"The Place of Broken Things" Book Review
Written by Gabino Iglesias
Published by Crystal Lake Publishing
Written by Linda D. Addison and Alessandro Manzetti
2019, 88 pages, Fiction
Released on July 19th, 2019
There is something strange about literary collaborations. Asking two writers to come together and work on something when the rest of the time they are working alone always struck me as odd. Perhaps this is why amazing collaborations are rare. Linda D. Addison and Alessandro Manzetti’s The Place of Broken Things belongs to the small group of books that make a collaboration shine.
The Place of Broken Things doesn’t have a central unifying theme. Instead, a series of elements of cohesion arise and give this poetry collection a sense of unity. There are various characters—all of them outsiders—things hiding in the dark, love, horrific visions, and even drugs, and they all pop up sporadically and make the collection feel complete. Also, the poems here share one element that makes them special: Many of them are in conversation with other poets and artists in other fields of artistic expression. From Pablo Neruda to Allen Ginsberg, The Place of Broken Things offers readers a plethora of poems inspired by others as well as some mutated reincarnations of other poems.
When I said collaborations aren’t easy, I said it because all great writers have unique voices and there is no guarantee their style will work well on the page when next to someone else’s. However, Addison and Manzetti work beautifully together here because they gravitate to the same themes and wrote poems that are somewhat similar in length. Furthermore, Addison and Manzetti’s voices pull off a beautiful dance in which they come together and mesh perfectly before once again pulling apart and regaining their uniqueness. Surprisingly, even the poems in which they collaborate manage to retain a voice that, more than half-Addison/half-Manzetti, sounds more like a perfect, organic combination of both.
I thought about picking one poem from Addison and one from Manzetti and sharing them, but I think that would take away from the reading experience (and the book is only 88 pages, so I want readers to get to experience as much of it as they can after getting a copy). Instead of doing that, I picked a superb chunk from “Like Japanese Silk” and present it as a set of lines that embody what the collection is about:
Why are bells ringing at this time of night?
I wake with two crazy diamonds
embedded in my eye sockets.
I don’t need to turn on the light,
I can find my way following the
shining red stripe (blood?) dripping
on the floor, toward the staircase
coiled like a watch spring.
The Place of Broken Things is dark, creepy, surreal, haunting, and beautiful. In a way, it surprised me with the variety of poems it contains. However, it is also as great as I expected it to be. Addison and Manzetti are both Bram Stoker Award winners, and this collection makes it easy to see why. It also proves that when to great voices click, the work they produce together can be as amazing as what they do when they work alone. The only thing missing from this collaboration is the reader. Go fix that.
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