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Hallelujah Blackout Paperback – February 12, 2008
This month's Book With Buzz: "Little Fires Everywhere" by Celeste Ng
From the bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You, a riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture - perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives. See more
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. You/ should have seen the sweat of still-being-alive, writes Lemon in his sprawling, varied, and ambitious second collection. Thoughts of joy and pain, eros and death, not to mention references from Van Gogh to half-scratched lotto tickets collide in these unclassifiable, rapid-fire poems. Lemon (Mosquito) constantly asks the reader to take his complex ecstasies in one swallow, diction and image madly comingled: Alleluia, asshole, amen./ Together: let us eat. Elsewhere, a car wreck/ In my hands, is followed by a plea to Come with me tonight, my chocolate-/smelling love At times the fever pitch of these poems is diminished through repetition, but the book's two long poems—Abracadaver and the title piece—provide a counterpoint to Lemon's freewheeling antics: a softer, more stripped-down voice amid the rush in the matchbook of our heads. (Apr.)
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A Chaplinesque vaudeville, both mirthful and moving; a pure-gospel shout to the vaulted heavens; a hatful of abracadabras with a wink and a smile: Hallelujah Blackout is a muscular, vibrant book. Painful without being pitying ("I have little time to let mere ailments worry me"), inventive without being showy, this is an astonishing, masterful collection of poems. D. A. Powell
Alex Lemon's poetry is "a downpour that lets you see through all the gristle to our real faces." These poems charm us with their kinetic, near boisterous spunk, but they sting us too with their ever-present currents of contemplation and despair. Here amid "a jukeboxed moon" and the "sweet, sweet boogaloo of light," the only thing more remarkable than Lemon's linguistic muscle is the blood singing up from his gut. Terrance Hayes
Alex Lemon is an unstoppable phenom. He gets so much into a poem: so much world, such rich human voice, and he gets so terrifyingly close to both the self and the overwhelming Everything Else. He does this while making us look at the smallest, loveliest, worst, or plainest details at the oddest moments. Readers experience the wearing of shirts and the eating of apples and beans; a split second later we're by turns divine, genius, ravaging, and prayerful. Then we're hurt again. Then we're in love. It's as if we have been granted extra lives. Lemon's art is transformative, staggering, and in the end, compassionate. He's one of us, letting us know: we're in trouble but we're okay. Brenda Shaughnessy
Top customer reviews
Undoubtedly Lemon has a gift in painting lush images with words. Flowers & stars & apples; he casts such objects with magic & grace. But this rich beauty & texture is only present in the occasional poem. The result is very hit & miss.
& for me, the poetry of this particular volume has weak emotional echoes. Lemon tries to infuse feeling into his words, but is either half-hearted or too sharp.
Sometimes he just describes scenes & then randomly inserts some line about how he hates his hands or that God is teasing him---but the poem in no way reflects this, & it comes across as a cop-out.
Other times he tangles his allegories so tight that they break. His intentions & images are confused & lost as they collide into one another like cars on ice---though this may very much be intentional. It comes across as trying too hard.
Still, those descriptions are so lovely & elegiac, I can't help but be a little enchanted.
Also, the packaging on Milkweed's part is quite nice. I really like that cover, like soft, sweet rain against a wrathful pink sky. (Their cover for 'Fancy Beasts' is inspired as well.)