Dark City


Charles Bernstein, Dark City (Sun and Moon Classics, 1994)

Charles Bernstein, erstwhile co-editor of L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E, one of the most influential poetry magazines ever to come out of New York, gives us his twentieth book. And a marvel of inconsistency it is. While there are a few flashes of brilliance, a great image here or there, a turn of phrase that demands re-reading, the majority of the book falls into the category of either "meaningless line breaks in the middle of words," "giving too much tot he reader," or "prose broken into lines to make it look like poetry." Amazon's review-posting conventions (you can't indent lines) make it impossible to give an example of the first. The second involves the repeated use of the annoying technique of slipping parentheticals in just to make sure you get the message, e.g.

"....So we dismember (disremember)
in homage to our maker, foraging
in fits..."
("Debris of Shock/Shock of Debris")

As for the third,

suspect that your father had an adrenal
gland tumor that was
driving his blood pressure
("Emotions of Normal People")

If there is any method to the madness of line construction here, I was unable to find it.

Simply put, not up to the standards one would expect from an industry giant. **

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