Review: Baltimore Years
The degree of finish and the form of the meditations vary. Some are stories or almost. Most of them are outpourings of a tormented heart. The author has a very special voice and he aims it at the reader directly and personally.
Reviewed by Bob Williams
The Baltimore Years
by J. Tyler Blue
PretendGenius Press 2004, ISBN 0-9747261-3-3, $12.95, 145 pages
Baltimore, already graced by novelist Anne Tyler, receives an altogether different homage from J. Tyler Blue in these meditations on drawing breath alone and in pain.
The degree of finish and the form of the meditations vary. Some are stories or almost. Most of them are outpourings of a tormented heart. The author has a very special voice and he aims it at the reader directly and personally. It is a strange feeling to be addressed in this manner by an author and I am not aware that any other author comes close to Blue in this type of communication. A convention to the other authors that have attempted it, to Blue it is a realistic literary form.
Those parts of the book that are not stories or near-stories are poems. By a paradox the poems offer the more objective comments.
This is an entire chapter from The Baltimore Years:
Burning Dear John
I slept today
Or maybe it was yesterday
I don’t know
Heartbeats ceased making sense of time
I scratched out a message to the gods
On another empty match book.
I am mailing it to NASA
To send to the heavens.
“I’ve been missing you since before I knew you were”
She said she felt the same way once,
About tea and cigarettes.
Did I see you? “On the stairs?”
I breathed, hoping she would catch it.
Hoping she would before leaving
For the moon.
When the element of story is weak and the style is indisputable prose, the result is a torrent of words as if Blue opened his mind to his word processor in a struggle of creation that becomes the effort to capture the self, to snare the truth in the most rapidly constructed net of words that Blue can manage.
This is a very intimate document with a greater emphasis on truth than beauty. It is also a convincing display of the creative process in action. This makes it startlingly different. Since different is not always a blessing, I must add that it is of exceptionally high quality. Every reader that values probity in a writer and has no fear of the adventurous will want this book.
You can buy the book from Amazon
cover designed by Stratos