Review of Optimism (by Sue Lange)

OptimismOptimism
By Peter Dabbene
Copyright 2009 Peter Dabbene
ISBN 978-0-578-04116-2
www.peterdabbene.com
Order online:
http://www.peterdabbene.com/books.htm


Review by Sue Lange (New York, NY United States)

First and foremost this is a poetry book. It’s a coffee table book, sure, but the poetry is the main thing here. The photographs are great and they definitely add to the mood, but they are not the main thing. Most coffee table poetry books feature the photos which are related in theme. The text sets off the photos. The opposite is true here. The poems, in fact, stand alone. They are complete in themselves.

It’s a fine collection of well-written poetry that speaks of the ordinary, elevating it to the extraordinary. Small moments are given the time they deserve but never get. These moments are easily recognized. They are found in each of our lives, but rarely do we appreciate them. Dabbene appreciates such things as curb furniture, old ladies stealing market fruit, dogs that kill bunnies, loners in bars, the fear we have of teenagers, marriage annulment, guys that play basketball on weekends, the moon, books, the letter s, Pluto, Catholic mass, black socks and babies before they are born, babies when they grow up and go away, comets.

The list is much longer, or course, there’s a lot of poetry in the volume, but you get a good idea of what goes on in Dabbene’s life: the same things that go on in your own life. It’s all very recognizable and yet, unusual at the same time.

The work is accessble, but not cliche. It’s lovely, neither trite, nor esoteric. Some of it is downright sublime:

Teething
So difficult to watch, helpless
as pearl-white nubs burrow through tender
gumlines, wreaking havoc, provoking tears

So difficult to whisper soothing tones
and promise assurances during this, the
first of many pains I cannot protect against

My favorite poem is Ode to Philip Glass. I like it because if Philip Glass’ music was a physical entity it would look like this poem does on the page. Dabbene captured the spirt of the man’s music perfectly.

Downside of this book. It’s expensive. But then, it’s filled with expensive photographs and priceless poems.

Review of Optimism (by Mr. R. J. Dowell)

OptimismOptimism
By Peter Dabbene
Copyright 2009 Peter Dabbene
ISBN 978-0-578-04116-2
www.peterdabbene.com
Order online:
http://www.peterdabbene.com/books.htm

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Review by Mr. R. J. Dowell (Milton Keynes, UK)

Like all intelligent reading, it sometimes takes time to absorb the message. I read this book over a period of 2 months, taking my time to appreciate both the way it was laid out and the meaning locked in many of the poems. It is strange how just a few words can release old memories that have been kept prisoner in my mind for all these years.

Peter Dabbene not only uses words and pictures to tell poetry, he also uses word layout, evoking memories and empathies in his prose. Some modern poetry gets lost in its own importance, and tries to be too clever, but that is not the case with this book. I found that just letting the words wash over me was a very interesting experience and lead me to stop half way through some poems just to enjoy a memory.

I especially enjoyed the poem ‘Snake (or SSS)’ for its imaginative layout, the way it slithers down the page. Other poems used combinations of words that, to put it simply, ‘Hit the nail on the head’, catching you unaware and filling your mind with images that aided in the poetries intent. The use of photos throughout the pages, helped anchor the poems and gave them context.

Everything about this book says ‘coffee table poetry book’, and in that it delivers, giving the reader something different, something that makes them think. Dip in, read, enjoy, and mull over all those thoughts and memories that will surely surface as a result.

I highly recommend this book to all those out there who are looking for a thought provoking and intelligent read.


Review of Glossolalia (by Robert Riche)

GlossolaliaGlossolalia
By Peter Dabbene
Xlibris Corp (March 2, 2005)
ISBN 1413479014
www.peterdabbene.com
Order online:
http://www.peterdabbene.com/books.htm

