Kat Ricker,
Something Familiar
(Trillium, 2006)

There are two major problems with Something Familiar: the structure and the content. Structurally, the book is a mess, containing sentences so ill-conceived they sometimes make no sense at all. For example: "The houses were the same, but with all old shriveled folks, looking a lot like those she'd left behind." Is it the houses or the shriveled old folks that look like those she'd left behind? And, if the houses are all the same, isn't it natural they'd look like the ones she'd left behind?

When your attention is distracted by stopping to reason out the sentences, the story is going to suffer. And when the book is riddled with typos, misspellings and grammatical errors, as this one is, the reading experience as a whole suffers, too.

The content is also a problem. The poems in Something Familiar are amatuerish, riddled with sentiment and poor mechanics. Note: "Now I looked at Jonny, and as he cried / I begun to understand. / I knew his story almost done, / and reached and took his hand." Where do you begin discussing those lines? The warped rhythms with their poor syllabics? The grammatical errors ("begun," rather than "began")? The missing word "was" in line three or the two uses of the word "and" in the last line?

The poems are primarily cliched prose broken into lines, and the stories either lead nowhere or proceed straight to surprise endings that the reader sees coming from the first paragraph.

I can't recommend this book.

review by
Michael Scott Cain

7 July 2007

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