Books by David Lee

NEWS FROM DOWN TO THE CAFE by David Lee
Released: Sept. 1, 1999

paper 1-55659-132-2 Best known for his narrative poems about pigs and pig farming, Lee (So. Utah State Univ.) relies on the same down-home style, with its southern-fried diction and affected spellings ('sed,— —oncet,— —othern—), to spin a collection of charming tales. With some characters reappearing from previous volumes, Lee unifies these chatty poems by having them all overheard at the local cafÇ, a —place / to get morning coffee and hear a good story or the news.— Digressive and anecdotal, his longish verses favor —legends and opinions— over fact and include the story behind the unlikely name of the coffeehouse, —Wayburne Pig CafÇ,— which derives from a sorry account of the owner's venture into hog farming. Many of the narratives enlarge in the retelling: signing up men for a softball team (—The Wayburne Team—) evolves into a heated discussion of a local prostitute with a dead-eye aim; a fight between two good old boys (—Blow—) is interrupted by a tornado; a local man lost in the Montana woods (—The Relic—) survives lest his estranged wife get his entire estate; and of course there's a whopper of a fish tale (—The Fish—), this one about a fellow who comes home drunk with lots of fish, which, in a standoff of foul proportions, his wife refuses to clean. Lee smartly intersperses among his lengthy tales some shorter poems, mostly songs overheard in the graveyard by E.E. Washburn, a cemetery worker who communes with the dead. The weaker poems narrow into their punch-lines, and there's more than a little Lil— Abner—like hokum, but Lee's country yucks are almost always entertaining, and Copper Canyon has wisely released this volume with a separate fat collection of his past work, A Legacy of Shadows. Read full book review >