Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Book Review - Epic Sloth: Tales of the Long Crawl

Epic Sloth: Tales of the Long Crawl

By: Philip Gaber
Publisher: Philip Gaber
Publication Date: June 2013
ISBN: 978-0-615-72648-9
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: March 18, 2014

Philip Gaber is back with a vengeance with an abundance of thought-provoking prose in his latest body of work: Epic Sloth: Tales of the Long Crawl.

Mr. Gaber has done a beautiful job of committing insightful perspective across the pages of Epic Sloth. There is a balanced blend of prose, short vignettes and poetry—each of which contains his signature tone of heartfelt angst. Having had the pleasure of reviewing Mr. Gaber’s first body of work last July (Between Eden and the Open Road), I welcomed the notion to dive into his latest work. Mr. Gaber is unafraid to get down into the grit and reality of every day life and address real issues that plague real people. There is a natural kinship the reader is able to form with the many troubled people (including himself, I would surmise), that he introduces through his writing. As soon as I began reading Epic Sloth, it felt as though I was reconnecting with an old friend because it didn’t take long to drift in between the sometimes sublime (often blatant) sentiments that is signatory to Mr. Gaber’s work.

I find it difficult to narrow the margin and select one specific piece over another due to the unique quality of each. Mr. Gaber has incredible grit when it comes to committing something visionary to paper such as: “…So I’d go to Washington Square Park in New York City, sit under a tree, light a Marlboro, turn on the recorder, and watch poverty and art having sex in public again…” (In his prose titled: “such a fine line between homage and plagiarism”). He is also a master of redirecting the reader to an opposite end spectrum when he recalls childhood memories; peppering such memories with darkness and using them as analogy for failed relationships. The reader can feel Mr. Gaber’s distinct edginess, i.e.: “My lousy luck with women began in the womb. I’d roundhouse kick my mother like a martial artist. She’d fight back by punching her belly. 'Don’t you ever do that to me again!' she’d scream. The match lasted nine months. The judges scored it a draw. There was not a rematch…” (excerpt from “the radar was awash with hot reds and blues”). Coming purely from a writer’s perspective, the most uplifting moment for me in Epic Sloth is when Mr. Gaber toys with the reader and provides a glimpse of his humor in “struggles and rebellion”: “…Critics said my influences included Clifford Odets and Mad magazine, but in interviews, I was cheeky like Dylan, and told them I was actually influenced by God. They’d become visibly pale and ask me, 'What gets you out of bed in the morning?' Wow. Basquiat had the best response to that question. He walked off camera and disappeared into his bedroom…”

There is something so compelling in how Mr. Gaber uses his pen to draw the reader in. While the nuance of a tortured and troubled life and mind oozes from many of the pages of Epic Sloth, Gaber tempers the emotions with accomplished and intentional word placement. He taunts the reader to keep turning the page to see what comes next. Truly, Gaber has created the perfect “people watcher” formula on paper and I thoroughly enjoyed reading his newest book.

Quill says: Epic Sloth: Tales of the Long Crawl is an admirable portrayal of “down and out” and is complemented by an absolute delivery of what it means to persevere throughout the journey.

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