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Monday, May 7, 2007

Displeasures of the Table by Martha Ronk

This book was required reading in a poetry class I took from Suzanne Lummis at UCLA. Not quite poetry, not quite memoir, not quite anything, really, is--unlike its title--is pure pleasure.

Speaking of Food, Thinking About Everything Else

Image and Memory as Entertainment

Reviewed by Carolyn Howard-Johnson, award-winning author of This is the Place, Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered and Tracings, a chapbook of poetry.

Displeasures of the Table by Martha Ronk is a sort of mingling of peanut butter sandwiches and nostalgia. It is often a sort of examination of how a train of thought moves along a fragmented track, how one image connects us to another event. Reading Ms. Ronk is like discovering we have found a kindred spirit when we notice she can follow us when we go off on a tangent in mid-conversation and she can figure out what the hell we’re talking about.

Unlike my husband who says:
“What do you mean by ‘it’?”

After I’ve said:
“It was made of blue floral chintz.”

After he’s been talking about his mothers couch—the one he doesn’t want to inherit.

And, even if he understood that I meant the couch was blue floral chintz, he’d be wrong. No. The couch made me think about the periwinkle and sky-colored chintz bedspread in the attic, and, frankly, I have trouble understanding why he can’t see the connection.. I mean, the couch wasn’t chintz so how could he make that mistake?

This slim booklet is not easily categorized. What you’ll find there is neither quite essay or prose poetry or flash fiction. It is just to be enjoyed for what it is. Enjoy the quotes and the language; savor what you find there. It’s like a plate of spaghetti, all tangled and impossible to keep any single strand whole. It’s very tasty nonetheless.

This book is for those who love what is original, for those who like memory or analytical games, for those who love detail and connecting dots. Those people will love Displeasures of the Table. I did.

PS. My favorite piece is “Corn” on page 26. My daughter is going to love “Brussels sprouts” on page 19. She had trouble swallowing them, too.

1 comment:

Howard said...

Hi Carolyn!

I think this is a great idea and like the layout you used too. Hope you'll be recommending some horror and western novels!
Howard Hopkins
Author of Night Demons