Toadhouse's Living and Dying in a Mind Field was published by Snuggly Books in February 2017.
Information about Toadhouse:
Toadhouse, a.k.a. Allan Graham, was born in San Francisco, California, in 1943. He is an artist whose work includes sculpture, painting, poetry, and video.
Information about Living and Dying in a Mind Field:
Words are an obscure form of consciousness. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . we are always left with blank spaces. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . question marks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . gaps! Language leaves us up a hill without a creek. This is the explanation!
A REVIEW OF TOADHOUSE'S LIVING AND DYING IN A MIND FIELD
Toadhouse's Living and Dying in a Mind Field is the 7th chapbook in the Snuggly Slim edition series. It's a delightfully playful and intriguing poetry chapbook to readers who are fascinated by something out of the ordinary.
Just like Toadhouse's previous chapbook, Gone Fishing with Samy Rosenstock (Snuggly Books, 2016), this chapbook is something special for readers who love experimental literary fiction, unconventional poetry and speculative fiction. It defies easy classification by being its own kind of a poetry chapbook and breaking a few unwritten rules about what poetry should be like. Its contents range from literary fiction to experimental fiction, and it has a few elements that can be called speculative fiction elements.
When you begin to read Living and Dying in a Mind Field, you'll be greeted by elements that can best be described as experimental, unconventional and Dadaistic. Although this chapbook has traditional prose elements, it's anything but traditional. (If you're interested in a bit different kind of poetry that challenges your perception of what poetry should be like, I can guarantee that you'll be deeply captivated by this chapbook, because it's unlike anything you've ever read before.)
I already mentioned this in my review about Gone Fishing with Samy Rosenstock, but I'll mention it again, because there may be readers out there who are not familiar with Dadaism and don't know what it means. Dadaism or Dada was an art movement of the European avant-garde in the early 20th century. The roots of Dadaism lay in pre-war avant-garde. More information about Dadaism can easily be found on the internet. (Understanding Dadaism is important in order to enjoy this chapbook and its predecessor, because the author has clearly been influenced by it.)
I think it's important to point out that Living and Dying in a Mind Field is not an easy chapbook due to its challenging and experimental contents. It's possible that it is not to everyone's liking, because it requires a lot of understanding and interpreting from its reader, for the author has written it for thinking and intelligent readers. The more you know about surrealism, experimental writing style and Dadaism, the more you'll enjoy this chapbook.
What I love most about this chapbook is that its contents are intriguingly creative and artistic. I like this kind of artistic and experimental poetry, because poetry is a form of art that needs a bit of shaking every now and then to keep modern readers interested in it. In this chapbook, Toadhouse shows all of us that poetry is a renewable art form that can be used in many ways.
Many of the texts have a plaufyl quality to them that feels invigorating. I like the author's writing style, because he's capable of using humour and quirkiness to his advantage. For example, on page 43 he has something amusing to say about UFOs and universe. I'm sure that everyone will be delighted to read this poem.
Some of the texts contain little pieces of wisdom and hidden truths that are revealed to careful and thinking readers who are able to examine the contents of the texts in a larger context. I advise readers to read this chapbook at least two or three times, because that's the only way to get the most out of it (please, don't read it in a hurry, because you'll miss out on a lot of small and important details).
I was impressed by the author's unconventional approach to the things he wrote about, because there was nothing mediocre about his writing style. He has his own unique literary voice and he uses it in a bold way.
If you're familiar with stories written by Brendan Connell, you'll love this chapbook, because - in certain ways - its contents can be compared to some of his stories. I was personally wholly captivated by this chapbook and loved everything about it. Because I'm fascinated by strange and experimental elements that offer readers something to think about, the contents of this chapbook strongly appealed to me.
Living and Dying in a Mind Field is quite an extraordinary delight to readers who expect to be challenged by what they read. Its contents can be analysed, examined and interpreted in many ways. When you begin to read it, you'll find yourself fascinated by its strangeness, ambiguity and surrealism. You'll most likely keep on thinking about what you've just read after you've finished reading it, because it forces you think about things and leaves you wanting more of the same.
Toadhouse's Living and Dying in a Mind Field is a rare gem that should be read and treasured by those who appreciate artistic prose, experimental poetry, surrealism and Dadaism. It deserves the attention of quality-oriented readers who want to read something different and though-provoking, because it differs a lot from what has been published by other poets and authors. It will appeal especially to those readers who are not afraid of venturing outside their literary comfort zone and experiencing something new.