Debut author Sully’s collection of philosophical poetry, letters, and a self-described “mise en scène” for a short play.
Stating in the introduction that everything that follows in the book “connects in it perfectly, everything is working in it harmoniously,” Sully leads the reader on a trip through impassioned poetry and ideas. Beginning with topics such as “Lust” and “My beloved,” further subjects range wildly from “Memory” and “Uncertain Love” to mentions of President Obama (“Is Obama socialist or humanist?”) and John Brown (“O bold-spirited John Brown!”). Writing in a tone that might best be described as vaguely outmoded (“Who can contemplate a flower in its splendor without thinking that he shall not be to get old”), the author tends to express ideas in dense packages of words. Take for instance a meditation on brotherly love: “What is the point / Of making the union of religions, / If all the religions in all regions / Do not love each other?” A similarly challenging writing style occurs in the play; one character exclaims to another, “Your life is cold as an attic whose the dormer / Window is to north, and the ennui ever / Spins its web in the shadow at all the corners / Of your heart.” Though footnotes are frequently provided, phrasing can be awkward and baffling. The sentence—“The hand that hangs in the space has only written / An eminent word in letter of fire”—can provide, depending on the reader, either a statement worth unraveling or an incomprehensible text worth ignoring. Though getting to the heart of some conceits requires patience, there is truth and originality to be found here, for example: “People get bored at the end by the same objects / That have charmed them in the beginning.” Whether the reader finds charm or boredom depends on their willingness to explore writing that is inspired though tightly packed.
Awash in peculiar phrasing, but contains plenty of insights for those willing to stay the course.