davey dreamnation

seething since 2001

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Category: Reviews

Contains full texts or links to my reviews and other writings online.

News, Review(s) & Booze

Tasmanian indie lit journal Famous Reporter has received a nice write-up/review in the pages of Wet Ink. Editor Ralph Wessman, who has been running the mag forever, has now certainly received at least one minute of his allotted fifteen in fame terms – let’s see what we can do about the other fourteen.

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Remembering Shelton Lea

My review of Diana Georgeff’s Delinquent Angel, a biography of Melbourne poet and raconteur Shelton Lea, has been published in the latest issue of Overland (#190). Interestingly, the editors have decided to put most (if not all) of the contents of the issue online, so you can now read the review in its entirety! Here’s a brief snippet:

“What emerges is the peculiar tension provided by Shelton Lea the renegade poet: a man of the street, but also someone raised in an upper class family in Toorak. While the former made him tough and possessed of no small amount of bravado, the latter gave him his love of reading and in particular of poetry, from his obvious association with the Romantics to his engagement with Modernists such as Ezra Pound.

This tension gives the book its narrative focus and Shelton his humanity. Georgeff has written a tremendously engaging account of one poet’s life, without overly romanticising her subject, and has refrained from writing over Lea’s faults or ignoring his weaknesses.”

There’s a lot more to digest in the current issue, as is usual with Overland. If anyone has a comment or would like to discuss the points I make in my review, feel free!

We Will Disappear reviewed in the Weekend Oztraylian!

My debut poetry collection We Will Disappear has been reviewed in the Weekend Australian, alongside Event, the debut collection from Judith Bishop. The review, by Justin Clemens, was positive about both books, so I’m thrilled! Here’s a snippet:

If Bishop favours the high aesthetic road, Prater — editor of the online journal Cordite Poetry Review — prefers the mass-media superhighway. We Will Disappear pops and buzzes with references to drugs (Dexedrine, grass and cigarettes), military hardware (atom bombs, Semtex, F-15s and Minutemen) and virulent diseases (SARS), not to mention communications technologies, both current and defunct (satellites, radio, daguerreotypes and computer coding). Relentlessly racy, Prater hits hard and fast in his attempts to keep up with the wrenching juggernaut of our times.

Justin Clemens

Woot!

I’ve just checked out Judith’s website and while I think it’s fair to say we’re very different poets, it’s nice to see a review of two books by people born in 1972 in Australia’s only national newspaper! Oh, and in the Year of the Rat, too!

I just wish the Oztraylian would post the review on their website, so that I could link to it. Personally, I had to go through Swinburne’s library homepage to get to it. In any case, I assume a copy of the full review will be available on the papertiger media website in due course.

UPDATE: One other double-plug I forgot to mention before comes from the avant-garde online poetry journal foam:e. In its latest issue, guest editor Louise Waller notes:

Unfortunately foam:e received more books than it is possible to review this issue, but I would like to suggest David Prater’s We Will Disappear published by soi 3 modern poets, and Sue Stanford’s Opal, published by Flat Chat Press are well worth a read.

Thanks Louise! And I can heartily recommend foam:e to all good poets!

We Will Disappear: the second review!

Poet, criminologist, anti-fascist and paranoia merchant alicia sometimes has written and recorded a bulk ace review of my book for ABC Radio National’s The Book Show. Click here for transcript and audio. Here’s a taster of what she has to say:

One striking thing about this collection is how deeply Prater is influenced by the internet and the various dialects and languages that emerge within this medium. He seems driven to mash language, experimenting with HTML and modern computer language. This could easily be cliche but Prater makes this process electric. Prater says his poems are similar to hyperlinks that teleport the reader quickly to somewhere else. Instead of clicking a mouse, he wants you to see one image or word or phrase and transport you to another poem or another place as easily as it can in be achieved in the cyber world. This is a bold statement but one I expect from the playful and experimental Prater. To measure the truth in this statement is difficult. In ‘Search Poem #9’, he writes that he is ‘viewing in google page rank order’. This poem is a mess of words that would seem at home in email spam headers and indeed the first line of each Google search finding. But he is also commenting on the web as machine, the internet as the impersonal and the idiosyncrasies of each user. As editor of the online literary magazine Cordite, Prater would be exposed to all styles of web poetry and the problems and eccentricities associated with it. The collection ends with the piece ‘5 Haiku SMS’ playing around with the modern speech of texting as the new haiku. Here again he is both ironic and commentator all at once.

