Carolyn Wrights’ Mania Klepto
We all have a dark side, the one that chews on us when we aren’t sure, the one that brings us little presents that go off like little super novas when we open them and pull us back into the black holes we’d thought we’d left behind so many years back.
Carolyne Wright’s new book from Turning Point Books, Mania Klepto is a long and thorough look at that other persona, the one you try and grow up from so you can get away, but the one you resemble more often as time passes. Wright’s book is constructed on a single character, Eulene, a funny, pathetic, intelligent, highly detailed portrait. It’s Eulene who, in college “..packs her only change/of clothes, peels the labels/from her judgment jars,/the fist in her rib cage clenching and unclenching.” Wright’s willingness to take on that kind of emotion, however playfully, is what gives this book its salt and tang, and makes it both a thoroughly enjoyable romp and a grim skulk through the American generation that came of age in the now very-much-lost, countercultural America.
Eulene grows up and leaves college, and we follow along, watching the character transform. In passages like this, from her wonderful poem “Eulene Enters the Me Generation” we begin to sense what the book is really getting at:
Any day now, Eulene
could fly in from the Antilles
with a prime-time script
scribbled on hotel stationary,
her briefcase crammed with towels
from the Granada Hilton—
everything she needed to make it
through the revolution.
Eulene knows her place
in the infrastructure….”
Oh yes, America, you shallow bitch. Don’t we know you oh so well? It’s Eulene, in the end, who drops her ebook reader in the bathtub and electrocutes herself. Of course, being Eulene, she doesn’t die, because of course, you can’t kill this spirit.
Wright uses Eulene (the title of the book is amazingly apt) in this and countless other ways to explore the American spirit that went gone from hippie to yuppie to spin doctor to indifferent thief. Wright exposes it in the generous and grueling mirror of these poems.