108. Torontology (Stephen Cain)

Compared to Cain’s other work, I found this book a tough slog. I much prefer the later American Standard/Canada Dry. The density of the lines here is forbidding, and the poems can be frustratingly humourless, but flashes of Cain’s brilliance and wit shine through on occasion: I especially loved the self-reflexivity of “Probability of reception minimal write anyway” (15). And thus, despite whatever reservations I might have about the book, it must be a success, because (to quote from a later poem a line that feels like an unattributed quote, though I’m not certain), “If someone laughs then nothing is written / in vain” (98).

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