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The Life and Opinions of DJ Spinoza (Eastern European Poets Series) Paperback – October 1, 2008

4.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In his long-awaited second full-length book, the playfully serious Ostashevsky (Iterature) draws on the Jewish philosopher Spinoza to create his alter ego, who wields logic like a weapon (On a periodic table/ he lays out his definitions/ axioms/ propositions/ like a dentist's tools before drilling a cavity). Adversaries such as the Begriffin (Frightful is the Begriffin and sharp are his claws/ .../ He is full of effects but do they have a cause?) counter the DJ with Ostashevsky's brand of wit, as well as the rhythms and rhymes of everything from fairy tales to hip-hop: Let us dismiss words// in toto /as the unionized janitors of reality! And characters such as Joseph Bédier, God, MC Squared and the Peepeesaurus offer whimsical and often dubious insight: you're famous for your scores/ on Scholastic Aptitude Tests, but/ what good is a brain, if you're an idiot? In meticulous de- and reconstructions of language that are at once mischievous (The Origin of the Specious, Myopia Is Youropia) and thought-provoking, Ostashevsky continues his slant exploration of the convergence of the poetic traditions of Eastern Europe and the U.S. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Eugene Ostashevsky is the author of Iterature (UDP 2005) and of eight chapbooks. He is also the editor and main translator of OBERIU: An Anthology of Russian Absurdism, (NUP 2006). A recipient of fellowships from the Wyttner Bynner Foundation and the New York Foundation for the Arts, Ostashevsky teaches at NYU.
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Product Details

  • Series: Eastern European Poets Series (Book 23)
  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Zephyr Press; First Edition edition (October 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0981552102
  • ISBN-13: 978-0981552101
  • Product Dimensions: 4.7 x 0.5 x 7.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,585,820 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
Eugene Ostashevsky is my favorite contemporary poet, and The Life and Opinions of DJ Spinoza is some of his best stuff. If you haven't read him before, this is a perfect place to start. There is tremendous intelligence on display here, and wacky imagination, and a unique sense of humor so abnegating it sometimes sounds like despair.

Ostashevsky mistrusts language and, by extension, everything that's constructed by it; that is to say, everything. It's a legitimate beef, and the poet's forehead-smacking alter-ego DJ Spinoza kvetches about it at book-length--to God, especially, whose profound irritation with him is no less poignant for being hilarious.

DJ Spinoza wheedles, he argues, he complains. On the threshold of enlightenment, he crawls around ridiculously on all fours, blind as a bat, having dropped his glasses. And yet, to the extent that he has enough courage to survive his boredom--his cosmic boredom--to stand in the face of onrushing meaninglessness and hold his ground--there is something powerfully endearing about this post-heroic character. Inspiring, even.

I love these poems. They make me think, and laugh, in ways that merely beautiful words do not, cannot. Per their usual, Ugly Duckling Presse has done a great job packaging them. It's a handsome little volume. I hope that through it Ostashevsky will find the audience his work so richly deserves.
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If comedic-philosophical-absurdist-hip-hop-opera poetry is your thing, you're going to dig DJ Spinoza. I picked this up on the advice of the Poetry Foundation blog. It's a fast read, and one that I think will reward repeated attention. It follows the adventures of the philosophical warrior DJ Spinoza as he battles the Begriffon, jousts with Andrew Marvell (using fruit) and MC Squared, and woos his Bride.

This first edition is limited to 1,500 copies, and I'd get one if I were you. Highly recommended.
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My poetry studio had a ball with this one. From a Russian background of sing-song and rhyme, Eugene incorporated philosophy and Western-prized word play for an excellent set. Threads all over the place but easy to follow. Very funny.
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