Five-cent reviews
(book and music reviews in five sentences or less)

Tuesday, April 17, 2007
five-cent review #7
Jim Harrison’s and Ted Kooser’s Braided Creek: A Conversation in Poetry (Copper Canyon, 2003)

Brief, poignant musings exchanged between poet pals -- on nature, aging, joy, dogs, daily routines. The lack of attribution means the words take center stage, freed from the distraction of credentials and dates. Among my favorites lines: “Straining on the toilet we learn how the lightning bug feels,” “A coffin handle leaves a lasting impression on a hand,” and "If you can awaken inside the familiar and discover it strange you need never leave home." At a mere 85 pages, I squeezed this one in during my lunch-hour, between bites of a bologna sandwich. It's been some time since I felt so full.

Friday, Feb. 9, 2007
five-cent review #6
Factotum (Matt Dillon, Lili Taylor, Marisa Tomei, 2006)

Dillon nails Bukowski alter-ego Hank Chinaski, down to the slow blinking, quiet carriage and tender way he holds his drink – the performance Mickey Rourke should have given in Barfly. Tough and sensitive Chinaski shuffles through menial jobs, darkened bars, flophouses and race tracks, all the while dropping his poems and short stories in the nearest mailbox. The authenticity of a life forged outside the mainstream is especially evident in the internal monologues (much of which come from the Bukowski novel of the same name). Choice bit, coolly rendered by Dillon: "Even at my lowest times I can feel the words bubbling inside me, and I have to get the words down or be overcome by something worse than death, words not as precious things, but as necessary things. Yet when I begin to doubt my ability to work the word, I simply read another writer and then I know I have nothing to worry about. My contest is only with myself - to do it right - with power and force and delight and gamble." Bukowski documentary Born Into This already queued up.
posted by caleb d. at 5:47 AM

Thursday, December 28, 2006
five-cent review #5
Leonard Cohen I’m Your Man (DVD, 2006)

Too often tribute concerts only disappoint. But here, a host of talent – Nick Cave, Rufus and Martha Wainwright, U2, Beth Orton, Antony, Teddy Thompson – manages to illuminate the funny shattering heart at the center of each Leonard Cohen song. Cohen’s gorgeous soul-sweeping lyrics could move mountains. Even the one Bob Dylan stands upon. Compelling interviews with the wise and tender Cohen woven throughout.
posted by caleb d. at 12:28 PM

Wednesday, December 13, 2006
five-cent review #4
Cormac McCarthy's No Country For Old Men

In bare sun-bleached prose, the ever-staggering McCarthy breaks down the play of choice and consequence in this bloody borderland tale. The decision to go back and give a dying man water all but seals our hero's fate. Antagonist Anton Chigurh, armed with a cattle gun and unsettling pre-kill questions, may be the most compelling -- and certainly relentless -- villian in recent fiction. Conducts a coin toss that'll tie your stomach in knots. Can’t wait to see what the Coen Brothers do with this one.
posted by caleb d. at 8:02 AM  

Tuesday, October 03, 2006
five-cent review #3
Cormac McCarthy’s The Road

Father-son survival tale set in all-too-real post-apocalyptic America. No one writes like McCarthy – spare and vivid, like reading a ghost. His stunning images bleached of sentimentality: “... the banished sun circles the earth like a grieving mother with a lamp.” Every word obeys, some do tricks. Pity the next book on your nightstand.
posted by caleb d. at 5:48 PM  

Tuesday, September 26, 2006
five-cent review #2
J.R. Moehringer’s memoir The Tender Bar

Boy with a bar for a father. Time and drinks pass like water. Scores of memorable lines such as: “A man with a forehead so large and blank that I felt an urge to write something on it...” Vivid metaphors do most of the work. Joseph Mitchell should smile.
posted by caleb d. at 4:23 PM  

Monday, September 25, 2006
five-cent review #1
Bob Dylan’s Modern Times

First blush: Love & Theft, part II. Seventeenth blush: shoulder to shoulder with Time Out Of Mind. Only Dylan could triple-rhyme “sons of bitches,” “orphanages” and “religious,” and somehow make their meanings rhyme, too. Each word that paints his dark joy sounds as though it has lived in his mouth for centuries, just waiting for this dusky moment to pop out. Alicia Keys should be humbled.
posted by caleb d. at 4:07 PM






photos by c. vielmetti daniloff