You Darling Thing
Monica Ferrell’s second collection of poems You Darling Thing is a sly brilliant thing. Each poem is as precise and deadly as a pearl-handled pistol, as she takes fantasies imposed on women and aims the gun back at us with devastating wit. The bride in these lavishly imagined fairy tales is a murderess, a voyeur; her heart is a “feral marble machine.” The speaker role-plays in period lace and furs, re-imagining the voices of fallen heroines like Emma Bovary and Arachne so that they are alluring, alive, and superbly poisonous. I love this book.
CATHY PARK HONG
Ferocious, smart, and sublime—fainthearted readers may inch, though Monica Ferrell’s poems never do. When she confronts a mystery—sex, longing, horror, humor, or the “oh god please no” arenas of life, the poems in turn confront us with all our denial and laziness and illusions of being OK. We are in trouble; this poet knows all about it. This is terrifyingly brilliant. Ferrell’s techniques are revelatory: poems about sexual objectification are delivered in a tone of analytic authority—the poet reclaims subject-hood for her speaker, wields her power over the poem as object, turning the tables. Poems about nightmarish fears, cold anguish, deep strangeness, eros and anxiety and hope—the poet weirds and wilds them—both brandishing and tempering their potency with her skill, heart, and mind. Who else can do this ingenious work besides Monica Ferrell? Who else has the emotional intelligence to outwit despair, the artistry to take scalpel and awl to trauma and desire, injustice and love, and transform it with her laser eye into a voice of power and overwhelming beauty? Ferrell’s polymorphous, multitudinous gifts are singular.
Reading Monica Ferrell’s You Darling Thing is like walking through a cosmos of brilliant women describing themselves in exaggerated bravura even when danger looms. “I feel the feral marble machine of my heart leak mercury,” says the Tourist Bride, who is only one of many variations of bride that populate this noir collection filled with persona poems spoken in the voice of Emma Bovary, a tiger “abandoned at the hunt’s end,” and a fifteenth-century Italian princess who died in childbirth, among others. Though the men in this collection are often dangerous, their blue eyes “malevolent as the circles of gas on a stove, as the blue kiss on the matchstick / at drags a house down,” these are poems investigating love, where love is vexed, elusive, threatened by violence. “Love is a currency everyone wants,” writes Ferrell, and we watch the shady transactions with guilty pleasure. Despite the eros and the sensuality in these gorgeous otherworldly poems, human touch is still a distant country and “what you so often think / Belongs to you does not belong to you at all.” Brides and grooms in all their ventriloquy speak to and past each other while “desire keeps rippling their transparent skin.”
The Answer Is Always Yes
Matthew Acciaccatura of Teaneck, New Jersey, begins his freshman year at NYU in the fall of 1995 with one goal in mind: to become cool. A former high school outcast, used to lumbering the hallways alone in oversize turtlenecks, Matt seems an unlikely candidate for such a transformation. Yet by dint of effort he lands the coveted position of promoter at one of the hottest clubs in New York in the heyday of rave music and Ecstasy. However, as “Magic” Matt rises to fame, portents of tragedy begin to appear, literally in the margins of the story. Footnotes from one Dr. Hans Mannheim, an imprisoned German academic obsessed with Matt’s dangerous trajectory, suggest that Matt is not as in control of his destiny as he might appear….
A gorgeously written archetypal tale of self-discovery (and self-deception) and a love letter to the enduring possibilities of New York City, The Answer Is Always Yes will keep readers guessing until its explosive climax.
“Here is a brainy, heartfelt, continuously inventive novel on a theme we know very well from life and hardly at all from fiction: the wish to be cool. It’s impossible not to assent to The Answer is Always Yes.”—Benjamin Kunkel, author of Indecision
”From the smoke and mirrors of the New York club scene emerges Magic Matt, the Jay Gatsby of his generation. This painfully unpopular young man’s fierce determination to reinvent himself as the hippest kid at NYU is, by turns, darkly comic and profoundly tragic. The Answer Is Always Yes is a stellar coming-of-age novel with a nifty, sinister postmodern twist. And it’s a terrific read; an eloquent page-turner. How’s that for some kind of wonderful?”—Binnie Kirshenbaum, author of An Almost Perfect Moment, and A Disturbance In One Place
“Fierce and wildly original—Monica Ferrell is a thrilling new voice.”—Nick Flynn, author of Another Bullshit Night in Suck City
“Packed with poetry and humor, this dazzlingly written first novel unearths the sorrow behind that strange American sickness, the pursuit of cool. Like the city they eulogize, Ferrell’s sentences teem with beauty and ambition—you want to linger at every turn.”—Eric Puchner, author of Music Through the Floor
“A pyrotechnic debut…. The protagonist and prose recall the Richard Fariña/Tom Robbins school of writing.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Exquisite…[Ferrell’s] exuberant narration evokes her likable protagonist’s world.”—New Yorker
“Irresistibly readable, Ferrell’s first novel is a triumph not only of setting but also of voice, tone, and attitude…Gorgeously written, beautifully imagined, and wonderfully spot-on.”—Booklist, starred review
“Ferrell is a good writer who understands hipster anxiety and the aspirations that New York manufactures with every generation.”—Time Out
“A stylized and exuberantly written debut novel.” —Publishers Weekly
Beasts for the Chase
By turns sumptuous and stark, the thirty-eight poems of Monica Ferrell's debut collection carry us along on a breathless pursuit. Here the hunting grounds are lushly imagined landscapes drawn from both fantasy and the familiar—a drowned Atlantis, the hospital room where a baby is born, a kitchen where two lovers vie—and our quarry the perilous raptures of creaturely existence. What lies at the heart of this work is a fearless and generous spirit, undaunted in its quest to fully meet experience. Whether she speaks through the mask of an emperor's orphaned son or in the sly cadences of modern street-talk, the urgency propelling Ferrell's poems can always be discerned, pulsing in the beat of her fierce music, peering out from her riotous imagery. The effect of such language is enchantment—what Nabokov claimed as the primary function of literature. Beasts for the Chase is an audacious, assured debut, and Monica Ferrell is a young poet who has already found her own wild voice.
“Her poems make vivid what has become dusty, and return us to, as real art does, the brilliance of initial perception.”
“The mythmaking in these poems is fierce and wildly original—this is a thrilling new poetic voice.”