Caleb J. Ross' booklikes

The official booklikes blog of author Caleb J. Ross.

Prose. Poems. A Novel.

Prose. Poems. - Jamie Iredell (this review originally appeared over at OutsiderWriters.org)As the title might suggest, somewhere between poetry and prose sits Prose. Poems. a novel, by Jamie Iredell. On its surface, a collection of first-person flash pieces that highlight seemingly random moments in the life of “Larry,” a veiled-named high school football star turned middle-aged suburban comfort lifer. His life is hardly remarkable. But the way in which Iredell describes it, is.With each vignette, the loose narrative arc comments upon a consistent sense of foreboding, which perhaps goes hand-in-hand with the prose poem form (is there ever a hopeful flash fiction piece?). The story is never linear, though never jarring. It’s a mistake to search for linear anchors in the text, as the setting and even the characters are fluid. There is a sense of story that meshes with the reader rather than dictates to him.The strength of the novel lies in Iredell’s ability to acutely describe characters and settings, with a poetic sensibility that is often simultaneous stark and complete. First a setting:“Then the sun tripped over the mountains like a clumsy fat guy. Ants followed one another over the rocks. We sucked up deep, cool breaths. For a minute they seemed like our last. But, go figure, they weren’t” (pg. 61).And then our characters:“These women wanted you to touch them. They’d been objects so long, only human fingers reminded them that they had skin” (pg. 94); “…a woman with more piercings than skin. It was like fucking the inside of a gumball machine” (pg. 97).Prose. Poems: a novel is a slacker story, but a slacker motivated to understand not just his context (where slackers tend to top out; Douglas Coupland’s Generation X) but himself within the context (Dan Rhodes’s Gold). And much like the latter comparison, Iredell’s story benefits from its entrenchment in a captivating setting, one that both houses the characters and illuminates them.