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Overview

In Fancy Beasts, the author of Hallelujah Blackout and Mosquito takes on California, the 2008 election, plastic surgery, Larry Craig, wildfires, Wal-Mart, and rampant commercialism — in short, the modern American media culture, which provides obscene foil for his personal legacies of violence and violation. This pivotal book captures the turning point in a life of abuse, in which the recovering victim/perpetrator puzzles through the paradigm of son-to-husband-to-father. Frenetic, hilarious, and fearless, these ...
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Fancy Beasts

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Overview

In Fancy Beasts, the author of Hallelujah Blackout and Mosquito takes on California, the 2008 election, plastic surgery, Larry Craig, wildfires, Wal-Mart, and rampant commercialism — in short, the modern American media culture, which provides obscene foil for his personal legacies of violence and violation. This pivotal book captures the turning point in a life of abuse, in which the recovering victim/perpetrator puzzles through the paradigm of son-to-husband-to-father. Frenetic, hilarious, and fearless, these poems are a workout — vigorous and raw. Yet they are also composed and controlled, pared down and sculpted, with a disarming narrative simplicity and directness. Even when dealing with toxic content, the point of view is always genuine and trustworthy. This stunning achievement marks Alex Lemon’s best work yet.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Full of raw energy, up-to-date in its slang and its jump cuts, effervescent with the playfulness and sometimes the angers of youth, the third collection from Lemon (Hallelujah Blackout) conveys a likable, outsized personality; it should also work well in tandem with the Texas-based poet's forthcoming memoir, Happy (Scribner, 2010), which describes his fast descent and striking recovery, as a young adult, from shocking and sudden brain injury. “Saying yes to everything/ Does not mean you need// To grunt at each person/ Who says hello”: so begins a poem called “We Could Boom Boom,” sounding at once a joke and a warning. “Let me be your guiding fright, your/ Highway to the comfort zone,” another poem requests; around that invitation Lemon arranges both a love poem and a depiction of suicide. Champions will praise the verve that lets the poet imagine himself “In the presence/ Of dynamite./ Deserving of/ Everything.” The strikingly terse sequence entitled only “!!” makes a welcome, if sometimes frightening, change of pace. It also alludes, apparently, to his brain injury: “The fun park inside” (that is, inside his skull) “Is being/ Renovated.// Bellwether./ Blackened eyes.” But such gravities are exceptions: delights, and shocks, are the rule. Like Tony Hoagland, Lemon is often self-conscious about the volatilities his poems convey, about their almost giddy tonalities, but he will not apologize for himself: adult life is a scary gift, a fast trip, a set of close encounters with “this fizzing pier life.” (Mar.)
Library Journal
Few could blame Lemon, author of the harrowing illness memoir Happy, for displaying no small degree of fatalism, even misanthropy, in his third collection of brash, ruefully forthcoming poems ("I slept through the alarm/ & then the rest of my life"). In the poet's unpredictable, hostile universe, the body itself breeds an internal and self-destructive violence ("an illegal dogfight/ Has been taking place / In the cage of your skull") while reason batters against "the human/ Situation, stewing/ & bewildered/ With insignificance." Bleak as it sounds, Lemon's poetry nevertheless bristles with gallows humor and an acute if oblique social criticism that belies the apparent despair, targeting apathy ("because no one you know is/ Dying in a war/ You decide to play/ Dead") and consumerism ("The default setting is one/ More, please") with tactical wit. A master of negative empathy, Lemon spelunks through the brain's darker convolutions and clearly enjoys testing the reader's limits, if sometimes allowing his inventions to veer into cartoonish shenanigans (e.g., "Beautification Campaign"). VERDICT This book will likely appeal most to twenty-somethings with an emo/hipster bent, but even older readers will be impressed by Lemon's calculated audacity.—Fred Muratori, Cornell Univ. Lib., Ithaca, NY
From the Publisher

"A master of negative empathy, Lemon spelunks through the brain's darker convolutions and clearly enjoys testing the reader's limits.
Library Journal, starred review

"Full of raw energy, up-to-date in its slang and its jump cuts, effervescent with the playfulness and sometimes the angers of youth, the third collection from Lemon conveys a likable, outsized personality." —Publishers Weekly

"Life cleverly and joyfully rages in Alex Lemon's poems."—Major Jackson

"Alex Lemon dazzles us with his ability to slice straight through nerve and marrow on his way to the heart and mind of the matter."—Tracy K. Smith

"Fancy Beasts is a terrific book by one of the best younger poets at work today."—Kevin Prufer

"This book will likely appeal most to twenty-somethings with an emo/hipster bent, but even older readers will be impressed by Lemon’s calculated audacity."—Library Journal (starred review)

"Full of raw energy, up-to-date in its slang and its jump cuts, effervescent with the playfulness and sometimes the angers of youth, the third collection from Lemon (Hallelujah Blackout) conveys a likable, outsized personality; it should also work well in tandem with the Texas-based poet's forthcoming memoir, Happy (Scribner, 2010). Like Tony Hoagland, Lemon is often self-conscious about the volatilities his poems convey, about their almost giddy tonalities, but he will not apologize for himself: adult life is a scary gift, a fast trip, a set of close encounters with 'this fizzing pier life.'"—Publishers Weekly

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781571318060
  • Publisher: Milkweed Editions
  • Publication date: 2/1/2010
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 96
  • File size: 354 KB

Meet the Author

Alex Lemon is the author of the memoir Happy (Scribner, 2009) and of the poetry collections Hallelujah Blackout (Milkweed Editions, 2008) and Mosquito, (Tin House, 2006). He teaches at Texas Christian University and lives in Fort Worth, Texas.
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Table of Contents

Come Sweetly 3

Being Here 6

All of the Made Roads 7

Way Out West 9

Ghost in the Latrine 11

More Wind 13

It Had Only Been Dead a Few Hours 15

Haunt 17

The Floppy Instant 18

Here Comes the Mojo 20

California Hates You 22

Beautification Campaign 23

Verde Vista 25

Bling Ding Bling 29

Pins & Needles 30

Heat 32

Redux 34

I Love You Big Brother 37

Shall We Be Merry? 39

Fantasy Island 42

Tick Tick Tick 44

There's So Little to Do in a Hospital Bed 45

The New Math 47

My Fallow Human Beans 48

Starved 68

Fancy Beasts 70

House Rulez 72

The Nice 74

Come Got Some 77

Modern Life 79

We Could Boom Boom 82

Erasure 84

The Big One 85

A Little Bit Now 88

Cittern 90

The Physics of Sawing Yourself in Half 92

Please Please More Napalm 94

Operation: Get Down 96

Dear Dysentery 98

All Aboard 100

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