Review by Robert Riche  

This collection of short stories is a rich banquet of many courses. You might even say it’s a food fight. This guy serves up nostalgia, loneliness and loss, weird and outrageous humor, wild satire, grotesque scariness, and science fiction. Take, for example, the story, about Houdini’s widow who keeps waiting for her dead husband’s magic to bring him back to life. You never know until the end of the story just where it’s going, but Peter Dabbene holds you in suspense, like the aerialist who is dying – Is that the right word? -to do a quintuple flip, never done by an aerialist before. There is more to these stories than appears on the surface. The characters shun the rewards and temptations of contemporary life to follow their own vision of things. Which leads the reader to such stories as the loner taxidermist who is visited by a stranger whom he doesn’t trust. No trust, right? A taxidermist, yes? Oh, oh. Somebody’s going to get skinned in this one. You can see that the banquet is heading toward some meaty stuff. But nobody gets stuffed better than Dabbene’s suburban neighbors or the creeps who appear in his forthright satire on contemporary politics. After the 2004 election the winning party’s platform calls for ignoring the largest “special interest group in America”: the voters. Did I mention Dabbene’s anger? Holy crap! The guy is so furious it hurt me from having to laugh so hard. He gets right to the heart of the matter with his essay on hemmorhoids including instructions on how to insert Preparation H suppositories. These stories are weird, crazy, tantalizing, and believe it or not, full of substance, though definitely not bed-time stories for the kiddies. Wild and woolly stuff.

Review of Glossolalia (by Sue Lange)

GlossolaliaGlossolalia
By Peter Dabbene
Xlibris Corp (March 2, 2005)
ISBN 1413479014
www.peterdabbene.com
Order online:
http://www.peterdabbene.com/books.htm

Review by Sue Lange (New York, NY United States)

Peter Dabbene is a funny guy. His subtle sense of humor shows in this collection of well written short stories. Consider the name of the book: Glossolalia, which means speaking in tongues. Some people consider glossolalia to be nothing but meaningless drivel, others believe it’s a holy language, understood only by the enlightened. Dabbene’s work might very well be understandable only by the enlightened; there’s a lot of stuff here, sometimes you get it, sometimes you don’t. Continue reading

Review of Optimism (by LB Sedlacek)

OptimismOptimism
By Peter Dabbene
Copyright 2009 Peter Dabbene
ISBN 978-0-578-04116-2
www.peterdabbene.com
Order online:
http://www.peterdabbene.com/books.htm

Review by LB Sedlacek

In this poetry collection by Peter Dabbene, there’s a treat—somewhat reminiscent of “Easter Eggs” hidde in DVDs—in that he uses a photographic illustration, graphic whatever you want to call it (I like art, I love modern art but I’m not an artist) at the end of each poem. These pictures serve to add a visual punctuation to the poem maybe punching up the title or a particular theme, verse or line.

I have to admit once I started reading his poetry book I looked forward to the end of the poem to see what visual piece would follow it. The blend of words and visuals is nothing new but how it is presented and how the words are represented is somewhat of a balancing act between the two forms. You don’t want to over illustrate the poem so that the reader feels like they are being led to a conclusion and at the same time you don’t want to point the reader in the wrong direction. Dabbene seems to have carefully chosen his visual props, so to speak, and they work well with each poem.

For “Notes on a Story Never Written” a carriage typewriter is used as the visual key. For “Coleridge, Awake (The Memory of Dreams)” there’s a newsprint article including “Xanadu.” For “Waiting to Laugh at the Movie Trailer Joke” and “Out of the Movie House” there’s a surreal shot of an empty movie theater.

But there’s more to this poetry book than what’s in the photos. The poem “Shh” is an image filled striking poem using only one word per line. “Time Capsules (The Secret Function of Books)” talks of the things people are likely to keep in books, a potent look
at memories and maybe daily reminders of the book owner’s life. “No More Black Socks” is a somewhat humorous take on not wearing black socks anymore correlating the donning of them as necessary for a serious responsible working man.

“Optimism” is a buoyant poetry book, communicating the author’s observations and experiences. It is a fresh portrayal of every day and not so every day encounters.

From “Extinct”: “I would not feel threatened ut for their sake//
Blonde hair and blue eyes, killed by weak genes, now found only in kits and foreigners/

Rotary dial telephones, holed up in old houses like fugitives and shut-ins/
Saturday morning cartoons, victims of bloodless coups by political roundtables/

What I would give to feel again//

the thrill of exploring/ VHF and UHF/
exotic and mysteriously static…”

From “A Dream”
In my dream,/I am running//
Alongside me is every dog we’ve ever owned/ Their tongues flapping out the sides of their mouths/
I watch them run, and smile/My private flock, my private stock of best friends/
With no leashes and no fences…”

Peter Dabbene has also published two story collections, Prime Movements and Glossolalia as well as a novel, Mister Dreyfus’ Demons.

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LB Sedlacek’s poems have appeared in such publications as “Manorborn,” “MamaZine,” “Audience Magazine, “Skive Magazine,” and “Poetry Monthly.” http://www.myspace.com/lbsedlacek, http://twitter.com/lbsedlacek