Review: Mira Corpora by Jeff Jackson (Two Dollar Radio; 2013)

11 Oct


Wow. To read this directly after By The Time We Leave Here, We’ll Be Friends was a revelation. These two works offer whole new vistas of writing ideas and styles. This one felt more intimate somehow; probably because it reminded me of people I knew in my youth.

Hazy daydreams. Disturbed snapshots of a dysfunctional childhood (alcoholic mother). Redirected, spiralling narratives pointing/painting towards a cohesive whole.

Murderous truckers, sawing off kids limbs. Flashes of Henry Darger’s psychotic paintings but this time in world called Liberia. This reminds me of the excellent quote by Paul Eluard that opens the novella: “There is another world, but it is in this one.” And, indeed, another world does seem to open up within this one as you proceed through Mira Corpora’s riveting yet fractured pages. Jackson even confesses that Mira Corpora is based on a series of journals he kept as an adolescent–an extremely strange and original approach. I kept asking myself exactly how much changed was or left unaltered.

Odd oracles in fragments of notes discovered in tree houses. Young lover’s promises. Matted hair. Becoming feral. Superimposed desires in the form of reflections on the bodies of floating dead teenagers who could have almost died in ecstasy. Burning bodies mixed with perfumes, the awkward stages of ritual. An homage to Macbeth’s witches in the nightmarish forest (a lot of these scenes reminded me of the atmosphere of Charles Burns’s Black Hole as well).

I also enjoyed the series and asides and meta-narrative reminders that this is a series of discovered notebooks–there is a line in one such italicized meta section of Mira Corpora that talks about stabbing a hole in a piece of notebook paper and how an entire world is contained there (like the Eluard quote)–also, the fact that Jeff’s oracle is an ominous blank page–ominous because it predicated someone’s death previously–is an important symbol related to the theme of Worlds Within Worlds.

Bloated cassette tapes containing cherished, taped-off-radio mixes and packages managing to find our narrator even when he lives in a cardboard box. Black condoms, walkman headphones without foam. Nose-biting, ethereal music-loving clues. Transformed and transfixed to honor ephemeral passions. Clues to the unconscious or the soul, whichever heart-wrenches you away from the cold shadows and into the nourishing sun of some way of contacting humanity.

Red-scarved, frizzy blonde-haired singer in a grainy photograph. You return to the spotlight of your dreams. Traffic sounds become a song during the search for a maybe dead rock star. Drunken burglaries. Prison shadows. Chewed-off noses, chewed-off tongues. Sepia-tinted dreams for vintage bands already lending dreams to some starry-eyed teen staring at the back of a still-original plastic-sheathed vinyl artifact. Mouth-breather. Casual devil-worshiper.

Dreams could only be sleep-blind, snow-blind carousels. Baited with a little bag of heroin to plastic guitar humiliation.

Sketchy operations in underground veternarian offices with an upper window to watch people’s shoes on the sidewalk pass.

Divorced from one’s own body as if trapped in a mirror. Drugged and drifting while burning money and drinking the last drops of booze beside a highway. Let the spirit revolve or welcome inner revolutions, as if an uncertain raven in search of a dead hawk’s claws on which to feast.

Were the skaters slicing through the ice or just scratching flame trails on the endless white paper typewriting the unbearable vision of the orange tree?

Check out Mira Corpora here

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