelmed or repetitive in a non-repetitive way. Though these qualities could be viewed as shortcomings, they appear to be intentional, at least in my reads. These are aspects I would like to hear Bonomo discuss, though.

The pieces (as identified by their last lines) that I gravitated towards were: "6:47," "Planes and birds glide in eternal gravity," "Your body, in mourning and great reluctance, received you back," "With history in front of you, you feel a tingle at the back of your neck, and you turn around," and "You want to open that drawer."

My all-time fav for its ability to articulate my own art viewing emotions most closely: "What is that small bloom of dread in your chest that you can't name?"

_Installations_ is full of real and surreal surprises, lockets of images, and invitations to join in. And join in, you should.

View all my reviews.

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