Echo Echo Echo

You know that feeling of when you remember something but it’s almost like you’re just remembering the last time you remembered it…and it doesn’t exactly feel real? That’s similar to the vibe I got Alan Parry‘s poetry collection Echoes.

(Oh, and here’s a link to my vlog review, as well as my author interview)

What began as a tribute to fruit, Echoes evolved into “I memoir of sorts, through poetic letters.” It’s powerful, and unique, and not at all what I was expecting.

It isn’t just a straight collection of poetry, nor is it really a novel in verse, but it is captivating. The book is separated into three acts: The Diagnosis, Sylvie, and Another Place; it isn’t particularly long given that it’s just over forty pages, but it’s deep. And emotional.

Act One starts out with a bang, we don’t know the specifics, but we go from a pleasant little bit of nostalgia to a abrupt notice of illness. It kind of hits you in the stomach, actually. I don’t know how he did it, but Parry expertly captures the feeling of an ordinary day being turned upside down because of bad news.

Honestly, a good chunk of this section felt like the denial and bargaining stages of grief–but with a twist. While the narrator seems cognitively aware of a loss, it’s like the emotional side of the narrator hasn’t quite caught on yet. I don’t even know a better way to describe it other than I got the feeling that the narrator was almost trying to distract both him/herself and us from the main source of conflict… it was interesting and very thoughtful.

Act Two, on the other hand, is a total change. Instead, Sylvie, the titular narrator almost seems to be talking to her deceased husband–presumably the grandfather who wasn’t doing well in Act One. This was a unique section for a few reasons. For one, it’s in prose. For two, Sylvie definitely seems sad, but in a different way. It’s like she’s trapped in the memories of what once was, all while being painfully aware of the present. Much of this monologue has to do with family, it’s self reflective, and again, emotional. I really loved Sylvie’s voice because she just seemed so pleasant and personable. And if she is indeed talking to the same man who passed in part one, I also enjoyed this fresh perspective.

Finally, Act Three, it definitely seems like the “acceptance” stage. The narrator has seemingly moved on and almost seems more mature. This section still struck me as very observation heavy, and I’m here for it. Parry is a very descriptive poet and I love how vivid the scenes are, even with so few words.

I think that’s Parry’s strength in this collection–his descriptions are just so emotionally and creatively (visually) evocative. I felt that mixed-up sadness and wistfulness; I saw the gaggle of girls making their way down a gloomy street… it was just so rich.

That’s all I’ve got for now! Next week I’ll be reviewing Robert Graham’s The Former Boy Wonder.

Happy Reading!

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