Tuesday, July 21, 2009

book review - A Jello Horse

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I won a copy of Matthew Simmons' book A Jello Horse in a contest http://themanwhocouldntblog.blogspot.com/2009/06/winners.html

He asked contestants to submit photos of, or write about, people playing pinball. Since I love pinball, and have for a while, I had a few pictures and videos nestled conveniently in my archive and decided to submit them and participate for the fun of it. I also love books and getting books in the mail, and trading art for art, so in my mind, contests like these should exist all the time.

I first heard of Matthew Simmons as the "Man Who Couldn't Blog" in August '05 through a lovely guy in Houston named Gene Morgan. I'd most recently discovered the joys of blogging on myspace when a good friend of mine in Tennessee named Eric Todd, who'd had a few poetry classes with Gene at U of H, introduced me to his blog "pompadoured."

After I got in touch with Gene, we corresponded for a while before I stayed with him as a guest in Houston for a summer week where he was a gracious host--taking me to parties and art and food. This is when I was introduced to other blogs like Tao Lin's "Reader of Depressing Books" and Christopher Monks' "Utter Wonder."

Since all of that business of making friends through networking and moving from city-to-city, I've kept tabs on Gene's projects such as "Bear Parade." This is where I found the one-and-only Youngstown genius Noah Cicero and his blog "the Outsider" from an Omega Man-like zombie story posted there. Read Treatise; it'll let you think, and spark respect for Noah Cicero.

I'm still discovering others as well, through various links and honorable mentions--like the insanely creative and proseful Blake Butler, whose "Win a Copy of Ever with Your Nasty Mind" contest I won effortlessly (being the dirtiest mindedest perv ten worlds over) and the great, fun and crazy-in-an-ALMOST-bad-seeming-way-but-not-really-Sam Pink. Both are brilliant individuals.

Stemming from the pioneering voices mentioned above--I've been fortunate to find friends to admire and find interesting. They appeal to my sense of artistic/intelligent style and not-too-serious whimsy. And above all, the ones I've met, or haven't met, seem like they are good people; fundamentally speaking--even though--they are--after all and everything...writers. ;)

Now, without further delay, here is my review of A Jello Horse:


Matthew Simmons’ delicate prose in his book “A Jello Horse” is a wondrous read on a quiet night within an hour of lying around relaxing. After reading each pretty paragraph, going back and reading it again out loud is recommended to add to the magic of listening to the unraveling of a heart-touching story of a man dealing with a traumatic suicidal event affecting himself and his closest friends. On the road, we observe his recollections of past love’s failures. We are also exposed to his vivid perceptions of the world through the mind of a child who has grown; who continues to grow through death, disease, and empathic observation. His search for absurd beauty between nights in cheap hotels and pinball, takes us through stretches of dreamlike images from an imagination filled with fierce but friendly creatures: the famished antelope grazing city rooftops, slack-eared Jackalope in a Village discovered by roadside billboard, and a flying lion named Richard--all melting into the stark contrast of circumstances in the human condition. “A Jello Horse” is an inspiring coming-of-age tale which is well-worth reading repeatedly.

Matthew drew a surprise rabbit for me. I found it when I reached the part of the story about the Jackalope Village. Also included in the book is a haiku about breakfast. And this is all because I love pinball and reading and hand-drawn rabbits and winning things. Yes! for that.

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