PROVERBABLY SPEAKING by Armstead Kennedy Fisher


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A short book of modern proverbs and spiritual advice written in the form of verse.

Fisher’s slim book of 38 pages of verse, plus front and backmatter, is divided into 48 separate texts. The individual pieces are best understood within the tradition of “wisdom” writing, delivered primarily in the form of proverbs and parables. As in ancient prophetic writing, the author often addresses the reader directly with advice and argument and positions himself as a sort of modern-day prophet. The book’s subtitle is “The Book of Sayings,” and, indeed, the most common form the author employs is similar to the style of biblical prophetic writing. In addition, he also tells anecdotes framed as parables, occasionally employs a dialogue format and at other times writes political invective. Most of the “sayings” are written in free verse, with a smattering of prose mixed in. The book’s main themes are explicitly Christian, with texts focusing on spiritual topics, personal responsibility, political correctness and respect for authority, and drug addiction. The theme of drug addiction on its own could provide rich material. Throughout the book, Fisher chooses to summarize and argue rather than to enter into the experience and plumb the depths of his material. He offers advice and opinion but provides little insight into the human condition nor a fresh perspective. Instead, he insists on his own authority as a guide. In one peculiar moment, a narrator asserts that he is greater than an unnamed president, who the reader can assume is President Obama: “He has three books. I have four, so how and where is he greater? Who is greater, the one who has two daughters or the man who has two sons?” Other texts lift passages from scripture without showing their relevance for the modern world. Additionally, the “sayings” are often marred by errors of syntax and grammar and are unevenly formatted.

A slim book that unconvincingly purports to be wisdom.

Pub Date: April 21st, 2012
ISBN: 978-0615621333
Page count: 46pp
Publisher: Holyfishpublishing
Program: Kirkus Indie
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