book review: LIFE BETWEEN CIGARETTES

[book review, poetry]
Life Between Cigarettes, by R.L Buss, from Sun Wolf Press, 2001(?)

review by Dr. Carrie Jean Preston

R. L. Buss has given San Diego an eclectic book that falls somewhere between poetry and prose, fiction and essay, comic book and high art, but it falls short. “Sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll,” he has it all, and I enjoy the witty leftist politics with which he spices the mix. The trouble is that “sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll” is a recipe for cliché these days, a phrase to be put in “scare quotes,” and all writers are scared of cliché or should be. I am hungry for something different from the recipe, and Buss is capable of giving it. In between the cliché, he has some truly great lines of poetry, some to rival the best of his obvious influences, the Beat poets (Allen Ginsberg and Charles Bukowski come to mind). In between the cigarettes, he offers some stunning observations on life, some that bring Tao Te Ching to Ocean Beach in the 21st Century. Unfortunately, these are the sides to the banal dishes served up by the worst versions of popular culture. Buss is searching for what he calls “Organic” literature, and I hope that he will learn to prune back some of the fluff and let his art grow organically in between. CJP

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