Kristine Muslim's Reviews > Surrealities

Surrealities by Bruce Boston
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's review
Aug 23, 2011

really liked it

In the first issue of Kaleidotrope Magazine in a review of a bizzaro book, the critic Martin Earl offered what for me was the best take on surrealism in literature: “surrealism is confusing but ultimately understandable.”

This is true for Bruce Boston’s Surrealities, a 64-page book of poems and illustrations (Boston’s rendition of Rorschach inkblots) lending stunning insight on the human condition: the violence (Two Nightstands Attacking a Cello), the humdrum (A Life in the Day Of), the obsessive-compulsiveness (Surreal Wish List), and the exquisite madness (Before the Vilification of Hypnagogic Birth).

Surrealities is replete with ekphrastic references. In “Portrait of My Dead Brother with Burning Wing:”

An immature boy in a sailor suit
refuses to leave

the beaches of Port Ligat.
The great masturbator

considers the obscene history
of the Third Reich.

In “Revealing Their Eyes:”

reveal sunflower
burning giraffe

Music -- possibly because its form is amorphous, its influence is intuitive, and thus the most powerful representation of the surreal -- is a common element in this collection. This music comes in many forms: from static to the cacophony of fear and panic.

The foreboding “Lizard and Wind,” the best piece in the book, tells of:

The lizards were everywhere
and so was the wind.
There was no way you could
keep either of them out
that hard spring.

All in all, Surrealities is a very important contribution to the literature of the surreal.
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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Byron  'Giggsy' Paul I agree with Kristine. I love surrealist film, art, and writing, but have a pet peeve that it must still be understandable by the reader. Too often surrealism seems like the creator is just making weird stuff no one can understand. Boston succeeds at creating something unique for the reader who can take something away from each poem.. however, its still not an easy read and requires an investment of the reader's time

Byron  'Giggsy' Paul And the art was great too, especially accompanying these poems. I think had I seen the art displayed by itself, I may not have enjoyed as much.

Kristine Muslim "Too often surrealism seems like the creator is just making weird stuff no one can understand." - So true! Understanding is fundamental to my appreciating something, anything. Typing a bunch of oddly mismatched words and phrases can't be surrealism. It's just someone typing on the keyboard. As for the book, I love the fact that the art complemented the poems, and I love Boston's work.

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