Click through to read the full review of Peter Markus’ THE SINGING FISH, the twentieth in this full-press review of Calamari books.
What can I say about Peter Markus that I haven’t already shouted from every public peak I can? His work is liquid smooth, his writing is fervent and glorious, he is the contemporary writer whom I look up to the most. He is a brilliant author, and THE SINGING FISH is a beautiful book of Brothers and Mud and Girl and Stars, a book where nailing a Brother to a post makes me cry nearly every time I read it. Markus is a writer who envelopes you in words, a most wonderful and gentle suffocation.
from ‘What the River Told Us to Do’
We watched our father hammer and pound, into our front yard’s ground, a handmade sign that said, in letters big enough for us brothers to read what is said, all the way down from where we were watching, down by the muddy river’s muddy shore: HOUSE FOR SALE. We’d seen signs like this sign before, sticking up from the front yards of other people’s houses, but never in the front of ours. We knew what happened to those people who hammered those signs, down in the ground in the fronts of their houses’ front yards. After a while, those people with signs out in the fronts of their houses left away from our town and were soon replaced by new people who came to live on the insides of these kinds of houses. Us brothers, we did not want to be one of those people. We didn’t want our house to be that kind of a house. Our house, we did not want it to be a house with anybody but us living inside it.
I don’t know how many times I’ve read THE SINGING FISH now, but each time I read it I find a new layer, and on this reading, I found in the Brothers a kind of anger that I hadn’t noticed before, how the angst of moving from their river-bordering house really digs beneath their skin, maybe even more than their Girl of Mud does. THE SINGING FISH opens with this sequence about a house for sale, and it is this potential move that causes in the Brothers not only shattering looks at one another but the wailing of fists. Clenched fists, the opening and closing of fists, this is the Brothers’ youth, their passionate railing against growing up. This time it was the Brothers and their anger, but the last time I read THE SINGING FISH, Girl and her stature was what attracted my attention, was what caught in my throat the hardest. This is the glory of Markus’ writing, that every time I read his work I find something new to latch on to, to revel in. Peter Markus is a writer that every writer should read.
from ‘The Singing Fish: Revisited’:
Girl held out to us brothers to take her hand. There were these rivers there in the palm of Girl’s hand, there in the hubs of her knuckles—there were these rivers there filled with singing fish. It was these singing fish singing that lured us brothers to dive hands-first in. These fishes’ song, it was a rusty hook that hooked its barbs into us brothers—it dug its hooks into our muddy brother hearts.
Get lured in. Get hooked. Lose your heart here.
Next up, 3RD BED .
Righteous. See you then.