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Customer Review

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars dark, challenging and raw, September 18, 2011
This review is from: The Mystery of the Hidden Driveway (Paperback)
After being fairly obsessed with Jennifer Knox's two previous books -- "A Gringo Like Me" and "Drunk By Noon" (both on Bloof Books) -- for their quirky, offkilter and often funny poems, I was very excited when I heard the news that Blook was publishing a new Knox book in 2011. But Knox's latest, "The Mystery of the Hidden Driveway," was unlike anything I expected. While it kept Knox's tradition of mixing first person (seemingly autobiographical) poems with odd persona poems from eclectic narrators -- leaving the reader unsure what is "true" and what isn't, and what "true" even means -- the tone of much of the poems in this book proved much more dark than any of her previous books.

Take for example, her poem "Marriage," where she writes of a husband and wife who "were always at bars, because we never cared for the quiet work of caring" and how jealous she grew of peonies, "blowzy flowers" that "managed to come back after nine months of bitter winter." Or the multi-page poem, "Cars," which explores the narrator's history of driving, heavily colored by the narrator's complicated relationship with her father and uncomplicated relationship with drugs. It's a harrowing series of stories, sure to make your pulse quicken and your skin cringe -- and how many poems can you say that about?

And yet, there are moments of humor which really shine through. I particularly liked "Anomalies of the Female Reproductive System," a poem that starts in a sterile reality -- a GYN admonishing the narrator for her lack of insurance, lack of visits and for calling her pap smear "creepy" -- before veering into a wild fantasy where thge actress Mary McDonnell not only takes the narrator's side on the creepiest of a pap smear, but "use lasers from the Battlestar Gallatica series / in which she used to play the president to slay the old doctor..." and before taking the narrator to Central Park for ice cream and toy sailboat racing. It's a perfect example of Knox's charm -- how she cleverly she can balance the surreal and the real, and can how upending "the truth" can sometimes expose a larger truth.

"The Mystery of the Hidden Driveaway" is certainly a much more challenging and dark read than fans of Knox's previous books might expect, but there is an honesty and realness that can't be denied. I'm happy to add this latest book to my collection of Knox works, and am already eagerly awaiting her next collection.
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Location: Austin, TX

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