Title: Speculate: A Collection of Microlit
Author: Eugen Bacon & Dominique Hecq
Genre: Speculative Fiction/Poetry
Summary: From what began as a dialog between two adventurous writers curious about the shape-shifter called a prose poem comes a stunning collection that is a disruption of language—a provocation. Speculate is a hybrid of speculative poetry and flash fiction, thrumming in a pulse of jouissance and intensity that chases the impossible.
Excerpt: She steals at dawn
to a place of memory, a beloved place she can enter her stories. The way her fingers pad on the keyboard. The rush that sweeps through her body arrives her at an intersection where mind and fingertip are one. She needs practice sleeping in a little, her lover’s breath heartfelt on her earlobe. But she runs when she can, to a play-filled memory enriched with mannequins she can chase, surreal encounters on red rock bicycles, oh, how she soars.
She feels adrift, like an autumn moth flapping its dusty wings until it rests on your windowpane on the far side of the world. Says there is no rhyme nor reason nor even any explanation for being. Sky pied, almost as perfect as the horse she used to ride. As for turbulence, the sky is cloudless; the writing not exactly cloudy, but cloud-gathering. Now it’s raining streams of light on red rock bicycles.
Review: I recently read Eugen Bacon’s The Road to Woop Woop & Other Stories and really enjoyed it but I didn’t know much about Speculate other than it is a blend of prose and poetry and that it is the two authors “replying” to each other in a way so I was really intrigued to see what the mere 136 pages had in store for me. I have to say before I begin this review I have a love/hate relationship with both speculative fiction, which at times I can find confusing or lacking purpose, and poetry, which I find rather boring unless it is a topic or theme that really catches my attention. That being said I felt I had to read more of Bacon’s work since I loved The Road to Woop Woop which was at times confusing, strange and yet utterly delightful at the same time.
Part 1 is Bacon’s prose poetry and Hecq’s response to them. Part 1 was very hit of miss for me, with poetry, whether it is straight poetry or prose poetry it doesn’t seem to resonate with me as a reader unless there is some visceral imagery or some deep connection emotion to tie everything together. There were moments in Part 1 where the words really captured me and drew me in but most of the time it seemed quite disjointed and left me a little confused about what Bacon was actually trying to convey as most of the poems don’t seem to tie in together or having a unified theme or message. That being said, I really enjoyed Hecq’s responses to the poems which did resonate with me a lot more and I found myself understanding their messages through the response rather than from the prose poetry itself. Hecq also at times conveyed exactly what I was thinking or feeling in response to particular sections of the text.
Part 2 is the opposite of Part 1 as it is Bacon replying to Hecq’s prose poetry. I was looking forward to this section as I enjoyed Hecq’s response to Bacon’s prose poetry more than the prose poetry and I was excited to see what Hecq would come out with. Part 2 was better for me as it had a bit more coherency that Part 1 in terms of the prose poetry but again, I found myself enjoying the responses the prose poetry more than the actual poems.
Overall, I found I had a love/hate relationship with this book. On the one hand, I loved both author’s responses to the other prose poetry and I really connected with the ideas presented in the response. However, on the other hand, I didn’t really enjoy the prose poetry as it seemed to lack coherency or any unified theme or message to carry the read through the book. While I will mention that there was some stunning imagery presented, I found myself feeling a little confused at the end about what the purpose of the book actually was as there didn’t seem to be one. I think my 3 star rating is fair for how I felt during and after reading this book, however, I will say if you enjoyed speculative fiction and poetry in ways I do not then you will probably enjoy this book a lot more than I did. Despite this I will definitely be keeping an eye on what Eugen Bacon publishes since I loved The Road to Woop Woop and I will definitely check out anything else Dominique Hecq has published to see where she is an author I would read from in the future.
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Also see: The Invisible
I received this copy for review consideration from the publisher.