Friday, January 29, 2010
My advice? Ham it up.
This book is awful. It's sentimental, overwrought, gimmiky, and bad. For all these reasons, I love it. I mean, come on! The lives, loves, jealousies, and history of a whole town told through the voices of the dead. And they do it in verse!
My sister turned me on to it when she was in Competitive Speech and Debate in high school. Her impression of the kids competing at the meets was wickedly accurate. "Um, yeah...is this room 210, Poetry?!? Oh my god! Sorry!" (It's way funnier to hear her do it than to read it).
Her favorite (and mine) was "Archibald Higbie" from Spoon River Anthology.
"I LOATHED you Spoon River," she would begin, hitting the "LOATHED" as hard as the all caps indicated. She'd start reading that poem with a level of emotional bile so operatic, you'd think she'd have nowhere to go with it. But you don't know my sister. She took that poem up, and up, and up to heights of melodrama that are usually the sole province of gothy gutterpunks who smoke clove cigarettes and glare at you for not understanding them.
And when she finished, satisfied that I was weak from laughter-my eyes scrunched up and watery, she'd take a deep, exhausted bow and blow kisses to an imaginary balcony. She'd graciously receive her well-deserved ovation of one.
When my overburdened RSS feed informed me that Project Gutenberg had added Spoon River to their catalog, I pulled up "Archibald Higbie". I read that poem aloud with every over-acting fiber of my being and, let me tell you, it is cathartic. Pull it up, my friends. Try it yourself. You won't regret it. I'll even make it easy on you. Just head here.