Pub date: September 30, 2014
Shortlisted, 2015 Gerald Lampert Memorial Award
Emergencies, faith, truancy, and poverty intersect in this wry debut that volunteers a transfusion of the unpredictable for those who yearn to transition beyond a muralized Olive Garden world.
Stevie Howell’s [Sharps] takes its cue from an Egyptian hieroglyph used interchangeably to represent “waters,” the letter N, and all prepositions within a sentence. Similarly, Sharps alters its structure and functionality from page to page. The Queen launches an advertising campaign to procure our envy. The last unicorn crochets a sweater out of the sisal cords of the book. The falsity of Billy Joel’s New York propaganda is grounds for libel. We discover the one thing you can do “With a sawed-off rifle, a low IQ, and curiosity/about human biology.”
From certain angles, [Sharps] embraces the possibilities of poetry —from others, it engages in a protracted street fight with language.
A black cockroach
the size of a butterflied sausage
hustled across the plaster wall and clung
to the window screen. I pulled down the pane, trapped him
in the lower sash. He body-drew a panicked infinity sign.
— from “Ballad of Blood Hotel”