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  • These Books Will Change Your Life - Free Boat by the John Reed and The Vig Of Love by the Bill Yarrow.

    We were thinking about how subjective these posts are. They are not quite review, but not quite blurb, both of which we take seriously when asked to produce them. It's just that they're not that. They are conversational, but not a full-on riff either. We want to capture what these books mean to us, and how we experience them. It's just that outside of the occasional Philip K. Dick or Gillian Flynn read, we almost always know the writers involved, we are happy we do and our commentary, whatever it is, is clearly influenced by that. We have no great desire to critique here. This, cheesiness aside, is a place of celebration, of words and reading and the authors we love. So, we are subjective and biased and unabashed about it, and this was on our mind as we dug into Free Boat by the John Reed and The Vig Of Love by the Bill Yarrow. Both of these writers are friends, of a kind, we rarely get to see them outside of literary events and conferences,  and yet, they are more than acquaintances and seeing them whenever we do see them always makes us happy. What especially got us thinking about all of this subjectivity however, is how much the reading of these collections remind us of the authors themselves, and what we have clearly projected onto them, projections which are influenced by years of these (primarily quick) interactions.

    And so it is, that when we read Free Boat, a collection of love poems and sonnets, lies apparently, and something that feels like it might be memoir - the story of a man in love, and murder, strippers and mug shots, family history - and as we find ourselves caught-up in its massive swirl of weirdness and handsomely crafted language, we are further reminded not only how much Reed's work has always reminded us of Girl Talk, and that he himself has always felt so handsome and weird and refined to us, and given all of this we are subsequently not surprised when we read Reed in seeking to describe the poems in the book says, "I suppose there's just no getting around the fact they're all about me." And so it is too however, that in The Vig Of Love we think, this is the Yarrow we think we know, a refined man (also) of refined language, who is harboring, or is it managing, a swirl of emotion, and history, love and lust, a longing mixed with family history, geography, pop culture and change, and the belief that life is endlessly twisting and morphing, and that love is too, with age and time and our crazy, endless emotions, all captured here so beautifully in so many ways, though no less or more so than in "The Sober Boat" when he writes:

    "on a hopeless boat
    in a sea of sameness
    the belief that change will come
    sustains us."

    Indeed it will, might, we don't know. We write our words, we fall in love, we change lives, even as our lives are changed, and we remain hopeful, ever hopeful.