7 Comments


  1. I do that. I react to something I’m not ready to talk about by talking enthusiastically around it. (Sometimes for weeks.)

    I like this one already.


  2. First of all, apologies Dave for having been a less regular visitor to via negativa recently than I would have liked. I’ve got very behind with your-book-per-post reviews, and keep waiting for a longer spell of time than I can ever excavate out of my days in order to catch up. A mistake I fear, because now there is even more to catch up on.

    But back to this book. I love the idea of those inky fingerprints. And I like it better that they’re real and therefore different on every cover. Enticing too that the poems give such an insightful account of your region of the USA, because through your blog and the photographs illustrating it, (and your mother’s blog too) I’ve fallen a little in love with Pennsylvania. So I think this is definitely one for me to order, though I shall have to gird my loins to withstand that poem about the dog that ran away. I’ve discovered that I have absolutely no stomach for animal killing. Our fencer Dan persuaded me to allow him to set a trap for a mole that was causing havoc in the new herbaceous border we’ve worked so hard on. Against my better wishes I let him, and of course, I forgot to go and spring the trap, which had been my secret intention. So now the mole is dead, and I feel horrible… far more horrible than I did when he left tumps all over our paths. No more mole traps. Those little fellows are so beautiful in their plush velvet jackets with their sugar-mouse-pink paws. Fortunately I can see there’s still a thriving population in the field below. I hope they stay there, because if they come visiting here, they’ll wreak havoc as I shan’t let Dan set another trap. But I digress. I’m going to get this book. Your enthusiasm for it has infected me!


    • Clive, no need to apologize. I’ve been keeping up with your blog, but just barely — and not leaving comments as I’d like to.

      It’s hard to garden in the country without killing a lot of critters. One year when I was a teenager, I shot or trapped 25 groundhogs in one season, and they just kept coming. It was not pleasant, to put it mildly. Deer eat most things that we don’t fence, with the exception of herbs. No wonder so many country people keep lots of dogs.

      Glad you liked this review! The book has just gone into its second printing, so I’m sure Ron Mohring, the publisher, is being kept pretty busy. I think he’s a great desigher: the chapbooks he’s designed himself have generally impressed me more than those where he hired someone else to do it. One additional aspect of Soot that you might find interesting is that, in addition to being working-class, a couple poems make it clear that the author is gay — not always an easy combination, I don’t think. He doesn’t dwell on this, but it does add to the overall richness and complexity of experience on display in the poems: a real tour-de-force, as I say.

      If you’re putting in an order with Seven Kitchens, I do recommend adding a couple others to your order. Humes’ Underground Singing in particular should be of interest as a portrait of the Welsh part of Pennsylvania — I think he mentions that most of the mine owners in the anthracite coal region of Eastern PA were from Wales.


  3. Monday blues black/every bituminous day of the week. Soot sounds irresistible.

    I must stop reading your reviews, however, or reallocate grocery dollars to book budget. What the hell: always too crowded at the Jewels.


    • They should make books that are edible — you could read them first, then eat them.

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