Sundress Publications is pleased to present A-Line, a new review series. A-Line will feature reviews of new books and chapbooks by our Sundress authors published by other presses. Our hope is to feature the critical and thoughtful insights of our editorial interns about books by the authors we love.
Amorak Huey’s second full-length collection Seducing the Asparagus Queen can best be described by a line from “Six Years in Sudbury, Ontario”: “Whatever doesn’t kill you fucks you up in some other way.” Huey’s book chafes against American culture and with that the American Dream, by using common sayings about work or life and twisting them to reveal the truth—when bad things happen you don’t just get over them unscathed no matter how many cross-stitched pillows say you will, there will be scars. You’ll come home from war and your father still won’t be proud. You’ll work a job, grind yourself down because you’re supposed to, and your wife will touch herself to Dancing with the Stars while you get drunk and flirt with someone from high school in the same stuck as you. Huey makes the truth easier to swallow with his witty and punchy lines like “Cut your girlfriend in half, she holds it against you for weeks.”
The pairing of his humorous, cut-through-the-thick tone with intriguing images make his poems ache—the embodiment of the broken extrovert, bandaging his wounds in laughter like the clown imagery in a few of his poems. Because of this I found Seducing the Asparagus Queen refreshing and relatable. Huey captures every phase of life—the restlessness and desperation of youth, the disillusionment and the self-doubt of adulthood, mourning, and really the disillusionment with life in general. I felt understood by this chapbook. Like I slumped down in a barstool, head to bar top, and this chapbook slid me a whiskey shot, and gave voice to the stirring feelings underneath. It told me that life is hell and probably cursed a few times before taking another shot, pausing as the whiskey burned its throat and said that no one has the answers. I found a comfort and camaraderie in feeling stuck, in someone wading in too far to turn back, but unsure of how to continue. Whether that be the moment in the back of a car somewhere in the middle of nowhere, where touch is the only language, your whole future ahead of you, or you’re trying to figure out how to fit, how to work, how to be a parent, how to let go of one home for another, how to lose someone and keep moving forward. Seducing the Asparagus Queen is funny, insightful, and exactly what I needed to read.
Jenna Geisinger is a fiction and creative non-fiction writer from New Jersey. She attends the MFA Professional and Creative Writing Program at William Paterson University, while working as an associate managing editor for the Schuylkill Valley Journal and a reader for Philadelphia Stories, where she has been previously published.