TWO BOOK REVIEWS - Dark and Comic Lit for the Trump Era
The Vault Apocalyptia
Reviewed by Paul Potocky
Gary Brandt’s eruptive metamodern novel, The Vault Apocalyptia couldn’t be more frighteningly prescient. This grand, gaudy, and grotesque satire on the genesis of America’s suicidal nuclear crusade is both comically absurd and becoming ever more real, daily. Picture Pynchon peanut butter and Kubrick jelly slathered between puffy white slices of Trump Brand bread.
The Vault Apocalyptia sends up science-for-science’s-sake amorality, political buffoonery, rank nationalistic delusions, disciplinary compartmentalization, weird foods, and intellectual acrobatics along with humanity’s existential angst via mirth-filled literary blasts imagined straight from some depthless clown hell. Brandt’s is a Joycean word-feast showcasing bloomin’ mushroom clouds in fiery mustard sauce, its liquid glass washed down the gullets of terrestrial lifeforms whose post-plume skeletons engage in a dutiful yet raucous danse macabre.
In short, The Vault Apocalyptia is a black-lit comic masterwork, frying synapses and making for the thyroid like a mutant infant to its radiant mother’s breast.
No Walls Now: Poetry of Resistance by Local Poet Jonah Raskin
Ever since Donald Trump was elected president, his opponents have been promising the resistance that was sure to follow from writers. From coast to coast, poets have already gathered to rant, rave, howl, and more. Local writers have joined the national chorus. One of them is Jonah Raskin, the author of a new poetry chapbook titled No Walls Now: New Poems for the Trump Era. Raskin’s name might be familiar to readers of The Gazette. His journalism has appeared in these pages. The seventeen freshly-minted poems that make up this volume couldn’t be timelier. Indeed, they read as though they were inspired by yesterday’s headlines and from tomorrow’s news, as well. Readers who have had a glimpse of the book have already picked out favorites, including, Dirty People, Barbarians Came Down and Hymn for My Dad.
Immigrants Now and No Walls also strike a chord. Raskin, who has published seven previous collections of poetry, doesnât just read his work. He performs it with gusto. No Walls Now is a local product. Raskin wasn't born here but he’s lived in Sonoma since 1976; the last poem in the book, “Green and Red,” captures some of the feel of the county. Albert Lugo at Clone designed the book and printed it, too. No Walls Now is angry, funny, sad and loving. If you voted against Trump and are ready voicing opposition to the regime these poems might be precisely what you’d like to hear and to read.