WITHOUT CEASE THE EARTH FAINTLY TREMBLES by Amanda Marchand (DC books), 144 pages, $15.95 paper. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
the sensuous blue cover with cutting red letters on Amanda Marchand's Without Cease The Earth Faintly Trembles fits the soft but sharp text inside. A small work, but not sparse, it lures you into a world where the good and bad girl exist as both real and imagined characters. It's a marketer's nightmare - one part memoir, one part poetry and one part prose - but it succeeds in transcending strict categories without feeling contrived or inaccessible. It comes out of DC books, an innovative Montreal press that isn't afraid to publish emerging writers and specializes in books that question convention.
The first work of fiction by Marchand, an accomplished visual artist, Without Cease features precise fables about the single-named June, who interacts with an imaginary red chair, "the man with a monocle" and herself as both a character and a person.
It's the kind of book that could easily have gone wrong, given how ambitiously it plays with form, but it surprised me with its clarity and lack of pretension. Marchand is a smart writer, precise and humorous, reminding me of Gail Scott, another pioneer of cross-genre poetic prose. Not surprisingly, Scott blurbed this book.
Without Cease is filled with compelling images that illuminate familiar territory - coming of age, anxiety, sexuality, violence, the body - in innovative ways.
Don't be afraid to take a chance on this book. It will seduce you faster than you can say, "Not commercially viable." The perfect gift for the poet on your list.