Thursday, April 14, 2011

Log of the S.S. The Mrs Unguentine by Stanley Crawford

(Dalkey Archive Press, 2008)

There’s a carved spot inside my head--absolutely small--for the transient idea of “favourites”. While the things positioned there change from day to day, some maintain the space more often than others. Stanley Crawford’s Log of the S.S. The Mrs Unguentine has, for a dust-gatheringly lengthy amount of time, sat carved in as my favourite book.

I purchased it based on the unverified account that Gordon Lish liked it (though, from what I understand, did not edit it).

Erin thinks that I can’t carve Log of the S.S. The Mrs Unguentine into my favourite spot because I can’t pronounce, or properly remember the title in conversation. I don’t think it matters.

 Crawford has this way with sentences that I’ve never encountered. There are these stringy, tendon-like sentences in Log of the S.S. The Mrs Unguentine that keep winding about without the aid of reactionary comma placements that I'd otherwise expect. The result is a brilliant display of sentence strength void of any unnecessary punctuation.

 And I’ve never wanted so much to be at sea. Or to have a whole barge to myself (and Erin, of course). One lushly forested, well populated with animals. To sun dry floating on grass on soil on metal from salt-wetness.

It’s a bizarre but somehow recognisable relationship Mrs Unguentine has with her husband. One that's absolutely absurd sometimes, until you recognize the parallels to your own reality.  And a it's fantastical ship.

 And books should strive to be so concise as this.

I don’t care to spill the interior details. Recommendations upon recommendations.

(And thank you Dalkey for reissuing this 1972 classic.)

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