It is a poetic exhibit which by times has its tongue in its cheek, as it sends you through strange yard-work imagery (“Let your rake eat its face”), as it parses out a certain male archetype in sharp sketches (“Piss-eyed nicotine wreck perving over secretaries”), and has that archetype proclaim his unique qualities (“My nose is a crumpled parking ticket”).
In other artfully positioned areas of the Leviathan exhibit we come across slices of life as aesthetic flashes (“Rain lifts its eyes to heaven as it drowns”) or we are given glimpses into the fragile heart of romance, with loving pith (Anniversary).
There is a continual offering in Leviathan of one well-wrought image world after the other. Aside from offering us grace, humour and beauty, there is also pain in there – in the loss of love, in the challenging presence of love. And there is the pain of a son’s love for his father, in the collision of his way and his father’s way, perhaps calling to mind the message from Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan quoted at the book’s beginning, which essentially says we are not bound to persist in our errors.
One has the sense of entering into a poetry kaleidoscope, where images cycle and shift with the author’s own triggered associations; as he enters the same manly roles his father modelled, the whole male dynamic swirls into varied imagery, emotions, commentary, memories.
As reader it is tempting to read in a message, from the Hobbes quote, namely “I’m going to do it differently.” It can also be a message of forgiveness and hope, and a loving tribute, one man’s take on a very old story.
In any case, it is a beautiful and often very funny celebration of alternately weird, odious and tender man things.
by Carmine Starnino