Monday, July 06, 2009

REVIEW of GUD issue 4 by Anne Brudevold

REVIEW of GUD issue 4, Spring 2009 by Anne Brudevold

Reading the latest GUD issue 4, Spring 2009 inspires the disjunctive in me. I am full of admiration for its editors who aim for the deep-seated healthy shock value of wildly varying essays and stories, each one completely unique and surreal, yet creating its own world that connects to the worlds before and after it in subtle ways. The structure of this issue of GUD totters the lines of the huge, insane no-man’s land between life and death, good and evil. Sometimes, as in “Unfinished Stories” by J(as)D Brames, life, death, good, and evil become as knotted together as lovers killing each other with calculating, hopeless, eviscerating love, love that could be called hatred. This harkens to the tradition of Becket, Albee, and The Silence of the Lambs, horrifying, unimaginable, yet here vividly imagined and unforgettable.. The story incorporates a parable of Hans and Gretel and the Wicked Witch, who eats Hans and loves it, in this version, and by eating him, grants him a new life as a bird.

The story is preceded by an astute analysis of Kafka, who “believed that we are only a bad day of God’s.” (“What Kafka Knew,” Nonfiction by Christy Rodgers. Kafka, the first postmodernist who gave us a “parallel symbolic world” that not only literature, but also politics adopted. “The system chooses to punish you not for the specifics of your individual actions but merely to demonstrate to others that its authority is absolute. This idea is incarnate in military invasions and occupations, in racial profiling and ethnic cleansing, and in the punishment of dissenters; it is not a fictional exaggeration or a phenomenon of a particular society in the historical past, but a pretty accurate description of how power continues to operate all around us, right now.” The battle for the power of definition of good and evil is summed up in the title of the poem, ”Jesus Fucks an Atheist and calls it Love.” By Lisa Feinstein.

Reality as we know it walks a thin line in GUD. In “Unbound” by Brittany Reid Warren, one moment a family is having an almost unattended birthday party of the twelve year old son, the next, the world ends as the parents argue. “There was something like the low stink of a relentless predator….My mother stood at the sink, running her hands under the water and humming. As I watched, the water grew into strange shapes on her palms: now a tree, many-branched and reaching’ now a snake, curling over a tangled rope. Now my father’s face. Now mine. “ Reality curls and tangles.. People from another dimension appear and eat pizza.

Acceptance of evil. death, contradiction and the slippery slopes of reality brings hope at the end of many of these essays and stories. It’s a psychological healing. Confess your sins, your doubts, your addictions, your deceptions and you will be healed, if only momentarily. “Lifthrasir , I thought. I formed the name with my tongue. It tasted like life, like growth, like order out of chaos. /It tasted like…hope.” (Warren). “If there are days when I feel that life on earth will be reduced to two idiots battling to the death on a charred cinder…I read Kafka. I feel the suffocation of nightmare, but I feel the possibility of awakening from nightmare as well.” (Rodgers)

Humor noire abounds. In the succinct poem “Quack” by Brian Beatty, “The mystic said/my spirit/animal/was a duck/because---/I forgot to ask why,/I was so distracted/by her/week-old loaf of bread.”

Sentimentalism is nowhere to be found. Death is an interesting object, examined from astonishingly imaginative angles in this issue of GUD. Death, Life, Good, Evil. If there are more crucial issues than these today, let me know. I am caught up by GUD’s passionate and unimpassioned examination of these subjects. A read-through is impossible, so intense are the language and subject matter. I read and reflect, read, am shocked, examine my shock, am fascinated by my shock, absorb it and look for other angles to be shocked and intrigued by. GUD will wake up your sensibilities, will challenge the things most precious, most sacred to you (your pet cat, your love, your belief in order) and turn them upside down, inside out, splay them and return them to you, intact, and glowing with new possibilities. Read GUD and you’ll never be the same. And that’s a good thing for the world, a necessary thing, if the world at present is ever to regain its sanity, which GUD, I think rightly, assumes it has lost. You must lose your mind to find it. You must deconstruct the world to understand and recreate it. A Must Read.


  1. Brian Beatty4:52 AM

    Thanks for mentioning my poem.

  2. Thanks for mentioning my poem. GUD is a great magazine! I have never worked with such fastidious and dedicated editors!