Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Gulag 101 by Nico Reznick

Gulag 101 by Nico Reznick
Published in January 2016 by B*Star Kitty Press

Featured in Cover Characteristics: Barbed Wire

How I got this book:
Purchased the ebook

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Three weeks of Literary Flits blogging have just about passed us by already and I think it is high time I reviewed some poetry! I am very happy to start with Nico Reznick's second collection, Gulag 101. I have already reviewed her first poetry collection, Over Glassy Horizons, and her first novel, Anhedonia, over on Stephanie Jane and have been looking forward to exploring more of her work.

'Nico Reznick's second collection of poetry is an exploration of profoundly human themes, such as loss, desire, oppression and the search for meaning, calling upon a disparate array of muses, including Slovakian strippers, the Conservative Party and brain-damaged cat-gods. Reznick's style favours realness over beauty, directness over decoration. Sensitive while avoiding sentimentality, Reznick writes with a savage and soul-baring sincerity that cuts right to the bleeding, beating heart of the human condition.'

Gulag 101 is also a twenty-six poem collection and, unlike Over Glassy Horizons, I don't think I missed the point on a single poem here! I love Reznick's evocative imagery which presents familiar and often mundane concepts, but from her own distinctive viewpoint to show up their inherent madness. Slow Death Among The Toner Cartridges and Life Among Vampires certainly hit home with me. As the last line of the first poem, Talking Small, says, 'Can't we talk just a little bit bigger than this?' and I thought that one line perfectly sums up many of the other poems. We are all so much more than vehicles for inane consumerism and hamster-wheel lives, although reaching for the deific heights of felines is probably overly optimistic. I like the anger of Rejection and its immediate contrast to the world-weariness of Laureate. The King Of Sutton Park is a beautiful lament to ageing and our society's lack of connection with elderly people, and I loved the sordid vulnerability in Lenka.

While reading both The New Breed and Reptiles As A Metaphor I found myself in the weird situation of having identical thoughts about two books read back to back. The thought was 'how apt these words are for the current Brexit hysteria' even though they weren't written directly about it. (The other book was Waiting For The Barbarians which I will be reviewing tomorrow) In these two poems Reznick nails exactly what is unsettling about our political elite!

I think Gulag 101 is a strong collection of contemporary poetry with a lot to say about life in 2010s Britain. Nothing rhymes, but the poems have an insistent and effective rhythm and pace which I loved, especially when reading them aloud.

Search Literary Flits for more:
Books by Nico Reznick / Poetry / Books from England

1 comment:

  1. Nico Reznick's superb novel Anhedonia is currently free on Amazon for a limited time. Download it here: http://amzn.to/29roqMF