Borzutsky makes pathetic fallacy less an instrument of empathy than an agent of unsettlement, provoking strong reaction to the many historical and imaginary vignettes he creates.
If you don’t know the names of Pen15 Press, Wild Isle, For the Birds collective, Birdsong Collective, Burn Books and Brooklyn Arts Press yet, you probably should. These groups are producing indie art books worth a look, and form the center of Brooklyn DIY arts publishing. Yet even given the ready scene of indie publishing and willing artists and writers, creating and selling good work remains a day-to-day battle in the cacophony of Brooklyn creative production.
Readers will probably figure out that Anne Beck’s artist book State is inspired by the apocalyptic before they read the editorial note that comes at the end of the small volume. The first hints come through in the opening pages: a stark “STATE” in heavy hand lettering that does a horizontal flip on the next page, a reversal that opens up the instability and vagaries implicit in the rest of the book, a collection of painted collages and drawings that together tell the story of a society impaired by its dependence on technology and yet still invested in a clean state of nature. Beck mixes the organic and inorganic into a surreal whole.
In Chris O. Cook’s first book, called To Lose & To Pretend, published by Williamsburg’s own Brooklyn Arts Press, the poet creates a collection of poems that are perfectly suited for subway rides. The brief passages are at times funny, at times ambivalent, turning from contemporary cynicism to a world-weary romanticisim that lends itself to depicting the poignancy of everyday crap. That’s meditations on shitty summers and bad jobs, old girlfriends and meaningless personal flailing, grasping at shreds of nostalgia-inducing pop culture names and places but ultimately only holding on to the feeling of loss.