The Second Sex (Michael Robbins)

Michael Robbins's The Second Sex, like his previous collection, Alien vs. Predator, seems to have grown out of a compost heap in which popular culture and the poetic tradition have been tossed aside to rot.

Robbins's style combines a dense, Simpsons-like pace of allusions with extreme formal rigour and a casual, almost careless attitude. Robbins has produced a poetry of tightropes, walking a difficult, razor-thin line and rarely stumbling.

“The United States of F**k You Too / is what you're about to receive. / You can shoot all the kids you like, / but you can never leave.” Here Robbins jams furious social critique and an Eagles song lyric into a joke that makes all the sadness worse.

Robbins's best moments shatter the reader because of how they shouldn't work. “I live alone with the cat. / It's been a long time. / Been a long lonely / lonely lonely lonely lonely time.”

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Jonathan Ball is a writer, filmmaker, and scholar living at www.jonathanball.com.

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