Review: 88 Maps

Book Reviews

88 Maps

Rob Carney
Lost Horse Press
Street: 10.15

In Rob Carney’s fourth full-length poetry collection, 88 Maps, we find the two-time Utah Book Award Winner for Poetry tackling the juxtaposition of the naturalist and the consumerist with some certain amount of skill and some lesser amount of tact. The collection is split up into five sections: Departures, Directions, No Return Address, Home Appraisals and Arrival. Each examines (in its own modes/forms) the themes of wild versus urban, the phenomenological versus the scientific and (as a kind of meta-theme) the navigation of life versus—and including—death. We see Carney too often give way to an unflattering cynicism concerning nature bleeding by the hands of men, and rarely—though pleasingly—proclaim the triumphs and beauty of nature. One could hope for a pronounced reversal here, where nature becomes the point of import and hope, not the victim. In my favorite section, “No Return Address,” Carney’s cynicism takes the backseat, and we get a glimpse of nature in its most inspiring and devastating forms through pointed and poignant prose. 88 Maps (and Carney) will ultimately have us understand that life and nature are composed of the beautiful, invisible moments and measurements—but patience is required to reach that revelation. –Z. Smith