Steven Dunn’s Potted Meat (TS 2016) reviewed by Dustin Holland

 

steven-dunn-potted-meatIt’s the Boulder Poetry Tribe, but they still know great fiction when they read it. Dustin Holland reviews Steven Dunn’s Potted Meat (Tarpaulin Sky 2016).

Here’s an excerpt:

When Steven Dunn reads excerpts from Potted Meat at events, it’s easy to forget that you’re listening to pieces of a novel. Each of his selections manages to stand on its own as a powerful moment taking place in an established, well developed universe. In fact, when he’s reading, it’s hard to imagine the text being a part of a larger body of work. It’s hard to imagine that he’s left anything out: they’re just so fucking solid. Like, this is it. This is the art.

But,Potted Meat is a novel… in pieces. And, while, yes, each piece is excellent — they have more power as chapters. The psuedo-episodic quality of each chapter propels the reader through a maze of love, growth, struggle, abuse, and discovery with an unrivaled energy that builds throughout the novel. Dunn doesn’t waste any time. Every scene advances the reader’s understanding of the narrator and the world he is growing up in. Instead of taking the time to describe the passage of time between chapters, Dunn throws us into new situations and lets us try to get our bearings as his characters attempt to do the same. Childhood, or at least the way we experience childhood, isn’t linear. Growing up is all about trying to make sense of the world and our place in it without much context and with a rapidly changing understanding of self. Potted Meat’s fractured pace is a perfect articulation of that experience….

When I think about this book I want to run up to people on the street, grab them by the shoulders, shake them, and shout “You need Potted Meat in your life!!” I realize that accosting random strangers and shouting at them isn’t the best way to start conversations or promote books, but I might do it anyway. Because honestly, I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t find some value and beauty in this book.

Read the full review.
Read more about Steven Dunn.
Read more about Potted Meat.