Michael's Reviews > Inferno

Inferno by Eileen Myles
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Jan 14, 11


Much like my experience with highly-praised movies, I opened Inferno expecting to be absorbed in a captivating and innovative narrative. Innovative, well, yes (there is, after all, an 84-page section guised as a grant application; why Myles uses that particular lens, I'm not terribly certain) and the writing follows unpredictable threads that sometimes halt right when a reader expects development. The highlights, for me, included the final sections of the book, which seem to focus more on the development of Myles as a poet.

We all have our opinions, and any initial guilt I may have had about my blasé attitude toward Inferno is alleviated by Myles' own critiquing in passages such as this:

"Rod Padgett got up next. Which sounded like a bird name to me. Mr. Parrot, Mr. Pigeon. A character in a children's book. And he was something else again—too damn nice was what it was. Being nice got scary in Padgett's hands then it got all innocent again. Like the cowboy pictures on Sun. Why all the grown men being kids. Why would someone read his poems in a state of librarian innocence. Is it American. Rod Padgett had a Midwestern accent and I had long suspected that most poets were Midwestern and many of them had gone to school in Iowa. That was famous. I had even known about that in college. Ron Padgett might either be from Iowa or was pretending, and that was his "O." He was standing in the possibility that he might be an imposter. Not European, he was an American kind of phony. There are many kinds of fakery, and some are successful. I think I have Ron's figured out."
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