Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: Cool For You
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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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on June 10, 2001
Eileen Myles's Cool For You rocks so hard it hurts. Like most memoirs, it's moving, and often sad, but where other books devolve into wee wistful prettiness, Cool For You stays rigorous- like a breaststroke, performed again, and again, and again.
Ms Myles inhabits several different descriptors- Irish Catholic, working class, lesbian, alcoholic...- which she refuses to codify into "identities", though illumines beautifully nonetheless. It's embarrassing to admit, but here I am at age 30 reading the book, and for the first time in my life really getting the horror of the snares set out for people just based on class alone. But, anyway, Ms. Myles brings all this to vivid reality before her reader- like her tale of working in a rancid home for mentally retarded adults, hungover, and bingeing on fistfuls of M&Ms- the candy used on the patients for behavior modification. Occasionally she'll switch gears entirely, putting aside the story-telling mantle and delving into off-the-cuff but nevertheless brillaint philosophizing, like the mini-rant about why the image of a female Christ could never power a whole vast culture like the male version has, because the figure of a suffering woman is a given, if not a redundancy.
Myles is a philosopher from an alien logical system- one where no one ever, ever tries to make a totalizing statement.
As a big fan of Ms. Myles' poetry, I believe that the book's flat-footed, precarious, lyrical, and epigrammatic voice stems from decades of verse-making, esp. of the hip and savvy New York School style that she is the sole remaining inheritor of. Her metaphors and descriptions are just this side (-the genius side) of disaster- in the hands of anyone else- anyone who had the slightest lapse of faith they'd collapse, leaving a big old mess. In her hands though, they punch you through conditioned ways of seeing into something rougher, and more beautiful.
An eastern European writer (Vaclav Havel? Milan Kundera?) once said something to the effect that no one actually cares about the future- that for both nation-states and the individual control of the future is only appealing in so far as it means control of the past- rewriting the official history to come out always looking good. But neither Myles' voice nor story(s) are self-seeking. Coincident with this she never tries to crystallize the past, to present it as one whit more fixed or comprehensible than right here right now, you the person reading these words. (The running story of her instutionalized grandmother, to whom the book is dedicated, is a toccata of gaps, mysteries, and paraphrase.) A conscious, chosen, and endlessly repeated act of moment-by-moment non-resolution.
That's rare discretion, and so very precious. If it were up to me, Eileen Myles would be a National Treasure.
-Piki M
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on November 26, 2000
Proof that the best novelists are poets, Myles's Cool for You combines an artist's interior flood of sensations and a regular citizen's attempt to piece together the story of her institutionalized grandmother. Cool for You is too insightful to be lumped with memoirs. (In fact, it's categorized as a novel.) It's everything Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is touted as being, but Myles outmuscles, out-testosterones, and plain out-does sterile Joyce. There's a vitality here that you're familiar with if you're lucky enough to have heard and seen Myles read. This book's about institutions of all sorts--loony bins and Catholic school, summer camp and college--and an individual's busting free of them. This is a beautiful book, achingly truthful, funny, wise. I highly recommend Myles's world.
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on October 17, 2001
Too many novels/memoirs get lost in pretty words and pat observations which lead to little or no insight into the "real" author. Eileen Myles doesn't play this game. Memories of sexual experiences, horrible jobs, too much booze, and a family life that doesn't resemble reruns of Ozzie and Harriet spill onto the page without artifice and without regard for chronology. The result is a dizzying, beautiful, tough and honest view into one woman's life. I couldn't stop turning the pages as I wandered deeper into Ms. Myles's memories and connected, at times, with her sense of displacement. There's also much humor in this book: Ms. Myles has an ability to paint scenes of her Catholic school experiences that can make you laugh out loud. More authors should write this honestly.
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on May 2, 2012
Another review here has the audacity to compare CFY to Joyce's Portait of the Artist. It's not audacious, however; Myles' book fully justifies such a comparison. Her writing would make one impatient with the great mass of contemporary writing that seems so slack beside her's.
Is there something in the Massachsetts weather that begets the likes of Thoreau, Emerson, Emily Dickinson, Charles Olson, Jack Kerouac, John Weiners, et al-- of whom Myles is the latest.
