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I Shot the Moon, Calamari Press, 3 / 39, GOOD, BROTHER

Click through for my review of GOOD, BROTHER by Peter Markus, the third in my full-press review series of Calamari books.

This is my fourth or fifth read through Peter Markus’ GOOD, BROTHER, & I have no less to say about it this time through.

Markus, if you don’t know his writing, works in whirlwinds & loops, repetitive cycles something akin to prayer or chant where only a word or two changes from sentence to sentence or carries from one phrase to the next, & somehow this feat of both liquid writing & entrancing rhythms never ceases to surprise me:

‘Girl is all ours.

We made her.

Girl began as mud.

Girl began as mud but became a girl when we gave her her name. We named her Girl because that’s what she looked like: girl. Girl, we said. And the name stuck like a stick stuck in the mud.

We took a stick and spelled Girl’s name in the mud down by the edge of the river.


Girl looked good in the mud.

Girl’s mud body shined like something made brand new in the moonlight.’

& also, if you don’t know Markus, the Boys in GOOD, BROTHER as well as their Father, Mother, their Girl Made of Mud, their Fish & their Moon & their Stars & their Lighthouse, these are all elements that are picked up & laid down meticulously throughout Markus’ other Calamari book THE SINGING FISH as well as in his New Michigan Press title THE MOON IS A LIGHTHOUSE, his Dzanc novel BOB, OR MAN ON BOAT, &, one can safely assume, in his forthcoming Dzanc collection WE MAKE MUD.

But this is not to say that Markus deadens, numbs, tires, or plays-out these relationships, their roles, or the characters. In fact, what GOOD, BROTHER instantly shows the reader is that we can take up & leave down these Boys at their River over & again, always finding a new twist in the narrative, a new picture in the images, or a new doorway in their humble for-sale-by-the-River house. The Boys themselves, not wanting to leave their home, not wanting to go, seek discovery of their world along side the reader, never tiring:

‘And this, making mud, is a thing us brothers can’t never get enough of…Look at the sky. The sky, we say, it is a river. And the stars: the stars are the glowing eyes of fish. And the moon? our mother asks us brothers, catching us, her sons, off guard. The moon, we tell our mother, it is a lighthouse. And we are all of us living inside.’

Part of the wonder for me, is the simplicity of Markus’ language, how it invites a reader in, humbly, & then grows over the pages to a fury of sound, a cacophony, a complex & vibrant noise that we cannot shake from our heads. There is glorious beauty in invading the reader, in taking him or her with you, especially when they don’t even notice they are on the journey until it is nearly at its end.

‘Close your eyes, Girl tells us brothers. Then you’ll see what I mean. Us brothers, we close our eyes just like Girl tells us. Good, Girl whispers. Now hold out your hands in front of your face, your palms facing away. Tell me what you see. We see a river, I say. We see fish. We see moon. Mud, I say. I see Girl. Good, Girl says, to this. Now, open your eyes back up. Look into the palm of your right hand. We look. The star that was in our hand, in its middle, it is now an eye. It is an eyeball as big as a baseball is. It is lid-less, is blink-less, its pupil, it is a wide open sky that is the color of mud. There is this river there, running through it, and a moon floating whitely above.’

Buy yourself some Markus, some GOOD, BROTHER, see with these brothers, their images.

Next up, 3rd BED [1].

5 thoughts on “

  1. I love that your post auto-generated a link to a review of a children’s book called WHAT A GOOD BIG BROTHER!

    “Cameron loves his new baby sister Sadie, but Sadie sure cries a lot! His mom and dad can get her to stop crying by changing her, or feeding her. Cameron finds his own special way to turn the cries into something even better!”

    Can you guess what that is? Can you? Can you? …That’s right! Cameron sticks Sadie in the mud! Because Sadie began as mud!

    …Keep going, J.A.!

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