Monday, April 10, 2006

The Wild Creatures

I just finished reading The Wild Creatures by Sam D'Allesandro.

This won't sound right, but I had to force myself to read it. I kept slowing down to study it, reading it like a writer, not as a reader. I wanted to enjoy it on the reader level first, but some passages were so incredible that I caught myself re-reading them over several times instead of moving on.

Several stories and passages I recognized from the reading at Skylight Books. I thought, at the time, that it might be Kevin Killian's reading of Teddy Kennedy alone that convinced me to buy it, but I picked it up anyway.

This will be one of those rare books I'll pour over more than once. This book will be on the top shelf of my writer's bookcase near my computer, in easy reach, although I hope at some point I'll have read it so often that it will have sunk into me at a cellular level and I'll only open it when I need the cues to bring it back to fresh memory, like hearing the first words of the mourner's kaddish prompts the rest to come to my mouth.

But what about the stories? Speedboys brings me back to my summer days as a feral child when we lived in Oklahoma and Colorado. It is brief and perfect. Giovanni's Apartment is outstanding, but I can't begin to explain why. It simply is. Nothing Ever Just Disappears is heartbreaking in subtle shades that don't impact until you pull back from the story and realize the bigger picture you've been looking at.

This is the way stories should be told. Writers constantly search for books on style and character. This will be my textbook for that, and more.

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