Beds & Consenting Dreamers

by Joe Rosenblatt,
88 pages,
ISBN: 0889821259

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Brief Reviews - Poetry
by Bruce Whiteman

JOE ROSENBLATT's BEDS & Consenting Dreamers (Oolichan, 140 pages, $11.95 paper) is surely one of the oddest books to come along in a long time. Characterized by its publisher as "a linguistically lush parable on Marxian social theory" (surely a low-water mark in publishers' enticements), the collection is a strange amalgam of semi-surrealist writing located somewhere between prose and poetry, with a narrative compelling it and a central character named Hornbecher. Rosenblatt's longstanding obsession with frogs and fish continues here; dream and reality become thoroughly amphibious in Hornbecher's vision, and political authority as a subject floats in and out of the text like a trout in a lake on a hot afternoon.

Rosenblatt has turned the dictionary or thesaurus upside down for his prose, and though the result may please and delight some readers, I found that it quickly became tiresome. Take this small example from the conclusion of a section entitled "On Thursday It Gets a Hundred and Fifty Crickets": "Swelling on pride and crickets, the akimbo monarch of toads glared out at the crowd who had come to witness its gastric potency and worship at the court of the Intestina dialectic"; or this, from "The Animated Struggle": "Both fleshless and lifeless, mock meat challenges the Medusan principle and peptic honour of the true carnivore aghast at the depraved gastronomic art of counterfeit mutton!"

Inventive this writing is, I suppose, and its satirical edge is clear. But a whole book of it is too much. Rosenblatt is one of our most eccentric poets, and bless him for it. But Beds & Consenting Dreamers strikes me as a somewhat indigestible book.


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