Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Revisionist by Miranda Mellis

(Calamari Press, 2007)

The Revisionist arrived to me in the mail and then, because it’s so slim, slipped between the pages of my other read (The Complete Works of Marvin K. Mooney, which is still completely awesome, I've been re-reading parts because I don't want to finish it) and, in one sitting, came and went—beautifully.

I don’t know if I have a preference for books in terms of physical size and length, but I certainly don’t mind and very often enjoy something so concise. The Revisionist, by Miranda Mellis, is just such a book: broken into sparse little poetic blocks that are filled with wonder and dark, apocalyptic whimsy. Mellis’s language is minimalistic and often disarmingly childlike in the most beguiling and wonderful ways, feeding into the deteriorating world her characters inhabit: a calamitous reality demanding revision.

Also, I am a poor reader attention-wise (because of Al Gore and The Internet). Always from here to there and back before finishing a page of anything. 5 books at a time. That’s me. And The Revisionist fits itself perfectly in that space for me because it's brief and filled with pictures (created by Calamari Press head honcho, Derek White).

The opening line of the book is subtle but telling:

My last assignment was to conduct surveillance of the weather and report that everything was fine.

You can imagine where things roll off to from there.  And the pictures are important too.  White's images fit in with Mellis's text perfectly, all crooked and snarled, bizarre and terrifying. The Revisionist wouldn't be the same without them.

A wonderfully strange text, The Revisionist manages, even in its ashen absurdity (because of it, actually), to magnify the American situation quite perfectly.

Here are a some images of White's featured in the book:

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