SHAME | SHAME 'recasts the prose poem as a selfie, diary entry, or Tweet'
In a thorough review of Devin Becker's recent collection Shame | Shame, Nano Fiction's Sarah Katz notes the poet's ability to "[recast] the prose poem as a selfie, diary entry, or Tweet," while exploring "the contractions and expansions of narrative, and ultimately, [challenging] us to reflect on the impulse to narrate our lives." Much of the review focuses on the collection's complicated, evolving speaker: "As one continues to read Shame | Shame, the bevy of cursory remarks expose a narrator trapped in a cycle of self-immolation in his battle to preserve a fixed notion of the self ... it’s these desultory glances at fear that engage us in an author-reader conversation about how and why we narrate experience, especially when we 're-see' it in the retrospect." Katz compares Becker's work to other contemporary prose writers, such as Sarah Manguso, Maggie Nelson, and Jenny Offill; yet Becker also distinguishes himself from these authors. "Becker strives for the subtle riddle couched in ordinary terms, which always involves a negotiation of identity and power. This is similar to, but still distinct from, the way Julie Otsuka’s novel The Budda in the Attic links multiple narratives of Japanese 'picture' bride characters in order to effectively essentialize the experience. The difference is that Becker expects his reader to compare her own narrativizing process to that of the speaker of his poems. More specifically, Becker’s book actively unravels the confessional narrative—the narrative we commonly use to describe our everyday lives to ourselves and others—to expose them as incoherent, possibly even surreal in and of themselves." The in-depth review concludes, "Becker isn’t trying to depress you, but to impress upon you the comic relief inherent in an awareness of the double-sidedness of shame—all while trying to capture the mutability of interpretations. He hybridizes the prose poem form with the diary entry in an heretofore unmatched quest to understand how we put our experiences to words, and how narrative both fails us and somehow succeeds. The result is a collection whose multidimensional pieces invite a new experience with every read." Click here to read Nano Fiction's complete review of Shame | Shame. Devin Becker's A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize-winning debut collection Shame | Shame is available now at the BOA Bookstore.
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