Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Review of “the zoo, a going: (THE TROPIC HOUSE)” by J. A. Tyler

Review of “the zoo, a going: (THE TROPIC HOUSE)” by J. A. Tyler, fiction, Sunnyoutside, Buffalo, New York, 23 pages, 2010

By Barbara Bialick

Isn’t it practically archetypal to compare one’s family to a zoo? Especially when they behave badly in public, such as at the zoo itself? J.A. Tyler’s new chapbook, is a glimpse into his upcoming book, “The Zoo, A Going” set to be published by Dzanc Books in 2013. But don’t wait till then to check him out.

In only 23 pages, Tyler gives us a mélange of Freudian and probably Jungian symbols, and just plain cursing and speaking, that help this neurotic little kid figure out how he fits in with his folks and the animals.

The cover, designed by Anna Mutzes of Birdfish Studio, is just what the little volume needs—an old fashioned drawing of a woman, man, and boy’s eerily embodied-looking clothes resting near blue striped wall paper, as if for a photo, without any heads, feet or hands…

I wouldn’t even begin to analyze these individual vignettes, which include, for example,
“The Tree Snake”, the “Bird-Eating Spider” and “The Turtle”. The sign in front of the turtle says he’s 110 years old. To the boy, “People lie and I don’t think this turtle can be three or four times my dad or my mom. It is a turtle.” Lying is the point in this one. He quotes his mother in italics, “So help me god Jonah put your fucking toys away for once. I am going to step on them and break my fucking head.” But the boy is quick to point out his mother has never broken her head open nor stepped on his toys, except for one mini drumstick that cracked.

The boy is afraid to tie his shoelaces near the Boa Constrictor. “I could throw you in there. I could if I wanted to,” his dad says. “You want me to throw you in there?” The dad then says “Don’t worry…I won’t throw you in there today.” The boy concludes,
“he doesn’t say anything about tomorrow, which is somehow just like my dad.”

J.A. Tyler is the author of several novellas, including “Inconceivable Wilson” (Scrambler Books, 2009) and “A Man of Glass & All the Ways We Have Failed” (Fugue State Press, 2011). He is also the founding editor of Mud Luscious Press (

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