Laugh-a-minute collection of short rhyming verse for adults.
It would seem that Eastaugh has never met a situation he couldn’t laugh about—or versify, for that matter. This assemblage of more than 200 poems, capturing a decade’s output, treats no subject as sacrosanct and suggests that the best way to tackle life’s biggest challenges is to poke holes in them until they’ve been cut down to manageable size. A few jabs in your own ribs, just to keep yourself honest, rounds out the jester philosophy. Eastaugh roams widely across subjects as varied as the circle of life, loneliness, pop culture, the nature of happiness, generation gaps, sex, drinking, nostalgia, racism and, naturally, the ever-shrinking size of mobile phones. In fact, the quirky, comedic plot twist, usually involving diving precipitously from lofty subjects to land unceremoniously on the grossly mundane, may be the literary device he has most completely mastered. He evinces a flair for sketching out what appear to be sweet, innocent scenarios only to jolt the reader (and often the narrator) with some jarring juxtaposition at the last moment—lovemaking that transforms to cannibalism; a beautiful woman who, post coitum, turns out to be a mustachioed man; an attempt to borrow a book that ends up in an uncomfortably thorough medical exam. Eastaugh gleefully subjects his narrators to a feverishly imaginative variety of harrowing, hilarious situations that bespeak some level of evil genius. Employing a simple, singsong rhythm of iambs and anapests and a strictly regular rhyme scheme, Eastaugh plays off nursery rhyme and greeting card forms to sing songs scatological and sexual, a very successful formal technique, at least until he wants to treat a serious subject. His one-register voice is the one weak point here. Poems about the mysteries of existence, the darker side of human nature and the challenges and indignities of his multiple sclerosis too often fail to generate pathos, sounding, as they do, exactly like his sillier pieces. As funny and subversively socially conscious as they may be, these poems are sure to offend nearly as many as they delight. Eastaugh pulls few punches, in his subject matter and in his handling of that subject matter, and, in this fashion, resembles perhaps no one more than the comedian Louis C.K. For those bold enough to brave the wicked irony, though, the payoff is well worth it.
A delightful bit of mischief and verbal horseplay.