Aww, shucks. It’s a crime wave, move on!

We Will Disappear: the first review!

In somewhat amazing news, Cordite has just published a double review of We Will Disappear and MTC Cronin’s book (we recently also published a single review of Barry Hill’s book).

I should point out that the review was not commissioned, edited or posted by me but by our reviews editor, Ali Alizadeh. Further, the review itself was written by Ryan Scott, a Czech-Republic based poet whom I have never met or corresponded with. Still, I feel a slight twinge of discomfort and potential embarrasment to see a review of my own book in a journal of which I am the Managing Editor.

While it’s not quite in the same league as Walt Whitman writing reviews of his own book, Leaves of Grass, under false names and then using these reviews to create testimonials, it’s still, well, a bit strange. What do you think?

Thomas Pynchon: “Against the Day”

There was a time when I read books voraciously. In fact for most of my life I have read at least one book per month, if not week, meaning that if I was to enter a fund-raising read-a-thon I would most most likely send all of my sponsors broke (assuming, of course, that I didn’t just read a whole stack of Mr Men books to make up the numbers). In recent years, I have become increasingly nerdy, to the point where I have begun to list the books I’ve read over a given six month period (see July to December 2005 and January to June 2006). In July 2006, however, something happened to me. Personally, I blame it on the utter chaos that’s characterised my life in the last year or so, rather than the (obviously tempting) reason that I’ve actually read all that I need to read but the fact remains that I went for several months without so much as picking up a book. I didn’t read anything. Well, I read the paper, and so on but I didn’t actually pick up a book. All of that changed, however, last December when I went out and bought a hardcover first edition copy of Thomas Pynchon’s new novel, Against the Day. And now I’m thrilled to announce that last night – that is, three months and 1085 pages later – I finished the damn thing.

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A book review …

During downtimes I often Google myself, usually finding nothing new or old worth writing home about. Today, however, I came across a book review I wrote a few years ago for the Resource Centre for Cyberculture Studies at the University of Washington. The book’s called “On a Silver Platter” and deals with the whole history of the CD-Rom. You can read the review here. What a nerd I am.

Gravity’s Rainbow

What better way to mark yesterday’s 100th anniversary of Bloomsday than to admit I have never read more than twenty pages of Ulysses, due in no small part to the Leavisite method of critical textual analysis introduced in my first days of undergraduate English. Don’t get me wrong: I respect the man, and having heard several sections of Finnegans Wake read aloud, can vouch for the fact that Joyce was a funny old bugger. Trouble is, the attraction of reading Ulysses has been sullied by the determination of various news outlets to strap onto the whole Bloomsday shenanigans every freaking year. Like clockwork. I propose an anti-Bloomsday as the antidote. Buggered if I know how that would work though.

Anyway, what better way to follow that paragraph than to admit that I recently finished all 758 pages of Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow, a book that someone once said (I’m paraphrasing) made most other books look a little simpleminded. Now, I know people say that Ulysses is, erm, difficult. Seems Pynchon got it into his head that he could go one better and, by the looks of it, the man has succeeded. Parts of Gravity’s Rainbow are truly unreadable. You know that phrase “Don’t go there”? Yeah well, Pynchon goes there. There’s no point trying to describe where he goes. You’ll have to read it yourself. But boy am I pleased with myself that I managed to get through it. I enjoyed most of it. There is some truly classic humour in this book. Then again, there’s some stuff that’s not for the squeamish. For this reason, I find it completely understandable that the book both won and lost the Pulitzer Prize (the panel’s decision to award the prize to Pynchon was overturned on the grounds of obscenity, meaning the Prize was not awarded that year).

The Internet seems the perfect place for discussion of Pynchon, and a variety of websites offer much in the way of explanation and helpful references. Not sure if the Simpsons episode featuring Pynchon has aired in Oz yet. But did I mention meeting Pynchon on a train in the US a couple of years ago? I talk about it here. A poem of mine, entitled “Thomas Pynchon and the Art of Anonymity Maintenence” was recently published in Meanjin. Finally, Thomas Pynchon’s new intro to “1984”. Okay so it’s not that new but I just found it. Wow.

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