"Cesca Janece Waterfield writes the blues in Bartab: An Afterhours Ballad. Reading her book is like listening to a great radio station in the middle of the night when you can't sleep - you know someone is singing for you and you are singing with her. ...pays witness to good love and bad love and what we mistake for love." -- Denise Duhamel, author of Kinky (Orchises Press) and Two and Two (University of Pittsburgh Press)
Small Press Reviews says:
Towards the end of Cesca Janece Waterfield's evocative new novel in poems, Bartab: An After Hours Ballad, the poet offers us "True Story," a piece that tellingly captures the essence of the book in a thousand words or less. Here, protagonist Evie stumbles home to her boyfriend after a long night of drinking, proud of herself for having gotten all of the previous night's drinks for free. What she's done to get those drinks, we're never told, but we can draw our own conclusions based on the rest of the book. A self-described artistic iconoclast who's "so original" that she can't make a living, Evie spends her days and nights self-medicating in a variety of different ways-booze, sex, and drugs chief among them. Yet she also yearns for a life of bourgeois simplicity, as demonstrated by her purchase (and subsequent loss) of a set of ivory-colored sheets with periwinkle dots. Her dream is to save some money, to buy a van, to make a home with her boyfriend, yet the real world keeps getting in the way. There are bills to pay and eviction notices to deny. Then there are the hazy memories of nights lost to Evie's vices of choice, and the dream predictably, yet no less tragically, starts to dissolve. The narrator's desperation is palpable as she repeats her tragic chorus at the conclusion of "True Story": "I have no idea where those sheets got to."
As a "novel in poems," Bartab can do a lot of things that a traditional narrative can't do. For one thing, the format allows Waterfield to create a pitch-perfect reproduction of the fragmentary nature of memory-particularly when large quantities of alcohol are involved. As the novel progresses, its poetic form allows Waterfield to take us from point A to point B without connecting all of the dots; that work is left to the reader in much the same way the work of connecting the blurred fragments of her life is left to Bartab's tragic protagonist. All of this is to say that the book's form is perfectly suited to its content. Gritty, desperate, passionate, and heartfelt, Bartab is a must-read for the poet in all of us. --Small Press Reviews
Chad Faries of Savannah State University says:
"With 'fricatives of threat' and 'the musk of words,' Waterfield makes intellectual and animal love to the sounds of language and explores its beautiful failure. If I close my eyes after reading, I see great cinema, and the soundtrack is the 'thuck' of tires on the Eastern Shore and 'Dusk shushing the day'. Like a postmodern New Testament, this ballad is full of parables and the flesh of language, stretched and taut over a body of lyric." --Chad Faries, Savannah State University
From the Publisher
But Bartab is no morality yarn. Both the work as a whole, and the discrete poems and stories that comprise its pages are spare and authentic renderings of life lived on the fringes. In rooms and on highways where only the reckless fly, Bartab moves from the charm of romance and allure of ambition, through the disappointment and fury in their defeat. It even briefly lights the author's intimate perspective in a true-life murder tragedy gnashed in a blitz of media coverage for more than a year. Bartab resonates with any reader who has stumbled in pursuit of a dream and from her own blunders. Readings are scheduled in New York City; Richmond, Norfolk, Charlottesville and Roanoke, Virginia, with other cities to follow. Bartab will be available via online vendors as well as independent brick and mortar booksellers. Editors and founders of Two-Handed Engine Press express unreserved excitement.