BlazeVOX Books ($16)
This is the first book in a projected multi-volume poem about the eponymous gothic soap opera, which author Tony Trigilio watched as a young child. The show “nurtured and sustained” the poet’s inner life before he could speak, and the “primal sensations” associated with these pre-lingual experiences make them ripe for poetic exploration. At its weakest, the poem dwells too much on the show’s stilted acting and unplanned calamities (which seem to define Dark Shadows as much as scripted events), lapsing into rote summary and striking a tone of ironic adult detachment that gets in the way of the book’s purported mission of “excavating childhood night terrors.” Thankfully, these moments are fairly few, and Trigilio skillfully incorporates his personal history into his exegesis of the series—a sort of autobiography by way of discussing the show. The reader empathizes with the poet’s childhood self as he discloses obsessions and family tragedies, uncovering nuggets of real horror and intense emotion in dozens of episodes of absurd storylines and histrionic dialogue. Overall, The Complete Dark Shadows (of My Childhood) feels meditative, organic, and weighty far beyond what one would anticipate from a poem about a blooper-ridden ’60s TV show.
2015 Really Short Review. Return to Really Short Reviews