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What the Sea Means: Poems, Stories & Monologues, 1987-2002 Paperback – September 20, 2002
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
"...a decidedly wicked, silly, surreal sensibility, fracturing linguistic and social assumptions...somewhere between the Marx Brothers, conceptualism, and high art." -- Chicago Reader
"Masterful...Awl probes with a keen eye and ear and a wicked and illuminating mind." -- Gay Chicago
About the Author
Dave Awl is the founder of the Pansy Kings performance group and a ten-year veteran of The Neo-Futurists' fringe theater smash Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind. His writing and distinctive voice have been featured on the NPR programs Anthem and This American Life. He lives in Chicago with his cat and comic foil, Dragon Lady.
Top customer reviews
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There is a timeless quality to this work -- so many of the pieces touch a nerve, or make me smile, or are a complete distraction, or take a few readings before I understand them. In any event, many of Awl's recurring themes speak to me: a craving for silliness, sense memories, seeing things backwards, out-of-body experiences, serendipity, loneliness, sharing, insomnia, and flavor. There are more. And maybe even some that you would connect with that do not resonate with me.
In a word, Brilliant. A great writer, who gives this sparkling collection. I look forward to re-reading WTSM for many years (and for reading Awl's next book whenever it comes along).
By far my favourite piece is A Perfectly Empty Room, in which a man makes repeated attempts to clear out his room and, by extension, his life, only for everything to constantly find its way back in underneath his door - something I and, I'm sure, many other people can relate to. Dave Awl has a penchant for taking metaphors like this for a walk and seeing where they lead him. If you go along with him you'll find the journey is repeatedly interesting and above all, entertaining.
The best thing about this book though is how much there is of it. Dave Awl has been busy since 1987, and there is plenty here for readers to get their teeth into. The book is bursting with things to say, and even when it's said them it goes into some fascinating notes about where many of the pieces originated and how they were staged.
If you sometimes feel like the man that Vermeer painted over, and know that nobody can properly articulate the sadness of the tea kettle, buy this book.
OK. I'm biased. But I highly recommend, in no particular order: 'A Perfectly Empty Room' (story); 'The Idea of You' (monologue); 'Glastonbury' (poem); 'What The Sea Means' (poem); and a poem about Magritte, which I can't seem to find in the index but which I know has to be there ... Reading this book wouldn't be complete without its own little mysteries.
In a nutshell, word paintings that are surreal and full of revelations. Best of all, at the back of the book is a section of notes. It answers questions you haven't asked yet and poses some you wish you had.
Diving into Dave Awl's work is like discovering a continent or a magical island: You thought it might be there but you didn't dare hope it would be this weird, this different.
Do your brain cells a favour.