Click through for a review of Derek White’s chapbook O, VOZQUE PULP, the seventeenth in this full-press review series of Calamari books.
With my last review here I pushed on some gaps I felt in Derek White’s 23 TEXT TILES, this later White chapbook O, VOZQUE PULP does much more to please me as a reader, & I want to highlight its intrigue here.
O, VOZQUE PULP is a selection of very short works paired or page-associated with images by Carlos M. Luis, but these are not the norm in flash fiction where writers are seeking to encapsulate a small moment & somehow still, by force or by language, create the standard beginning / middle / end of a narrative arc. No. Instead, White is giving the reader segments of living, moments of life – some that end & some that begin & some that are the middle. Not one feels like a story told start to finish, but the incompletion of them makes a point in & of itself about how fragmented our lives are – & this perception of existence is then pressed into being with White’s well-phrased texts:
from ‘The Dandelion Hunter:
In the corner of the closet was a nest of daddy long legs. My stepmother taught me that daddy long legs were okay for spiders. It took willpower, but I broke the nest open on my stomach and let the baby daddy long legs crawl all over me. It took all I could muster not to resist. With my eyes closed, I lay on the fallen coats, feeling the tingling pricks spread across my skin until I was used to it and the spiders became the fabric of my clothing.
Chapbooks, to me, often feel incomplete. They are sometimes a part of a larger work or words that never made it to a book-length version. This does not apply to all chapbooks equally or evenly, but it does apply to some of them some of the time (at least) & what I really enjoyed in O, VOZQUE PULP was how White focused on this incompletion instead of avoiding it, & thereby made the short form live a little differently than I am used to:
from ‘(h)ALT(O) HE(ME):
When it finally happened, he was thinking of something else. He was considering the permeability of his own skin and how it was able to let certain molecules diffuse out and not let others in. He raised his hand to hail the taxi. He opened his mouth, but did not speak. It was too late. A man living inside him was jostled loose. It was nothing he was proud of—harboring this being inside him this whole time.
In short: Nice job Mr. White. Accessible yet interesting & entertaining. This was a good one in my book.
Next up, James Lewelling’s TORTOISE. Stop by then.