about the author

Staff Book Reviewer Spencer Dew is the author of critical study The Aliites: Race and Law in the Religions of Noble Drew Ali (University of Chicago Press, 2019), novel Here Is How It Happens (Ampersand Books, 2013), critical study Learning for Revolution: The Work of Kathy Acker (San Diego State University Press, 2011), chapbook Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres (Another New Calligraphy, 2010), and short story collection Songs of Insurgency (Vagabond Press, 2008).

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Starving Romantic
A Review of Starving Romantic
by Vincent James Perrone

Spencer Dew

In one poem here, the narrator patiently suffers under a former lover’s out-of-season duvet, while, in another, a misplaced hair functions something like a madeleine, sans all that tasty French romance. The romance here is a bit more midwestern, crusty—the landscape rusting, “lightning bugs / drunk in spring,” “a fountain / in a small town American mall” clogged by the quarter tossed in to buy wishes in bulk. The past isn’t ever past in these pages; rather, it is warped and leaking strong chemicals, like the carcinogenic tang given off by an old Polaroid, the image yellowing. “There are redactions / in the photo albums,” one poem here insists, the narrator seeing “Someone who isn’t me” performing a kind of tense reenactment of his childhood. We’re told that “a properly placed mirror / can really make the room feel bigger,” but that, too, feels like a trap, an alien falsehood. “When I was a child / I spat at the mirror. // I ate birthday cake with my hands.” Compared to that freedom, the present offers, at best, “The dry heave / of a crowded Greyhound,” the golden glint of dental implants, the promise of a place to cash a paycheck downtown. On the other end of things, there’s “a cradle / by the dumpster” and an unceasing longing for that which is lost: “I thought of her today / moving like a pheasant / through traffic. // The warmth of her palms / and the backs / of her knee caps.” But the objects of such desires are, like those abandoned cradles and those out-of-sync photographs, not quite what they used to be: “you // are the centipede of my dreams,” or, as one girl here puts it, “gumming a lollypop” while absentmindedly watching “a preacher caught in his own hysteria” on the TV: “Life is an uppercut / motherfucker.

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