Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Assorted Fictions by Carson Cistulli, etc...

Assorted Fictions by Carson Cistulli

Suppository Writing by Loren Goodman

Cindi's Fur Coat by Michael Casey

The Chuckwagon

146 College Hwy. #18

Southampton Ma 01073



Review by Mike Amado

I’ve recently read that the town of Southampton, MA. won the Great American Water Taste Test and has the best tasting water in the whole country, according to the National Rural Water Association. Now, to add to the list of credits is a new small press, the Chuckwagon which specializes in D.I.Y. (Do It Yourself) poetry and fiction. Or so I assess from the books I am reviewing.

Assorted Fictions by Carson Cistulli plays the grad. School humor card like a philosophy major playing poker with Johann Gottfried Herder and Georg Wilhelm Hegel for beer money. The major stumbling home from the bar, which shows how the tournament went.

Cistulli’s cerebral jaunts present the voice of a standup intellectual on a stage all his own.

Making deep thinking fun, or making fun of deep thinking. You decide.
No new revelations here, or any drastic lightbulbs the size of the National Grid, however,but Cistulli wields irony and maintains it throughout these clever quips.
English novelist P. G. Wodehouse is in the afterlife giggling and sorting ale? Maybe.

Here’s a few from Assorted Fictions:

During Little League, the coaches always told us to “look alive.” “How else can we
look?” I asked one time. So it was, on my behalf, a stroke of cleverness and
Remarkably, this was some ten years before my first drink.

Just because a girl says “Hi Sheena” into her phone, do I really think that’s who’s
on the other side? The answer’s no, and I’ll tell you why: Shenna’s only the 80th
most popular girl’s name, while, for example, Amber’s 20th and Sarah’s 5th . Most
probably, the other girl’s name is Jennifer, and Sheena’s just a funny nickname
or something.


Suppository Writing by Loren Goodman begins with an intended zeal of bringing
university-level studies of literature to highschool students over a period of one summer to prepare them for “intellectual life”. “Our goals included learning to read closely and to write clearly and concisely, with attention to rhetorical strategies, organization . . .and revision.”

The entries in Suppository Writing are assessment reports of each student in the course.

While these evaluations provide humor at the expense academia, that humor explicates
the imagination of a young teacher and that teacher’s inevitable unraveling.
As the reader studies Suppository Writing, it is clear that the group of diverse
students have inherent flaws despite their backgrounds.

Such as Ivan Angerson who, “. . .proved himself to be an excellent moron . . .”
“Ivan’s absence from the last week of classes (he notified me of his absence via
Morse Code and turned in all required work engraved in silver) was hardly missed.”
There’s Jeremiah Tang who, “ . . .has excellent polymorphous perversion.”
And Arturo Salivavetti who, “ . . . drooled inconsistently on his written work
for this course, except for his final essay, which was uniformly soggy.”
I’m assuming names have been changed to protect the innocent?

To its credit, I found Suppository Writing to take “poetic licence” to the edge of
reason and imaginativeness with its hyper-hyperbole.
The descriptions of the students are beyond accurate and need not be taken as such,
however, they are amusing. The report for student Maxine Jaw yields:

“Maxine stood out. She was one of the tallest and most enigmatic.
With her speech impediment and incredible underbite, Maxine distinguished
herself early on, prompting me to remove the illustration of Cro-Magnon Man from
above the blackboard.” . . . “She has excellent mandibles.”


Cindi’s Fur Coat by Michael Casey begins with poems that read like the thoughts
of a bored office-worker ogling female co-workers and metaphorically slapping
their rear-ends with anemic voyeurism. Much like real-life office autotypes, the
characters are one-dimensional pencil lines like the so-called “Art work” of
Philip Larkin and John Lennon, (which is no compliment),
and the voice is disenchanted; which complements the overall tone of despair.

I’m assuming that a corporate office setting is (or was) Michael Casey’s
work milieu in real life. If so, he should fully peruse a new career in
writing because as a writer at least you’ll have a product after you totally
crackup. Though, much like a business job, your insanity will crystalize,
or so I’ve heard. That crystallization come to a head in “crises toujous”:

“that is the way he is
here it is:
the management style of the bopper
he sends out probation letters left right
and last year the probation letters went out
for poor productivity and this year
the supervisors after beating on us
to produce all the supervisors
get probation letters for poor quality
of produced work the crisis du jour.”

By the loose description of the manager, calling him “Bopper”, I guess means he’s a golfer
and by his probation letter overkill, he’s not the employer of the month.

One poem I found involving was “the people do not need modern art”, which transcends
the cubicle and presents an interesting scene:

“How art influences people though
the stature attracts only a few tourists a day
and at the same time it attracts Felix
who tries to get into the photos
the background anyway
dropping his pants before the window
and processing his but against the pane
if only a wish could break the glass.”

We have a winner here.


Providing book-ends to “Cindi’s Fur Coat” are the poems “terminator” and “terminator II”.
“Terminator” sets the scene of a woman who’s job is “ . . . firing people/ letting go terminating”
complete with the accompaniment of a security guard out of the building. Her job was basically
to fire employees “for offices too chicken shit to do it themselves.”
“Terminator II” brings her back for an ironic twist to befall the speaker:

“she walked right over to my desk
and I said to her right away
gee what are you doing here in my building in my office
before my desk??

Yes, the speaker gets the ax, and the come-up-ence of the firing adds a bit of
pathos to his situation. The last line:

“oh the security guard behind her
he was a piece of work.”

The Chuckwagon is a purveyor of writing for the people, evidencing that there are
still writers who think, (and thinkers who are writing) out there in the world.
I hope the Chuckwagon will continue to be a counter-balance to the likes of academia.


1 comment:

  1. Anonymous9:53 AM

    Educated at Columbia University and the University of Montana, Cistulli is the author of Some Common Weaknesses Illustrated (Casagrande Press 2007) and a chapbook, Assorted Fictions (The Chuckwagon). In 2004, three of Cistulli's poems appeared in Free Radicals: American Poets Before Their First Books (Subpress Collective). I think he's really really great!

    Brilliant post!