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'Bedazzled to Death': The Kenyon Review on Kennedy's Ennui Prophet

Ennui Prophet pic for BOA Blog
Christopher Kennedy's Ennui Prophet finds much praise in the Fall 2012 issue of The Kenyon Review's KROnline. Reviewer Lauren Goodwin Slaughter calls the collection's prose poems "knee buckling," and finds them woven together by both introspection and humor in the effort to show that American individualism is in serious trouble. "America has been bedazzled to death." According to the review, Kennedy "exploits the threat hiding in seemingly benign settings and objects," revealing that humans have become "obliged to construct the self through meaningless, manufactured materials." Simple, everyday locations become vessels for further examination.
In this fourth collection by Kennedy, "grocery stores, chain bookstores, all-terrain vehicles and other symbols of Western excess have embellished the landscape and also our selfhood in the most boring, indulgent ways. Our connections with each other, the world, and ourselves are in danger." The very title of the KR review, "Hurtling Along," emphasizes the constant current of warning in Kennedy's work. In a world that is becoming increasingly materialized, we often dash through life without pausing to consider the significance of our surroundings - the ways in which they shape, mute, and immobilize us. Humor catches the reader off guard at times in this collection, which KR calls "alarmingly funny." According to the review, however, "humor turns to horror as we are... forced to recognize ourselves in Kennedy's paralyzed 'Ennui Prophet' who can no longer distinguish a 'scream forming' from 'a yawn.'" But within these ambiguities is where Kennedy's collection thrives, always finding "ways to keep speaking through its sleepy screams." Read the full review here. Make Ennui Prophet your next read!

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