Compendium by Kristina Marie Darling: review by Christopher Bowen

The linguist at play…


Compendium/by Kristina Marie Darling/Cow Heavy Books

Kristina Marie Darling compends. She expouts. She uses palimpsest . She goes back and forth covering you compiling these stories.

In Compendium from Cow Heavy Books (2011), Darling uses simple stated facts throughout her fiction to bring the reader through the tale then feet flat on the ground, running. 

From the beginning story Palimpsest (“a manuscript  page from a scroll  or book from which the text has been scraped off and which can be used again“), one can tell she weaves, she waves, she words: she does not write them.

Palimpsest reiterates a first chapter, new facts in each, new details within:

Chapter One Always begin by saying that

this is not “Romanticism.” In the work of Keats

especially, we rarely encounter a clear-cut example

of artifice. Like the artist’s mind decaying

amidst the nightingales and constellations—this

was assumed to be real. And the letter, with its

intricate flourishes and belabored epigraph, gave

rise to the most startling numbness in every fingertip.

Again, she’ll bring you back. There are new details here. You are on your feet, running. There is creative in the creative writing.

The collection, using a Madeleine as a main character, delineate small bursts of microcosm, of one page flashes leading into a very concise summary of a Victorian novel. 

It’s very experimental; it’s very assured by section Footnotes to a History of the Victorian Novel. 

What really sways me about the book is the audacity to summarize an entire novel, even a historical literary novel era, in a matter of fifty-odd pages of poetry.

Darling is the author of Night Songs (Gold Wake Press, 2010) and the editor of narrative (dis)continuities: prose experiments by younger american writers (VOX Press, 2011).  This book is an experiment and Darling has many more things to offer if you get your hands on it.  She is a linguist at play.

~Christopher Bowen

Published by lenavanelslander

Lena Vanelslander swam many waters. History, Comparative Culture Analysis, Languages, Mythology, Literature, Poetry, too many to sum up. After a life of tribulations the turning point came in her mid twenties: she started to write actively poetry in English. Her melancholic and darkminded nature colour her poems to an individual signature in both time and space. Poems got published in the Stray Branch, Savage Manners, the Delinquent and The Sylvan Echo. Her first chapbook ‘Ma Chanson de Rien du Tout’ has been released in September this year. Her first book of poetry, written with Marilyn Campiz, Quills of Fire, will appear in November 2009. Currently she edits writers' profiles for and

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