Variations of a Brother War Reviewed at The Fiddleback

08/10/2012 Variations of a Brother War by J.A. Tyler
reviewed by David Tomaloff (reprinted here in its entirety)

Variations of a Brother WarAnother super review for J. A. Tyler. We’re finding that the book seems to be inspiring some really wonderful prose in the form of reviews that are as poetic as anything, which has been cool to see…
I.
It seems there are many J. A. Tylers, each with hammers and chisels and methods of distillation they would call their very own. The J. A. Tyler at work between the pages of VARIATIONS OF A BROTHER WAR (Small Doggies Press, 2012) is a careful architect of elegant short sentences presented in sections of 100 words each—three sets per page, each page consisting of a triptych focused on a theme unfolding around Gideon, Miller, and Eliza. Gideon and Miller are men born of the same mother; men fighting in a War that is by no means Civil; men with hearts and hands and eyes bent on a woman called Eliza, whose affections both men will gain and lose repeatedly as their stories re/unfold.”

and then continuing…

II.
The J. A. Tyler at work beneath the brother-dueling cover art scrubs away at the tidy lines often drawn between prose and poetry not unlike the J. A. Tylers that work inside of other books by other notable J. A. Tylers, but this particular J. A. Tyler summons a force behind these words that enables his compact streams to rise up like rivers and engulf the war-stricken landscape they inhabit. This J. A. Tyler reaches deep into the ground and pulls from it images formed not so very long ago; images that carry in them our collective reflections; images that suggest we have always looked something like we do now.

III.
What we look/ed like then/now is this:
Rifles
Rivers
Brothers
Fathers
Bullets
War
Mothers
Circles
Horses
Triangles
Boy
Boy
Girl
Boy
Boy
Girl
Ending,
too soon
Beginning,
too late
Longing
Cutting
Resenting
Fingers
Battlefield
Breaking
Loss
into fatigue—

Dresses soaked in light
& horses rattling to bones

IV.
This J. A. Tyler unfolds his words into sentences shaped like these:

“Eliza’s cabin is down from Gideon’s cabin. We say cabin but they are houses. We say houses but they are torches at night.”

and/or:

“What it means to be a ghost is to lose. What it means to be ghost is what it means when a war goes on without soldiers.”

V.
Those who enjoy other J. A. Tylers will undoubtedly find satisfaction with the J. A. Tyler they encounter in VARIATIONS OF A BROTHER WAR. Those whose worlds currently consist of few or no J. A. Tylers might easily find this J. A. Tyler to be a kind and welcoming introduction to the many strange and wonderful J. A. Tylers that the world has to offer.

David Tomaloff is the staircase leading to an attic you didn’t know you had. His work has appeared in several chapbooks, anthologies, and in fine publications such as Mud Luscious, A-Minor,>kill author, PANK, and elimae. He is also coauthor of the collaborative poetry collection YOU ARE JAGUAR, with Ryan W. Bradley (Artistically Declined Press, 2012).”

 

Read David Tomaloff’s complete review at The Fiddleback now (scroll down the page to see the review).

Buy Variations of a Brother War from Small Doggies Press now.

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