She is a blazzing talent, and Cool for You is a great American literary work.
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on May 14, 2002
Cool For You is a fabulous portrayl of the memories of Eileen Myles. Myles tells us the story of her life in the form of a series of snapshots, jumping forward and backward in time, just as our minds retrieve and process memory. I found this style of memoir to be fresh and effective, and Myles' voice to be honest, orginal, hilarious, and beautiful. The portrayl of Myles' childhood was heartbreaking, funny, and insightful all at once. Myles has an amazing ability to capture the voice of a child written from an adult's perspective. Her descriptions are vivid and wonderful without being flowery. Even though she uses language that seems more plain and to the point, Myles lets the reader into her world to experience just what it was like for her at particular moments in time. Though the book does jump around quite a bit, the story does come together in the end, and this technique actually encourages the reader to continue. I found myself wanting to know more about her at the end of every section, and I was not dissapointed when the book was finally finished.
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on February 24, 2001
In this wonderful novel, poet Eileen Myles drives into her past's parking lot and sees not dull gravel but "thousands of eggs." Each of her paragraphs confirms an immense fertility. Abandoning the linear presentation of time, Ms. Myles connects remembered instants with heart logic, with synaptic precision. A Massachusetts childhood, a mad grandmother, the oddest assortment of odd jobs, the motley pavements of New York -- all shine in this startling, funny, rigorous book.
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on February 20, 2001
Reading "Cool For You" was like winding and reeling, freely being pulled through murky corridors, through spaces of clarity, past thresholds and back - like living a life, not only Eileen's, but one's own. It took me to places of confusion, shame, anger, sorrow, weakness, strength, humor and recognition.
"Cool For You" is a call from the straits of silence, Eileen's particulars echo from the depths and resonate without filling. This is a book for readers who are secretly writers waiting for this call and the permission to speak.
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on January 16, 2016
It's apparently the Myles moment. She's a great author and deserves this attention. This book is a really fun read. It's a memoir in case that isn't clear.
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on October 26, 2001
Eileen Myles' "autobiographical" novel, Cool for You is unusual. It's brave. It's outspoken, and it is VERY pretentious. The style can be confusing as it merges dialogues with narrative, leaves out punctuations and in fact, seems to leave out whole pieces of plot line. There are definitely two distinct sections in this book. The first takes place in the mental institutions referred to on the book jacket, and the second takes place in the life of Eileen Myles as she grows from child to woman. It reminded me of a "formula" I once heard someone recommend to another who didn't know how to write poetry... just write down what you want to say, and then take out ever 5th word or so... well, I don't think Eileen Myles went to quite that extent, but it does seem that what she wants to say has been restated in 5 different ways with 5 different visions of the same character. Unfortunately, none of these 5 approaches are ever resolved and they don't merge at the end with a bow to tie up all the loose ends. This book is very clearly focussed on issues she is trying to settle in her own life. What or who IS her mother? A strong, square shouldered beauty? June Cleaver with a smile and a kind word? A mealy mouthed pushover who allows her daughter free reign of the house and keeps her mouth shut when the house rules are broken? I read this one for a bookgroup discussion and one of our members actually KNOWS the family referred to in this book. That made for a very lively discussion indeed, and that is one thing I can say in favor of this book. It is like abstract art... if you keep an open mind and look really hard, but maybe not with a lot of focus, you will see things here that you didn't see at first. There is a lot of room for interpretation, or you can just take it as it comes... paint spattered on a cement wall by someone who didn't care a whole lot. I have read Eileen Myles' poetry and LOVE it, so I was disappointed with this novel. If you're looking for a fun read, you might want to look elsewhere.
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on February 20, 2001
Reading "Cool For You" was like winding and reeling, freely being pulled through murky corridors, through spaces of clarity, past thresholds and back - like living a life, not only Eileen's, but one's own. It took me to places of confusion, shame, anger, sorrow, weakness, strength, humor and recognition.
"Cool For You" is a call from the straits of silence, Eileen's particulars echo from the depths and resonate without filling. This is a book for readers who are secretly writers waiting for this call and the permission to speak.
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