Nin Andrews starts from the premise that life on Earth is suffering, and that a large part of daily life and art is a search for an escape from this essential truth. Much of her writing is about the wish for an escape. In her previous collection, The Book of Orgasms, the voices are like those of angels, who look down from above and wonder: what is the problem with the human race? Why are they so troubled? The prose poems in her new collection, Sleeping with Houdini, are more personal. Andrews begins by speaking as a little girl who wishes she could vanish at will or become invisible to the outer world, just as Houdini did. As she grows up, so does her imagination. Houdini becomes a personal icon of a magical being, a muse, and ultimate lover, or that which one can long for but never possess or become. Sleeping with Houdini is a kind of "inscape" of a girl's life, an inside look at her fantasies and fears, her wishes and dreams, a collection in which Houdini becomes a metaphor for her longing. "Though her prose poems read as plausible narrative, Andrews fluently infiltrates the logical with the surreal. Her unique and playful vision presents a world off-kilter and disjointed where the reader strangely feels right at home." –Sentence: A Journal of Prose Poetics
Suppose the dead can't help looking back, pressing their wings against the glass like giant moths as if they don't get it, that the flesh is a cell, the light a 50 watt bulb. Maybe this dim life of regret is heaven after all. Like seeing you again at dusk, or imagining I do, there in the shadows of pines leaning through my windows, your arms waving in a frantic dance. When you kissed me, my back arching like a bow, I remembered thinking the last kiss is always the best. I read that in a book about Tibetan monks who were paid to practice dying, to come back with news. After a while death became as familiar as a shirt slipped on or off. A kind of love affair, the monks discovered, an unspeakable intimacy. Some monks discovered a death that is just the right size, an ocean designed for the palms of their hands, each thimble-sized wave preparing for flight. Occasionally, one got stuck on the other side. Unable to touch the living or leave for good, he would call for help again and again, flailing his arms like the drowning, inhaling the ache in the distance between heaven and earth. I know how he felt, his silent cries, hot pebbles in the back of his throat.
©BOA Editions, Ltd 2007
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-929918-99-7
Publishing Date: October 2007