From Publishers Weekly
Iowa Prize winner (Thieves' Latin) Shippy's third collection is a novella-in-verse written in stepped tercets reminiscent of William Carlos Williams'. Told by a resident of a very modern-sounding Thebes, the poem presents itself as a Bizarro-world remake of the Oedipus cycle. Yazoo, a cow, crashes through the chatty speaker's ceiling, spurring him to pontificate about his media-obsessed life and personal struggle with a sick father. Dreamy, playful and at times campy, Shippy's poem interweaves the voices of talking monkeys, birdbots and a flirty Sphinx. The text bends and blends genre, myth and allegory, highlighted by the speaker's catchy patter: "After // her chutz- / pah / I can't manage to oompah // the money shot." This is ambitious work that manages to be frequently dynamic, describing a world much like our own: "These are dark days for our town. / A virulent stain of self-schaden- / freud- // e / is replicating / spreading the boos."
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Peter Shippy's verse novel begins as all novels should, with a cow crashing through the ceiling of its first-person narrator. Other delights ensue. Pound said Mauberley was his condensed version of a Henry James novel: How to Build the Ghost in Your Attic operates under similar depth pressures and aspirations. The triadic stepline pioneered for U.S. poets by W.C. Williams is here employed with vigor and narrative impetus; the rhythms are propulsive and captivating. This is above all an enjoyable book, fantastic and funny throughout. It can be read straight through, and I mean that as high praise. Shippy's polyglot reality where history is hence held me bound for 80 pages. --Bill Knott
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Shippy's aesthetic boundaries are blurred in the most delightful and surprising ways and have opened new ground for lyric expression. His hybrid has infused contemporary poetry with dynamism. --Denise Duhamel
In dexterous lingo, the argot fraught with gumption and gusto, Shippy's new poem dazzles. Fathers, mothers, sphinxes, and seers populate this wild hyper-Classical world, one made wilder by the poet's searing wit. How to Build the Ghost in Your Attic astonishes, the ideas everywhere: read it and leap! --Alan Michael Parker