Jesse's Reviews > Come on All You Ghosts

Come on All You Ghosts by Matthew Zapruder
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's review
Mar 03, 2011

really liked it
Read from January 16 to March 03, 2011 — I own a copy

Reading this book was like borrowing the brain of someone who thinks in the exact opposite way that I do (not in the ideological sense; think of each neural pathway simply running in reverse), yet who is therefore an almost perfect counterpart to me. Zapruder is the coolest, most unassuming teacher in his poetry, always stretching your mind out (in an almost literal way, the way his frequent enjambments and lack of punctuation demand a substantial and meaningful hold on your attention), making you laugh, always making you question even the most basic aspects of daily life in a version of Zen that he wears well, without artifice. He's not above questioning being and nothingness and talking about the book he's reading in the same stanza. It's a perfect combination of worldliness and mind-bending; of actions and ideas; of brain-candy and feeling-tone.

To be briefly specific: "The Prelude" is harrowing but alluring, "Poem (for Grace Paley)" is so driven toward growth as to seem iconic, "Work" is tactile and immersive and funny, "Letter to a Lover" is a perfect, wistful gem, "This Little Game" is fluid and remarkably focused, "A Summer Rainstorm" is comforting and meditative, and the title poem just encompasses so much, possesses so much convincing authority, and effortlessly asserts itself as something truly, usefully epic.

Even if all of this sounds like bull, that's what Zapruder does; he makes you think in poems, makes you embrace the entire world and everything below its thin surface-reality. It did seem to lag in the third quarter, and at times he seemed to get lost in his own devices. But he comes through with a style so comfortably unique that you want to form a club around it; I wish I could write lines half and funny as he does, and still leave room for tearing your heart open.

A great collection that I'll be revisiting and studying for quite some time.

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