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Mosquito: Poems (Tin House New Voice) 1st Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0977312740
ISBN-10: 0977312747
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this edgy, energetic, even frenetic debut from a rising star of the Midwest, Lemon's jagged, commanding voice both charms and shocks: "Voice, be amazing/ circling the river bottom," his leadoff poem instructs. The first section (of four) stuns with accessible yet intense language, and also with the events it appears to describe: brain surgery and the poet's slow recovery from it. "Tomorrow my head opens," he says; "If I am still/ here, someone let me know what I am." Subsequent poems steer clear of medical topics in favor of sparkling, slightly diffuse cascades of images: "It is the year of the dismembered horse/ Bury me with bones instead of eyes." Crackling extremes court melodrama knowingly, challenging readers to say when enough is enough. Lemon's rawness and intelligence have a fine, in-your-face excess. Physical violence—"chipped-teeth," "kicked-heart,/ dried blood"—recurs as experience and symbol, as do a series of crime novel and film noir backdrops: "always, I'm decapitated," Lemon claims, "& feel as though someone is tracing/ The zippers of my self-inflicted bites." Above all, these poems make strong impressions, using their verbal surprises as confrontational flirtations, or else tiny explosives. (Sept.)
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"Lemon's passion and vulnerability will strip bare your conscience. There will be only scars remaining where doubt used to be-in places you never thought there would exist an experience so wrought yet so tenderly evoked that you'd be sure as hell it was yours." -D. Antwan Stewart, CutBank Reviews
"The poems in Alex Lemon's striking first book document the experience of undergoing brain surgery, an agonizing recovery, and the sudden discovery of Eros, who finally emerges as the ultimate emblem of survival. Careful yet raw, the fresh sutures that comprise the lines in many of these poems sing of pain so sharply as to verge on ethereal." -Cate Marvin, Ploughshares
"With its popping language, lucid narrative and striking imagery, Lemon seems to have greedily plundered the entire scope of contemporary poetry for what may be one of the most solid book debuts in years." -Todd Dillard, Pebble Lake Review
"His speakers are unrelenting in their quest to remain focused on life's true and pure moments despite, or rather because of, their fear. Alex Lemon's poems instruct us to hold onto these experiences and keep them close to us." -Michael Levan, Third Coast
"Brave and exciting work." -Southern Review
"'When I say hello, it means bite my heart,' begins one of the poems in Alex Lemon's startlingly raw and raucous first book. Speakers declare, 'I am Hi-Fi, all of me is surround / sound,' and describe a painting of the self as having 'eyes like megaphones.' Reading these poems is like having your five senses turned up to an almost unbearable volume. Sight: 'I could see the patch of hair you'd missed shaving / glow on your calf like a gold brick in an Iowa cornfield.' Sound: "What named me, the moth pleads, banging jazz from light bulbs.' Taste: 'I eat fr'zen strawberries.' Touch: 'Maybe, the surgeon said, / caressing my head like a hurricane.' Lemon's ardent search for beauty and mercy in Mosquito is transformative and true." -Matthea Harvey, author of Sad Little Breathing Machine: Poems
"Broken and brilliant, protean and written in blood, these poems are missives from the other side, the should-have-almost-died side, the burning-but-not-consumed side, and all Alex Lemon offers to console us are 'the nails on [his] tongue.' Mosquito introduces a thrilling new voice in American poetry." -Nick Flynn, author of Another Bullshit Night in Suck City
"In these days of vast changes in American poetry, it is a joy to read the work of Alex Lemon. His poems pull the reader into a world of familiarities, while they confront daily experience in totally surprising ways. Mosquito means there is something there, so you better grab it before it disappears or becomes something else. It also means the vibrancy of these poems comes from the union between the microscopic and the panoramic-that focus of vision most poets spend a lifetime exploring. To show this kind of confidence and sense of direction means we have a major young poet on our hands. And, for poetry, that is the most vital gift it can receive." -Ray Gonzalez, author of Consideration of the Guitar: New and Selected Poems
"Mosquito is an enigmatic, engaging read. Ideal for those who enjoy formal and experimental poetry alike, Alex Lemon's book is a truly remarkable debut." —Kristina Marie Darling, The Midwest Book Review

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Product Details

  • Series: Tin House New Voice
  • Paperback: 70 pages
  • Publisher: Tin House Books; 1 edition (July 19, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0977312747
  • ISBN-13: 978-0977312740
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.3 x 7.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,151,432 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By P. L. McNamara on October 17, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Alex Lemon's poems come from the youthful "school" of linguistic daring, probling often painfully (but always bravely) for truth. He reaches down so deeply into himself, his world, that he brings up what most poets couldn't dare to unearth. We all--poets, readers of poetry, life-livers--need accumulated layers peeled as often as possible from our eyes, but we don't usually know where to go for the operation. Lemon has the scalpel and wields it deftly. He leads us to fresh reflections on his world and ours. Between the covers of "Mosquito" we live at times on the edge of a precipice, then plunge to underwater depths. It's all renewing, invigorating, death-defying, and stimulating. No reader can remain unmoved.
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Format: Paperback
Lemon's first published collection is one of the best debuts of any contemporary poet I've read. His experiences, most notably going through brain surgery, are told in a meticulously lyrical language; he does an incredible job translating a harrowing experience into something neither trite nor overly-aesthetic; a masterful showing of what cunning word-choice, meter, an honest, bare introspection can achieve. Nothing short of brilliant.
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By rhea on August 7, 2006
Format: Paperback
four years ago alex lemon said "i believe life is saturated with grief but at times its the most beautiful thing possible."

life. and this book. both more beautiful than i could imagine.
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Format: Paperback
Alex Lemon's first book of poetry, "Mosquito," presents a raw and vivid read. Lemon's particular word choices and intense syntax drive each of his poems into the reader, making them uniquely attuned to each of their five senses. The experience of Lemon's surgery, a common theme throughout the poems in the book, seems to have fueled him into a poetic fury. He describes his hospital experiences with heated verbs and sharp images. Leading the first section, "MRI" describes "I'm half-/ naked, shivery with chicken skin,/ napkin-gowned." In "Other Good," he writes, "Anesthesia dumb, scalpel-paste/ Rawing my tongue, I found/ Myself starfished in sky." Other poems in this collection highlight his experiences with lovers, family, and companions. In "Plum," Lemon writes,

by the time the fake had finished

you were half-undressed, trembling, hypnotizing me

with your bones, the sound of rain on the sofa.

Your lips moved, and I stopped you, put a finger

in the air like I had an idea that could save the world

or a secret I swore to tell but instead, unmoving, I sat

like a jackass, finger in the air, and you,

beautifully naked and absolute, smiling

away my incompetence, shaking your head

and biting a plum, juice streaking to your chin,

dripping like steam condescending on the shower mirror.

Each of Lemon's poems, whether discussing tumors or lovers, displays such raw intensity and emotion that it becomes impossible to stop reading.

My only qualm with "Mosquito" was its lack of clarity throughout the poems. Often Lemon's imagery would be so intricate that the poems would become confusing rather than illuminated.
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