In Ann Arbor, I’d been known as “the Alaska guy,” which now felt like a pose. Feeling too Alaska for the MFA book-world had supplanted how much of my life I’d felt too book for Alaska. Maybe that was why I’d been unable to progress on my novel. I’d left this place, after all. Had I ever really loved it, or just the way it let me represent myself?
I want to think about distance and Jane Gregory’s new book of poems, Yeah No. Or something more like gapping. A space between concepts charged with those concepts’ distance, what holds discourse together (and molecules, and planets).
As a toddler, I devoured reruns of Rocky and Bullwinkle, and even in the 1970s still occasionally saw the civil defense film Duck and Cover. It was an everyday occurrence to see the yellow and black signs marking the way to the nearest fallout shelter in schools, post offices, and stores. There was no escaping the Cold War’s shadow.
“I really want the resources and the money that’s coming into the city to reach the bus, but I hope that gentrification never reaches the bus because there’s just so much culture and originality there.”
Van Den Berg gives loveliness to the gruesome while opening up the novel’s world to all kinds of ghosts. The real emotional power of the novel, however, beyond the elegance of its language and the precision and momentum of its telling, builds from what ends up being a brutal moment of confrontation.